|Koru, NZ symbol for new life- at Abel Tasman|
afternoon walking at Abel Tasman National Park, which is a wonderful place with beautiful beaches and forest trails.
A little overview for the following: WOOF stands for Workers On Organic Farms, and the basic deal is that you get accommodation and food in return for 4 1/2 hours of work per day. Laurie's friend Debbie (she's Canadian) has lived in New Zealand for about 30 years and owned Bay Subtropicals, an organic citrus farm, for the past 6. Her main crops are mandarins and avocados, but she also sells oranges, limes and lemonades (a delightful sweet lemon).
At the beginning, I was worried I would need time to settle in to the routine here in order to be helpful, which is why I was planning on 2 weeks here. After a few days, this was a running joke, as it was pretty easy for even inexperienced me to get heaps done.
I came in on the bus from Motueka Friday night, and Saturday I tagged along with Helena (another WOOFer) and Debbie to a willow sculpting class. I was a bit daunted by this new medium, but I managed to make a critter that everyone found funny and some other bits that I could take home (I laid the critter to rest in the woods as he was structurally challenged and way too big to pack). But some people there made some really beautiful stuff.
Sunday I mainly worked in the garden, weeding and pulling up the bean plants. Deb's daughter Amy came over with her kids, Oscar (7) and Poppy (5), who are just the cutest. They were fascinated by my Kindle, and Poppy convinced me to give her a piggy back ride around the house.
Then Monday was probably my hardest job. Deb had felled a tree, and rented a wood chopper to make it into firewood. I had the daunting task of stacking all of the wood as Amy's partner Bruce chopped it up. But I did it! Another WOOFer came that day, a Dutch girl called Gee. She is only 18 but traveling New Zealand by herself! At first I was a little skeptical of her, but we had a lot of fun hanging out and I grew quite fond of her.
|my giant firewood stack!|
On Tuesday, Gee and I helped Deb's greenhouse tenant (coincidentally, a Dutch guy called Gee!) move out his strawberries. It was a long and dirty day, but it was nice to have company. Tenant Gee also had a WOOFer, a girl named Natalie from Belgium, who was fun to work with.
Gee, Helena and I spent Wednesday morning grading mandarins, picking out the "seconds" (ones that are too small, too green or too abused to be sold) and packing 72 crates of 25kg each for two orders being picked up midday.
I felt the grading to be too much responsibility, so I mostly stuck to packing the crates.
|Helena and Gee grading mandarins|
Helena is quite good at it. She owned a feminist bookstore in the 80s and worked in the computer industry in Australia, but has more recently taken some permaculture classes, worked in nurseries and other farms, and has become quite the horticulturalist. She is hoping to settle down soon so that she can start her own garden. Fun fact about Helena: she is a fruitarian! Well, mostly. She only eats raw foods, and so much of her diet is citrus that her dentist told her she needs to cut down for her enamel's sake.
Anyway, that afternoon Gee and I cycled down to the beach and then into Takaka. It was a fun trip to break up the week, and I really enjoyed sitting on the beach and taking photographs of Takaka. Then for dinner, Deb fired up her pizza oven and we had delicious fresh pizza. It was (shockingly) Gee's first attempt at pizza making. She was astounded that Deb and I had never heard of putting tuna on pizza, as that is her favorite in Holland.
The rain began on Friday, so I brought firewood in and started the fire. My other job was to count and sort the money from Deb's farm stall (people can buy fruit in small quantities from a stall at the end of her drive, and put their money into what Steve Upstill calls an "honesty box"). It had more than $700! So that was exciting.
This morning I woke up to rain again. I brought in more wood and helped clean the house, but now it's pretty quiet. I'll probably pull out my Kindle once I'm done with this. I'm currently reading Infinite Jest, which is tough at times (I wish I had a hard copy along with my digital one, as the notes within notes can be tricky, and sometimes I'd like to flip back and check something. But the nice thing about the digital copy is that I can just follow links to the notes and back, and I can search the book when something rings a bell), but for the most part quite enjoyable.
I've had a lot of fun on the farm. Deb is like a cool aunt, and I've enjoyed meeting the other WOOFers. Deb's dog Robbie really likes to be petted, and it's quite cozy to have a big dog snuggled up next to you. The fantails on the farm are just amazing. They follow you quite closely as you walk across the grass, hoping to snatch up any bugs you bestir.
Tomorrow I am heading back over the hill to Nelson with Helena. She is going to pick up a friend from the airport, and I figured it would be easier to get to my next destination (down South?) from Nelson than from Takaka.
More to come!
*added Sunday afternoon: Yesterday I babysat Poppy for a bit while Debbie and Amy worked. We had a hilariously raucous time. Then I had a big night out on the town with Debbie. We went to see The King's Speech at the tiny theatre in Takaka. So cool! We sat on a couch in the front row. The theatre was pretty packed (for Takaka). The movie stopped in the middle and I got worried, but they have an intermission! We got a cup of tea and an ice cream and settled in for the second half. Afterward, we walked down the street to a bar and listened to a live Reggae band for a bit.
This morning, Helena and I headed over the hill and now I'm in Nelson!