THE MUDDER 2016 IS NEARLY HERE!

Adventure seekers will be falling over themselves to take part in “The Mudder” at Rangitikei Farmstay on September 17th 2016. Organisers Andrew and Kylie Stewart are pleased with entrants so far which are tracking well ahead of last year. “As with all successful events, the key is to keep tweaking it so the entrants have something new and exciting. That way they will go away and tell all their friends about it as well,” said event manager Andrew Stewart. Just what those changes are will remain secret until the big day but include upgrades to both the Event HQ and the course itself. The course is based on the Stewart’s sheep and beef farm 12km from Marton. It is unique in the fact that it is largely based around natural obstacles rather than man-made ones. “The obstacle that most have found toughest in previous years is a bog crawl based on a natural spring. The mud turns to gloop after the first people have been through it, making it a great natural challenge,” said Andrew. Other course highlights include a dam with a floating island in the middle of it, a 100 year old macrocarpa tree with roots straight out of a Hobbit film and plenty of swamps, dams and creeks. One of the biggest draw cards of the course is the natural terrain. “Being hill country it is no walk in the park. It is a real challenge for the entrants but that is the greatest appeal,” said Andrew. The Mudder features a 3km course, a 5km course and a two lap 8km course to cater for all levels of fitness. These options mean entrants from all walks of life can enjoy the course at their own speed. “We don’t think of it as a mud run because lots of people choose to walk it and still have just as much fun, while those that want to run and really challenge themselves can still do that,” said Andrew. All information about The Mudder, including ticket prices, entry details and photos from previous years is on the website: www.themudder.co.nz or search for The Mudder on Facebook. Ticket sales close at 12pm on Thursday the 15th of September so those still wanting tickets are advised to get in quick before it is too late.

Hello Spring!

Winter has officially been and gone and thankfully it was a kinder one than the previous. Warm winter days have been enjoyed by everyone, staff, stock and of course lots of lovely farmstay guests from around the globe. This winter we have welcomed back a number of guests who had visited us previously, this time bringing friends to join in the fun. It really does feel like people leave being our friends so it is lovely to welcome them back again. On the farm front, the damage done by the June 2015 floods created a lot of work  but it hasn’t been all bad in terms of the direction we have taken. It has meant we have got stuck in doing a heap of new fence lines, including fencing off a lot of the beautiful native bush and our water ways. It feels great doing something so good for the environment and in many ways future proofing the farm. Another project in terms of protecting the environment has been planting more poplar trees in the areas that are prone to erosion. I personally have loved getting out on the farm and planting the popular poles, it sure beats an office job any day! There is something really satisfying about planting trees, they do such a great job helping to hold the land together but they also look amazing too! Hugh (Andrews father) has spent a life time planting trees on the farm which certainly helps to make the farm the beautiful place it is today. We feel passionate about continuing Hugh’s legacy of trees and if you ever visit the farm you will understand the beauty I am talking about. As farmers you are only really caretakers of the land for the next generation, that in itself is great motivation for me to improve what is already a beautiful slice of kiwi paradise. I’m off to enjoy some more fresh air in the garden. Bye for now, Kylie.

An inspiring guest

Back in 2008 when we began Rangitikei Farmstay we hoped we would meet people from all over the world, share our property, learn about others cultures and enrich our lives. We have certainly done that. However I never imagined to meet a guest such as Kelly McNabb, a guest that has touched my life forever. Kelly, wife and mother of two boys aged 2 and 4 years was also an ICU nurse at the Palmerston North hospital. 17 months ago Kelly was diagnosed with Brain cancer. Three surgeries, chemotherapy, Avastin and two courses of radiotherapy, it was a hard fought battle that Kelly lost earlier this month. It was in Kelly’s last few months of life that she visited our Farmstay with a friend and her family. Her time at the farm consisted of watching her boys ride a pony for the first time, feed the animals and enjoy what country life had to offer. Kelly also took the time to share with me her journey of the dreaded C, her treatment and what was on the cards for her. She was determined to create memories for her two boys and was doing so including writing birthday and Christmas cards to her kids, all to ensure her they would remember their mummy. It was heart breaking listening to her talk but at the same time so inspiring. Kelly talked about taking the time to put a case forward to Parmac in the hope they would fund the drug she was using. Kelly discussed how she thought her research and efforts weren’t necessarily going to help her but that she hoped it would help others. How amazing right, time wasn’t exactly on Kelly’s side and she was still thinking about others. As Kelly left the farm, I knew I had meet my most inspiring guest yet and I couldn’t help but think how unfair life is sometimes. However I got the feeling from Kelly that she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her, she wanted people to get on with life and help others where they could. So as a result of meeting Kelly, I have decided to create a Kelly McNabb remembrance morning (up to one per month) for terminal cancer sufferers. So if you know of anyone who is terminal with cancer and would enjoy a morning on a farm with some friendly animals, a bit of fresh air and a morning tea, all on us, get in touch. We would love to help create some positive memories just as we did for Kelly and her boys. Rest in peace Kelly x

