ADULT ADVISORY WARNING: LOTS OF COW EXCREMENT REFERENCES
39 days remaining
Today Clan Carroll head inland, away from the SEA OF OKHOTSK. They will return to OKHOTSK in 10 days time. But now it’s DESTINATION DAIRY FARM.
Headwind but warm & sunny. Up down, up down. On the UPS, they distract themselves from mystical bears and burning thighs. Just like on long car journeys to Edinburgh or Scottish West Coast they sing songs. Brad tries ‘Bear Necessities’but quickly runs out of lyrics. Same with ‘Teddy Bears picnic’. More success with Michael Rosen’s “We’re going on a Bear Hunt, we gonna catch a big one. Oh, what a beautiful day…”. When the singing stops they try make sense of the past 142 days. Japan warts & all.
The scenery is breathtaking. Mixed forest mountains, lush green fields, wild rivers carrying snow melt. Unfortunately scenery doesn’t fill bellies and abandoned farm buildings decay in overgrown fields. More evidence of Hokkaido depopulation. Second & third generation settlers choosing multi-coloured neon city lights over Siberian influenced winds & Snow.
Eventually, they arrive at a farm house with children’s toys and tricycles lying about. About 30 cows graze in a field nearby. Brad, confidently, “see those cows? They are the milking variety. I learnt all about milking variety cows in Primary School in Johannesburg. From books with pictures in them. The black & white ones are called Jerseys and they make milk. This is the place. Definitely”. Heidi, “Nonsense, they are Holsteins, probably hybrid.” Brad, defensive “how do you know? Books I read only ever mentioned Heidi milking goats”. Heidi sighs. Turns left down farm track towards a farmhouse set amongst various farm looking buildings and tractors and other ‘farmy’ stuff.
And so, at 2pm, Brad, Heidi, Sam & Joe lent their laden bicycles on a farmhouse wall, reasonably confident they had found WWOOF 8. A DAIRY FARM WWOOF. If they were, indeed, at the correct place (and correct date!) then before dark whoever lived in that farmhouse would come home to milk the cows. At 4pm a truck (the WWOOF farmer!) turned into the drive. Facing this generous and brave man, ready to welcome strangers into his home were four enthusiastic (with varying degrees of DAIRYING experience) cycle tourists from Scotland. A GP, a Postman, and two boys under 9 years.
38 days remaining
We are going to be FINE! Phew.
Farm: 33 Dairy Cows (mixture Holstein hybrids, few Jerseys), 8 calves, 3 sheep, 10 hens, 2 cats, 1 beautiful and unchained (!) Bernese Mountain dog called MIRA.
Living: Own spacious room in main house. Double Glazing windows. Bath, loo, kitchen etc…all good. Well used piano, adult & child sized guitars, huge fire stove. A farmhouse containing all the DAIRY FARM smells ( 😉) of a five person family living with cows. Lots. Smells. Cows.
MEALS: Meat from the farm. Organic. BEST MONEY CAN BUY. Lots of it.
WWOOF Hidden Gem: the books. Oh, the books, the books, the books. How we are going to love the books. Shelves and shelves of hard cover children’s books, so many familiar from our home, except with Hirigana writing. However, it is the shelf holding a range of varied & insightful thought about Japan itself that Heidi and I are most excited about. Some titles: “The Challenge Of Japan’s International-ization”, “What Japanese Words Say About Women”, “Japan Through The Eyes Of Women Migrant Workers”. “A 2000 mile Mile Walk Through Japan”, “NihonSENSE”. Words to help make sense of our Japan WARTS & ALL.
37 days remaining
Life on a Dairy Farm: Two Milkings each day. Every day. Every season. Every year. Morning Milk: 5am to 8am (ish). Evening Milk: 4pm to 7pm (ish). In between, tackle JOBS TO DO #4 and #7 of TOTAL 100(ish). The multi-headed hydra, do one, add two to the list. MAN rushing around getting things ready for the next milking & winter while COW takes it easy in an impossibly beautiful field amidst mountains, river, and yellow dandelions. Eating, Shitting & Pissing. MAN & COW in harmony.
36 days remaining
4.40am alarm goes. Gently rub SAMs face, “Sam, Sam boy, do you want to get up for the milking or go to back to sleep? You can still sleep if you want”. Three seconds later. Sam fully dressed. Wide awake.
Ready for THE MILKING:
INTRODUCTION: Think routines of any MAN institution (school, workplace, train station, hospital, Korean prison). Apply to COW. Except COW weighs 500kg. COW thinks only in terms of EAT PISS SHIT. Also COW TIME slower than MAN TIME. 500kg trumps 70kg so COW TIME trumps MAN TIME. This is important.
ENTRY PHASE: MAN calls COW. COW ambles passed MAN. Stops, lifts tail. PISSES and/or SHITS. Continues. COW SPEED.
DOCKING PHASE: MAN calls COW into milking shed. COW ambles into shed (at COW SPEED). MAN entices COW to milking station with COW COOKIES (pellets). Plan for Cow #1 to bay 1, Cow #2 to bay 2, #3 to 3, #4 to 4, and so forth…. immediately, COW #3 goes to bay 4. COW#4 now confused because bay 3 occupied, SHITS, goes to bay 7. Dominoe effect. MAYHEM.
PRE-MILKING PHASE: Flannels. Two types. One warmed dry, one warmed wet. Warmed Wet to clean teat. Warmed dry to dry teat. Four teats per udder. 33 udders. 132 teats. MAN must squeeze between two 500kg COWS. Crouches. Cleans teats. Beneath a 500kg COW. Once cleaned, squeeze teat to bring milk down.(worth mentioning that a cows teat strongly resembles a penis. This does take some getting used to). Cow #3 flicks tail & covers MAN face with shit. Cow #3 then sits down and covers recently cleaned teats in shit. MAN curses Cow #3.
THE MILKING: MAN performs complex dance movement with COMPLEX LOOKING machine & COW. Dance ends with COMPLEX LOOKING machine tubes tugging hungrily at each teat. Slurp slurp slurp. Drain drain drain. Cow #3 behaves.
POST MILKING: COWS lying down. MAN tries to get COWS to stand. Varying degrees of success. Begging is pointless, but worth a try. Eventually a fork jab in the ribs, as last resort. Fork Jab has consequences.
EXIT PHASE: MAN detaches COW from bay. Opens shed door to entice COW into field. 33 COWS take revenge for Fork Jab. Cow #3 call-to-arms with an impressive “MOOOOO”. 33 COWS begin to SHIT and PISS. MAN assumes ‘brace brace’ position. Gushing Water and Boulders into Mud. Satisfied, COW ambles towards field. COW SPEED. MAN waits at door with SHIT scraper in hand. Feigning authority and dignity. Cow #3 passes MAN at door. Looks MAN in eyes. Holds stare. PISSES and then SHITS. MAN hungry and tired, now begins OPERATION CLEAN-UP.
35 days remaining:
01.00 hrs Cow #10 gave birth. After the 5am Milking Satoshi-San artificially inseminated Cow #18. Joe know believes he has seen a “MAN mating with a COW”. Brad drove a tractor today. Sam fed a newly born calf. Heidi made a basket out of Birch Bark. It rained all day, but this didn’t matter in the least. Considering staying longer, but we’ll see. Still so much to see in Hokkaido. Five more days to enjoy the gentle rhythms of a working Dairy farm.
34 days remaining: