Hamish the bull was lonely. He'd gotten to know us a bit, was happy to let us hand-feed him carrots, but he was a lone bovine in a big paddock and he needed company.
Two weeks ago, it arrived.
The story of how Hamish's new family finally got here is something of an epic in itself. Suffice it to say, it took four days to take the animals by road from their original home in Southland (bottom of the South Island) to Muntanui (near the top of the South Island) and one of the cows died in the process. I should stress that this wasn't the supplier's fault. There were three different transport companies involved and one of them messed up.
It was 9:30pm and pitch black when the truck eventually rolled up our driveway. Farmer Wan directed the driver to the appropriate paddock and, because we don't yet have a loading ramp, the animals either leapt (sheep) or lurched (cows) out accordingly.
We were now the proud owners of the following certified organic livestock:
We've named the cow Senga, the heifer calf Sonsie and the steer calf -- who's destined for the freezer -- Stew.
They've settled in well. Unlike Hamish, the newbies aren't very interested in making friends with us. They seem immune to the seductive allure of carrots. And last week, we got the first inkling that the honeymoon could be over for young Hamish and he might be craving some extra-marital excitement. He spent an entire day at the fence, bawling forlornly at a solitary cow in the neighbour's paddock over the road.
Posted by Farmer Nik
OK, it wasn't quite as dramatic as that ill-fated camping trip in remote West Australia when we spent eight hours trying to dig our 4WD out of a river while an electrical storm raged overhead, and Farmer Wan had to walk out the next morning to call for help from friends in Karratha, 100km away... but it was still pretty big.
Firstly, we had guests in the form of BLT, dear friends from Oz who we hadn't seen in six years. Their gorgeous little girl quickly made Buddy the Dog her willing slave.
Then, on Saturday, we launched Muntanui onto an unsuspecting public at Festival Nelson Lakes.
The Viva Muntanui! stall featured a select range of produce, mostly donated by kind souls who'd heard me moaning that I didn't have anything to put on it.
My unique sales patter ("Welcome to the Muntanui Festival! I don't know what all these other people are doing here but feel free to check out what we've got!") seemed to strike the right kind of note. Farmer Wan's more subtle approach was a huge hit as well. Meaning, people actually bought things.
After taking out the cost of the stall hire and the money owed to friends on whose behalf we'd sold stuff, we made a grand total of $30. Factor in the time we spent in the lead-up, not to mention the cost of the promotional material we had printed, and we're deeply in the red. So we're not going to do that 'factoring in' thang. At least, not for our very first market stall. We prefer to bask in the thought that we made 30 bucks. Yay!
The absolute wonderfulness of the weekend culminated in the arrival of a handsome, hairy, red-haired Scotsman called Hamish.
We've arranged for two Highland cows and their calves (a steer and a heifer) to join him in early February. We're also getting ten Wiltshire ewes, with a complimentary ram thrown in.
2012 is the year of livestock at Muntanui. It's the year we become proper farmers, rather than the glorified gardeners we've been over the last five months. This year, it gets serious.
Posted by Farmer Nik
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.