The Farm has been a part of my life since I can remember. A gathering place for family Christmas’ and other celebrations over the years. Where every kid in the family has spent at least one school holiday. A place that welcomes anyone, and everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the daily workings of the farm; whether it be shoveling and bagging sheep wool, moving cattle, installing fences, collecting eggs from the chicken coop, or helping in the kitchen. There was even time to have a little fun riding the motorbikes or the old horses, Anzac and Brownie.
Christmas eve had us making our way to Te Kuiti (the sheep sharing capital of New Zealand!) to my aunty Pam and Uncle John’s farm. This marked my first visit back since I left New Zealand in 2000. We began the three-hour journey by stopping for supplies along the way (booze) and for a what was meant to be a quick stop for diesel. Our fearless leader, being a little eager to reunite with his brothers and sisters, attempted to navigate the process with the same speeds he uses to attack the open road. It was a simple shake of the left hand, slide of the right. As the gas attendant stepped away for just a moment, dad took over the process and mistakenly topped off one of the diesel run campers with petrol. After a few well deserved comments from everyone, we came to the realization that we could very well be stranded at the petrol station for an unknown amount of time. Waiting on AA to come from who-knows-where, to empty our gas tank. Thankfully the Christmas spirit and luck were in full force. While we were standing around trying to figure out our next move, in rolls a local diesel mechanic to top off his truck before his holiday.
Drew, always being on the ball, made his way over to the mechanic to see if he could help us out. He was a nice guy who was more than willing to help us out on Christmas Eve. Luckily dad had only put a few litres (24) of petrol in with the diesel, so it was a simple matter of siphoning out the petrol and refilling with diesel. Half an hour or so later we were on our way.
Pulling up the driveway to the farm brought back so many memories. It was great to be back after so long. The first night back on the farm was a good one – I was reintroduced to a few cousins and met a handful of second cousins for the first time. One particular memory from the farm was the awesome food. And this night was no exception, the Easton’s put on an awesome feast of steak and salads. Bret had to force feed himself the remaining steak after being told that the working dogs would be fed the amazing leftovers.
Christmas day was the big family reunion. Bret and I kicked it off with a long run along the country roads. Trying to justify the inevitable day of overeating and drinking. As the day progressed, more and more family members arrived and more and more empty beer and wine bottles stacked up. Uncle John kept himself busy throughout the day by showing all the first time guests (and a few of the seasoned veterans) around the property.
As always we were all treated to a delicious feed, consisting of mutton, ham and a new one for me, hammed mutton with all the trimmings and some good old kiwi deserts. After our tummies were filled, the “reuniting” (drinking) continued. With a reputation at stake, Bret and I helped usher in Boxing day with a handful of worthy participants. Before we knew it, 4am rolled around and it was time to call it a night. Christmas 2012 was one to remember. Catching up with cousins, aunties, uncles and meeting a few new ones.
After a slow start to Boxing day we continued the Great New Zealand Road Trip (North Island) and made our way to Taupo. Along the way we stopped by the Waitomo Caves, a once in a lifetime event. Viewing the glow worms that line the inside of the cave is an amazing experience and the $48 price tag ensures you will be sitting in the cafe if you ever find yourself visiting the area again.