WWOOFing on a Dairy Farm – Day 51
A WWOOF experience on a Taranaki Dairy Farm
Today on New Zealand’s BIGGEST Gap Year, we are seeing what it’s like to WWOOF on a dairy farm in Taranaki! It’s one of our 365 activities in 365 days!
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We are at Leeroy’s Farm. Now Leeroy’s Farm really sounds like a location in the Lord of the Rings. It is not. Leeroy’s Farm is an actual dairy farm here in New Zealand. We’re going to go dairy farming! But before that we do some more babysitting.
So we are waking up at andrew’s Farm and having breakfast with Andrew. Homegrown eggs, delicious fresh milk from a dairy farm. It was everything you can expect from a farm breakfast. it was delicious. Babysitting: something I don’t think I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t get on well with kids, I don’t like kids and they don’t like me. They always make a point of telling me that. So, to be fair, I’m not quite sure how this is going to go. But the good thing is with Andrew and Vanessa’s children is they are actually a delight.
What are we going to do? We’re going to go milk some cows. Andrew has asked Robin to help him with a chore. Which involves a rotary hoe for those of you that don’t know what a rotary hoe is, it’s kind of like a lawn mower with an old rusty engine on the front. it has two rotating blades on the front and two really thin wheels on the back. You push it, it digs up the earth. Puts the fresh underearth on top and goes on its merry way. But it sort of needs a bit of guidance. It has two handles you just got to guide it along. and make sure it’s going in the right direction. Let’s make it clear this was a painful and lengthy process. this was as awful to do than it is for you to watch me doing it right now. This was a nightmare. it was so hard. Well, a couple of clumps here and there. Probably give you are nine and a half. Laura give me a high five for nine and a half. Ow my hand hurts! Andrew has about 370 dairy cows in his farm so he’s giving us a bit of a tour. Now the two kids kind of like act like cow whisperers over there. the cows are kind of like intrigued and looking at them and line up together. it’s really fascinating how they’re really comfortable in front of those gigantic animals. I mean, I’m stressed and I’m about ten times the size of those kids. All that has to stop because now we have to go do some dairy farming. Cups have a thing called an inflation goes on the goes teat. Put you finger in there or your thumb. Put your thumb in there. Oh. And that’s what sucks the milk out.
So I take first try and basically the cow goes on the merry-go-round and then it starts moving and while it’s moving I literally just have a few seconds to put the suction cup on the four teats so the milk can come out. That’s going to happen to me isn’t it? But it’s much harder to do than it looks. Because first the whole stuff is moving second the cows maybe don’t like me playing with their teats so much and third well obviously they are animals right so they all have different size and shape. Well I fail the first time I fail the second time then at one point I kind of put them on and the whole suction cup fall off. I mean, it’s something you need to get used to to be able to do it properly and fast enough and all of that so it takes skills. Robin does a pretty appalling job then it’s my turn. And at first I’m like Ok, I can do this. the first cow I have it goes super smoothly. I’m like Oh my God, I’m a natural at this and then but then after that the next five cows I am completely ruining their day. i can see that. I put them in a bad MOOd. Cows are the most efficient animal on the planet. They can eat, milk and shit all at the same time and we see this while they are rotating on a merry-go-round. Like, who else can say they’ve done that? And andrew which is also a dairy farmer is showing me more of it. You know, the ins and outs. So the first thing that he does is grabbing a cow teat and kind of pressuring it the right way to get the milk out and if pressure it the correct way it can go quite far. It actually tastes really good. Yeah, it does! I like it. That is literally as fresh as it gets. Like, how often am I going to have a chance to literally try milk right out of the cow. Never. What’s the difference between that milk and what I buy in the supermarket. This hasn’t been homogenised or pasteurized. So pasteurizing kills the bugs and homogenising stops the fat separating from the rest of the milk from the rest of the cream.
So what do you think, Laura? That’s some good milk. Time to go to the calving shed, they’re so clumsy. they are adorable. Andrew tells us we should put our hands towards the cow’s like this and they start sucking really aggressively on our hands. it becomes apparent that they literally just suck on anything and hoping that milk will come out. Can you believe that in only two years those guys will be on that merry-go-round of milking mayhem. So Laura and I have just been delivered beer in the middle of the cow shed. I don’t think you can do any better than that.
After that, well that was a pretty long day for us. i am still very sore from working on the rotary hoe. it was really painful then playing around with the cow and everything was actually quite exhausting so we’re just going to have a quick dinner with Andrew and his family and we are going to crash in front of a movie.