Well, a lot has happened since I last posted, but bear with me as I try to recall were we left off. It was the end of April and the middle of autumn in the southern hemisphere. I was wwoofing on a large organic dairy farm, run by a lovely Kiwi family. Dairy farming is hard work, but this was the perfect time to experience it since it was the season to start “drying off” the cows which meant they were only milking their 250 cows once a day instead of twice day. I rose early on dark frosty mornings to go out to the milking shed. I wore royal blue coveralls and gumboots to protect myself from splashes and sprays. Little did I know how important that would be.
Mass milking of cows works like this. Two rows of cow butts face you on either side as you stand below them in a lowered alley way so you don’t have to bend down and hurt your back. You help to put on the cold metal suction cups in an orderly fashion, front left teat first and then around to the rest, clockwise. You keep an eye peeled for tails popping up and then get out of the way as much as you can. The cows seem to think that since they are unloading milk, it is also time to unload everything else. It’s a giant cow toilet.
Aside from the dirty work of milking the cows and cleaning up after, this was one of the loveliest farms I’ve worked on. The family house was the opposite of the shed, spotless and tidy. The family were real, down to earth people and so hospitable and warm. I was happy to help them with meals or dishes, and I even made them a pumpkin pie. They told me it was the best pumpkin pie they had ever tasted. Of course I used their fresh cream and real pumpkin. They fed me well here, fresh homemade kefir every day, homemade cheese, and fresh eggs with a yolk of a different color. The orange was more intense than any I have ever seen!
We worked together, cooked together and the mother even took me horseback riding. We did a lot of grubbing in the huge paddocks, can you imagine how much land they need for their 250 cows?! A lot. I drove the quad bike around as we fed the animals and worked on the land. Their trusty dog Molly followed us everywhere and caught herself a hare one day which she tore apart and ate for dinner. Even Molly had to work for a meal.
The best wwoof hosts are the ones who work with you, and you work with them to contribute to their daily routine of running the farm. While we were working the land, Peter was working in the “city” so here is a song that Peter and I always sing when we talk about work.