Day off? Yeah right

LYN WEBSTER
Last updated 06:50 03/11/2012

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Lyn Webster

Farming profits not for get-rich-quick investors Day off? Yeah right Sunny skies, growing grass makes for happy farmer Canine helper worth his weight New mother a force to be reckoned with Hard slog on a bog Many trials and rewards of going it alone So much for a cruisy day off Helicopter harassment a farmer's burden Calling the shots is liberating

My "day off" is a Tuesday afternoon when I get a relief milker in. A reliable relief milker is hard to find and I believe one with all the skills is worth paying well.

This is not a cheap exercise, but it is only one afternoon a week so it would be a bit sad if I couldn't afford that.

Needless to say, I look forward to Tuesday arvo. The plan is to milk and do all the chores in the morning and then do nothing "farm" in the afternoon. Ha, ha - I have never achieved this.

This is a testament to how farming takes over your life . . . remember this is just one afternoon a week, which means I have got up relatively early every single day since June 16, madness!

Today I got up around 6am (that is really, really late for a dairy farmer, I know, but I am unmotivated at the moment). Go and get the cows down off the hill, take them to the shed. Go and get the small mob of high-cell-count cows, take them to the shed separately. Turn on the milking machines and milk 180 cows.

Every row I have to climb up on the rails and check the tail paint to try and find some cows for mating, then, if there are any, draft them off separately. This takes ages and today there were eight.

Finish milking, get the sick cows in separately and milk them into the pig milk vat. Do a bit of hosing then chase the main mob down the track to await the road crossing. Back to the shed to fetch the crook cows and put them in their special paddock. Quickly clean all the cups and hang 18 sets up to put the water through. Start the cold water going through then jump on the bike and race down to the road crossing. Set up two sets of warning lights and signs and when there is a gap in the traffic throw the gates open and yell "Get away back" at the dog (Rush) so he can hurry the cows across the road quick and smart.

Follow the cows up to the first gate and shut it so they can't run back to the road and go into Kaitaia, take the flashing lights down, go back to the shed to clean up. Fill the calfateria and take it out to the last group of younger calves. Shoot home for a coffee. Phew. Go get the empty calfateria and feed out meal to the older calves, lock the cows away on the way past. Tow the calfateria back to the shed where eight cows are waiting for AI (artificial insemination).

Do that, put those cows away into a separate paddock and clean up all the yard.

Yay - looking forward to going home and doing nothing farm. But when I got home there was an email from the fertiliser lady, please can she come and see me today, sorry about the short notice . . . and the bike ran out of petrol and all the tins are empty, so I had to dash to the petrol station so the relief milker could use the bike. Back from there and the fert lady turns up.

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It's now early afternoon and I remembered I had to go to the vet for some lame cow treatment and something for the dog who has ticks. Got home after 4pm and the relief milker is on the job - good man. All I have to do now is cook tea and fold some washing. What a terrible day off.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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