Max and I left Lumsden and headed for Queenstown on a Friday afternoon. After spending the night and a bit too much money out on the town, we decided to get back out into the wilderness and go on a 3 day hike. About an hour outside of Queestown we started what is known as the Routeburn Track. The hike was around 20 miles one way and we ended up going both ways in order to get back to our car. In about 3.5 days we hiked 40 miles and completed the most beautiful and difficult hike either of us had ever attempted. Instead of trying to describe the experience here, I've included a number of photos from the hike to try and sum it up visually.
Some may not be quite familiar with how WWOOFing works so heres a quick synopsis…basically after paying a small membership fee you are provided with a book and website that are full of hosts local to your selected country. In New Zealands case, WWOOFing is quite popular so the number of listings is quite high (somewhere around 1,300 though I’ve never counted). Hosts are divided up by region and each includes a short overview of what it is that they are doing and the type of work they require WWOOFers for. Based on these descriptions and the region we are in or trying to get to, we narrow down our selections and send emails out to make contact with the farm. Like applying for jobs, we have been over applying so to speak in order to ensure we end up with something and our emails don’t just end up floating around the web. Some, like Karl & Louise (our current hosts), are quick to respond while others may take a week or more to get back to you by which time you usually have found something else. It can be a bit stressful trying to ensure you’ve secured your next job especially when wifi is hard to come by, but there are plenty of jobs out there and as spring time comes around many people are in need of help and are as happy to host you as you are to have a job.
While we are indeed using WWOOFing as a means of traveling on a budget (hosts exchange accommodation & food for half a days work), we do have some specific interests we would like to accomplish while we are here and topics we would like to learn more about. As we go on we will undoubtedly get better at narrowing down what it is we are looking for and be able to tell from posts and correspondence with hosts whether or not they will be a good match for us and vice versa. That said, we certainly have lucked out with out current hosts. Karl & Louise own a 20 acre plot just outside the town of Lumsden along Hwy 6 where they run what in NZ is known as a lifestyle block. This means that, for now anyway, the property is run not as a business but as a means of providing for themselves and living a “alternative” lifestyle as it is often described in contemporary culture. On the block, they keep several animals including 15 sheep, a pig named Sally who just had 11 piglets several days before we arrived, a handful of chickens and a few ducks all in addition to several different vegetable gardens. All of these sources supplement the couples food supply and often yield far more than they need which allows them to sell some off or share with their many friends in the community.
We arrived with little to no idea of what we were getting into other than that the couple was living off the grid as they described it and, at the current moment, they did not have a place for us to stay so they were going to have us stay near the river that flows through their property. While this would normally be a bad sign considering accommodation is half the deal, there was something about it we had to check out. We pulled in and were greeted by a lovely couple who seemed to be quite thrilled to have us. It was a much appreciated welcoming as we felt at home right away. They toured us through their quaint, though very chic, home before taking us out to introduce us to the animals and show us where we would be staying. They pulled down one of their SUVs to park with our car near the river so we could each sleep in one of the vehicles and left us to settle in. Right of the bat we were both quite excited about the place and the fact that we were sleeping in the cars mattered little to us. The view by the river was great and we were quite curious as to all there was to learn from the two owners. That night they had us up for the first of many delicious meals and we shared stories after they shared the list of what there was to be done around the farm in the days to come.
The first day of work was excitingly difficult which thrilled me some after the rather monotonous tasks we had at the last job. We started the morning collecting, moving & chopping firewood to fill up the wood shed near the house after which we had a mid morning tea and Karl queued up the the next tasks. The remainder of the day was spent hustling around the farm following Karl around completing tasks he seemingly had been waiting several weeks for help to accomplish. We were all over, moving bales of hay, harvesting potatoes, digging holes, preparing to pour concrete the next day and taking care of anything and everything that required more than two hands on the property. By the afternoon it had gotten to be quite warm and so Karl proposed we have a break for a swim in the river before heading out for some fun work: sheering the sheep! We laughed and headed for the river, stripping down to our underwear to have a dip. The water was extremely cold considering the majority of its source was snow melt from the large peaks in the distance so our dip was just that…a dip to say we had done it and no more.
