After arriving at Kingfisher farm, John and Toni’s livelihood in Wellsford just north of Auckland, we started out work by tickling the melons. We used a grubber to loosen up the soil and get up nasty weeds in the watermelon garden. Although it is now coming into harvest season here, there was still a surprising amount of planting to be done outside!
There were four of us wwoofers in all. A young, enthusiastic German girl named Kristin, Quentin a future Swiss farmer, Peter and me. The four of us shared the self-contained cottage but ate all of our meals with the family in the main house, enjoying the busy, daily run-about that was their home life. While we waited at the table after being called to tea (all meals are referred to informally as “tea” which gets very confusing when they are also drinking tea the beverage quite often too) our host John teased that we looked like baby birds in a nest waiting for worms. The food was much more delicious than worms.
The work was hard, but enjoyable. Weeding seemed endless, but surprisingly satisfying. I closed my eyes at night and saw the most ghastly of all weeds: Dock. Its reddish leaves poking out of brown dirt. I yanked and pulled, but the tops just kept breaking off while the root escaped! The outdoor work was relieved every day by a break for coffee: freshly ground and french pressed. Here they obscenely describe it as “plunger” coffee, which I suppose it is, technically plunger-like although the word doesn’t make it sound so appealing.
Besides our daily garden work, we climbed a mountain, attended a community sausage sizzle (think potluck/bbq), made cheese- three different kinds, and pizza to go with it, and had many good conversations, both out in the garden as I worked beside Kristin, and at the dinner table. We even got to play with the honeybees! Toni took us to the hives after getting geared up. She showed us how she puts in a queen separator so she can tell exactly where to find her. We got to lift the heavy honey-filled compartments, and see the worker bees in action. This was where the Manuka honey that we ate on our porridge (oatmeal) every day came from. After only one bee sting (Peter) we went back inside to a snack of honeycomb, what a treat!
Some of the conversations at Kingfisher included talk of music and musical instruments. When I brought up Bluegrass our German and Swiss friends had never heard of it, at least not in English, and so I of course demonstrated my mandolin and also had to play a little bit of Pert’ Near. This is for all us little birdies who worked hard all day on the farm.