Jet lag took the best out of me and woke my body after the noon hours had begun. Graham, Giselle and I drove through the dark from Dunedin to Waipahi the previous night, so I had no clue what to expect once the bedroom curtains were pulled.
The sun kissed green paddocks where sheep and cattle grazed. Trees danced with the wind. Dogs barked. Engines of four-wheelers and tractors roared. Human voices and clinging pots and pans filled the hollow space of the stairwell. Commotion was all around, yet they managed to be equally congruent and cordial. To give you an idea of the scenery I’ve described, please enjoy the following views.
Photo: Marama’s airstrip, looking southeast
Photo: Marama’s airstrip, looking east
You’d suppose I wouldn’t have been as eager as I was since I come from a state with a long agricultural history, but to sugarcoat the level of my enthusiasm would certainly be deceitful. This was a real, honest to god working farm, right before my own eyes. And because I had zero previous experience, I needed a new pair of boots, a new mind, a new everything, really.
Though instead of getting right to the labor, Giselle and I took things slowly. I was fitted into a warm jacket and hat to wear. Giselle then showed me the property, explained what had to be done on a daily basis and introduced me to all the animals, among others. When we came to one of their big, black and white house cows, Missy had created a spot under a tree and continued circulating until a perfect boundary of dirt formed beneath her hooves. It was explained to me that she was pregnant and as a part of the process, she had specifically chosen this area for the delivery. Her calf was due at any second.
I’d never witnessed the birth of anything before, so I approached the happening with caution. Stories of women having children generally grossed me out, so I sort of anticipated quite a messy process here. But to my astonishment, Missy was right on cue. I watched as her water broke and how quickly she spun her large body around and ate it up in order to keep the area clean; how the baby cow gradually pushed out from behind and came tumbling down; how mamma removed its membrane so no suffocation could occur. The entire ordeal was done with such grace, courage and intuition that I almost believed a part of me had abandon its old self and embraced a new one – that by the start of Mick’s life, coincidently on my first official day at Marama, it was also an invitation for me too.
Then, two short days later, Graham and Giselle bought me these…
Photo: Pair of gum boots
Consider my initiation complete.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” ~Ambrose Redmoon