201 Days on the Road
Update: Morlea Farm is not currently operating.
“Hello! Hello! Welcome!”
The roar of our old campervan must have been heard down the gravel roads leading to Morelea Farm, just outside Fairlie, because an enthusiastic lady has already shouted greetings from her house, all the way down her garden, and to the campervan before we’ve barely got out of the van. When we heard Morelea Farm was “connecting the world to the real New Zealand”, it couldn’t be more true from the get-go with this extremely welcoming introduction from Angie. She invites us into her home as she’s preparing the finishing touches to afternoon tea before her Topdeck bus guests arrive.
Scones are being put in the oven, sausage meat being wrapped in pastry, and a pavlova waits on the side ready to be smothered in fruit and fresh cream. We chat with Angie and her assistant, Fiona, drink coffee, and eat homemade cookies while we wait for the Topdeck bus to arrive.
A focussed sheep dog
Once the bus full of 18 to 30-something travellers arrive, we head over to the wool shed where Angie’s husband, Stan, gathers us around for a sheep shearing demonstration. Four seemingly massive woolly sheep huddle together in a pen looking like they need relief from their winter wool. A border collie sits on a table, hilariously peering over the fence to keep an eye on the sheep. We like it’s commitment to the job, unlike the 7-month-old puppy who is begging for more attention from us than to be bothered with sheep. Everyone in the group just melts at its cuteness.
Watching a man catch a sheep
Stan talks to the group about his mostly organic farm – a farm soon to be passed down to the third generation of the Kiwi family, his son. He talks about the wool from the sheep, where it goes, and who it gets sold to. Although he would usually get sheep shearers in to shear a whole flock of sheep, he goes to catch one in the pen now to show us how shearing is done. How the hell is he going to catch one of these sheep? They’re not exactly small!
Without hesitation, he strides into the pen. The sheep run around him, until one is found in the clutches of Stan! With one hand grasped on the sheep’s head, Stan pulls the beast over onto its back so its legs are away from the ground. This seems to stop the sheep’s struggles instantly – it’s like an off switch! Now, Stan can grab the sheep by its two front legs and drags it over to the shears. Still, the sheep is calm and just letting what happens happen.
The quickest haircut you’ll ever witness
Stan grabs the electric shears that are attached to a rotating mechanism hanging from the ceiling. Sheep’s limbs are sticking out in all directions between Stan’s ankles. It seems pretty content with Stan shuffling the it around with his feet, helping it along with his hands when needed. The process is smooth, quick and efficient. The shears glide in Stan’s hand from one end of the sheep to the other, then moves onto the next part, then the next.
So much wool!
All good farms have cute-as-hell dogs
The shearing demonstration ends with a sheep looking about half the size than when it started. Although a sheared sheep would usually leave the wool shed through a gap in the wall into a field full of other sheep, this one is released back into the pen with its mates. They prefer to be in numbers – a fact that is going to be demonstrated further with the dogs working the sheep. This is the border collie’s time to shine (and the puppy’s time to make a nuisance of itself).
An old dog with arthritis wants to get involved too, which Stan explains is the puppy’s aunty.
“Come here, Aunty!” Robin foolishly shouts at it, thinking it’s the dog’s name. Ah, he will NEVER be allowed to forget that one.
A sheep dog demonstration
In the field of sheep, Stan shouts: “Way out, way out, way out!” which prompts the border collie to get to a particular side of the sheep and bring them toward the fence lined with us and the Topdeck crew. In an age of technology having a huge influence in most industries, it’s amazing to watch this line of man controlling dog controlling sheep! Even in dairy farming, machines are used to milk the cows – believe us, we did it ourselves! But here, it is a technique that has been used for hundreds of years!
Feeding the lambs (and the cow?!)
Once a small flock of sheep and one random cow is gathered in front of us, Angie comes out of the house with a milk bottle to feed the lambs and the cow! It’s cuteness overload as the lambs and cow roughly suck on the bottle, their face getting absolutely covered in milk but just being too sassy to care.
Now that the animals and fed, we can go and get our own feed – Angie’s sensational baking! In the back garden complete with a large sheltered decking area, a garden full of flowers, and enough pets to keep us entertained, a whole spread of cream and jam scones, cookies and sausage rolls is waiting on the table. Angie and Fiona serve tea/coffee to anyone who wants it, otherwise there is a selection of cold drinks too. There is enough food and drink for seconds and thirds! Angie won’t let people leave until everything has been eaten! We are happy to help with that!
A classic New Zealand pavlova
From Kiwi hospitality to classic Kiwi farming, we have definitely had the real New Zealand experience today. It ends the best way it can – with homemade pavlova! Pavlova is a traditional New Zealand desert – fresh, light and perfect for summer! Angie serves us the meringue dessert topped with fresh cream, strawberries, kiwifruit and pomegranate. The gooey centre melts in our mouth while the crispy coating provides a satisfactory crunch. Wow! Just wow!
Although we want to live with Angie feeding us for the rest of our lives, we realise we have another 164 days of New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year to do. So we say goodbye to Angie, Stan and the dogs, and head back for another night sheltered under the pine trees of Fairlie Holiday Park.
Tomorrow, we are hitting the road to Timaru – famous for it’s little blue penguins. Join us then!
Working the sheep on Morelea Farm Theta 360 Loading...
Have you read yesterday’s post about finding the best pies in New Zealand? How about these articles:
- 6 Essential Pitstops for Your South Canterbury Road Trip
- 10 Underrated Spots in Canterbury
- 5 Traditional New Zealand Recipes
See you tomorrow!