strawberry fields forever

Stooping down the four inches needed to break into her personal space, I looked my companion in the eye and in a moment of (what I thought to be) mutual connectedness, made another proposition. “Let’s take a stroll together. It’ll be fun…” I said. Holding our stare until she blinked.

It was a thoughtful blink.
Perhaps it was a sign she understood. Then again, maybe I was reading too much into a relationship that was never meant to be?
“If you need more time, I’ll wait?” I suggested .
But on this occasion, not even time could bridge the chasm between us. No matter how hard I tried…… I just couldn’t get the donkey to walk.

So I left her. I could tell she was upset. I was hurting too. I could see it in the way she randomly twitched her ears. I doubt it had anything to do with the flies landing on top of her head. It looked like a sad ear twitch from where I stood.
But then, as they say in this business, it’s better to have tried ploughing with a donkey and lost, than not to have ploughed with a donkey at all.

But not all was lost.
Having swapped from the front animal end to the back iron end of our black beauty, she promptly took the same message from my wife and before the day was over, our work was done. The field was finished and prepped for a new Autumn crop of strawberries.

“Why work with donkeys?” We asked our latest farm host as we caught up over a glass of Bordeaux red later that evening. The response, indicated an emerging awareness of rising oil prices along with speculation we’re on the other side of the peak oil hyperbole. Ironically, the idea of seeking out alternative solutions was seen more as an opportunity than a problem. Which in this case, included the re-introduction and learning of older farming practices.
Infact, within a neighbouring region, courses are even offered teaching the age old method of producing with animals. A collective idea of looking back, to move forwards.


talking to donkeyYet, irrespective of whatever reasons or philosophies that prompt farmers to practice this way, our two weeks that followed merged into a tranquil, nostalgic and enriching experience. The work was completed without the single combustion of a tractor engine and the donkey and I managed to put our differences aside.
I promised not to make a fuss out of her big wiggling ears and in return she happily batted those eyelids when walking next to me..

It was all just a case of getting my ass into gear…

9 comments

  1. Hi Dave, “long time listener, first time caller” as they say. Very envious & enthralled by what you & the family are doing. we are planning to live 6months of the year in France starting in April 2015 with 1 (and maybe two with good fortune) under 5’s in tow.

    Any information & advice would be so gratefully received. Good luck for your future travels.

  2. Dear All,

    Hi there, am really enjoying reading your posts. Am thinking of

    whipping the children out of school myself and want to know how it works on the wwoofing scheme with children in tow, bearing in mind its 1 adult, 1 will be 5 year old and 1 will be flouncing 11 year old girl, any suggestions ? Love Ellen

  3. Hi Rachel looks like you and your boys are having a truly magical trip. I’m loving Dave’s updates and all the pictures. Happy Birthday for today, been thinking about you lots of love from a fellow 40 yr old!! Paula xxx

  4. How comes Rachel is putting in the back breaking bit and you appear to be talking to the donkey?! Looks like you are having an amazing time; what a great journey. We just have one month left here and then we are back in the campervan for a bit. Take care and have fun.. how far away does Wairau feel now?

      • Hi

        Loving reading your posts, sounds like a fantastic journey so far. We have had an amazing time at Aroha Island, just 5 weeks left now, and then we are going to continue on our travels for a little while. Have loved this area, so think we might be back. If ever you are looking for a good place to spend some time when you come back we would recommend Aroha; you guys would be fab here.

        Look forward to seeing more of your travels… oh it is so tempting to hop over to Europe!!

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