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Alpacas, Cheese and Red Deer

So the number one thing that I have learned in the last few days is that Kiwi hospitality is incredible. Everyone is so nice and full of information and stories, it’ pretty hard to find strangers at home that are like that. We were invited into a farm to learn about the way they run their dairy farm. It seems odd to us that they are giving such a small amount of mixed feed and are feed mostly on the grass across the farm. They gave us a wonderful presentation about the new and effective methods they use and then have us a tour around the facilities. We had a nice cold glass of milk and were able to have our lunch on the top of the hill where they have a small area that looks out across the land. From this point they can see the top line of three different cities and have an incredible view of such beautiful country. The afternoon was spent at an alpaca farm, where we got to meet Emerson the Alpaca. This visit was full of information and the guide was so passionate about the alpacas which made it so much more interesting. We learned that they do get frightened quit easily and have the fastest kick I have ever seen. I had a blast feeding them and getting to pet them and be around them, they are so soft.

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The next day started at an orchard where they grow feijoa and peppers. The farmer there was so innovative and had so many little inventions that made his plants grow and produce their best. The capsicums, bell peppers, were very sweet but the pepper had a bit of a kick to it. Now I was so excited for the next stop, but I don’t think that I had thought that all the way through. The cheese production school was very fascinating. I had never heard of someone going to school or workshops to learn how to make cheese. We were able to sample a few kinds that they had there, the Southern Cross was my favorite. I really like cheese, but I do not like “fancy” cheese! Although I did not like the taste of all but one of them, I really did enjoy the experience and the education about cheese that I would not have ever gotten anywhere else. Another great farm was the last stop of the day, a rotary goat milking operation. This farm was very interesting, and the goats were adorable. I was very surprised to learn that the goats only have to have one kid and then are able to produce milk for 4-5 years.

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Today we started at a demonstration dairy farm, where they decide to try a new way of operating and give farms across New Zealand information on what worked for them and why. This dairy farm was quit different from the last dairy farm we visited, they ran their herds on different feeds and milking operations. It was interesting to hear about the issues that all of the farmers are facing and the different ways that each farm is trying to handle them. The next visit was to a deer  farm, being a hunter I was very excited to see this farm. We learned about when, why, and how he harvests the velvet and that it is sent off to China to be used in their medicines. The stages that he did not harvest the velvet from are getting to the point where he is getting ready to replace them with a younger stag and sell them to an outfitter. These stags were massive, I was blown away at the size of their antlers and the overall size of them as well. Today’s visits were wonderful and I enjoyed every minute.

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Cheyenne Eldridge, New Mexico State University

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