One of Jeremiah’s hunting buddies invited us down to spend a weekend at his aunt and uncle’s house 2 hours south of Christchurch, in Temuka. The guys planned to hunt some ducks and butcher a couple sheep while they we were down there, and I was pleased at the prospect of a hunting weekend for Jeremiah that didn’t involve me and Milo being left behind in Christchurch. On the way we made a stop at a hunting and fishing store in Ashburton, conveniently located next to a coffee shop. Milo chugged his chai tea and begged for more. At some point he’ll have to learn that expensive cafe drinks don’t grow on trees (so to speak).
Kevin, our friend Damien’s uncle, walked out into his farm-yard and picked up a rock. “We don’t have many of these around here, so when I see one in a field I save it–they come in handy.” I chuckled. A lack of rocks is a foreign concept to southern tier NY farmers who sometimes have more rocks than soil! Milo sure enjoyed rattling these little stones down the corrugated iron slope.
Here’s Damien’s aunt Shona and Anna walking with Milo to bag up some potatoes. When we arrived we approached Shona’s house through a carefully manicured garden and entered through beautifully-etched glass patio doors, but as soon as she opened her mouth I relaxed. Our spunky two-year-old was even more welcome in their lovely home than we were, and the first thing Shona did (even before she put the kettle on!) was to pull out the stash of kids’ toys and make Milo welcome. Walking in the muddy farm yard? “No worries, Milo can use the John Deere gum-boots to stamp in the puddles.” Had a potty accident? “No worries there either, it happens! Milo can take a bath and when we wash out his clothes, they’ll dry in front of the fire in no time.” Shona was lovely and obviously enjoys children. I never felt like I had to apologize for any of Milo’s antics, so my weekend was relaxing too!
Pull Milo! The hose was set up for rinsing ducks, but Milo enjoyed rearranging it a bit.
The farm grows potatoes (for chips) and carrots (for juicing), as well as raising sheep. Their tractors are all John Deere green, and Milo is just starting beginning the tractor-fascination phase of his life. He got to clamber up into this one with Kevin.
Look at the little guy, pleased as punch with his John Deere gum boots in the bargain!
Milo recognized Jeremiah coming down the lane with Damien, and he ran to him gleefully shouting “Daddy!” How gratifying!
Milo is definitely not squeamish. He’s just as pleased with a dead duck as a living one! I’m sure I wasn’t like that as a kid, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. He patted the sheep before then got butchered, then quite cheerfully commented “meat!” to the hanging carcasses and “mess!” to the blood on the floor. It’s beyond me how we as humans can be so tender and caring one moment (like Milo putting his teddy bear to sleep), and blatantly callous regarding animal’s lives the next. I’ve certainly seen myself get less and less sympathetic to the animals with each one that goes into our freezer.
Kevin says last weekend they shot about 100 ducks by the creek, but this weekend the guys just got three. They said the gorgeous sunny clear weather is actually not good for duck hunting (they go out to the ocean where they’re safe rather than hunkering down to shelter from wind and rain in the creek bed), but I’ll not complain about a sunny warm day! Besides, after seeing the process it takes to pluck a duck by hand, I can’t imagine processing 100.
Shona encouraged Milo to stomp through the puddles, and I realized that I’m probably a bit too concerned with him getting wet and muddy than I should be. Not that I think that it’s bad for him, but it does make more work for Mama….. Still, I have fond memories of puddle stomping at our White Street house when we were little, and I would want Milo to have the same enjoyment.
Guess what this green weed is blanketing acres of this paddock? Spinach. High quality hybrid spinach, to boot. The other crop Kevin and his son Simon grow are specialty vegetable seeds. New Zealand’s southern hemisphere location and Canterbury’s dry climate makes it ideal for producing Asian vegetable seeds for the following season in Japan (such as Bok Choi), spinach, and other veggie and grass seeds. Apparently the harvester lost a lot of spinach seed and the whole field is now a carpet of perfect high-quality baby spinach. Kevin and Shona eat the stereotypical farmer diet–meat and potatoes–and Kevin is going to turn the sheep into the spinach. I snagged a big bag first, but couldn’t convince them to try a baby spinach salad for supper.