The tasks continued to be varied and working with Karl proved to be a lot of fun. We learned a lot and got to get a short experience of what it was that they were after while living off the grid. We worked on all sorts of projects around the farm from mixing & pouring concrete to sheering and slaughtering a lamb. There was a certain sense of a cyclical way of life as our first days work splitting wood heated both the house and the water during our stay and the adventure of the slaughter provided food for a BBQ on our last night. I found it very rewarding spending time on the property and we both got the sense we were contributing to the cause. The main concept that struck me was the couples goals for their endeavors. They are not necessarily striving to be 100% organic or 100% self sustainable, instead, they are living to be non-vulnerable. This meaning, capable and knowledgeable enough to take care of themselves no matter what situation may occur; locally or globally. Society's attempts to become more independent have in-fact resulted in us all being more dependent and thus more vulnerable. Louise explained it as being prepared for when the hypothetical "zombies" come. No, it most likely will not be literal zombies but the ability to care for oneself will be crucial no matter the outcome. I am excited to see where Karl & Louise’s dream takes them and how the property will continue to evolve. We are very thankful for some exciting fun tasks working with Karl and some delicious often glutenous meals provided by Louise. In just under two weeks Max and I have shared more experiences than I could ever record and made some memories that will never be forgotten.
The last few weeks have been spent in the town of Tuatapere, Southland NZ on a small nursery that goes by the name of Greenmachine. Justin & his wife Diana took over the towns old school house & property several years ago to turn it into a plant nursery where they raise and sell a large variety of plants native to New Zealand. Most business is done via an online shop so the farm simply acts as a home base for the business. We decided it would be a good place to start in an effort to learn some New Zealand foliage right of the bat and become familiar with many plants we would undoubtedly see many times during our stay in the country. Work varied day to day based on different needs and we reported to the nursery manager Luke. Having really just started the season, we spent a lot of time preparing pots, transplanting, weeding and organizing stocked plants from the previous season. Weekday tasks were regimented to nursery duties while weekends were spent taking care of Justin & Dianas personal farm needs. We helped clean up the grounds, turned & amended soil, harvested potatoes dug trenches, relocated the chicken coop and bolstered fences between properties. Learning wise, the time spent at Greenmachine was perhaps not as profitable as we had originally imagined but it offered a good way to start out wwoofing and get our feet wet so to speak.
Along with being in our own living quarters, we also had our own kitchen and food was simply provided to us to cook every few days. It was a fun and interesting challenge to work out each day what we were going to make from whatever we had. We were usually given some sort of vegetables, a portion of meat (beef from Justin & Dianas previous years’ cows or venison from a neighbors recent hunt) and some essentials like milk, eggs and cheese. We made all sorts of things and I was quite thankful for Max’s extensive cooking knowledge as it kept our menu more diverse than it otherwise may have been. We used the slow cooker to make stew, made dough to be filled and made into venison & pumpkin meat pies and I even tried to recall/replicate my grandmas recipe for fried rice.
While we considered these challenges and fun most of the time, it also brought up the conversation of food access both at home and across the world. We began to consider people we’ve met in the various towns we have lived in – even many of our own friends amongst those places and the fact that many of them, if put in a similar position, would not know what to do. So, while often the argument is placed for food access, that is only half of the problem. Even in places where people may have access to quality, nutritious ingredients they are often unaware or unable to cook with them. This ability is indeed a sort of lifestyle and one that, in the US specifically, is now three generations out of practice. We spoke some with Diana about this very topic and talked about the fact that every country and region has a different number of generations that this applies to, some higher than others, but the age of culinary knowledge and abilities is quickly dwindling. The common thread in each case though, is the rise of the supermarket and convenience/consumer based shopping. People in the US ditched their victory gardens & local markets following the war and flocked to the newly established supermarkets. As food became less dependent on the season and local availably, it seems we became more focused on convenience and a quicker product. The longer and longer this went on, the more separated we became with the foods origins. Now instead of the majority coming from Farmer John down the street or individuals’ own backyards, it came from countless farmers from around the world and the idea of growing your own food became and often foreign concept. This shift brought us from kids canning the seasons crops for winter to kids thinking vegetables originated from a can.
Thankfully I grew up in a sort of middle ground on this generational shift. While I wasn’t raised growing and harvesting my own vegetables, I was blessed with two parents that had a thrill for cooking who passed these traits on to me. I, like most kids (of my generation anyway), fought my parents on eating my vegetables and whined, even cried when made to eat various new foods. I was the opposite of adventurous and much preferred pizza or a PB&J to a vegetable sauté or much of the asian food that was a large part of my childhood. Regardless of that though, I spent weekends in the kitchen for hours with my mom – preparing for dinner parties and gatherings of friends, following the most recent recipes my mom had discovered and clipped from a magazine. While this was not always successful in convincing me to try it all, it created a base and understanding of how to cook – taking a un-relatable slew of ingredients and making meals our family friends returned home raving about. That experience of hospitality created a love not just for cooking and that pursuit but for sharing those creations with others. As for my adventurousness, my increased knowledge of food cultivation and time spent on farms has brought more appreciation for various foods I may not have been keen to previously and fostered a curiosity I’ve never had before.
