Dark Choc Chip Cookies and…The Sheep Farm

The prelude to this story is on Unaccompanied Minors

My sister and I took the NAC flight as unaccompanied minors from Wellington to Christchurch for our two-week holiday on our cousin’s farm.  It’s probably best if I don’t mention that going on a plane was the one thing we were most looking forward to.

We arrived on the farm in August, the coldest month of the year and yes, it was cold.  The farm was on a plain so the land was completely level and covered in dense, emerald green grass dotted heavily with hundreds of ewes about to give birth.

Dark Choc Chip Cookies

At the end of each day we would go out in trucks to check on the ewes and their newborn lambs.  Some of the ewes would be in labor and suffering a difficult birth and these would be separated from the flock by the sheep dogs and rounded up into a confined area.  Em and I would look on as these ewes were given assistance which usually meant an arm disappearing then reappearing clutching on to a tiny infant lamb.  We were shocked into silence to be sure.

Every morning we would be back out in the trucks again to check on the ewes and discover what had occurred overnight.  The emerald grass would be covered in a dense frost that crunched and crackled underfoot.  It was hard to imagine how the ewes and their lambs could survive such long cold nights.  Not all lambs survived.  The dead would be lying on the frozen ground with their poor bleating mothers standing beside them.  We would have to collect up the lambs that were frozen solid and pile them into the back of the truck where they were driven off ‘somewhere’.

It wasn’t only the lambs that didn’t survive.  Sometimes it was the mothers and so there were orphan lambs.  These were rounded up by the sheep dogs and brought to an area near the homestead where they were put in a fenced off area of the backyard.  Em and I didn’t think the patch of ground given to the little orphans was big enough so we enlarged the area to include a lovely patch of manicured lawn.

Em and I weren’t excused from the work that was required to be done so we were shown by our male cousins, how to chop wood for the evening fire.  I remember my mother not being very pleased when she heard that after a very quick demonstration we were swinging around very sharp axes.  A safer job, and a job I really did enjoy, was feeding the newborn lambs.  We were taught how to make up the formula and pour it into bottles and then we would feed the orphans, two at a time.  And they were always so pleased to see us and they were always ravenous.  A bottle didn’t seem to fill them up and after the very last drop had disappeared they loved to suck on our fingers.  We were in love with these sweet, beautiful, innocent little creatures.

Food on the farm was basic but plentiful.  There wasn’t time for elaborate, intricate or fussy overly-involved recipes.  Certainly dessert was very no-frills to the point of being ‘get your own’.  Our cousins showed us how to grab a bowl, fill it with ice cream, add some spoonfuls of preserved fruit, shake over the cornflakes, pour on the custard, top with whipped cream.  There was always something freshly baked for the workers for morning or afternoon tea like these cookies.

Dark Choc Chip Cookies

Chewy and Chocolatey

Makes:  30

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5

Cost:  Minimal.  I had everything on hand except for the chocolate chips and they only cost a few dollars.

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 250gms dark choc chips

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale. Add vanilla and egg and continue to beat until just combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt then fold in. Stir through chunks of chocolate.

Place tablespoonfuls of mixture 4-5cm apart on the tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe has been adapted from Taste.

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  1. This is a regular guest in my home. So simple to make and so satisfying!

  2. MMM. My favorite. Though mine go straight from baking sheet to mouth. There is no need for a wire cooling rack in my home.

  3. More chewy, chocolately, chocolate chip cookies please as a prelude for my glass of port.

  4. I would have loved to learn how to chop wood! Gah just think of people that make me mad and off I’ll go!

  5. Hi,
    Oh yes those chocolate chip cookies would go down well right about now, they look delicious. 🙂

  6. We love chocolate chip cookies around here although the husband tries to get me to make them with no chocolate chips. Is he crazy?

    I could picture the lambs and the farm as I read your story. How tragic to find the dead newborns and their bereft mothers. How wonderful to get to feed the orphan lambs! That must have been such a special experience.

  7. Love the simplicity of that recipe!

  8. Ohhhh my kids will love this one 🙂 Were your ears burning on the weekend. I was with Cath and we were talking about you and I was telling her how much I enjoy our blog and that we are sooooo overdue to get together in person so she wants to join us too. So name a date sista! 🙂
    Oh I have missed your blog. I took a couple of weeks off the blogosphere and its like getting a new magazine where I have all your posts to catch up on.
    Hope yu are keeping well lovely 🙂 xx

  9. I’m totally trying this recipe sometime 🙂 i’ve been meaning to make choc chip cookies hehe I found Mr Bao seems to like cookies/biscuits more than cakes ~ so gonna make more of those from now on 😀

    Oh that’s really sad that the mother lambs wouldn’t survive and left orphan lambs 🙁 I never knew that lambs would die in the cold too, because I’ve been so ignorant and always thought that their wool will keep them very warm. Seems like a great experience to live on a farm though 🙂 I’ve always been interested in a farm stay hehe ~

  10. Our lambing was in a warmer time of year so deaths were not so high. It’s truly awful to see and hear a mourning ewe, or any animal for that matter.

  11. I loved your story but so sad about the animals that didn’t make it. Sounds like you had some real adventures on this trip.

