Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunday 10-3

Sunday began with Ashley and I writing in the Jury’s guestbook.  We happily reviewed all the awesome experiences we had at the farm, and reluctantly expressed our parting feelings.  We decided to leave my set of Buckyballs with the family.  While I was definitely attached to them, Ashley and I both felt that the little magnetic balls would be enjoyed significantly more by the Jury family (as we had seen the previous few weeks)

The family, and us, spent about 45 min hanging out with the farm animals: CJ, Milly, and the $15,000 pregnant Alpacas.  Lambchops (the smaller lamb) wasn’t as cool as CJ, so we didn’t really hang out with him.  Jesse rode on the goat, Milly, but not for very long because she was a speedy goat.

For brunch, Sharyn made pancakes (we would more accurately call them crepes), with whipped cream/jam/syrup/ and other very delicious and healthy materials J. They were supreme.

Ashley and I packed and cleaned, and then Sharyn Tony and I recorded 5 or 6 of their songs.  It was a pretty awesome run through, we only had to redo 3 or 4 songs, and they burnt the songs on a CD for Ashley and I to listen to on the car ride to Wellington. Sweet!

It was an emotional goodbye. We really didn’t want to go. The experience at the Jury farm was a great one and we will be hard-pressed to meet a more welcoming, fun, loving, and hospitable bunch of folks.  Thanks so much to Tony, Sharyn, Jesse, and Corban for everything! We love you guys J 

And thus our drive to Wellington began.  We hadn’t gone 10 miles before realizing we had left a pair of sunglasses in Tony’s ute :/ so we spun around and Sharyn graciously met us at the main road and handed them off.  The drive from the Jury’s house to our couch in Wellington took us about 5 hours, not bad for a bunch of tourists.

We were welcomed into Jon and Rebecca’s home by Eric, the other couch surfer, at about 8pm.  It just so happened that Eric was from Puyallup, WA and Jon was from Connecticut and had lived in Seattle and Alaska for 4 or 5 years…  Weird coincidence?  Since we got there pretty late, we just spent a few hours getting to know each other before we headed off to sleep.  Jon showed us some of his flying lessons that he had videotaped, and also a recording of him hang gliding (so cool!!!). 

We welcomed sleep gladly after a very draining day; unfortunately the hard floor only had a very thin layer carpet to cushion our bodies…

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Saturday 10/2

Today JP got to herd cattle with Tony, separating one Tony’s cows from another man’s cows. Tony would allow the cows from one group to exit through a gate while JP tried to herd the wrong ones a way by scaring them with clicking sounds and swatting them on the behind with a stick. He had a blast doing it and said he felt like a real life farmer. J
Meanwhile I was washing dishes – feeling a little jealous. But that’s ok because JP had to go back out to the field with a hoe in the hot sunshine to wack away at thistles, while I got to learn how to transplant flowers with Sharyn from Grandma Celia’s garden.
That afternoon for lunch, we ate delicious corn fritters. I’m for sure gonna learn how to cook those! Corban and Jesse gobbled most of them down. J
After lunch we hopped in the truck, which they call a ute, and went to the walkway (or waterfront) in New Plymouth, where we met Shay, Nicki, and their 2 little girls, Summer and Keely. The boys got to bring their bicycles. It was kinda cold because of all the wind down there… but it was gorgeous and we loved it. We’d thought about going to a rugby game, the whole family that is, but we decided to stay in that night and enjoy our last night all together. After the boys went to bed, JP and I played a couple of games with Tony and Sharyn and had so much fun. We played Carcassonne again. And Tony won again. J lame.

Friday 10/1

Today we learned that alpacas are crazy expensive… like $15,000 each!

Because the sun came out early… whoo hoo! We got to go out and do yardwork – weeding the garden and hoeing thistles. We got to actually see Mt. Taranaki for the first time… and it is B-E-A-Utiful.
We also bought our car and drove it home, which was SOOO exciting.
The band came over that evening for practice – fun as usual J
And JP and I bought our ferry tickets (which amounted to about $300!). 