But, enough about that for now...In the two plus weeks we spent here we experienced a fairly usual springtime shift in weather. The first week was rather cold and rainy and in the last few days it has warmed up a bit and stayed relatively dry. Max and I were joined after the first week by another WWOOFer from France who also has come to the nursery to stay for a while. He was kind enough to drive us up to Te Anau, a larger town about 100 km from Tuatapere to buy the car we had won in an online auction, a 91’ Subaru Legacy we’ve aptly named “Freedom." Having the car has allowed us to take advantage of some of the nicer weather after we got off work and go to visit some of the sights in the area. We first went about 10 minutes down to Blue Cliffs Beach where the rocky shoreline provided a view over an intense tide south towards Antarctica. This view was something we were originally excited about considering it is one of the southern most points in the world and about as close to the polar continent as we could get without actually going there. There are several photos below that show some of our explorations there & things we found along the way. The views were incredible as we watched the sun set over the mountains in the distance.
The following night Max and I went on a drive to find an ATM and stopped by an area called Cozy Nook. A good distance off the highway, this costal view was even more intense and violent than the last. The nook was home to piles of large rocks that created and protected countless tide pools from which varying flocks of birds fed and made nest. Max and I made our way across the rocks out to a tall point where we watched the sunset and investigated the tide pools for hidden signs of life. Waves crashed from all directions onto the point we were on while in the distance they grew and grew, some we estimated as tall as thirty feet beating their way up and over a flat plateau. Clearly the the name Cozy Nook was a bit of a misnomer though there were two small houses along the shoreline overlooking the sight. The first was a hobbit-esque abode with large planted archways leading to the garden and the house itself. The second, intriguingly, was vacant and listed for sale, $100,000 – a price we both remarked as quite impressive for waterfront property even in somewhere as remote as the Southland coast.
In the following nights we made our way to several other spots including some incredible and rather unexpected limestone caves in the neighboring town of Clifden, an ancient spiritual lake named Lake Hauroko, and a couple other incredible beaches all of which have been documented in the photos below. We have begun to plan our next location but Tuatapere and the area surrounding it have certainly made an impression on us we will not soon forget. It has became clear to us that practically every sign indicating some sort of natural attraction is just as, if not more beautiful than the last.
Incase it was not clear before...all the photos below can be viewed at full size it you click on them. A light box will allow you to scroll through them individually.
Last night we stayed in Invercargill, a sleepy costal town at the southern most tip of the south island. The town was as far we could get on the bus and the owner of the farm we were headed to told us the best way to get to Tuatapere was by hitchhiking. We got in too late to try and hitch so we found ourselves a hostel for the night and got some dinner and beers with our roommate for the night, a soft-spoken guy named Fabian from Germany. After some morning planning and acquisition of some last minute necessities, we set out to try and find a ride to our destination, some 80 km from Invercargill. We walked for a while, trying to get a ride out to the edge of town and finally caught up with a couple young guys from Queenstown who offered to save us a couple kilometers and take us up the road. They dropped us at the intersection of highway 99 and gave us their number if ever we made it up to Queestown and wanted to have a drink. Max and I took off up the road and put on our best smiles in an effort to coerce a friendly kiwi into picking us up.
I’ve hitched before but only in the mountains of Utah to get up to the resort on days when snow made the roads impassible to my two wheel drive chariot. This was a common practice and as long as you had your skis on you a ride would pull over quite readily. We had been told it was common here too and Karen’s son Martin assured us he had done it many times all over the country. Cars, trucks and SUVs flew by, a few slowing down in consideration but most just smiling and waving as they carried on down the road. We started walking and finally reached an intersection where a woman pulled up and slid the carseats in her back seat over to make room for our bags. We jumped in and she explained she too had hitched before and understood our need. She wasn’t going Tuatapere but agreed to get us a good ways up the road. Just like that we were off and it felt as though we were flying after walking, quite slowly, with our packs in tow. She took us up about 20 km and let us off at an intersection that split from her path towards the next town on ours. Now we were really out there. No room to turn back now, we were suddenly in silence – nothing but cows and sheep to talk to. Traffic was minimal, mostly cattle trucks and milk tankers (which I had never seen before), so every time we heard a vehicle to our back we were sure to turn around and put our best thumb forward.
