Friday, July 20, 2012

Thank God I'm a Country Boy


Porangahau, Hawkes Bay, NZ

The closest cell reception from here is a 40 minute drive to a little town where they process afterbirth & deliver it to top end salons to use for skin treatment.

The sheep placenta capital of the world.  Not even joking.
This is as close to the "real New Zealand" as it gets.



Every little town's got a dairy, a rugby field & a pub, without fail.  When I walked into the closest town pub, the barkeep said "Look who's back - The Canadian."  It had been 4 months since my last visit.  It doesn't take much to become a regular around here.

Been living on a stud farm the past few weeks.  Proud to put on my cowboy boots to go feed every day.  No matter the weather.  It's only ever sunny, rainy, or windy & always muddy.  Pretty good for winter!  Thus far I've only fallen into the mud once, although the creek almost swallowed me up with mud to my knees.  The day I remember not to tuck my rain pants into my boots, I should be sweet as!

It's peaceful out in the paddocks when the horses aren't hooning after you trying to chase you down with hooves flying, or trying to eat you.  Beautiful runners.  I've only been kicked & bitten once & was told it was a misunderstanding; probably my fault.  Blaze butted me once, but that was justified, cause she's a bit of an asshole.

There's a profile on every horse.  Lineage: all the half-brother/sisters, who's sired which horse, and all the horses that have left & are showing around NZ.  All the histories & ages.  We know who's stubborn, snooty, clingy, nosy, bossy, lovey dovey, & who's willing to babysit for the others.  Oh yes, we're clever.

Friggin horses are smart & run straight out when you leave the gate open....

We've trained em, weened em, cleaned em, brushed em, rubbed em, clipped em, pushed em, pulled em, sold em, & done everything but ridden them.  Bugger.

When the brood mares are due, Studmaster Max goes on Night Watch.
Always vigilant.  Stay alert.  Watching for signs of trouble.

But when the first foal came, it was from a mare we didn't even know was pregnant.  A couple hours old she was discovered.  A beautiful little filly!  Wobbly legs.  She walks like one of those giant robots from Star Wars.  We are enamoured with her; she's flinchy & doesn't let us close.  The mother has had enough after 5 days & passes her off to another mare for babysitting.

The second was a wet muddy mess peering at us from the top of a hill.  The mother had picked the first of 5 rainy days, than gave us attitude when we went to put a coat on the little guy to stop him shivering.  He can't get enough love & nibbles Studmaster Max's chin with his gums & nipple feely hairs he's got on his nose.  He's got a patch the shape of Africa on his side.  A bleeding heart at birth.

A beautiful mare arrived, very colourful with great patterns; originally bred here.  One morning she had stillborn twins.  The success rate for twins is 5% for recovery of either of them.  Often, the mare is lost as well.  She was lucky.  Crushing nonetheless.  'Where you have livestock, you have dead stock' I suppose.  She was such a sweetheart & now treats me with a 'I love you cause you feed me' love.

Strangely enough, my favourite part of farm life has been rounding up the sheep or cattle.  I love mustering them between paddocks & strategizing the movements.  It's kind of a game.  I could have been a really good sheepdog.

20 minutes down the road & I would have grown up on a farm.  Yet, this is the first time I've really experienced farm life.

There's just as much getting up early & refried beans as I like (none).  We have wood fires all the time, but indoors, to heat the house.  Not enough fiddle or banjo by far.

Basically it's like the movie City Slickers, but without the horse riding.