Search Chasing Jessie

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pure Jersey Cream, Part 3 of 4

10-mos old calf
Part 3 of 4 - The Dairy Farmers Life
Travel dates: May 17 – June 2, 2010

Day 6 (Saturday)
Morning and evening milking.  I’m tired.  Very tired.  Am I getting used to the smell of cow poo and urine?  I dream about cows nearly every night.  Last night I got up and looked around my room because in my dream, I thought there were cows in the house.  Cows, cows, everywhere! (but not in the house)

Day 7 (Sunday)
The morning started early despite more than an extra 30 min of sleep ().  It rained the entire night, and I dreaded climbing out of bed to head to the milk shed.  After milking Stu, two of his brothers & Peter headed to the deer paddock to round up the deer for culling.  The enormous 20-point stag was separated from the hinds (aka doe, NZ speak), and the others were corralled into a small shed.  Four men, me and 30 deer were enclosed into an area no larger than a standard size bedroom; I was shocked so many hearts could fit in one room.  Eighteen big does were separated and released (the ‘moms’) and as each left the shed, they galloped and gave a great leap of over 8’ high.  I was reminded of the grace and agility of these animals but looked around and was also reminded of their vulnerability as I was surrounded by 12 young females.  The plan: each deer would be shot and drug outside (while I stood carefully outside) and then eviscerated.  At this point I did not feel confident going in the shed to participate in dragging, nor was I exactly keen on looking into the soon-to-be empty eyes.  I stood outside as did Brother John.  Pop.  One by one a deer was lifelessly pulled out of the shed.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pure Jersey Cream, Part 2 of 4

Part 2 of 4 - Farm work begins!

Travel dates: May 17 – June 2, 2010
Day 1 (Monday)
After venison pies for lunch, we rode bicycles down the way to move electric fences to shift the 10 month old calves onto a new grassy paddock.  These girls (around 40 of them), as well as all of the other cows, get moved onto new grassy paddocks every day or two, depending on how many are in the herd.  As we walked up, there was so much commotion that I thought the calves were in trouble.  MOO! MOO!!!  40 of them were synchronously mooing at Stu and I; it was perplexing!  What is happening?  WELL, It seems that cows are just regular chatterboxes, and the mooing was to ‘talk’ to Stu & I, and to let us know they were hungry and wanted to be on greener pasture!

Stu has about 165 cows in his herd that are currently being milked twice a day, and at 5pm we headed to the Milk Shed for the evening milking.  My nerves were on edge, but  I was so excited for this new milking adventure!  There was a lot of following-Stu-around involved, explanations, and nods.  There were neither pretenses nor excuses, and after my lessons, it was my turn to have a go at it.  Grabbed a hold of the first teat, cow didn’t jump around nor sense that I was a first-timer, or try to kick me.  All good signs.  After a few cows, I was starting to feel relatively comfortable, and liked the process.  Good thing, because there was a lot of cow milking to come.
Cook big delicious dinner, drink wine.  Go to bed before 11pm.

In the milking shed, wearing full bib & overalls

Pure Jersey Cream, Part 1 of 4

Hi friends & family!
My next WWOOFing adventure took place on a dairy farm on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  This was my first true experience living and working on a farm; it was so exciting, mucky and rewarding!  In lieu of my normal large summary of events, I wrote about my experiences every day while I was there.  What follows is essentially my journal of Farm Living!  I was on the farm for 3 weeks, wrote a lot, and will send the adventures in 4 parts.
Enjoy! Jessie

Travel dates: May 17 – June 2, 2010

Waitaha Valley
“Hello, this is the Mayor of the Waitaha Valley .  I’m not in, but I am home.  I’m out on the farm either milking the cows, driving the tractor, or shooting a opossum for the night’s supper.  Please leave a message with your number, and I will call you back.”

After my first call to Stu Davidson (and receiving his above answering machine message), I knew I HAD to wwoof with this man.  Anyone with that message on their “answer phone” had to have a lot of character, and was someone I wanted to meet.  Turns out, that was one of the best thoughts, and subsequent decisions, that could have happened in New Zealand.