Thursday 9/30

As of tonight we've been here for a 2-week stretch. And we've had 2 weeks of downpour, with a couple of brief sun-breaks.
We leave for Wellington on Sunday morning. And according to the weather forecast, Sunday afternoon and thereafter is expected to be fine.
We're rather convinced we're cursed.  
While we've been here, the rain catcher broke and the house ran out of water, there have been a lot of internet problems, many sheep and lambs have died, as well as a few calves and cows, oh and it feels like there's been much much more, but I seem to be going blank.
No matter, they seem to like us anyway. :)

Today as the rain poured down, Sharyn and Tony decided to give us the day off – again – because they were out of indoor tasks to do. We felt pretty useless… but used the time to make preparations for our departure… such as a finding a bus ride to Wellington, finding a place to stay the night in Wellington, purchasing ferry tickets to the South Island, arranging a water taxi to take us to the lodge.
JP found a bus we could take and bought our tickets. We had been looking for a car for a while but hadn’t been able to find anything cheap enough.
That afternoon, Sharyn asked to play another round of Carcassonne! J and then Tony got in from town with awesome news.
He’d found a car, a navy blue Mitsubishi Galant being sold right in our price range from a mechanic friend of his. Tony took us out to the car lot so we could inspect the car and take it for a drive. And it was awesome. We made arrangements to purchase it the following day after the owner updated the car’s warrant, proving it to be in fit condition.
It turned out the bus tickets were non-refundable…. But whatever, we got an awesome deal on a car.
Thank you, Tony!
And thank you, Lord!!

Wednesday 9/29 –

Wednesday was my (Ashley’s) 23rd birthday. And it was awesome. J Tony and Sharyn wouldn’t let us work that day but insisted it would be a day of fun. When JP and I came upstairs for breakfast, after we’d played a celebratory game of Carcassonne before even brushing our teeth, the Jury’s gave me a birthday present they’d prepared for me. J It was so cute. They’d caught on to my adoration of baby lambs and had made me a birthday card with two very cute little lambs on the front, gave me a very soft little lamb puppet (haha – puppet…. After the muppet party…. J), a lamb juice glass, and lots and lots of chocolates. J perfect.
That day we all (all except Tony) went to the Aquatic Center in New Plymouth where we went swimming, zoomed down waterslides, maneuvered through floaty obstacle courses, and relaxed in the hot tubs. J I hadn’t been to a place like that in years. It was awesome. The place was a lot more daring and less monitored than a typical American aquatic center, which had a lot more potential for danger, but definitely allowed the kids there to have more fun. J
After that we went to a roller-skating rink (another activity I hadn’t done in forever… and discovered that Sharyn was actually quite gifted at skating…. I think she should join a roller derby team. And after that, we went to a museum in New Plymouth. It was quite the busy day. :)
That night, after the boys went to bed, JP and I finally taught Tony and Sharyn Carcassonne – and they loved it! And Tony won. J Him and I battled over the fields THE entire game… and he managed to beat me.
As we went to bed…. our day of 9/29/10 ended, but on the other side of the world, the day of 9/29/10 began. J and I felt like I got 2 birthdays.

