It was a caravan club rally with a difference, a weekend travelling not too far away from home to stay at Lutz Farm in Otaki. Most of us hadn’t been there before so first we had to find the correct property on the narrow country road (look for the orange balloons we were told). Then we drove, and we drove, past paddocks and farm buildings, and equipment lying here and there, round past the bee hives, all without seeing a soul. And finally, turning a corner on the farm track, there they were, some of our caravan buddies who had arrived a little earlier and were getting themselves organised. Camping on a farm paddock was a test to find a nice flat area. Although the dips and hollows weren’t really huge, it certainly made a difference to where to put the caravans. Admittedly, there was a big power pylon sharing the paddock with us, but we weren’t under the power lines, and only staying a couple of nights anyway, so we shouldn’t come to any harm.
Romany Rambler at Lutz Farm
It was a very pleasant site, bordered on one side with a lovely area of protected native bush, with paddocks over the fence and hills away in the distance. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the cicadas were doing their noisiest best to attract a mate. Only male cicadas “sing”, to court females. The sound is made by membranes known as tymbals on each side of their abdomen. The tymbal is pushed out, causing a burst of sound, then it pops back in. By rapidly repeating this, the cicada makes its song.
The rally family had brought along a large gazebo for us all to use in the evenings, and Barry offered to help assemble it. He worked away on his own for quite some time, putting this pipe into that one until it was almost done. It all looked a bit of a mystery to me. Then others came to help put the roof on and attach the sides. The blustery wind didn’t help matters at all, as the light plastic walls fluttered this was and that as people were trying to attach them to the poles.
Barry and others putting up the gazebo
Ever milked a cow? That was to be our test on Friday evening – this was a dairy farm after all. We had visions of poor old “Bessie” being led into our camping area, tied up safely with a handy stool for us to perch on, and then man-handled by a bunch of townies as we all tried to milk her! Luckily our Bessie was a little different, and Dennis brought her out and introduced her to us all with a flourish!
Dennis had cleverly made his own version of a milking cow. Our Friesian cow may well be headless, but she had lovely markings, a nice tail, and an interesting udder! We all got to have a go for one minute, and the results were measured and diligently recorded. I should mention that this cow only produced water, which was regularly topped up during the competition.
Robin milking the cow
And the winner was – surprise, surprise – me! Goodness knows how I achieved that, as I hadn’t milked a cow before. Although I did get up close and personal to a goat several years ago. Our ladies took 1st, 2nd and 3rd placings, with Derek getting the best male result. Poor old Bessie came in for quite a bit of rough handling during the competition from one of our members in particular, and if she was a real cow, she would have required some veterinary care after her ordeal!
The winner of the milking competition
It was certainly a fun activity, and one we had never done before. Who knew life on a dairy farm would be full of laughs.