Aug 13

Cut! It’s Country Calendar

REx and Rae taking scallops from a dredge

Scalloping on the Kaipara Harbour – taking scallops from the dredge while Richard Williams films us for Country Calendar.

The Country Calendar camera was rolling when the farmer flung himself off the couch and started crawling towards the kitchen. He’d been quietly reading the newspaper while producer/director Kerryanne Evans interviewed me.

Before filming started, we’d gone all out to ensure silence because the smallest sound gets picked up by the high-tech equipment. The fridge and water pump were off, an errant fly had been swatted and I’d glanced at the dishwasher and decided it had finished its cycle.

Being a professional, Kerryanne merely blinked and continued our interview while the farmer continued his stealthy, silent and sneaky crawl. Not being a professional, I lost my focus. Rex’s distracting journey finished at the dishwasher when he snaked out his arm and made a wild stab at a button.

All of us, Kerryanne, soundman, cameraman, Rex and me, dissolved into helpless giggles. Turns out, Rex could hear the dishwasher humming on its drying cycle and had turned it off.

Actually it was a change to have him trying to play by the rules as his tendency during interviews to slip in what he calls his ‘one liners’ must have landed the end of a few sequences on the virtual cutting room floor. Unfortunately, we were not like the Queen whose performance with James Bond for the Olympic Games opening ceremony was filmed in one take.

On one occasion we were being filmed walking on the beach and talking about fencing and planting the land on the edge the Kaipara Harbour. We’d nattered on about how we’d dug up and split massive flaxes and had planted the cuttings, then I started on about how I’d dealt with flax seeds.

Preparing to act as a ‘gate’ while Rex drive bulls along the farm road. A few seconds later Richard filmed me waving a cattle stick like a demented windmill as I directed the bulls into the paddock at the left of the shot.

After making a concoction of compost and, um, cattle doings, I’d added flax seeds and enough water to make soggy yet solid balls. Having carried buckets of the cocktail to the beach by quad, I’d wandered along the waterfront, throwing the balls up banks in the hope the seeds would take and flax would grow.

“So you walked around throwing s**t everywhere,” said the farmer.

At which point the soundman, who is trained to be silent, burst out laughing.

The farmer delivered another one liner at the tail end of an interview about his new sheep handling device.

For years he’s farmed bulls, which can be contained by two-wire electric fences, while the few hundred sheep he keeps to remind himself not to farm sheep, have the run of the place. Insulated by their wool, they merrily slip through these fences.

These days, however, prices are good (or were), he’s got a sheep-friendly manager and so many sheep he needs to keep them organised.

“As you’re increasing your flock,” said Kerryanne, “you’ve got a lot of fencing to do, haven’t you?”

“I do,” replied the farmer. “Perhaps I’ll have to teach my wife to fence.”

This was a cue for more laughter – and a fencing lesson for me the next day atop a blustery hill. As I was a contrary student, that footage did make the show.

If you didn’t catch our episode of Country Calendar on TV1, you can watch it by clicking here.

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


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    Hello Rae,
    I had just finished reading your book when the Country Calender programe came on, what a coincidence. I really enjoyed your story and journey to happiness. I too at 65 years and having been a townie all my life met a farmer albeit only part-time now and I have had to learn all sorts of tasks that I never thought I could do. Isn’t it strange that when we met our mates they didn’t tell us about all the tasks that we could assist them with!!!! We took a 2 day boat trip around the Kaipara great harbour and some wonderful sights.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Alison, Yes, a real coincidence. I’m so delighted you enjoyed our/my story – and thanks for telling me so. Much appreciated. A two-day boat trip! That would be great. Besides fishing and scalloping, we’ve been on the Kewpie Too which does a lovely four-hour trip up the Otamatea River – it’s great fun and they’re getting quite a following. But re the work on the farm… ain’t it fun! Best wishes and thanks.

  2. Lynley

    I really enjoyed the programme on Saturday night. The characters from your book were instantly recognisable on the tele.
    It was lovely to hear your voice and to “meet’ the amazing Zoe. 30 minutes raced by.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Lynley – and thanks. We were happy too – the Country Calendar team is enormously talented and handled our story beautifully, plus they managed to wrap in heaps of info about the farm, the Maungaturoto Country Club, etc.

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