We walked…and walked…probably about 4 km before we really started to get worried. Without packs, the walk wouldn’t have been all that bad but we have yet to be in shape enough to be going that far with 70+ lbs. on our backs. We stopped at a sign that informed us that we had 17 km to go before getting to Otautau, the next closest town. Clearly we were not going to be able to walk that far so we started assessing our options. Just as we ran out of ideas, a man pulled up in a station wagon and motioned for us to jump in. A kind British man, full of conversation, let us know that he was a school psychiatrist headed up to Otautau to do some work for the afternoon and could take us up to town center. Perhaps his profession led him to recognize the stress in our eyes, or maybe her was just looking for some company along the quiet country road. Whatever the case was, he happily drove us another 20km into town and shared some of his perspective from being a foreigner living in the somewhat bigoted south of New Zealand. Tired thirsty and quite sore, we headed for a grocery straight away in search of a drink and nosh. This was our first real stop in a grocery store so we made our way around looking at all the oddities and things you wouldn’t see in an American grocery. While wandering around, an older man, who we came to find out was the owner, saw us lugging our packs around the store and inquired as to what we were doing and where we were going. We explained that we had just arrived and were trying to get down to Tuatapere to work on a farm. He looked at his watch saying that his butcher was heading that way in a bit.
"He's old like me though, and even more grumpy!"
"Doesn't bother us," we replied.
"Well I'll go see about him. If he'll take you he will be out. If not, well then he wont."
We continued shopping and waited to see if the butcher would oblige. Shortly after, a portly man dressed in a blood splattered apron came from the back. He looked at our packs and confirmed that we were the ones looking for a ride. He let us know it would be a half hour before he was off work but would be willing to drive us if we could wait. Of course we agreed and told him we would be out front waiting for him. A little over thirty minutes later, he pulled up (still wearing his apron) in a small van and helped us load our things. We told him we were heading to Carlyle street and he smiled, explaining that he had built his first house fifty some years ago on that same street. He knew of the nursery and assured us it would be a nice place. He told us about the area and we enquired about some of the mountain ranges that had come into sight, looming in the distance. After a short drive, we had arrived. The butcher dropped us right at the front door and went on his way. After two planes, five busses and four different hitches, we had arrived at our first destination: Greenmachine Native Plant Nursery in Tuatapere, New Zealand. More about our time here in the next post!
The ferry trip was a success…the boat was huge and very nice inside (felt like a small cruise ship) complete with a cafeteria, bar and cafe. We made friends with several people including a guy who had brought his guitar along. Max played a couple tunes with them and we all shared stories about the different places we were from (Chile, Columbia, NZ, Australia and the US). We got off the boat, got our bags and had a quick beer & foods before we got on our next bus to Christchurch.
Our bus paused for a “comfort stop” along the way and we found ourselves at a beach in the coastal town of Kiakoura. Beaches that are made of stone strike me as serving a different purpose than those of sand. Evoke different emotion. Contemplation rather than relaxation. The stones formed a gradient of size from large to small as we approached the water. Waves breaking didn’t cause the usual gasp for air that those upon sand usually do. Instead, pebbles are recalled to the sea in a therapeutic tumble that would ease even the lightest of sleepers away for the night or an afternoon nap. The crisp ocean mist ensures a lush, dense landscape in the summer months but whispers the ever present possibility of the cold harsh bite I’m familiar with finding in northern California. Our bus continues on, winding through seams in the mountains which are speckled with steep farms full of orchard trees and springs’ crop of lambs & fawns. Our flight here crossed us over the International Date Line and thus skipped us forward in time, but the change in hemisphere has seemingly reset natures clock as far as we know. The lambs were our first real sign of this as we passed by fields of mothers showing their children the way in the warm spring glow. I feel lucky to see the magnolias, one of my favorite trees, bloom a second time this year – a strange phenomenon I had never before considered. They too acknowledge the spring time glow and have begun to disrobe. Petals falling to the ground, creating their familiar beautiful mess at each trees feet.
The lush countryside is a welcomed relief following our time spent in the uncomfortably dry Californian season as we awaited our departure. If only here, nature has been revived and displayed for me in a way I may well have never seen before. My eyes are wide and my neck strained from intently scanning scene after scene of vast, seemingly endless countryside. Any fear or anxiety remaining within me regarding our coming journey has slipped away silently. Perhaps captured within the tumbling stones we found back on the beach in Kiakoura. This, I am certain, is a portion of the country I would like to come back to.