  12. I have similar memories from a farm I was going for some days of the year but it was summer… My brother just came one time and never again but i was over there every year. These are soulfull memories I think..
    My son loves chocolate chip cookies (Duh!)
    Have a wonderful week Charlie!

  13. That is so tragic how the mother lamb died…
    I’m sure it was a special experience to feed the baby lambs though.. I used to volunteer at a farm, it’s a special experience to take care of animals you usually don’t get in touch with in your daily life. shoveling the poop wasn’t so fun though…

  14. These look wonderful. The recipes already printed out and I’m off to bake them now! GG

  15. Thanks for sharing your wonderful cookies recipe. They look delicious!

  16. What a life experience you had on that farm.. everything from birth to death and in between! I think of you feeding milk to the babies.. what a beautiful sight it would have been to photograph!

  17. It must have been a precious experience at your age. The cookies look simple and delicious.

  18. You may have cured me from my long-held desire to be a Jillaroo. But what an incredible life experience for a child.

  19. An eye opening experience my friend, similar to eating even only one of your amazing cookies 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. I’m just glad that your story didn’t end with, “Oh!! By the way, my Sister’s name is Clarisse.” That would have kept me awake at night.
    As I’ve come to expect and eagerly anticipate, it’s another great story to accompany a tasty recipe. And chocolate chip cookies are simply the best!

  21. Delicious !!!
    I love how simple yet so delicious these cookies are…
    Yum Yum Yum

  22. Wait… peanuts have been banned from all schools? Looks like I missed out this weekend, thankfully the internet can always help you see everything!
    In Spain kids either go home to have lunch or they have it at school but they can’t take a lunch box and the lunch is the same for everybody: something like a soup, cream, pasta… and then fish or meat and a yogurt or some fruit for dessert, I actually think that works really well in Spain as opposed to other countries like USA (that I know of)…

    I had to go back to remember the other story hahaha I feel like I’ve been away for a month and it hasn’t even been 5 days! Love both recipes (cookies and pasta), I would have some cookies now after my long trip!!

  23. Just looking at a chocolate chip cookie brings out the cookie monster in me, and yours make me want to dive in. Truly, cookies are my greatest weakness!

  24. Oh my Charlie, that holiday doesn’t sound very fun at all for a young child, but I bet there were some valuable lessons learned, even if it was growing a thick skin. I am not sure how I would have survived the dead baby lamb situation, it made me cry just reading about it (I’m a city girl through and through).
    I bet the plane ride home was a welcome relief from farm life. I wonder how many more times your parents sent you on this type of vacation?
    I do love chewy chocolate chip cookies and these look very easy to make. I will add them to my cookie repertoire for sure.
    Hope you have a great day; and hope I don’t dream of dead baby lambs.
    Eva kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  25. A great experience for you and a very memorable dessert bar they had

  26. We would spend our spring holidays on my dad’s cousin’s sheep station doing the same sort of stuff, and we’d stay out in the shearer’s quarters. Mum would stay home and have some time to herself, so with dad in the kitchen we would be served up variations on chops with mash and baked beans, or sausages with baked beans, mash and… twisties! Breakfast was some cereal or the other that mum wouldn’t let us eat at home, or corn flakes or rice bubbles with condensed milk. It’s funny – spending time on the farm working wasn’t something most of my friends understood as a good time, but to my brother and I it was heaven 🙂 Mmm, choc chip biscuits are always a winner, especially when they’re still hot and melty inside…

  27. yum! I used to love these when i was a kid!

  28. Yikes! I don’t think I could work on a lamb farm…

    Your cookies look deelish!


  29. That sounds like the sort of experience that all children should have once – so different to life in the city. I’m glad you got to feed the surviving lambs, hopefully that cancelled out some of the trauma of the non-surviving ones! Biscuits like these would have helped too, I suspect…ditto help yourself ice cream 🙂

  30. Those cookies look dreamy… I’d be more than happy to enjoy those as a “get-your-own” dessert! I remember the first time my brother and I flew in a plane without my parents… the flight was certainly one of the highlights of that trip for us! We felt so grown up!

  31. Sounds like a blissful time indeed! 😀 I adore watching lil lambs feed from bottles!

  32. Welcome to the real world in a hurry girls!
    Farm baking always seems to be the best, doesn’t it? Lovely cookies indeed 🙂

  33. The biscuits look quite civilised and comforting compared with the rigours and shocks of farm life.

  34. I grew up on a farm and from the age of about 10 it was my job to chop the wood. I loved it and even to this day I enjoy it. One year we rented a house at Ruepehu for a couple of weeks. I loved getting up each morning when everyone was asleep and chopping a load of wood for the fire.

  35. love choc chip cookies though I probably don’t work as physically hard as the farm hands! I did used to feed lambs with bottles when I was young and I loved those lambs

  36. To me there is nothing better than a good chocolate chip cookie. They are truly scrumptious! I had no idea that lambs could freeze to death like that, Charlie. My gosh that would be upsetting. Nature can indeed be cruel…and I am a little naive to boot! Debra

  37. What yummy, yummy cookies!

  38. MMM,..those ccchip cookies look like real winners! 🙂 Yum Yum Yum! 🙂

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