Tuesday 9/28

Tuesday the rain took a break and Tony had us out on the deck – water blasting (power-washing) the glass of the railings, and bleaching the actual deck and the sides of the house. JP completely destroyed his jeans, t-shirt, and zip-up hoodie with that crazy powerful bleach – but we had a blast.
That same day Tony moved the alpacas from one field (on top of the hill) to another (the one right by the house!). This was exciting news for me. JP and I had gone for a walk through the farm lands a couple days before and had encountered the alpacas who came racing up to inspect us, and we’d found ourselves positively enthralled with them. J
Now upon the arrival of 4pm, Ian Finer pulled into the driveway to steal us away once more. We’d made arrangements to spend time with the Finers one last time to see their dairy farm and eat dinner at their house.
So Ian took us straight out to one of the milking houses where the cows were all lined up from the fields to enter in on a bit of a merry-go-round upon which they’re mechanically milked on for a couple of minutes before being released once more onto their grazing fields.
And I got to milk cows. J It was awesome. Yes it was mechanical – but I still got poop on my arms, got peed on, and got kicked in the shoulder and swatted in the face with a tail – and it was all very invigorating. :) Now, sure it’s mechanical, but it still takes so skill to quickly apply the sucky-tubes to each nipple on the udders. At least, I felt like it took some skill….
Next we went in to the calf house – where the calves of all the local school children were being raised. Good lordy were they cute. The grandchildren of the two farm workers filled up the milk sacks for the calves, and we got to feed the calves muesli out of our hands and feel them suck on our fingers. J
Next we got to meet the big, old pigs ( who STUNK like none other!) and tried to the stop the little boy from throwing rocks at them… poor, stinky pigs. Ian Finer, who now has made quite a name for himself, told us about 30 years before when he’d first built the milking house with just about no money. :) Pretty incredible.
He took us back to his house where Janet was cooking away and refused any form of assistance. They encouraged us to enjoy the sunshine in their yard while waiting for dinner to start. So JP and I took some time examining their beautiful garden before planting ourselves on their porch swing.

Ian and Janet have 4 daughters and 1 son… so 5 kids, who have each married and bore 3 kids. That evening their daughter from Wellington, her police officer husband, and their 3 teenage daughters joined all of us for dinner. And we had the best time getting to know them. We all sat around the dinner table for hours, enjoying a wonderful meal of sheep, yams unlike we’ve ever seen, cooked pumpkin, and apple-blueberry crumble with hokey pokey ice cream for dessert (hokey pokey ice cream is vanilla with chunks of honeycomb mixed in). We enjoyed conversation about American stereotypes, political associations, media, the police force, alcohol, and yada-yada-yada. We thought they were delightful and that their daughters were charming.
We thanked them all profusely and then Ian brought us home. J We got back at 10pm.

Monday 9/27

We woke up Monday morning a bit earlier than usual because Sharyn had come downstairs and was calling our names. She wanted to know if one of us wanted to step in and help out at Tony’s sister’s café. One of Deb’s employees had called in sick that morning and she was already short. Tony ended up bringing both of us over. So we spent the day working at a café called BB’s in New Plymouth.
First thing we were given work shirts. JP had accidentally been given a woman’s shirt, which was too tight, too showed, his midriff, and made him look like he had breasts. After everyone had a good laugh over it, they found him a more appropriate BB’s shirt, and we got working. The two of us picked up pretty fast: preparing orders, serving tables, and cleaning tables. It was a lot of fun, but we were both reminded how exhausting food jobs are. When we took our lunch, Deb said we could eat anything we wanted. JP got a hot enchilada (and burned the skin in the top of his mouth off L) and I got a corn fritter topped off with a roasted tomato, bacon, brie, and hollandaise sauce. Yes we were tired. Yes we were extremely hungry. But still, I’m pretty sure those were the two best dishes of food we’ve ever had. BB’s rocks.
We also got to learn how to make milkshakes – and drink them. J
Around 3:30 or 4, Grandma Celia came to pick us up. And much to our surprise, Deb paid us $100. We had thought that we were working just as workaway people at the café instead of the farm, but apparently not. Deb also thanked us profusely for saving her butt (it had been a really busy day). And with our new $100, we went straight to the electronic store and bought ourselves a cell phone. It felt real good.
Celia drove us home and we sat in the car talking with her for a while (she’s fully of all kinds of crazy stories) then went inside. That night we stayed up late talking and laughing with Tony and Sharyn. We’re beginning to feel a lot closer to them and really like the relationship we’re developing. It’s an interesting combination between, employer’s, parents, and buddies. We’re really thankful that we ended up with a couple like them. They’re great parents, and are so good to each other and the people around them. They’re also very wise – yet very fun-loving. I think we’re learning a lot from them in regards to the kind of household we’d like to run and the kind of people we’d like to be.

