Days 1 through 13
Hello everyone! By the exorbitant number of exclamation points, different vocabulary, and extra ‘u’s in my spelling, you will likely notice that I (Lindsay) have started writing on the blog. Yep, I fully give Clayt credit for all of the funny and potentially much more entertaining posts. For those who are interested I will be offering a more detailed view of what our working days here in New Zealand are filled with as wwoofers, as we go from veggie farming to wine making to who knows what!
Highlights from the first half of what we expect to be our longest continuous Wwoofing stop:
Day 1 – We made it to the bus stop in Thames with no certainty that our hosts knew we’d be arriving today. An email was sent late last night with our arrival time, but we haven’t idea when they check their inbox! Just as we were picking up our backpacks to start the 8km trek to their farm a young woman poked her head into the bus stop asking for us. Woohoo! We got to the farm, met the families, and without any wasted time got right tour first day of work: weeding buttercup and doc from the summer beds. ‘Buttercup’ and ‘doc’ would soon become our arch nemesis.
The Cabin Cleanup – Later in the afternoon of day two, which turned out to be one of our only rainy days we borrowed some rags and non-detergent soap and set to cleaning up our humble abode that we would call home for the next month (Clayt and I were both secretly wishing we had bleach!) The spiders run rampant in an empty house so we had our work set out for us trying to get the cobwebs and droppings cleaned out! We finished our cleaning project on our first Sunday which is generally a day off from farm tasks and a day we would continue to have to ourselves.
Planting and Castings – Eric taught us all about worm castings on day 3 as we prepared to do some planting. It is a fairly common practice here in New Zealand to use a certain type of worm to speed up the transformation of waste food to useable fertilizer all in an old tub (which for some reason are everywhere here…) Apparently this process is even better than natural decomposition and in Eric’s heavily Dutch accented words “the Volls Voyce of fertilizer”. We then used the castings to plant a few rows of capsicums…aka peppers. Capsicums are not the only different name for a common food we’ve encountered here; beets are called beetroot, chard is called silverbeet, zucchini is known as courjette and corned beef is referred to as silverside! Planting is obviously a common activity here on an organic produce farm and we spend about 3/4 of our efforts on either preparing beds for planting, putting the actual plants in the ground or weeding doc and buttercup from the beds. Because of an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the farm much of the work that we do is by hand and without tractors. Hooray!
Stella the Cow – We milked the cow all on our own! We had both been taught separately by Rowan (one of the tenant farmers here) and deemed capable to take care of this task without supervision for the morning milking. Stella is a bit temperamental and doesn’t look too kindly on women so Clay has to get her back to the milking shed. After a bit of a udder wash we are under way and as long as you are speedy with your milking she is normally a pretty good sport. Her calf Rosie likes to come and investigate and also likes men more than women… lets just say that Clay now knows what it is like to have his lower back licked by a calf while milking her mom.
The Kapa Haka – What an awesome event to go see. Not just a 5 minute routine but this was a 20 to 25 minute native Mauri speaking, dancing and performing routine put together by grade school (3rd to 8th grades) students and the competed in town. This was our first weekend and got a chance to go in with one of the families and ended up staying here all day watching the incredible performances. Groups of grown adults would not have done as well as these guys. The thing that set it apart was that the whole performance was based on the Mauri culture and keeping alive the traditions and it was accepted and encouraged by all members of mainstream New Zealand. It would give you goose bumps when the members of the crowd that supported a given school would stand up and issue a ‘response haka’ in congratulations to the members performing on stage. (See Videos)
The Fire Dragon – Our first, and only (that sounds worse than it really is) building project of our time here also involved our first time putting a roof on something by ourselves. The “fire dragon” which is actually a earthen cob pizza oven sat in a beautiful patio area without a proper roof. Well we fixes that right up! With a dozen sheets of reused metal roofing, a box of screws and a little bit of trial and error we put a roof over the dragon’s head right proper. After we were done we just hoped that it didn’t rain until we left so they wouldn’t see the inevitable leakiness of our roof…