The morning is mucky with the overnight showers and the sun is yawning over the hills to the east. I wake up, chilly in the trailer with only the blankets and my beloved wool blanket for insulation. Every other day the morning routine differs only by the breakfast menu and when Susie, the Jersey cow, is milked. Around 715 I step into Rick and Lindy’s cozy home and turn on the electric kettle. The Paul Henry show is on and the host, Paul Henry, is a gritty and polarizing man. I mix my instant coffee and sugar with the boiled water and take a few sips before joining Lindy and Rick in the barn. This is the morning they get their milk. Susie is a big momma with a sweet face and little horns. She waits patiently as Rick puts cups on her utter while the motor runs and wails. Lily, Susie’s calf from this year, runs nervously from corner to corner in the gate. Her eyes are wide, head is down and ears are back while Rick and I rub her chest. Once the milking is finished, we feed the other young ladies bales of hay, and then drive up the hill to feed the Scottish Highland Cattle. These cattle are magnificent. They are covered in fur heavy from the winter rain with horns sharp as swords. All ten beasts stop eating and stare as we approach the paddock. One moans loudly, anxious for her breakfast.
Every other day we would pour cement to make bricks for their new home. It is gruesome work that Rick and Lindy have been tackling for the past year. They appreciate when visitors, like myself, stay with them awhile. It eases their shared back and neck pain. The cement mixture is composed of cement, lava rock, rotten rock and another rock mixture. Rick shovels the ingredients into a large mixer and wheelbarrows it to where Lindy and I are stationed; and then Lindy shovels the mixture into buckets and lifts it onto the scaffold where I pour it to make the bricks. We generally make 8 to 10 bricks per day and each brick takes about 10 to 12 buckets. I didn’t get tired from the work, just hungry- surprising myself during lunch and dinner after my third and fourth helping. Lindy cooks tasty and warm dinner every night, made from produce grown in her garden. I wash the dishes while Rick finds a crappy, but addicting reality show or game show on the television. Some of which includes, World’s Toughest Trucker, I Can Do That, or Reno Rumble. The night carries on and sometimes we watch a premiere movie on channel three. I finally watched “We Are The Millers,” and it was just as (not) funny as I had hoped.
My stay with Rick and Lindy was capped with two eventful moments.
The first night I arrived Lindy and Rick’s friends from the Lions Club, Hazel and Neil, joined us for dinner. It’s comforting to be surrounded by oldies. It warms the room with something genuine. After dinner we went to Hazel and Neil’s to watch the sold-out All Blacks v. Australia rugby game. I enjoyed the banoffee pie (banana and toffee) and warm fire more than anything. Unavoidably though, I learned about Ritchie McShaw and watched his last game of 14 years. Some Kiwis want him to run for Prime Minster and others think he should get knighted.
During my last night a Scottish Highland Cattle calf was born. And they named him after me. His name is Sam- the cutest and furriest calf in New Zealand. I hope they don’t eat him.
After attempts to guilt me into staying longer, I left after breakfast headed north. Lindy sent me off with a hug and a bag of Orange Slice treats and No Bake Cookies, which I introduced to them. We swapped recipes, sharing our love of sugar and butter.