In those two long years between buying Muntanui and moving here permanently, we watched a lot of TV. Specifically, we watched everything that featured people like us who were attempting to carve out some sort of existence on the land.
But they weren’t really like us*. Of course they weren’t. They were already well-known (Te Radar and Matthew Evans) or they had famous friends (Jimmy Doherty). Some were trained chefs, well-versed in adding value to their farming produce (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Matthew Evans again). And all of them had cameras stuck in their faces.
It’s amazing how many people are willing to put themselves out and be your friend when there’s a boom operator trailing along behind you. (If you've just had a random thought about how much fun it would be to operate a boom and you'd like to know more about this as a possible career path, see below.)
We’re not famous. We can’t boast of having nekkid chef superstars as mates. We don’t know any boom operators (although if you’re reading this and you are one, feel free to trail along in our general vicinity whenever you want). Like most people, we have to make our own personal and professional connections from scratch and it’s a daunting prospect. But luckily, we’ve so far managed to be in the right places at the right times and have met some great people as a result.
Farmer Bob, organic worm farmer: what a legend. Alex, our Bee Boss: top bloke. Jan and Robbie from the local village: awesome pair. Helen, our neighbour: so damned good to us. And then there’s Mike and Shirley.
Mike and Shirley were fellow stall-holders at last month’s Festival Nelson Lakes. Both came over at different times and introduced themselves. We chewed the organic/permaculture/foodie/writing fat. Mike emailed us a couple of days later and invited us to a party at their block, just over an hour's drive south-west of here. And last weekend, leaving Muntanui in the capable hands of Farmer Wan’s visiting folks, we went.
One of these is a hottie
It was the first time we’d had a night away since we got here and it wasn’t until we hit the road that we realised how much we needed it. Oh, the fun we had! The food was sensational. The bonfire was the biggest I’ve ever seen. We got to use our tent again. There were drinks and a guitar and lots of waiata (songs) – a quintessentially Kiwi party. And the people were lovely: friendly, interested, chatty. After meeting a couple who are also farming Highland cattle, we even tentatively arranged a “bull swap” for the day when (our) Hamish and (their) Haggis have exhausted all the possible permutations in their respective local gene pools.
Yep, connections. Despite the absence of TV cameras in our faces we do seem to be making them, and very good ones at that. I don’t know how long the televised friendships last once the series has gone to air but we're hoping our new Muntanui mates will stay mates for the duration.
* My Dream Farm with British farming and horticulture doyen, Monty Don, is the exception -- and it was very sobering stuff.
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.