Sunday 9/26

Morning came way too fast.
Springtime daylight savings was the reason (not to mention the late night Muppet party). We had no idea it was coming. Luckily our itouch, which JP had set to New Zealand settings, automatically prepared for the time change. Wrong night to lose an hour tho. JP had stayed up super late trying to scrub the blue off from his hands. It didn’t work. And he received inquiries about them for the rest of the day.
Ian and Janet Finer picked us up for church and that day there was a baptism and communion service at Knox followed by a afternoon church potluck where a couple named Graham and Judy invited us to join them and their family for Christmas if we’d like to – awesome – and I met one of Sharyn’s friend’s, Di (short for Dianne) who I spent most of the time talking with about her experience with Christian therapy – which was SOOOO cool and I really wish I could have spent more time with her. Before the Finers took us home, we stopped at the grocery store where we encountered the selling of oxen livers and sheep brains.
That afternoon JP and made brownies for the fam and relaxed, playing games with Jesse and Corban.

Saturday 9/25

All day Saturday was spent in preparations for the muppet party. The night before, Tony had constructed a mask for JP out of paper maché. JP just needed to paint and detail Gonzo’s face. That day, the Jury’s had masses of guests dropping in and out. We got to meet Tony’s mother, Celia, who is absolutely adorable. She lives in a house on a lower piece of the farm property. She shared loads of old stories with us as JP made hair out of pipe cleaners and I assembled giant eyelashes to look like the muppet Janice.
Closer to 7pm, I mixed orange face paint with nasty $2 store foundation and began brushing it on as JP painted his hands blue. Now I’m convinced that more than anything, I looked like a clown or an old woman who was no longer able to apply her makeup, but everyone around me insisted that my costume was perfect. I don’t think they would have actually had any idea who I was if I hadn’t made an electric bass guitar out of cardboard. J
Tony and Sharyn were for sure the best though. J Sharyn was Dr. Teeth and Tony was Bert. Oh man they looked so funny. Tony already shaves his head, so they just had to add black fuzzy stuff to give him Bert’s goofy hairdo. Sharyn painted herself green and gave herself a red beard. They looked awesome.
Now this nighttime, early spring during a storm party – was outdoors. It was cold. I stood next to the bonfire most of the time, which was where most of the people were standing (go figure) so I got to meet a lot of people.
One person in particular was really interesting. I talked with a man, a dairy farmer, who spent about half an hour trying to convince me that America is the best country on the planet – not an opinion one would expect off shore (nor onshore for the most part). He told me that while New Zealand might be one of the best possible places to live, as a country, they’re extremely lacking. And went on to tell me how economically and morally (yes morally) no other country can compare to the US. He also told me all the things he wants to do in the US when he gets the chance to go, including motorcycling from coast to coast and spending a couple of months trekking through Montana. As he went on and on (JP was drumming with the band for a lot of the night) I began to feel that he knew more about my country than I did, and began to long to return actually. He kept talking about all these amazing places that, well yeah, I’d love to go to as well. It’s funny. The US really is a pretty incredible place, with so much diversity and so much to see, but when I dream of travelling, it tends to be internationally. Funny. I still think it’s good to get out though – for perspective.
Well, we talked, danced, sang, drummed, and generally had an awesome time with all the other muppets – until around midnight ---- and then JP and I left as the party raged on through the rest of the night. The Jury’s let us take one of the cars to get back to the house to get cleaned up before church in the morning. 

Friday 9/24

Last Sunday the church in Waitara that Sharyn brought us to was called Knox. There we met a couple called Ian and Janet Finer. They walked straight up to us and pretty much asked why we were at their church. J They were dairy farmers who knew the name Jury well – though they’d never met Tony and Sharyn. They’d known Tony’s father, who’d passed away about 3 years prior.

