We did our little bit four weeks ago to forge the links between city and country.
There was a time when every city kid had an uncle and aunt and some cousins somewhere on a farm and those kids got packed off during various holidays to give mum some respite or perhaps because even then both city parents were working and childcare facilities were required.
My own Christchurch cousins were annual visitors here during the late 1960’s and all of the 1970’s. From a single parent family with not much spare money, it was a cheap and fun holiday for them.
For us with only them and four others as first cousins, it was always good to have them to stay and to have some fun with them. Initially they weren’t much use but as they grew older they became useful around the house and sometimes on the farm so earned their supper.
They still reminisce fondly of those visits and some have occasionally brought their own children back for a farm visit or two.
But uncles on farms must be getting harder to find as those contacts between town and country probably don’t happen as often as they once did. More folk in cities and less in the country may be part of it.
We stayed for a night with some Wellington friends a couple of months ago. They had the recent addition of a dog and subsequently had to take the cat to the vet as it had become neurotic as only a city cat would do. The vet proscribed anti anxiety pills would you believe.
And now the mother of an eleven year old set of twins was telling us that her kids and her job were going to force her to start taking the cat’s pills any day.
Jane sensing trouble ahead offered to have the boys during the holidays and the parents couldn’t accept fast enough.
Sure enough two young lads turned up a few weeks later with brand new gumboots and a desire to shoot something. One showed us how he had been practising for weeks by closing one eye so as to be able to use the rifle.
I did take them out one night to shoot rabbits as they had seen Bear Gryls eat one on television and they were keen to partake themselves. I was surprised to spot a possum as we are in an excellent scheme run by the Hawkes Bay Regional Council that has been so successful that recently you have as much chance of seeing a panda as a possum.
The one who had been practising shutting his eye had his open one squashed up against the scope and was waving the 22 around like he was swatting flies. We sorted out where to put his head, I held the rifle as steady as possible and told him to fire when he saw the possum.
There was as much chance of that happening as Winston Peters joining the priesthood. He fired and the possum fell from the tree dead as a doornail.
They started their stay trying to keep mud and at all cost ‘poos’ off their new boots and washed their hands at every opportunity but by the end of the week were pretty well covered in both but didn’t seem to notice.
They tagged along with me every day and I enjoyed their unbounding enthusiasm and interest of pretty well everything I take for granted as a chore.
They wanted to see a crook sheep have it’s ‘neck cut’ and there was much eagerness about the impeding deed but when it came to it, they kept a healthy ten meters away.
They were quite interested in watching a bearing being put back in but fortunately didn’t ask what organ exactly is that as I was unsure at what level Wellingtonian eleven year old biology was expected to be at.
When their father came to retrieve them they didn’t want to go and one of them reckoned he was going to become a farmer.
Time will tell.