What an exciting start to April – we attend the Balance Environmental Awards dinner and a thrilled to find out that we have won not only the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award but also Environment Canterbury’s Water Quality Award. This is a fantastic result for Puketira Deer as we felt overwhelmed when we viewed the achievements of some of the other finalists. The supreme winner of the awards was Stonyhurst, a large scale sheep, beef and deer operation also from the Hurunui District. They have a long history of stewardship and innovation. Worthy winners.
Its also still raining – even on the awards night! The tail end of two tropical cyclones – Debbie and Cook bring a further 134mm rain in the first half of April. Up until now all the rain so far has been soaking in – we are finally getting soil moisture recharge after 2.5 years without. The creeks are now starting to flow again and clover is seen once more in our pastures.
The start of April is a busy time getting 75 hinds in and out of the deer shed several times in preparation for artificial insemination. It rains the day the technician comes to do the insemination !
The majority of the hinds are only 2.5 years old and its not recommended to do them so young. We have had reasonable success in the past with young animals and it allows us to shorten the generation interval, speeding up genetic gain. However, we have not yet sent away the DNA profiles from the weaners to see how successful last year’s AI programme was.
With the wonderful autumn rain we are again able to make plans for one of our favourite passions – planting some more trees. Jamie McFadden from Hurunui Natives comes to inspect the sites we have in mind and is also able to show us the amazing diversity under one of the native “porcupine “ plants growing on the property. Jamie shows us the berries hidden on the underside of the bush – and explains that these berries provide wonderful food for native skinks in our area. There are many other insects in the bush as well. We are keen to collect some of the berries for seed – with the view to propagating the plants and establishing more in areas of the farm. Jamie also finds a couple of Matai trees hidden in the long grass. Planted about 3 years ago they are not very big but have survived 2.5 years of drought so one day they may become giants!