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Levin-Farm Life, Dec 2012

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 19 December 2012 | Views [541] | Comments [2]

one of the things i wanted to try here in NZ was WWOOF'ing....Willing Workers On Organic Farms. as a worker, the hosts would give me accomodation and food in exchange of 4-5 hours of work a day. even though i would not be getting paid, the time that i stayed on the farm would allow me to save money by not staying in backpackers and buying my own food.  So I found a listing on the wwoof website for help on a blueberry orchard in Levin.  Levin is a small town about 90 minutes north of Wellington.  I knew that living on a farm in the middle of nowhere would take some getting use to and it is way outside of my comfort zone but i am all about trying new things while travelling so i kept an open mind.  Josef and Maggie are an older German Couple that moved to NZ 7 years ago with their daughter.  They bought the run down blueberry farm, some alpacas and sheep and after 2 years of maintenance, they were able to start harvesting blueberries.  i would like to say that these berries are grown 100% organically.  they dont use any weed killers or pesticides in the harvesting of the berries and this is one of the reasons why i wanted to work on this farm. i wanted to live an organic vegetarian life.  when i arrived on the farm, i was the only wwoofer that they had to help them out.  upon my arrival, we agreed that i would stay Nov 23-Dec 23, work 6 hours a day around the farm and would help Josef out at the underground market on Saturdays and Sundays.  Maggie is a milliner and makes unique 1920's style hats from the sheep and alpaca wool.  saturday morning, jo and i would leave at 4:30am to head to wellington, set up our stall and sell the hats from 10am-4pm.  then we would drive back to Levin, just to return Sunday morning.  the weekend shifts consisted of 12 hours of work so in return, i was allowed 2 days off during the week to myself.  the first day of farm work was exhausting.  there are approx 1000 blueberry trees/bushes and my job was to start weeding around them.  if the grass seeds got on the blueberries, they would not be able to sell them.  so it was my job to make sure that the ground around the bushes were clear.  i scooted along from tree to tree weeding and pulling a wheel barrel behind me.  a few times a day, the golden retriever farm dog Tess would visit me for her daily lovings and sometimes she sat with me as i worked. The summer season was fast approaching and i could feel it in the increasing temperatures. every day i listened to my ipod while i worked and one day i decided to listen to xmas music since the holidays were only a few weeks away.  listening to "let it snow" in 75 degree sunshine just didnt feel right and the xmas music quickly turned into Beatles for the remainder of my time. one day the weather was rainy and the ground was wet so naturally i was miserable crawling along in the soaked grass. i tried to change my mood but every tiime my head hit the branches above me, water fell on my head and got me even more wet and even more miserable.  but half way through the row, i found a birds nest with 3 baby birds snuggled together waiting for their mother. this instantly put a smile on my face aand warmed my heart. all it took was this little bundle of cuteness to make my rainy day full of sunshine!  it took me 5 days to complete the 1000 bushes and with my body being shattered and bruised, i embraced the weekend market away from the farm.  working the market was fun.  i got to interact with customers and try on hats all day long.  jo and i would take turns with breaks and we made a great selling team.  since wellington is where i would like to end up in the longer term, i told jo i would still help him out a few hours on the market so he could take a lunch break and walk around. 

a few things that i have learned while being here: alpaca are very shy animals and sheep are very dumb.  but i still couldnt help being nervous everytime i walked through their pasture and all of their eyes were on me as if they were planning to stampede! quite a few times i got to help move the sheep into  new pastures and that was fun. i also got to shear a sheep! that was a little nerve racking but really cool.  one day we had to seperate the 3 males from the rest and i noticed that they were keeping 4 baby lambs seperated as well.  when i asked why they werent with the mothers, jo told me they sold the babies and they were being sent to the slaughterhouse.  hearing the baby lambs cry out to their mothers on the other side of the fence broke my heart. even though jo and maggie are vegetarians, they still need to make money when the blueberry season is over so as a result, they sell the baby lambs.  i have decided that since i have been living vegetarian for the past 4 weeks, i am going to try to keep up with it.  i know it is going to be hard, especially since the smell of bacon is absolutely heavenly, but this is one change in my life that i would like to continue for health purposes. 

another thing i learned here on the farm is that when alpaca poo, they do so in the same spot every time, thus creating a "toilet".  my job one day was to find all the alpaca toilets and clean them.  yup! THATS RIGHT! I took a shovel and the wheel barrel and scooped it all up and chucked it into the compost.  alpaca poo is very good fertilizer.

i thought farm life would be difficult and even though i am not planning on going from a city girl to a country bumpkin, i actually enjoyed my time here.  josef and maggie are wonderful people and i am so pleased to have met them. i have learned alot from them and i hope to stay in contact even after i leave.  all this hard work was a great experience and getting my hands dirty was fun.  but i am here on holiday after all, and with the holidays approaching, I am ready to hang up my working clothes and have a little fun.  all work and no play makes for a dull holiday so bring on New Years!





Hi Sarah,

Happy Holidays!! Glad you are enjoying farm life. Hope you have a great Xmas and New Years. Love seeing the photos.
Miss you.

  Kristy Dec 21, 2012 8:33 AM


I am so happy that you tried WWOOFing! The simplicity of farm life is very refreshing and helps you appreciate the little things in life, like finding a birds nest :) I am happy for you, Sarah!

  Jennifer Jan 17, 2013 1:27 PM

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