„Hallo und guten Morgen Deutschland! Ich wuensch dir einen guten Tag!“ Ich bin zurueck! Zurueck in der Zivilisation und damit in Auckland wo die letzte Etappe meiner Reise enden wird. In drei Tagen bin ich ausser Lande und fuer wiederrum 4 Tage in Melbourne, Australien, bevor ich dann nach Deutschland zurueckkehre. Jaha, richtig gehoert. Nach all der plackerei lass ich mir kraeftig die Sonne aufs Gemuet scheinen und werde so richtig schoen faulenzen, zusammen mit Mike =).
Ich habe es erst geschafft die englische Version meiner 4 monatigen Arbeitszeit zu verfassen, welche untenstehend gelesen werden kann. Fuer alle nicht englischprecher gibts die Deutsche Version am morgigen Tage. Vermutlich etwas ausfuerhlicher. Bis denn dann!
*tick tock*, *Tick Tock*, *ringdingeding!* What the hell, already 3:30 am? Time to get up!
A bit far to enthusiastic, but nevertheless, is this about the daily routine on a dairy farm. But let’s start from scratch.
First of all, I’m back world! After 4 months of constant non-blogging and working my ass off, I finally reached the end of my New Zealand Journey – almost. Just about 2 weeks are separating me from being back again with family and friends in good old Germany, or as I call it – home.
But this Blogpost is about my Job on a dairy Farm, the first experience of this kind, but probably not the last one.
I arrived here back in July, the 22nd to be precise, and got picked up by Janeen, one of my employers at the farm. A bit back in time, ok all the time since I was in Christchurch, I looked for a dairy Job to get over some time and also gather some money and make some new experiences. Finally luck knocked upon my door and someone (Jim and Janeen) replied to my inquiry. Soon we had a deal. I’ll work for food, accommodation and 400 bucks a week on their dairy Farm around Dargaville in Northland. Because I need a certain amount of money to feed up my bank account again, the time would be settled until I would leave the country roughly 4 months, or 18 weeks later.
The next step was to get used to the routine. The Calving season was just around the corner, and my main task would be to help during the busy time of the year. During my first days on the farm I got to know all the important things and the staff as well. Beside me there were two other Backpacker from Argentina, Christian and Gustavo, who worked on another farm (D1) which is managed by Jim and Janeen as well. I was chosen to help out at D3 and soon met up with my future workmates, Christine – the Manager of the shed, and Richard. Her first words to me upon my arrival were „For every mistake you do, I punch Richard“. Sweet, I thought. I can live down here for a while :D. Mistakes would be done many times, but never really severe ones. The best thing about them is, that actually no one growls at you if it happens – which is for a beginner and noob as I am unavoidable.
However am I a quick learner and got relatively soon into the routine, so that mistakes were less common. Another good thing about these two fellows is there humour, which matches mine exactly! Basically nothing is sacred and that’s what I like. Hence I got along with them very well, and we made fun of each other regularly. No day without several (bad) jokes or laughter around the cowshed. I’m not exaggerating if I say, they were the best workmates I’ve ever had! And if it wouldn’t be for them, I would probably have left a bit earlier, for the sake of traveling, because I saw almost nothing from the North Island.
Soon I had to learn many things, as to ride a Motorbike, a Tractor, how to feed out and other stuff. Well I never did my license in Germany, and am not very keen on motorized vehicles. But I rather adaptet quickly to the motorbike, which does not mean I haven’t had any accidents :D. No bad ones fortunately, but still, did I fly off my bike several times – countless times. Be it because I slid on cow shit and lost balance, or I pulled on the front brake downhill… Well as I said, nothing serious happened, and the only thing you can do is get up again and try your best not to fall of a second time^^.
With the Tractor I have some experience, even if not as glorious as I would like :D. About 16 years ago, with the tender age of ten, we visited friends of my mother, who hat a little farmhouse and neighbors with sheep and a Tractor, which I was allowed to drive. The driving itself went quite smooth, but no one told me how to stop. So I went straight for the garage door and the only thing I heard was „clutch, Clutch, CLUTCH!!!“. Just for the records, the door itself remained unbroken, but I took the break rather then what I was supposed to^^.
But even Tractor driving now was quite easy, and made a lot of fun.
So what was the routine now? Getting up in the morning and gather the cows was the first thing to do. As I wrote in the beginning, it was quite early. And usually between 3 and 4 am. After some time one gets used to it, but nevertheless am I yearning for my two days off which I get after 12 days of work. These two days I spent with learning Japanese (books provided by Christine and Janeen), and learn more about Greek and Celtic and Latin History. Also I got a fair deal of sleep, which is not to be forgotten^^.
