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.
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
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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