There is a place in New Zealand called “Longbush.” It makes me giggle like a small child being tickled by an unrelenting adult. And after living here for nearly a month I can just about say it whilst maintaining my composure, but deep down I still find it hilarious.
We were to be staying in the beautiful Wairapa valley doing another Workaway project helping to look after Highland Cattle and general farming duties. During this time we would also go about the tasks required to finally say goodbye to New Zealand. We needed to sell our beloved Campervan, research and plan our next destination and generally get ourselves organised again. We also wanted to be working with animals.
The farm is a beautiful place. It’s really a hobby farm so not particularly large in size but there is still plenty to do on it. There are several herds of cattle, a few sheep, a massive vegetable patch, fruit trees and plenty of clear up work and projects to keep us occupied. In fact some days we have been utterly exhausted!
As always we have fallen in love with some of the characters on the farm. The cattle are wonderful! Sometimes, particularly when they are hungry or excitable, they can be a touch intimidating but generally they are friendly and they love a good brush! That’s right, we have actually been brushing Highland Cattle!
“Albie” is the main man, the breeding bull of the biggest herd and full of gentle curiosity. As long as he gets his food first he is happy and the more you brush his beautiful pale cream coat the happier he is. The other bull on the farm named “Brad” is without any girlfriends at the moment and often likes to remind us of this fact. He seems to enjoy the attention of human females and therefore can be quite calm but always just that little bit more unpredictable.
My favourite by far is an elusive little white heifer who is still unsure of people and nervous of being touched or brushed. She’s become my little project and hearing that her mother was a bit of a psycho I would like to see if I can get her calm and confident before I leave. We’ve been making progressive steps and I’d forgotten just how much I love the challenges of training and getting inside the head of an an animal.
There’s also “The Wild Bunch” whom, as the name suggests, aren’t exactly tame but have calmed down a lot since our arrival.
The projects within the farm have been incredibly varied. I can be waist deep in a hole i’ve dug one minute then helping to make preserves the next so we’ve certainly never been bored. And we really did miss having a base; a home away from home.
Sharing the family life with us was another Workawayer. An American with a zealous enthusiasm and a penchant for all things zucchini. It made me laugh that we spoke the same language, experienced similar lives from across the pond and yet there were still language and experience barriers between us. We once had a full blown conversation about the differences between “bugger” and “bogie” within English and American. She’s also taught us all about SUCKER HOLES! (For anyone interested these are holes in cloud formations that let through some sunshine and give you hope that a sunny day may be about to appear on the horizon).
It’s been fantastic to settle down into a rhythm again although convincing ourselves to get organised whilst being introduced to the farm was difficult. With every new Workaway stay there’s a new system to learn, a new kitchen to find your way around, a new set of house rules, a new bunch of names and plenty of new food. This being good quality country kitchen food mainly picked from the vegetable patch just outside 10 minutes before we’re due to eat it makes it outstanding and Peter and I have both put on weight. The farmers market with visiting with the most incredibly delicious fudge and cheese didn’t help matters either.
Working on the farm has also given me a chance to sit back and appreciate New Zealand one last time before we leave it. We sat through the tail end of Cyclone Cook and felt the judder of yet another earthquake but we’ve also been able to stride out in the dew filled grass every morning with the early mist rolling over the hill tops and the sun burning through to reveal blue skies and glorious autumn sunshine. It may not be quite home or England or even Yorkshire but New Zealand really is a green and pleasant land.