We stayed the night with friends of friends, a lovely family of folks whom we met through an old co-worker of mine from Los Angeles. They were gracious enough to pick us up and take us in for the night. Had a great dinner with them and talked politics as the NZ nation election is set to happen within the next week. We talked about the structural differences between NZ and American governments and got some insight into current issues going on here. The family also shared their experiences of the earth quakes that have plagued Christchurch in the past few years. There have been more than 1,400 in the past three years, many of which were barely felt but several have caused significant damage including one that took down a large portion of the city. Since then, the city has been in constant reconstruction. The town has seen many inhabitants depart and those who are left live in a perpetual fear that another serious quake is around the corner. It was interesting to see the rebuilding efforts and hear tales of the populations efforts to help each other out following the destruction. Malcolm and Karen (the couple we were staying with) have been kind enough to have another couple stay with them while houses are repaired and things get sorted out. With us staying there too it was quite a full house (10 of us in total at dinner). Certainly it was sad to see such a scene but there was a definite sense of community in the city that was refreshing. We were extremely grateful for their hospitality and hope to return again before we leave. We talked about the possibility of visiting to cook them an American style thanksgiving dinner!
After dinner we shopped some for cars online (looking to avoid taking the busses the whole time we are here) and got to bed in anticipation of our early departure. Karen took us back downtown and dropped us at our bus to Invercargill, the next step in our travels to Tuatapere.
We’ve made it!! Hello from the future! I’m writing from the Interislander Ferry Terminal in Wellington, NZ. We are here waiting for a ferry to take us to the south island after 24 hours of a lot of travel. We got on a plane at LAX and took an 11 hour flight to Fiji which ended up being surprisingly comfortable and easy going. Fiji Air was a refreshing change from some of the domestic flights I have taken in the last few months. The only issue we encountered was that our flight out of Fiji was delayed three hours and we ended up with a 7 hour layover during which we were unable to leave the airport. We waited it out in the terminal, had some beers, read our books and napped until it was time to board for Auckland around noon Fiji time. The next flight was only three hours and quite literally flew by, landing us in Auckland just before sunset. We had prescheduled a bus to take us to Wellington but the flight delay made it a bit of a tight turn around. Customs was a breeze but it was followed by a biosecurity check point I had not encountered anywhere else before. New Zealand is very protective of their environment and rightfully so given their seclusion in this part of the world. We claimed food and organic items as you would through most any customs but it was followed by a more in-depth check of our belongings (specifically our boots, tent and other outdoor equipment). We made it through with just enough time to catch a bus downtown, eat a burger and get on our over night bus to Wellington.
Until now, we have seen nothing but darkness New Zealand and spent the last ten hours on the bus through the night. Max and I have been adjusting to the Kiwi accent and its various forms. So far we are understanding about every fourth word. That said, as we have been told, the people are incredibly friendly and full of smiles. We awoke on the bus this morning just as we pulled into Wellington to see the sun rising over a flourishing valley amongst steep mountains. This was our first real view of New Zealand and I was taken back by the landscape we've found ourselves in.
Max and I have spent the last 6 months planning our current journey and had the opportunity to start it off stateside before we leave to New Zealand for the rest of the year. We've spent the past month in Clark Colorado, a beautiful town nestled in the Elk River Valley 30 miles north west of steamboat springs. The Home Ranch was our place of work and refuge for the month where we were a part of their horticulture property management team. Max and I were there with some friends and we worked the month together, focused on helping to maintain and develop the ranch's rapidly growing gardening and food production project. We were in charge of keeping up with a wide range of tasks such as harvesting and washing vegetables, preparing new planter beds, mowing various ranch properties and keeping the crops and lawns quenched in the dry high desert climate. We arrived at a bit of a transition period as many of the summer season workers left to return to school. While the summer was winding down, there were still many tasks left to be completed before fall settled in.
Some days were busier than others and we often found ourselves reminding each other to stop and look around, to consider the beautiful scene we were lucky enough to call our workplace. We worked alongside a variety of team members, each with a different background and approach to our endeavors. Adele was the head of horticulture and a long time resident of Clark. She has been helping spearhead efforts to start the ranch farm in the past few years and is extremely well versed in local vegetation and the most patient, informative supervisor we could have asked for. Tiffany, our other main supervisor, had a background as an arborist and also had a wide breadth of knowledge about local foliage both native and non. We would spend one day clearing sod, amending soil and creating flower beds with Adele in the outdoor living space, and the next clearing/marking trails throughout the property with Tiffany. We all learned new wild plants everyday and what uses or nuisances they create, while harvest and washing of the vegetables helped increase familiarity with a diverse collection of species/varieties and their associated process’. We worked with many other great people while at the ranch who all made our experience there all the better.