Our time at Rangitikei Farmstay – by Emma

Smelling the scent of wet grass, opening my eyes to green rolling hills spotted with ponies and sheep, feeling the sharp chill of the morning air and hearing the chirping of birds; my mornings at Rangitikei Farm were a highlight during my time as a WWOOF volunteer. Living in “The Bunkhouse” allowed me to wake up so close to nature every day. Sitting on the porch eating breakfast and sipping coffee while looking out at the farm and typically being greeted by the friendly family dog, Porky,  started off every day positive and fresh.
My friend Sara and I are two recent university graduates from the United States. We arrived at the Stewart’s in early March after spending a few weeks in Auckland. Neither of us had any experience WWOOFing previously but were determined to work hard and immerse ourselves in Kiwi farm life.
Tasks and jobs on Rangitikei Farm varied daily but the same smiling faces greeted us every time we stepped into the Stewart Family’s home. Hannah, the oldest daughter, always loved helping us with gardening tasks and playing creative games on rainy days. Charlotte, at only one year old, smiled at us every morning and enjoyed dancing to music when we would babysit her. Andrew was typically already out in the paddocks working hard to maintain the farmland that has remained in his family since 1901, although I occasionally heard him whistling to his mustering dogs from across the hills. Kylie, who typically assigned our workday tasks, became a friend and an inspiration during our time on the farm. I felt so impressed by the endless hours of hard work Kylie and Andrew put into making Rangitikei Farm beautiful and successful.
Over the course of one month, Sara and I sliced hundreds of agapanthea flower stems, cut heaps of tall grass, folded lots of washing and scrubbed many walls. At the end of the day, the hard work was rewarded with cooking delicious food and having nice conversations with Kylie (and watching The Bachelor New Zealand on Mondays and Tuesdays!). We enjoyed chatting with Kylie about Kiwi family life, starting her small Farmstay business and chocolate! Spending time with Kylie and her family brought a unique cultural aspect to our stay and made it an experience we will not forget.
Our first experience as WWOOF volunteers was so special and rewarding. We gained knowledge and life experience that could not be replicated in a traditional work environment. I know we will cherish the time we spent on Rangitikei Farm for the rest of our lives.
Written by Emma

The beauty of space

Today was a typical day for us on the farm. Stock (sheep and cattle) were moved, animals fed and farmstay guests shown around the property. As I took our lovely guests from Singapore, consisting of 5 adults and 2 kids around our farm animals, it was clear to me they were genuinely interested about learning how we live here in New Zealand, particularly on a farm. So often it amazes guests how much space we have in this country and I guess more so when living on a farm. While visiting the vegetable garden and showing an interest in what we grow , the guests went onto say how our vegetable garden is the size of a one bedroom apartment back home. That restriction of space is another reminder of how lucky we are in New Zealand. While life for our children is changing with technology, I am lucky to say that for our kids fun is all about doing the simple stuff – collecting eggs, planting seeds, jumping in puddles, riding ponies and just being outside enjoying the fresh air. I am also aware that not everyone has this at their doorstep, which is one reason we choose to open up our farm gate for guests to experience a slice of a New Zealand sheep and beef farm. The flip side to that is that we get to learn about other cultures, how they live and what life is like for them back home. As someone who loves to travel and enjoys seeing how other people live, it is certainly a cheaper option than getting on an actual plane! After all with all of the new fences and development happening on the farm at present, it might be a while before I get on a plane to Singapore again – lucky I love what I do!