Our time in New Zealand is almost over. Well, Matt’s already gone ahead of me, actually. He left on Thursday for Australia to meet up with his parents while I stayed behind to finish out our housesit and pick up our hosts from the airport. I leave to join him tomorrow. And you know what? No one/nothing died! Well…with the exception of some delicious turkeys.Matt chopped a bunch of firewood, mended a fence, killed some turkeys and skinned a rabbit, and I made a yeast starter, baked more than I had in the last three years combined, shoveled poo and wrestled a baby alpaca. It’s been an experience we won’t quickly forget.
While we are ready to move on because there are still so many things to see, it’s hard to say goodbye. How is it that a country that you’ve never truly lived in, that you’ve only passed a few months in can truly feel like home? While Matt has (successfully) talked me out of moving here straightaway, for now, we both know that this isn’t the last time we’ll visit this country. It’s friendly people, jaw-dropping countryside and roads that are begging to be road-tripped are all beckoning me back. We might just be dragging our kids back here for a camping extravaganza in a few years, or jumping ship if the US becomes a little terrifying to live in. Either way.
Here are some of the reasons I’ve loved New Zealand in the last few weeks.
Probably most notable out of our experiences these last few weeks has been a scare we had with a baby alpaca, about 3 months old. Matt noticed him acting funny when he was down hunting turkeys near dusk (another interesting story, but you’ll just have to ask us about the ‘Terminator Turkey’ story sometime). A few of the babies in that pen have something called ryegrass staggers, which is an unfortunate neurological condition that can affect alpacas, sheep and other farm animals here. It’s caused by a fungus that lives in ryegrass, especially on the North Island. It only affects some animals in a herd and not others but babies seem to be more susceptible, and it gets worse when there’s no rain and the animals are eating down to the roots of the grass (which is the case here). Their heads bobble and if it gets really bad, they walk with their legs splayed out, sit or lay down a lot and eventually cannot stand up to nurse and get sick and die of malnutrition or injury. We’d been closely monitoring several of the babies but Matt found this little guy laying on his side and it was very apparent that it was much worse than what we’d seen before. It was quickly growing dark so we called the vet, got the baby’s nametag read to identify him, and gave him a shot. As soon as it was light, we sorted through the herd to find his mum (again another epic story, full of tears, shouting, alpacas on the loose and me getting dragged around – ask us about it sometime) and put them together in a pen near the house. We’ve been bottle feeding him and giving them hay, and eventually letting them roam around the farmyard to graze. They love that. Hopefully he’ll pass a few health tests that the owners will give him this week and will be free to join his mates.
Categories: New Zealand