We had a lot of fun meeting all the animals that inhabited the farm too. In addition to 70-80 horses that made up the ranch herd, there were chickens, pigs and a 40 year old miniature donkey named Poncho. Garden work found a fun balance with hanging out with the animals and caring for them from time to time. One of our favorite tasks was to feed the pigs. Food scraps from staff and guest meals were saved and fed to the pigs twice a day. It was nice to know that any food waste was going to be put to good use and there was a sense of a cyclical process as we harvested food from the garden, the kitchen prepared it, and scraps returned to the animals to help supplement their food source.
Right off the bat we noticed that there was a problem with the grasshopper population on the ranch and specifically in the greenhouse. Besides being a general nuisance, the hoppers had taken a liking to the vegetables and were rendering greens useless by chewing big holes through leaves and reducing plants like the horseradish down to nearly nothing. Branden, Max and I considered the fact that the hoppers could provide an additional source of protein for the 30 mature chickens in the coop and began catching the hoppers to feed to them. While the hunt proved fun, it was a never ending job so we suggested that we bring the chickens into the greenhouse so they could do the hunting on their own. This proved a more permacultural solution as the chickens were fed, their waste fell into the vegetable beds to provide additional nutrients and the grasshopper population decreased significantly in just a couple days, all with very little effort on our part. We brought the chickens in teams of four to six and left them to roam the greenhouse as we went about our daily tasks.
We continued this practice most days until we had a guest who was not fond of it. She was a strict vegan and was uneasy about the idea of the chickens being in or near the veg. She was concerned that they may carry disease and pass it on to the plants via contact. This struck us all as a bit over the top, but we of course respected her request and kept the chickens out of the greenhouse from then on, resorting back to catching the hoppers by hand. While I certainly have no problems with peoples dietary choices, (I can totally understand why someone would want to be vegetarian or vegan given our meat industry practices and a slew of other reasons) situations such as the one we had with the guest caused me to question the ideals and motives of their actions. First, if the grasshoppers were left to multiply, there would soon be very little veg left and what was left would be full of holes and thus unpalatable to anyone who grew up expecting grocery store perfection from their vegetables. Second, all the veg we harvested on the ranch was promptly washed before being served which, though it did not totally eliminate the possibility of disease, would certainly help cleanse the greens which in all reality came in very little contact with the chickens. I did not come to any real conclusion about this but found it interesting, the commotion this woman caused among more than just the horticulture department as the kitchen and waitstaff also maneuvered her requests also.
Permaculture is a specific interest of mine as we embark on this trip so anytime we got to learn some new practices was very exciting to me. We spent our last couple days on the ranch working to develop what is known as a hugelkultur mound. Basically, it is a type of composting/soil amendment that uses manure, logs & tree trimmings and compost to create an extremely fertile mound on which you can plant after decomposition is complete. The combination of materials heats up which indicates that the process is working and aids in breaking things down. Just two days after we had finished the mound, we showed up to work to find that despite the outside temperature was under 40 degrees, the piles core was reading 100 degrees on the thermometer. Click here: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur if you would like to learn more about hugelkultur. In this same time we also prepared blueberry and strawberry beds in anticipation of next years growing season. Both had specific process' in order to cater to the plants nutrient requirements. The amendment of the soil required a whole lot of digging but we added some significant square footage to the available growing area. We finished our time on the ranch after completing nearly all of the major tasks Adele had planned for the season and headed back east to drop of Branden and make a few stops before heading back west.
The time at Home Ranch offered the perfect warm up to our travels and allowed us to get our boots wet so to speak before we set off for 7 more months of farm work in New Zealand. I feel more mentally and physically prepared for the type of work we are expecting to encounter and even this small amount of experience has added to my confidence in navigating the farm. We got to learn many new skills and have added to those that we already possessed. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and everyone who made it possible: Scott, Adele, Tiffany, Clyde and all the other staff you will not be forgotten and I hope to come back and spend some time at the ranch again. It was incredible to see the progress that had been made in just two years on the ranch garden and I can only imagine what it will be like in the years to come.