Last week the weather, as a Kiwi friend of mine so aptly put it, “turned to custard!” It was snowing in some areas of the South Island and hailing in others! Up here where we are, it just got cold and wet. What happened to spring? It was warming up so nicely and then the summer download got “paused”. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, when it comes to NZ weather, things can change quite unexpectedly.
So, I found myself shivering and voicing some complaint about the sudden temperature drop. But I would have done well to bite my tongue, as I need only grab another jumper (to add to my existing three layers of clothing) or flick the switch on the heater and I would be relatively comfortable. I really have nothing to complain about. Moving past my own puny discomfort I turned to think about the poor farmers down in the South, with lambs and calves and spring crops in. How much more they must be feeling it!
New Zealand has a very big primary industry. A large portion of that is agriculture – something the nation prides itself on. Surely all have heard about the NZ dairy industry? What about NZ lamb or wool?
Many Kiwi kids have a wonderful, very hands-on experience when it comes lambs, calves and chooks (chickens) as one of the best days of the school calendar has to be calf-club day (also known as pet day or ag day). From what I can tell, this day is scheduled around the end of the third term to coincide with spring. School kids spend part of the term raising their own lambs, calves or even goat kids. They teach the animal to walk on a lead and come when called when off the lead. They are then judged, perhaps in a similar way to how livestock are judged at an agricultural show (another big thing in NZ – ever heard of Fieldays?) on how well the animal responds to their handler and, of course, export quality (um, whether the lamb will make good chops). The kids (human, not goat) can do other things too, like raise vegetables for competition or show off their chicken’s ability to perform tricks. At the little school our children attend, they have a “create and celebrate” part to their pet day programme. Here the kids work within set guidelines to create various floral arrangements and works of art and these are then judged, and they can win a certificate and house points. Talk about a well-rounded education!
Another good way to get better “acquainted” with (at arm’s length anyway) or appreciate rural NZ living is to watch a local programme called Hyundai Country Calendar, a weekly thirty minute or so TV programme about (you guessed it!) people who make their living off the land or sea. I usually always come away feeling a great degree of admiration for the hard-working Kiwis that love to work their land. They work hard, but still take time to watch their kids’ rugby or netball games on the weekends, even if it means standing in the pouring rain on the side-lines. Others painstakingly plant indigenous plants along waterways (riparian planting), in their own effort to do something to protect rivers and aquatic life from the nastier side-effects of agriculture. From what I can see, Kiwi’s are good at caring – there is something very genuine about them. Of course, this is me generalising, but it is a refreshing generalisation to make.
Other bits and bobs
Hyundai Country Calendar – try a sneak-peek episode?
Calf-club days – https://www.newzealand.com/int/article/calf-club-days-fun-for-all-in-rural-nz/
Fieldays is the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere – https://fieldays.co.nz/
Farmers markets, local markets and fares abound – we have a local Saturday market which takes place weekly – one can buy fresh veg, meat, plants, tuisnywerheid goodies and so forth – Google to find one near you