The Middle of Middle-Earth and Settling in at the Dairy Farm

I’m taking advantage of a lengthy break to write. Things are quiet on the farm for me, as calving season just began. I take care of the calves: giving them colostrum, feeding them, making sure they are clean, making sure we have plenty of pens and milk for them, and other duties as assigned. Once I’m done in the morning, I head back to my rental house until I need to feed in the afternoon.

I took the train from Auckland to Wellington on July 7, then spent a few days on a Shropshire and Ryeland sheep (both of which are considered rare breeds in New Zealand), Red Poll cattle and Clydesdale draft horse operation outside the city. I returned to Wellington and enjoyed the company of 15 other 20-somethings during a dinner at the flat where I was staying. It’s been nice finding those places and people where I feel at home.

Now, home for a few months has an astounding view:

DSCF1779a

Those snow-capped peaks are part of the Southern Alps, the Misty Mountains.

I arrived here via flight from Wellington to Christchurch and shuttle. I should have a car by the end of the day. I’ve been able to become used to driving on the left side of the road through driving the milk truck, which is a small box truck with a flat bed and a stick shift (I am grateful I learned how to drive manual when I was in high school). This morning, though, I twice walked to the left side of the truck to climb in and drive. That doesn’t work here.

When I arrived, there was a resident cat in the house, but I had trouble with allergies, so a couple of the other farm workers took it to their house. There is still a wild cat that wanders around the place and sleeps on the side porch. Since it’s not inside, it’s okay.

I’ve been watching the news and a talk show here, and it’s interesting to see how the patterns of speech of news anchors and meteorologists are the same as they are in the U.S. The meteorologists become pretty excited whenever a big weather event is coming in, same as back home. The U.S. is on the news every night. It’s interesting to observe what the New Zealanders think of what’s going on. A lot of people ask me about the election and other events, some giving me their thoughts on it, some trying to understand why all of it is happening. Overall, I’ve heard bafflement and dismay.

So it’s an interesting time to be an American traveling internationally.

There’s a drought in the region, has been for two years, and a woman interviewed about it said, “If we didn’t believe things would get better, we wouldn’t be in farming.”

While in Wellington, which is called “The Middle of Middle-Earth” and where the world premiere of the trilogy took place, I went to the Weta Workshop, which is where they created props and monsters for films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Because I had selected the wrong bus and disembarked at the wrong stop, I walked for 45 minutes to the workshop’s location in Miramar, a peninsula on the east side of the city. It was incredibly windy, as Wellington always is, and I’d already been told twice that umbrellas were useless. With mine in hand, I looked like a tourist, and by the time I reached the Weta Cave, I was a soaked tourist.

But it was worth it.

There were models of the hobbits, the Key of Erebor, Bilbo’s contract, Sauron’s armor, a troll, Bilbo and Gollum, Sting and more. I took the tour of the actual workshop itself, but could not take pictures behind the scenes as Weta Workshop does not actually own intellectual rights to what they make. The pictures are from the gift shop, mini-museum and just outside the front entrance. Some of the highlights of the tour were holding mithril (Elven chain mail from The Lord of the Rings), taking a glimpse into a real swordsmith’s (self-trained) shop and seeing a shield from Narnia.

I’ll end with a view from the Wellington airport. It’s under construction right now, so I entered from the gray parking garage. I rode the escalator up, and as I looked up to the terminal, massive brown feathers slowly filled my sight.

There were two eagles suspended from the ceiling, one of them with Gandalf the Grey urging them forward. It’s hard to convey their enormity in photographs.

As my brother said, “That is terrifying lol. Good thing Gandalf is on our side.”

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One thought on “The Middle of Middle-Earth and Settling in at the Dairy Farm

  1. jillpatebarlow July 21, 2016 / 2:54 am

    What an adventure!! I want to visit New Zealand because those three movies/ trilogies were filmed there. It’s beautiful!

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