The work is not really physical demanding, but still exhausting. In general I have to work between 10 and 12 hours a day (breaks excluded). Milking in the morning, then cleaning the cow shed, which is not done before 9 am. Afterwards an 1 hour Breakfast break follows, if time permits – which is succeeded by gathering new born calves from the Springer-Herd. We collect them and separate them from their mother, so that they can be milked. The calves will be raised separately with milk from their mothers, collected into the Vat. Now, Calves need colostrum Milk, which a cow gives for around the first 8 Milkings. Afterwards „normal“ Milk is fine, but without the colostrum Milk, they would die.
However, do we have several Herds on the farm. Beside the milking cows, the already mentioned colostrum cows, which join the milkers after the appointed 8 Milkings. If there is too much colostrum in the supply Vat, the Farmer has to pay penalty fees. Then there is a lame herd as well. Cows get lame on the races when weather conditions are bad. In Winter it’s usually quite wet (though not very cold). Another Herd would be the calving cows. Springer are the ones who are close to calving (which one sees with the swelling of the udder), and Dry’s are the ones who need still more time until they’re ready to calve. Last but not least are there the Yearlings (or Heifers in general), which are the calves from the preceding season. After one year, these Heifers will join the bulls to get pregnant and supply Milk in the following season. The Milking cows themselves get artificially inseminated which we did starting from the end of September.
The live on the farm never gets boring. There’s always heaps to do and only seldom do we catch actually up with the schedule^^. Favorite Tasks were all related with the animal itself, preferably moving cows into other paddocks. Milking itself was probably the most boring work to do. Catching calves could be quite difficult sometimes. One wants to pick them up when they are just born, for they’re not so agile as when they would be a couple of days old.
In the beginning I lived together with my two Argentinian Workmates under one roof. We got along very well, but they left around the middle of August so I could enjoy a House for me alone, until I had to move into Christine’s House. We get along very well, even though I was (voluntarily) the kitchen bitch and cooked almost every day for us, to have at least one hot meal a day =). We share not just the same humor but also about the same music and literature taste which makes living ‚together‘ quite more pleasant.
Richard did always let me on his computer, which I probably exploited a bit to much during the time I spent there, but that way, I could keep in touch with friends and family, so thank you Richard, good deeds shall not be forgotten and be repaid ;).
It happened also that I was asked to work at D1, which is just a Minute from my former home and help Suzanne out, while she was alone. Like working with Christine and Richard, it was a pleasure to work with her as well. Jim and Janeen can be very happy to have a great team like this.
Then there came a time, exactly one day after my birthday, that halve of the staff was sick, including me. The flu came around. For me it was the first time to actually catch it, therefore I was just lying down and try to convince myself that my limbs not trying to mutiny against myself! You’re going crazy if you think your attached limbs trying to separate and have their own mind. Try to control them^^. Don’t get the wrong impression, I was not wriggling with myself, but lying still on the bed (which after 2 days of a constant lay-down, was just horrible). However, after 6 consecutive days I got better again. I tried to attend to work after three days but was more like a walking dead and absolutely useless. Until I recovered, Christine and Richard hat to care about D1 and D3 practically on their own, which was a horrendous task, but it had to be done.
In my time there I learned heaps of stuff, though I’m not quite sure if i can use everything in my future life, but will see where it leads me =). Another interesting fact, which probably no outsider really knows is, that the Farmer is not payed for supplied Volume of Milk, but for the Milk solid content. Milk solid’s a Mix of Fat, Protein etc. Everything that still remains after you evaporate the water if I’m right. Therefore it’s quite important to choose your cows. Jim had Jersey, Friesian (which are German Cows), and Crossbreeds in between them. Jersey produce more fatty milk, while Friesians give more Volume but less Fat. Ideally the Crossbreed should combine both of the good characteristics.
In my last week it got quite busy then. Spring was in full bloom and the grass did grow like hell. Hence we had to cut it down to make Silage. Therefore our Days off were canceled and we had 13 to 16 hours a day (breaks excluded), Contractors from Dargaville arrived with big machines to do the deed, while we covered the Silage and also prepare paddocks for the planting of Maize and Turnips, which are a food reserve for the dry season. It does not have to be mentioned that I barely got any sleep, and was more like a walking dead :D. That’s why the Blogpost is a bit late. Originally I intended to write it last week on Tuesday, but time was lacking^^.
Unfortunately the awesome time is over now. I got quite used to the lifestyle. And even if there was nothing up in Pouto, one was surrounded by beautiful nature, Bays and seafood, which Richard obtained frequently, and smoked us some mullets. Really nice ones! I’m not really good with farewells, but even I got soppy on my last day and when I bid my farewell to everyone. But, I plan to come back there. Not tomorrow, but in a couple of years. I still have to see the North Island, which I only visited to work (hence there will be no Blogpost regarding this, I’ll save this for the proper time), and see my workmates and friends again! We will definitely stay in touch.
Hopefully I wrote everything down I intended to. If not, or if questions occur, one will remind me please! =).