A weekend at the farm

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).

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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!

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 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!

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.

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.

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) and spinach.  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.

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “A weekend at the farm

  1. What a fun thing to read about while having my coffee this morning! I’m glad Milo is learning to like green tractors….emphasis on green! He will fit in well when you come back to the southern tier – at least for a visit. When Joe asks his 4-year old daughter, Natalie what a red tractor is, she says “JUNK!” That is amazing that there aren’t rocks down there. Wish we could send them some! And chai tea? I’m sensing a Maria influence here…. I’m glad you had such a nice weekend! Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Ah yes, I thought of you when I wrote about John Deere tractors! There’s another green one that I’ve never heard of before, Claas, a chartreuse green one…name sounds a bit Dutch. There are actually surprisingly few tractors of any sort here, considering the scale of the agriculture. Dairies are basically all grazing, with a bit of haylage put by for a dry spell in the summer (grass grows more in winter, plus they grow paddocks of brassicas for winter grazing too). Quite different from corn-based dairies at home. On the way to Hanmer Springs we passed a little field of corn and my head whipped around to stare at it–it’s the only one I’ve seen. Sheep farming doesn’t seem to require much more than a 4×4 and dogs, plus miles of number 8 wire (fencing) and a sorting shed.

  2. Yes, Happy Mother’s Day Molly! And I’m sure you’re glad Milo is a chai drinker instead of a coffee drinker. I’m going to tackle homemade chai this summer here in AK. (I’d love to be able to get the spices from the spice store you visit!) What a great weekend – each of you got to enjoy a bit of what satisfies each of you. Can’t ask for more.

    • I discovered a little stash of chai tea (the Russian one) that you gave me the other day–I had a tad bit left and I had forgotten, so it was a nice surprise for a stint of cold weather! Milo would drink a mocha just as happily as a chai, but in this case I was feeling somewhat cheap and just ordered myself a bigger one, then split it with Milo. If I shared the same cup he’d drink it all!

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