Published: January 6th 2010
January 6th 2010
Well Hello! Welcome back to WWG Adventures. Yeah it was more than a brief delay but thats because it was Chriswanzaka and the New Year so I hope you all had happy holidaze! I've got a few more entries before I wrap up my NZ experience. And when I get my memory cards back I will post photos!
So back to the south island and stepping off the water taxi in the Marlborough Sound at the Brightlands Farm. The cove we motored into to get to their dock was filled with the lines I saw from the plane. They were mussel lines for the famous green-shelled mussels that are a NZ delicacy! They had 2 large workboats moored in the cove that they use to assist in harvesting the tons (literally) of mussels they have hanging on dozens of 100 ft lines held up by large barrel-like floats. We worked our way up to the house and met Kathy and their 2 dogs (border collies, of course) out on the deck that had an amazing view back out into the cove and of the large hill that created a ridgeline 180 degrees around the house in the distance. We stepped inside and met Gus who was finishing up a business meeting with his accountant and attorney over the state of his mussel farm. Apparently it was a good year. We met 2 young German girls that were also WWOOFing there (they had been at Gus and Kathys for over a month). We had a few hours before dinner so Kathy told us if we wanted to go out and explore the property we could hike up the previous mentioned ridgeline which was there property line. Wait! What? Yes, as far as you could see around the cove and up around the ridgeline, that was their property, 1100 acres worth! So off we went climnbing over paddock gates that kept their 80+ head of sheep in designated fields. The views were fantastic and I felt like a safari photographer trying to get close enough to the skittish sheep for a proper photo ... not quite! When we got back we had a delicious mussel alfredo pasta dinner with some of their own fresh seafood. We had some wine with dinner (some more than others) and found out from our hosts that they had had bad expereince with previous Americans that had recently WWOOFed on their property. So that evening we had to explain to them that all Americans aren't like that and gave them a little more true American info than what they get on their 6 o'clock news! I had missed Thanksgiving and was a little homesick talking about that holiday to them. So I remedied it by playing DJ with Gus's American music in his CD collection and then had a jam session with Kathy on guitar and me on piano!
The next day Kathy was nursing her "brew flu" as Gus called it and me and Julia and the Germans headed out to a paddock to start grubbing. Grubbing is a form of weeding large plants or small shrubs that they sheep don't eat and need to be removed so they don't overtake the fields. It was a flower known as fox glove (pretty in States, grows like a weed there) and thistle (damn that stuff is really prickly) and a sapling cedar type tree. We were all given these sickle like tools with a large and small pointed end and a 3 foot handle. You would swing it under the plant and into the root and hopefully be able to pull it out after 2 or 3 whacks depending on it's size and your ability to hit the tap root. It was physical labor but what I signed on for and it was nice to be breaking a sweat in this gorgeous setting.
We stayed at Brightlands farm for 6 days and had alternating sunny days with rainy days. The rainy days we did chores and cleaning in the house. On the other days we worked out in the garden and weeded around the veg plants and helped with the feeding of the 24 chickens. The chickens produce about an egg a day and have free travel outside their coup during the day to eat all the bugs in and around the veg garden. I also learned that their house and Gus's brothers house (he lives with his wife about .5 km up the hillside from Gus and Kathy) are all completely powered by hydro-electric power! They have several small streams that run down the steep hills around the property into the cove. One of the larger streams he has channeled off with 6 in PVC piping that feeds it 400 meters down the hillside to a small barn with a generator that converts the water flow into energy to power the houses! He also has a dammed pond that supplies about 1000 gallons of water to a tank for water to the houses and a reserve tank for emergency use or fire suppression. This is all done out of neccesity since they live far out in the sound/bay and no roads come anywhere near their property, which is just how Gus likes it! When they need supplies they hop in the small power boat and motor an hour to a place where they keep their car parked and head to the stores from there.
Our last day there we went out in the boat in the cove and collected several pounds of mussels and cleaned and prepped them for a mighty feast. It was a great way to wrap up our time out in the Marlborough Sounds eating their prized seafood that gets exported all over the world. Leaving the cove we caught the mail boat (delivers mail and people to different areas of the sound once a week) back into town to meet up with the next couple we would be WWOOFing with 30 minutes outside of Havelock.
Thank Yous: Gus and Kathy (for taking a second chance with Americans), the mailboat driver
Wildlife Sightings: Fox Gloves, Thistle, Green Shelled Mussels, Wild Sheep
When you hear Van Morrison turn it up and think of me.
Next Time: WWOOFing at Blueberry Cottage