I don’t remember a thing but there’s a day 38-odd years ago that will be forever seered into the memory of my mother. One moment I was behind a high garden fence, the next a mad cow was using her horns to roll me down a nearby hill, hotly pursued by my screaming parents. I’m told they found me giggling, a few feet short of a drop into a creek. To this day I’m still quite fond of cows.
That’s good news because these days I corralled in by thousands of them on all sides. One neighbour breeds pedigree Friesians that are flushed for embyros, their offspring sent to China. Over another fence are several thousand organic dairy cows which produce deliciously sweet milk that, you guessed it, goes to China where they pay the princely sum of NZ$27 for a 2-litre bottle. Some of it is used to make the infamous Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk and artisan butter. I gaze in awe at the udders of those particular bovines.
I grew up on a poultry farm, tried town life for a few years, and now live and work from a 3ha lifestyle block in the Waikato. My day job is editing NZ Lifestyle Block magazine so I’ve got to meet and talk with a lot of people who don’t have a farming bone in their bodies but are tackling the rural life head-on anyway.
When do they know they’ve made it? These are some of the rites of passage I’ve witnessed, or had to do myself.
You can get down and dirty
When your arm is inserted up to your shoulder in a septic tank pipe because it’s either that or something far worse, you start to realise you can handle anything. Actually, if you have your arm up anything that far, it’s highly likely you are well-prepared for whatever a farming life can throw at you.
Tip: get some arm-length plastic gloves from your vet. Invaluable, and…