A Great Day On The Farm

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, May 19, 2011

This morning was such a treat, one of the best things we have done on the whole trip and we owe a huge 'Thank You' to Toany and Jimmy for taking us out for the morning round on the farm at Tapanui. It was inevitably a very early start, this was not a tourist excursion to see how sheep farming is done but a real look into the life of a farmer in New Zealand. It was one of the most fascinating experiences and we loved every minute.  From watching the farm dogs react to each of their master's commands to skidding around in mud on the farm quad, it was fascinating. Also, the much awaited coming together of King and Maid, two dogs with extremely good genes, was a very special moment that we will never forget!  The arrival date of the puppies has been given as July 21st, we were there man! ( watching whilst we had a post farming warming cup of coffee – it was strangely addictive!

Over the course of an action packed morning, we learnt about the sheering process and even found out how to separate 12 ewes from a flock of 1000 – grab their legs with a big metal hook and pick them up and chuck them in to a different field! It looked brutal, but they clearly didn’t mind this man-handling too much and bounced up from the mud to continue their quest for more food.

Later, with the river water levels rising fast Jimmy flung us into action.  Polly and I made a complete pig’s ear of removing a fence, maybe it was the herd of chasing cattle that put us off. Apparently they were just very friendly and tame milking cows, but they looked pretty scary to us.

I think however, the dogs are the most amazing part of the job. Each farmer has at least 5 or 6, a selection of Huntaways and heading dogs and they are essentially the tools of his trade. Jimmy explained that they all have completely different personalities and excel at different jobs. He had a series of different whistles and instructions which mean right/left/stop etc and it was incredible to see the dogs respond. We couldn’t believe that despite the facts that they are working animals, who permanently live outside, they are so friendly. Jimmy’s naughty dog Jade cuddled up to us in the back of the trailer as we were towed up to the top of the farm and later King jumped up onto the quad bike without any prompting to sit with us while we watched the farmers at work. He even happily posed for a lovely photo. Amazingly the dogs are trained using just a pat as a reward for good behaviour. Perhaps this is where we have gone wrong with Newton? Maybe had he not been showered with delicious morsels of cheese and liver in return for his infrequent good behaviour he would be more obedient? Perhaps not.

Before we left, Lindsay treated us to another great lunch back at the farm house and then it was time to say goodbye to a fantastic family and speed off back to Queenstown (the rental company had already been on the phone asking why their car had not been returned).  Speeding back to Queenstown was probably not the best move we have made. The New Zealand policeman was very professional and we were soon on our way again.  We were carrying less weight now (quite a few NZ $ less weight) but against the law of physics we were going much slower.

Back in Queenstown we enjoyed a peaceful night on the campsite, back on the bikes tomorrow for a very long ride up the west coast of south island before boarding the inter island ferry to Wellington.

Miles cycled: Still 0
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