Edita and the Farm Experience

After 2 months of travelling in New Zealand and Samoa we came back to Queenstown for winter season. It’s an amazing place but I didn’t want to return to my previous work in a hotel because there was nothing new for me to learn and so I decided to try something more adventurous and for me completely new – work on a farm with animals!

I chose a position of farm assistant on a diary farm. This position was not easy to get due to my lack of experience in this area. I sent my CV to many farms and I got only one offer. I accepted it without hesitating and in the beginning of NZ winter I headed to the south of the South Island close to Invercargill.

At first it is necessary to feed the cows. On my first day we loaded 90 of them into a truck and carried them 100 km to the north to Te Anau where they had more grass to eat. In Te Anau we were taking care of 800 cows on 600 acres big property.

Still the first day they showed me how to drive squad. The property was very big and we had to use these motorbikes every day. We were using them also to transfer the cows from one paddock to another. This was my favorite part of job – drive fast on the squad threw mud, streams and fields covered with snow.




Possums were brought to New Zealand from Australia. They became too many and many of them are dying on the roads killed by cars. On our farm they were making traps with poison. Their fur is used to make winter clothes.

Every day some of the cows had to be moved to a different paddock or be fed by baleage so that they have something to eat at all times. The most experienced farmer was taking care of their nutrition. It might look that cows eat grass and that’s it. But soon I realized it is much more complicated. The cows are getting grass, baleage, sileage, fodder beat, sweets, proteins and magnesium and other vitamins in powder and all that in exact amount per each cow! :-)

We were working in all weather conditions. Because of the fact that the winter have just started I was very happy that they supplied me with warm working clothes – waterproof trousers and jacket, overall against mud, working gloves, warm socks and gumboots. When I put all this on me every morning I felt like if I’m going to a war. To walk in all this equipment in deep mud and push in front of me very heavy ring feeder was really demanding morning exercise.


Another interesting job was building electric fences. These fences are keeping cows on exact feeding areas. To wind a fence looks so simple! But during my first trials when I was getting one electric shock after another I realized it will need more of my attention than I expected. On the other hand when you get an electric shock couple of times you learn much faster. :-)

The most popular saying on our farm was: ”If you have lifestock you have also dead stock.” And both farmers were smiling suspiciously when saying that. Only couple of days later I found close to our house cow heads, tails, stomachs etc. which left there a butcher who came to kill 2 ill cows. Nothing for sensitive people.




I really enjoyed work at the farm. You can be all day outside on fresh air and with animals. Both farmers were very friendly people. They we teaching me how to do everything and were answering all my questions about farming. The disadvantage of working on a farm is that it is quite far from everything. You will not find here any bars, discos, cinemas or other usual city activities. It is work more for people who enjoy being alone, in nature and with animals. I’m not this type of person and so after a while I started to miss my friends and I had to leave the farm. I’m happy for this experience and I would recommend it to everyone. :-)

Written by Edita Zenklová

 



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