Saturday, April 07, 2007

Harvest Home Festival

This has been an interesting, if not trying, week. We had a really good weekend when we went to the Harvest Home festival at the Totara Estate a little south of Oamaru. This is where the first shipment of frozen meat from New Zealand was exported from. As the festival was advertised as having a bullock team from Motueka as well as horse-drawn ploughing demonstrations we decided that it would be interesting to go along. We weren't disappointed!

First up, we visited the handcraft tents. There were several ladies making bobbin lace as well as a local spinning group who were making a spinning and weaving a shawl from a fleece which was blade-shorn that day. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of these ladies (and one man) but I did get one of the lacemaker. I love the finished product (who wouldn't) but I'm sure that I would get not only confused with all the bobbins but also tired of the time it took to make even a small amount of the lace. These women certainly have lots of patience!

You can see a couple of the sheep waiting in the shed for the shearer to come back. They didn't seem to be worried about people standing there staring at them - in fact they seemed just as interested in us as we were in them!

Another sheep we saw was being lead around by (or rather, leading) some little children. This was "Shrek", who became famous when he was found after avoiding the musterers for a number of years. I have long wondered about the truth behind the story as, to me, he seems rather tame for having had no human contact for years. But, whatever, it makes a good story and there has been quite a lot of money raised for charity because of him.

Old-style woodcraft was also showcased at the festival. A woodworker was making a coracle out of willow branches and another was showing a little boy how to shave the wood. The little boy was not phased by the crowd watching and was talking to the woodworker ninety-to-the-dozen!

Another interesting procedure I had never seen before was the shoeing of a draught horse. Apparently the horse had been brought in every hour for a new shoe to be put on. We caught up with the proceedings for the last shoe. By then, the horse was getting rather annoyed and was not on its best behaviour. But, with some perseverance on the part of the blacksmith, the horse was finally lead away with its four brand new, specially made him, shoes.

There was also a team of four bullocks all the way from Motueka. I think these bullocks are part of the only working bullock team in the South Island. It was amazing to see these quiet animals (so quiet a couple of brave young boys were sitting on their backs at one stage) and realise that 150 or so years ago animals just like these brought settlers and all their meagre belongings across hundreds of kilometres of rough, untraveled terrain to begin their new lives on the land. Throughout the day many people, both adults and children, were able to have rides on the cart pulled by the bullocks. Towards the end of the day these bullocks must have been getting annoyed as we saw that the drovers, whips cracking and voices shouting, were having trouble keeping these animals going in the right direction. Not an easy task to steer four 1200 kg animals in a direction they don't want to go in!

We also took some time to watch the three teams of horses ploughing up the ground. Our favourite was the five-horse team of Morgans. I have read a little about these strong, versatile little horses and was quite impressed by them. Hard work ploughing this way, though.

At the end there was a small parade of sorts complete with pipe band. A man was zipping around on a penny farthing - how on earth people used to ride these things I don't know! More my style was the modern-style wagon pulled by two draught horses with spotted dalmation along for the ride. This outfit, along with several others, have recently completed a trip from Invercargill to Picton raising funds for the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust along the way.

If you look hard at some of the photos you may also notice that a lot of the festival-goers were dressed in clothing reminiscent of 100 or more years ago. Some of these seemed quite authentic and it really did add something to the atmosphere of the festival.

This week also marked the arrival of two packages - one was the latest issue of Spin Off maagazine. The other package held two very pretty little stone spindles from One Planet. But more about these purchases next time!


Iris G said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip! I have never seen horses ploughing before, so I'm impressed too!

zippiknits said...

What a lovely festival. Many thanks for you lovely photo journal tour. It's impressive!

I clearly live on the wrong end of California but it can't be helped. All the good festivals are in the Northern part of the state.