So the road north of Auckland, the new toll road is fantastic. Instead of the epic hours and hours of driving it was two and half speedy hours all the way to Dargaville. The Far North is just not that far anymore. However the road to Auckland from Hamilton had a 15 km rolling traffic jam which added 45 minutes to our journey to the airport.
But back to Dargaville. Arriving in the dark and being talked into getting up at 5.45am on a Saturday (Thomas too) to get breakfast and down to the Dargaville town hall to watch over the Regional Young Farmer of the Year contestants as they did two 25 minutes exams in the semi darkness, due to the TV cameras filming.
Thomas went with Bron my co-worker from AgriKidsNZ to help set up. Sod child labour laws. After the cameras left I didn't think to turn the lights on but the sunrise through the windows was lovely. Besides those farm boys are used to getting up early and doing things in the semi-darkness...
what? oh they aren't dairy farmers? oh in that case sorry fullas for forcing you to work out the GST and an Animal Status Form in the dark. I thought all farmers in the North Island were dairy farmers.
But it gets better, 8.30am I meet back up with Thomas and Bron at the AgriKidsNZ contest. That's wonderBron on the left.Let's see there were 17 teams of three kids between ages of 8 and 13 from schools all around Northland there to win the prize - a trip to the AgriKidsNZ Grand Final in Gore! The greatest thing about NZYF, the Contest and AgriKidsNZ is that we totally rely on volunteers like Michelle (yes right there above) who with wonderBron did an amazing job of keeping all those kids on track, engaged and winning.
Meanwhile, once I had finished with examining the big kids I moved on to judging Animal Health... don't worry no animals were harmed in the process
Me and Andrew (that's Andrew three photos ago thrilling parents around Northland by teaching their kids how to use a dog whistle) spent quite a bit of time in a tent with the first aid test (Andrew's partner Sarah who was the accident victim who screamed 17 times through the morning - Andrew and I plotted about really injuring her) and our Animal Health activity/test.
What the kids had to with us was put the bits of the cow back on in order i.e. in the right place and with the ribs over top of it all (please note the cows bits are ply wood not actual bits, though when they get to TeenAG they get to feel real cows bits - I love my job), they had to identify four breeds of dairy cattle (i.e. cows - fresian - black and white, ayrshire - a lovely shade of brown and white, guernsey - looks like a jersey cow but with white and jersey - lovely light brown with the biggest doe eyes), four breeds of sheep (I do get the different uses for sheep breeds but once they are past lambs who cares, the cuteness factor is gone) and match fleece samples to the sheep breeds then answer 20 animal health questions all in five minutes (did you know milk is 38C when inside the cow? nope? now you do).
The teams who did well did so with good time management because it was really hard to answer and do everything in a measly five minutes.
Here's my team, well my lane but these little beauties worked their 5th place getting butts off. Here's what they had to do
- put the wheel back on the go cart
- push one team member up to the far end
- 'milk' a 'cow' into a bucket and ear tag the 'cow'
- in the go cart, push the team member back to the start with the 'milk' in the bucket
- pour the 'milk' into a drench sac and fill water or 'milk' balloons using the squirt gun
- take the balloons and crawl under a camo net
- knock a duck and ducklings off the stand with the balloons
- bridle a horses head (a Godfather-ish I thought)
- using a giant slingshot, catapult two toy sheep into a fadge
- then put a puzzle together
- then get in the fadge and sack race back to the beginning
- then they had to raise the National Bank flag the right way up
- fill a pipe with water til the little yellow ball floated to the top
- then take the ball and shoot it (doesn't matter where)
and that was the end for some very wet kids. That fulla in the back is Tractor, husband of fab Michelle and dad of Brad in the foreground. Tractor's older son Andrew is the absolute spit of his dad and when they stand together it's like Tractor has a mini-me, maybe they should call Andrew Ride-on-mower. And what was Thomas doing all this while?
please note the children inside the fadge (for those to lazy to click on the fadge link)
he had figured out that Scotty would give him bbq sauages and bread because that's the reward you get for showing up at an AgriKidsNZ event while it's still dark, they were really tasty sausages to be fair. I have never eaten so many sausages in my life than I have in the last two months since I started at NZYF!
This is the reward you get for being such an awesome kid all daySorry the close up photo kept going sideways.