Our time as sheep farmers has come to an end. Most of the sheep have lambed, a measly 800 remain, and we are no longer needed around the farm. Tailing, where the tails of the lambs are cut off as a measure to prevent flystrike, happens in a week or so.Flystrike happens when the flies lay eggs on the rear end of the sheep, and the maggots start into the living meat. Very nasty. We might come back for a few days to help out with tailing, but we aren’t sure yet. It sounds a lot like the Kiwi equivalent to the Western Canadian branding, basically drink beer and physically alter animals. tailing is done by putting a tight rubber band at the base of the lambs tail. In a few weeks, the tail simply falls off. You might think this is inhumane. I recently watched a show about a campaign in Western Africa to circumcise men in order to hinder the spread of AIDS. This was done by putting a plastic ring under the foreskin and a tight rubber band on the outside… the guy they interviewed said it stung a bit, but then just went numb, so it makes me feel a bit better about what the lambs are going through.
It’s been an interesting experience working here but I think I can safely say for both of us that we are excited to get on our way. This was our first full day off in 3 weeks, and the farm has taken a bit of a toll on our bodies. Kelly's tendonitis is acting up from driving the ATV, and my hands are full of winter cracks, which makes doing things quite painful. We could keep going, but it is nice to be done.
Yesterday we took a few hours to drive into Invercargill to get some things. We picked up a new camping stove for a pupil widening sum, but it came with a fuel bottle and can run on white gas, unleaded, diesel, alcohol, or kerosene. Pretty sick. The only other options were wimpy little things, and at least this one will last a few years. Our next stop was to get a bank account and IRD (=SIN) number at KiwiBank. It took about an hour and a half to get through the questions, but it all worked out. Now we have a place to put our pay cheque, which we unexpectedly got a few days ago. We got our first look at a Kiwi grocery store at the Pack’n Save. The prices are similar to Canada, expect for Bacon which cost $12.65. We skipped it.
Today we took some time to fix up the van to make it more livable. We originally had plans to build a bed structure that would have compartment below to put our bags in. The more we think about it, though, the more it seems like a dream and less of a reality. We want to keep the back seats in case we have some extra passengers (like anyone who wants to visit!). This means that we would have to make some sort of folding bed and it’s just a little too much work. The wood here is also really expensive, which was quite a shock. Also, we don’t have any tools. Needless to say, we have settled on buying a thick piece of foam, should be comfy!
The plan as it stands right now is to spend a day in Invercargill, tying up some loose ends in terms of applications and internet stuff. John was pretty panicked for the last few days about getting the reference letters he needed for an application, but it all worked out in the end. Then we’ll head to Bluff, the southernmost part of NZ and take the ferry over to Stewart Island. We’ll pick up the food and fuel for our new whisperlite camping stove, and head out on the 10 day hiking trip around the island. We have already put together a menu, which I’m sure will be tasty on trip, but right now seems a little boring. It consists of a lot of oatmeal and PB and H wraps. From what we’ve heard, the hike is pretty muddy, and the weather looks pretty intense, but apparently it’s gorgeous and totally worth doing. There are huts along the way that you can rent, or you can opt to stay in your own tent. I think we will be doing a little bit of both, especially if it gets really rainy and cold.
I would like to say we are going to be better about getting in touch with all of you back in Canada now that we don’t have to work all the time, but the reality is we will have even less access to the internet. Hopefully we can get some emails and calls out tomorrow from the library.