Sunday, 10 June 2007

Muddy Gumboots

We stayed at my brother's farm Saturday night. A cold night, but warm inside by the wood burner. The next morning dawned bright and clear.

The only snow we could see was what remained on top of the Blue Mountains.

The paddocks were glowing with a healthy winter-green. Except where the tops of them were worn away allowing the mud to come to the surface. Oh yes, there was plenty of mud, mud, glorious mud wherever stock trampled or the tractor wheels rolled.

But where the land lay undisturbed, it was a glorious sight of bright green against the clear blue sky.

A wee sparrow on top of a fencepost is a typical rural sight.

My brother and his wife had fences to shift and feeding out to do, so ABM and I borrowed some gumboots and tagged along. R's very large tractor with its juggernaut wheels, rear fork-lift and front-end loader, certainly makes feeding-out a whole lot easier than what I remember back in the days of helping my father on the farm. Back then it was a case of bodily hoisting the bales on to a trailer, cutting the binder-twine with a pocket knife (which was a hard job on frosty days when your hands were numb with cold) and separating and then distributing the hay bales, section by section, as the tractor was driven slowly around the paddock. I have never had the pleasure of riding in R's pride and joy (which is about a storey high) but apparently the tractor has a heater inside the cab, and music! My father would be utterly astounded.

ABM gave H a hand to shift the electric fence. This gives the calves she is hand-rearing a bit more grass. The muddy strip behind them shows what is left of yesterday's allocation.

I had my turn too at helping out when I stood rather ineffectively in a paddock of swedes (which is what turnips are called down in this part of the country - which in turn makes tourists wonder when they see hand-painted road signs announcing 'Swedes For Sale'!) Some sheep had got into the swedes over night and so had to be shooed back out.

Bess the dog helped shift the sheep too, but like a lot of farm dogs, she wasn't that good at listening and had her own idea about how things should go. But all went well, despite Bess continuing to bark when she should have kept quiet.

After our very pleasant dose of rural life, we headed back to the city where ABM made a beeline for the golf course, and I met a friend for coffee.

We had a coffee at the Customhouse Restaurant with its harbour-view, highly polished surfaces and not a speck of mud to be seen anywhere.


rel said...

Even with all the modernization, ie; a heated cab with music in a tractor????) I still think farming is the hardest job in the world!
Swedes...We call them rutabagas. Well if your of French/Canaduian ancestery anyway. The sparrow pic is precious.

Avus said...

What a contrast! Muddy farming work, then onto the city for a civilised coffee with a friend. (To make the link you should really have taken the tractor and parked it outside the coffee shop!)

Becky Willis Motew said...


Mein Gott!!!

We want to know what the selections are. As always, I feel I've been to the place you describe. Your photography talents amaze.


Catherine said...

A heated tractor? I don't know what things are coming to :)
It looks like you had better weather on your farm visit than I did for my orienteering expedition this weekend.

dinzie said...

Heated tractors!! never happened in my days of old when I worked on a farm in the school holidays .....

I'd like to be holidaying down there ....Fishing the river beside R's farm would be fun :O)

A few dys in Dunedin would be fun too :O) I want a better hoiho picture :O)

Anonymous said...

great photos!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I came by to meet you, I'm in the Shameless Lions Writing Circle also.

I love this page! Your photography is excellent, and your writing is quite interesting.

I love the name Kauri by the way, such an exotic and beautiful name. Looking forward to being in the circle with you!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Kay Cooke said...

Thanks everyone - the heated tractor seems to have got quite a reaction! But believe me, on a frosty morning don't farmers deserve some comfort too? (After all the city slickers have their car heaters and centrally heated offices!)

Anonymous said...

CB: Somehow it looks cold. I don't know why - it's hard to pin down. Maybe the light. Fascinating snapshot as usual, but one thing puzzled me - very trivial point. Over here we have both turnips and swedes. The turnips are small pale-yellow-on-the-inside, ancient watery roots while the swedes are larger purplish on the outside, less watery, stronger flavoured and bright yellow on the inside when cooked. (From the keeper-of-the-snails' guide to horticulture).

Kay Cooke said...

clare - Hi! Yes you are quite right - I thought I'd not labour the point for the unconverted masses, but I see I shouldn't have misjudged an Englishwoman's (Welshwoman's?) knowledge on the finer points of horticulture! Yes, over here too turnips are exactly as you have described, and swedes are more of a purple, larger type. (I think these particular ones were in fact turnips.) I love boiled, mashed swede with a roast (mutton) and mashed spuds and peas. Do you?

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