They asked us what our plans were and when we told them we only had 2 more weeks in the Taranaki area, Ian protested that we were foolish to want to leave the “gem” of New Zealand. He continued to tell us that him and his wife would like to have us over to their farm and would call up to the Jury farm to set a date. J
So they called up to the house that same day and arranged with Sharyn to take us – all day – the following Friday. We sort of felt like little kids who’s parents arrange their play-dates for them. J Haha – but we were Tony and Sharyn’s property and if they were willing to part with us for a day, that was their decision. :) We were real surprised they let us off the hook from working that day.
So – come Friday, Sharyn dropped JP and I off on her way to taking the boys to school. Ian and Janet were so nice. They brought us in for coffee and first thing gave us their telephone and told us we should call home and talk to our parents – which we hadn’t had a chance to do yet in the couple of weeks we’d been in the country.
So I called my momma J who I assumed would be at work. But she wasn’t at work. She was at home! So we chatted away for a while – probably for too long… :) and I got to hear a bit about how my brothers were doing, and that my parents were busy tearing apart our kitchen some more. :)
Then JP called home and got a hold of his mom (/my mom!) and talked with her for a while.
We talked with the Finers for the while. Ian is HILARIOUS and tells a lot of the kind of jokes that make a person unsure of whether he’s kidding or not – until he breaks out with a giant smile. And Janet reminds me of my grandma Marguerite because she looks a lot like her. And Janet is just darling.
Well the two of them had a whole itinerary planned out for the day. So we all hopped into their Holden (side note – it’s a big running joke of some sort between the Kiwis here of competing Holdens vs. Fords… we don’t quite get it…. Haha).
That day we would fully encircle Mt. Taranaki and make many stops along the way.
As we drove they showed us the dairy farms and explained to us all about running a dairy farm in New Zealand – and a bit of the history.
They took us to a crude oil storage place, where we got to learn about Taranaki’s first off shore oil drill which was shipped over all the way from Japan. It took 3 months just to float it here.
Next they drove us to THE dairy plant, which all the dairy farmers sell their milk to. They explained the process of creating condensed milk, told us about all the countries they sell their dairy products to, and showed us the huge milk tankers that drive around daily to the dairy farms to transport their milk – the same milk tankers that Tony used to drive when he was younger.
Next they brought us to the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera where a rather famous man named Nigel ______(?) has constructed many life sized models and extremely detailed miniature models of life in the Taranaki area throughout history. And we learned a lot – all about the Maori’s, and the British traders, settlers, and military, and conflict, etc. We were ashamed of how little we knew. The school system has let us down. But yeah, this museum was incredible. We spent about 3 hours going through it with the Finers. They also bought us lunch in the cute little museum café. And much to Janet’s amusement, she tricked me into going into a fake bathroom. Haha, when I asked to go to the bathroom, she led me to an outhouse. I knocked on the door and she encouraged me to go in. When I opened the door I jumped back and apologized to an embarrassed looking man sitting on the toilet who lowered his newspaper and looked at me in horror.
And he was made out of wax. Awesome. Janet sure got a kick out of it.
And I developed an anxiety disorder.
J I’ve had a few too many bad bathroom experiences. I am from here on out paranoid.
After the museum, the Finer’s drove us through the most beautiful, mountainous land, covered in sheep and their lambs. We even got to see part of the form of Mt. Taranki as the sun set and shone through the clouds (it was the most clarity we’d experienced thus far due to the storm).
Lastly the Finers took us out for dinner! These people! And they took us to a buffet dinner. It wasn’t anything like an American buffet either. It was fine, good eatin. They had a cheese buffet and a seafood buffet and all sorts of incredible dishes. I tried an oyster for the first time. It hadn’t been cooked. I could barely stomach it. And that involved drinking it down with my coffee and stuffing other foods in my mouth to minimize the flavor and texture. Oh man.
But besides the slimy, watery, salty, chunky oyster, we had a lovely time eating and talking with the Finers.
We were blown away by them. They invested in us so much, and didn’t even know us. Truly beautiful people. They offered to pick us up Sunday morning for church and we accepted.