Farmville and Recharging: what to do when you’re sick of your S.O.


My favorite person doing lamb duty

In the southern hemisphere, it is September that might come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. With this in mind, we rigged our travel route to hit the north first (the same climate effect as going south in the U.S.). Our commitment to experiencing Kiwi culture through wwoofing landed us at the Huddelston’s. Nine years ago, they opened a maize maze complemented by a small farm.

They have three teens, the oldest of whom are going abroad next year. To fundraise, they’ve bought up extra lambs (triplets won’t grow as fast as twins or a single babe) and calves to hand rear and then sell on (the dairy industry has no interest in sharing too much of mom’s milk with extra calves, and certainly no interest in wasting expensive milk supplement on boys).

There are also lots of “pet” cows/calves, sheep/lambs, a pig, two angora goats, a deer (that doesn’t run away as long as it’s in a field with its pet cow friends), heaps of chickens, and a duck! When the maize maze isn’t serviceable (like now), Crazy Corn Cob golf and a 3D Tunnel are still on offer. We both went through the tunnel,

Cricket the deer gets curious about what I’m organizing in the van.

which is beautifully done and very well thought out. Pat and I tee’d off with the corn cobs, and it’s the best mini-golf I’ve ever done! I’d highly recommend it to any tourists. Lots of creativity went into designing farm-themed, kiwi-themed holes – a loading ramp, a “farm road”, a “long drop” (outhouse), a Maori shape full of rabbit holes (rabbits are a huge pest here), a #8 wire hole (the Kiwi fix for everything), and more!

We stayed in an old farm building complete with metal floored shower and wooden toilet seat! One of the “pet” cows was in labor when we arrived, and the vet had to come and pull the calf out. It was an entertaining first day! Of course feeding the lambs figured prominently in our wwoofing duties, which I loved!  They adore the hands that feed them. They come running whenever they see you, bleating with their tiny little voices the whole way! The biological instinct that leads them to mom’s teats causes them to nudge legs (and faces and chins and necks and armpits when being held) much like a dog that wants to be pet. It’s so cute!

The view from Te Mata Peak

Other wwoofing jobs included training willow saplings into a teepee shape, weeding the garden, planting, fertilizing the pastures, and landscaping (jobs varied by gender). We also docked lambs (removing their tails by putting on a tight rubber band) on my last day .

When we weren’t working, we: took an excursion up Te Mata Peak overlooking the whole area, shopped at the farmer’s market, attempted an olive grove visit, went-too-far-and-and-finally-doubled-back to see a waterfall, attended a family gathering for the inaugural Rugby World Cup New Zealand vs. Tonga game, and schooled ourselves at the very informative Arataki Honey Visitor’s Center. (Most pantry’s in New Zealand have a jar of this honey.)

Togetherness – ultimately a good thing 🙂

I said above that we docked lambs on *my* last day. Before Pat and I left for our vacation to the states, we agreed that we’d done a horrible job meeting our commitment to spend 10-25% of our traveling time alone. Because NZ is an expensive place, and because we share our biggest-cost-saving resource (the van), we’ve actually not spent ANY time apart since we worked in Wanaka!

Three weeks ago in California, Toby and Pat went on a backpacking trip. That was our first time being apart for a full 24 hours since Pat went elk hunting October 2010! With those two exceptions, we’ve spent at least part of every single of the last 446 days together (yes, we counted). 264 of them (over half!) we’ve spent attached at the hip. We wake up in the morning together, get ready together, eat breakfast together, hike or drive together, eat lunch together, hike or drive together, shop together, sightsee together, eat dinner together, get ready for bed together, rinse and repeat! Generally no more than two yards stands between us, usually less!

Heaven on a plate! Dinner on one of my solo nights was green-tipped mussels. In garlic sauce. Which I promptly spilled all over my pants and socks which reaching for my Guinness.

Now, I need lots of alone time. I always have. In Humboldt, where the majority of our relationship thus far was played out, I was busy enough that Pat had the house to himself plenty. This was rarely my treat however, and sometimes I’d have to come home and kick him out! I don’t know why, but I struggle to be productive when I’m around loved ones. When I’m exhausted, the best recovery recipe for me is a nice long stretch of uninterrupted me-time. I can be writing emails, going for walks, reading a book, researching, working on a project, running errands, or even napping – doesn’t matter as long as I’m alone!

So, with this in mind, Pat and I decided he’d stay behind at the Huddleston’s and I’d disappear for a few days. It was GREAT! I suppose not figuring for two encourages lots of self-awarness. And I finally got caught up with my blog – my way of processing (and remembering and keeping in touch). When I don’t get to hit the mental reset button, I end up uninspired, unenthused, unmotivated, and unFUN! We’ve renewed our commitments to taking better care of ourselves, and I’m already looking forward to my next solo stint! ♣

Click to see a newborn calf, World Cup party shots, and lots of CUTE LAMBS!



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