Bulls for sale after Gabrielle - celebrating the wins
A bull stud in northern Hawke's Bay has found cattle are learning to navigate the slips and holes from cyclone and heavy rain damage, boding well for the future.
After Gabrielle hit the region in February, the team at Kokopuru Station's Hallmark Angus cattle stud pressed on, rushing to rebuild the farm ahead of their annual bull sale in June.
Max Tweedie runs 600 Angus cattle and 3500 ewes on the property between Napier and Wairoa and he says the changing landscape has been a learning curve for farmer and cattle beast.
There has been continuous rain over the light free-draining soils and tomos - sink holes - pepper the land now, a trap for the stock.
"These are 'to-be' slips, the country that will in time move, and right now they make great holes for livestock to be caught and to be trapped in."
But it's amazing how the cattle find their way around, he says.
"Animals that are sound of foot and leg, that can travel, have excellent locomotion, that can move, seemed to be more effective in navigating this landscape.
"Those sorts of animals are the ones that we will continue with and it's a great learning for us and probably for the animals too."
On the morning of the sale the cattle are ready, all primped and preened.
"I wouldn't want to give away too many trade secrets but there may be some high pressure hoses, some curry combs, some soap involved.
"After the second time the bulls actually look forward to it. They love a scratch."
Even the motorbikes have been water-blasted.
"You see everybody around the farm just scrambling in the final minutes, sweeping, dusting, all the little details.
"You are really not leaving any stone unturned."
A roast spits and smokes in the corner while Lucy Tweedie, Max's wife, pours nips of port and whiskey ready for the post-sale celebrations which include a feast of cheese rolls and Hallmark Angus meat pies.
Pipers in kilts squeeze and blow their bagpipes, tuning up to carry on another tradition.
The day will also see money raised for "a bit of social good", Tweedie says.
A collection will be made and prizes given out to raise funds for a charity established to help the Tutira and Putorino districts recover and build resilience for the future.
At last Tweedie is all set to go.
"I'm pumped because I feel like we've got to be and if we're not excited, then what would you be?
"You'd be worried and anxious and that's kind of no way to live because we've done all that. We've had all the anxiety and the pain and the suffering and and this is our favourite day of the year."