The Dairy Farm Life.
Ladies that milk
Well well well, Ladies and Gentlemen wasn't I in for a roller coaster experience when I took a job on a dairy farm over lock-down? I got to experience and witness some of the craziest shit possible. I watched the sunrise, sunset every single day for three months and best of all, seen some of the most amazing New Zealand night sky's.
From milking 988 cows, running through the fodder beet chasing after cows, painting and drafting cows (splitting the cows into different herds), fencing (which included thousands of electroshock's) and lots and lots of painting of many parts of farm cottages,
I can honestly say I loved the whirlwind experience.
I loved being outside and enjoying all the elements that New Zealand had to throw at me, frozen eyelashes, 16 layers of clothing and the weather thawing off by lunchtime, thus making me leave a trail of layers behind.
I would get the cows in at 3-4 am depending on what part of the farm they were on for milking at 4:30- 5am as this is before the frost sets in (the coldest part of the night/morning) and freezes the milking belt and machines. When I was getting the cows in, in the dark it was like a game of ghost with the torch we used to play as kids, like find the cow, the spookiest thing is when the cows stand up and move from where they've been sleeping steam rises from where they've been lying and leave giant dark patches of warm grass with frost around them, you cant decide if its a ditch, puddle, mound of dirt or where the cows have been sleeping. The strangest of all is when there's white patches where there udders have leaked where they're so full and left a sort of ice cream everywhere SO STRANGE and unfathomable at that hour of the morning.
Boy do I have some stories to tell.
When I arrived on the farm I was told, you have to step up, the boys (the two Phillipino's I was working with) don't like women and especially don't like backpackers. GREAT
So, I showed up, ready to get down and dirty and pull my weight , 4.45 am ready for the 5 am milking with my sleeves rolled up ready to roll. By golly gosh 988 cows is a lot, it was never ending and worst of all my arms were killing me. The cups for the cows are impressively heavy, probably the weight of a bag of flour, needless to say my arms were dead for the first two weeks of milking, until my muscles sized up to the job. The evening milking was worst because I'd already milked enough cows in the day, double the number of cows is enough to kill anyone off.
Now when it came to doing jobs on the farm, I got shouted at a lot, like a lot a lot, so I had to mentally rank my jobs from high impacted-low risk, low impact- high risk. A high impact low risk job would be something that you can generally see I've been working F**King hard and the likely hood of me F**king up is low, such as water hosing the cow shed, I enjoyed that because I got left to it, it needed doing, no one else wanted to do it and there was minimal ways I can get shouted at, other than taking too long to do it. Another reason why I enjoyed hosing down the cow shed is that it was a serious core work out, the hose pipes were so big and powerful you had to pull them over your shoulder and lean into the water so you don't go flying from the power of the water, I'm not going to lie I felt like a fireman and instead of putting out fires and saving lives I was making shit fly. I digress, a low impact high risk job would be doing the fecking fodderbeet fences, I always got shouted at, they were hard and a pain in the arse to do and also 1000's of electric shocks would always ensue.
The cows are fed an incredibly sugary vegetable called fodderbeet. To allow the cows to consume this sugary energy giving fuel they are slowly weened onto it, row by row. Now if the cows are given too much they will die, so you can imagine when the cows escape onto the fodderbeet its all hands on deck to chase them off before they've consumed too much. A very stressful experience, running through the fodderbeet trying to chase some very happy cows off their favorite food. Whilst I am chasing it is rather like running across a football field full of frozen footballs all placed randomly to trip me up and face plant me in the ground, you then need super balance and nifty foot work to be able to stand up again while wheeling your arms around wearing so many layers of clothes!
16 to be precise.
Now because the cows are given a row at a time, this means each day we move an electric fence X amount of rows, in a completely straight line! This is a massive test of patience because
1. The fodderbeet rows aren't straight.
2. When it's foggy which it always is in the morning you can only see one fence post at a time! Which means by the time you've finished making the fence the fog has lifted you're left with a wonky fence which looks like a drunk person has done it.
3. We had three fodderbeet fields for our three herds of cows, which is enough to piss anyone off, and worst of all the boys hated doing it, which meant by proxy it was ny job, all mine! There was an expected time limit for this job as well, 30 minutes per field which is just impossible, these fields are not like the English ones oh no, think on a much larger scale where you cannot see the other side of the paddock.
You especially do not want to be doing that on a hangover.
The Phillys and I.
The conversations between the Philippinos and I were rather questionable, between the miss-communication and the cultural difference it was quite a laugh. One day Arnold (one of the boys I worked with) asked how much I weighed, I said X stone, which threw him off massively, "Lucy do you not weigh yourself", I do it's X stone, "WHAT, why are you weighing yourself with stones, you have different sized rocks, big, medium, small. WHY!" Noooo it's how we weigh ourselves in the UK, after much puzzlement the conversation moved on. The next night we attended a Philippino karaoke night (they love it) where there was Philippinos and South Americans, Arnold says; Lucy weighs herself with stones, Oh dear I thought. One of the South American girls said "shes only telling you her weight in stones because she doesn't want you to know", no I said, it's actually how we weigh ourselves, so I got the weight conversion up on my phone and they still didnt understand! 45 minutes this conversation went on for, goodness me!