Travel.P #4 – Arriving at the DairyFarm

The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place.

David R. Brower

I left the small town early in the morning. I had a wash on the public toilets and went straight back into driving, all day. Continuing from state highway (SH) 63 to 6, 65 ,7 and finally SH1. The drive was beautiful and took me around 7 hours. I had a couple short breaks in between and was still exited, based on the hourly scenery change. When I finally approached the region Canterbury and it’s biggest city Christchurch, I was surrounded by farm lands. From the Ocean on my left to the Mountain range on my right. Canterbury has been highly modified since human settlement. The scrub and beech forests were destroyed through forest fires, and turned into a large agricultural industry. The amount of dairy farming is increasing, with an increasing demand for water. Lowland rivers and streams are generally polluted, in some cases so far that swimming is not allowed. Water use is now becoming a controversial issue in Canterbury. But New Zealand can’t stop the dairy farming over night, since it was a third of its total export income in 2014.

So yeah, what to do? Solve the problem through housing the cows, and gaining a control over the nitrogen, that is peed out by the cows like in America? Well as you will read later on, dairy farming can be a hard and cruel business, where my farm was still doing their best to give their 650 cows a nice lifetime. I personally think that a farm shouldn’t have more than 50 cows, to see them less as machines and more as an animal with feelings.

In my eyes the solution, yep sounds like hippy jabbering, is to be more aware of what you eat and maybe eat less dairy products. We as humans are the only species that consumes milk in adulthood, and we are also the only one to drink the milk of other animals. Biologically, cows milk is meant to feed a rapidly growing calf. Humans aren’t calves — and adults usually don’t need to grow.
We probably don’t need dairy in our diets – as adults. If you really need it then buy full fat, and grass fed products. Same for the meat. Maybe think about reducing your meat intake to once or twice a week, might be hard in the beginning, but you get used to it and make the world a little bit better.

Me at the wrong house
on the right farm

Sorry that I just moved a little bit away from my journey, but what was to say is said and controversial topics like these will be here and there in my blog to find.

So since I entered Canterbury and drove close to Christchurch (Chch) to top Emma up and get some food, I realized the snow on the mountains in my east, coming from the North. It was a beautiful view, that accompanied me for the next 3 1/2 month on the farm. The grasses were green and the paddocks filled with cows fenced in tree tall hedges to cover them from wind and spend a bit of shade. All the way until the black, grey and finally white mountains. The sky was cloudless, deep blue and considering it was winter coming into spring, I was surprised by the heat and the AGGRESSIVE (be ware, you literally feel your skin getting roasted) sun. It was possible to wear shorts and a T-shirt without feeling cold. Calling my boss, that I arrived, he told me to come into the ‘shed’. With his kiwi accent and being raised and now living on the farm, it was hard to understand what he was talking about. And the fact that the word “shed” was knew to me as well, didn’t make it easier for me. After turning into the wrong farm, and another call I found him. I turned right through massive green hedges onto a gravel road leading 500 meters straight to the ‘shed’. The place where the cows get milked and the calves are kept. I stopped Emma at the shed and greeted the owner of the farm and his wife. They were great people. Mid 50, 5.6 foot, a cap placed on his short grey-black hair, his wife a bit shorter with blue eyes as clear as the evening and shoulder long blonde hair, both healthy and happy looking. The dad had a strong grip and tall hands for his size, that lived through a lot of manual labor. Very humble and good listeners, a source of peace and respect. My boss, long and thin, with a orange hair and a beard touching his chest and his coworker a bit smaller and thin with dark hair cut into a mullet (welcome to the bogans), were milking so they approached me later on their cross bikes at my house. They just finished milking and told me what was going on. I was told to ride my own bike and share a whole house with another Kiwi, (New Zealand resident). SO COOL!! I’ll start my first day at 7 and than afterwards from 4:30 a.m. Those guys were covered in cow poo, from their hair to their wellies(Rubber Boots). And the house smelled quite, well cowpooish as well. My boss and me grabbed a bed and moved it into the house. He showed me around and gave me a pair of very comfortable wellies and an jumpsuit to work in. SO COOL! He told me to dress warm in the morning since it will be freezing. After that and a couple minutes with my housemate, I went to bed, quite exited and looking forward to the next day. My first paid day on a farm and my very first farm experience as well. I was anxious since it it was hard to understand what they say, but I told myself I will get used to it. After my thoughts calmed down and a message, send to the fam at home, I went into my comfortable bed and slept through a cold night, covered by a heated blanked.

This is actually a funny picture, because a few month later we were mooring there, at night time.

Next time I’ll tell you about my first day on the farm, getting not only covered in cow poo, and the farm live in general. I will tell you about my first contact with REAL milk. Also why carving season is cruel, and why I think cows are amazing animals. About freezing mornings, and 12 hour days and falling straight to bed. Twice once during mid day break and once when it was home-time. Later on I will tell you about Emma, how I converted her and the things that go wrong with converting a “FUCKING” van, Japanese advertisement for baby powder on our farm and even if the job was not the job that makes this world a better place, why I still loved it and had a really good time.

Sitting here again in Melbourne Dock Library, after abandoning the Library in St.Kilda, because I love the Dock Library, even though it is each time half an hour cycle, I am enjoying the view as always; oh, yesterday I even saw a huge seal, or a sea lion playing in the port. I had my first evening at ‘Lentils as anything”, and my first front of house experience. It is really great and a lot of fun! The concept is genius, and should be brought to Germany (note to myself). A big variety of people are eating out in this restaurant from homeless and drugged people over hipsters to rich and wealthy people. And even if it is very busy and I get paid, it is a lot of fun. I was also relieved to come back to my hammock camp at 11 p.m. and saw that all my stuff was still there. It is still a weird feeling, that when you live on the street, your stuff might get stolen any second.

My idea for you today is more about an idea for a week, and if you like two weeks or even longer, that as soon as your fridge is out of dairy products (surprise, haha) you give it a try and don’t buy any dairy and see how you feel without them.

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