Welcome to an insight into my life as a farmer, mother and cook. I am Jaz Mathisen, mother to two little farm children with another on the way. We call Awakino Station, a 20,000 acre farm set in the heart of the Waitaki Valley, New Zealand home where we run sheep, cattle and deer.
Since becoming a Mum I have taken a slight step back from the physically demanding role on-farm to slot into more of a homesteading mama’s duty. I cook for our shepherds daily, enjoying the challenges of growing, harvesting and foraging for our food along with preserving the surplus. I find nothing better than cracking open a jar of peaches that sing of the summer’s warmth in the cold depths of winter.
My children are never far from my side, their clothes are rarely clean and every job takes 3x as long but it is such a rewarding lifestyle and one that I am constantly grateful for.
Awakino Station is a child’s dream. There is the river to splash in, tussock covered hills to explore, animals to raise and a bustling kitchen with a baking tin full of something yummy to eat. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to raise our children on this piece of land. Every day throws something new and we always try hit it head on with great enthusiasm.
Dan my partner is employed here on his family farm as the manager and I am the station cook. Every day I cook morning tea and lunches for our shepherds. There are six full time workers on Awakino, who help tend to the fine wool sheep, hereford cattle and red deer that roam the 20,000 acres. There is always something to do on the farm. There is always something to do in the garden. And there is always something to do in the kitchen. It’s a balancing act where a list of priorities is paramount. We wake up early and go to bed early, exhausted and already mentally planning and preparing for the next day.
I am extremely passionate about utilising what we can grow here on Awakino and I love sharing seasonal recipes that showcase our farms meat and the fruit and vegetables from the garden. We are lucky in a sense that we have an array of meat available at our doorstep without the intensity that other homesteaders have to endure. Mutton and beef are fattened at a large scale for the domestic market, exporting and our freezer. We keep house pigs that not only clean up the house hold scraps but they then provide us with beautiful pork. As I am writing this Dan has just come home with a wild deer, giving us venison. These animals provide both our family and employees with fresh, flavoursome and free-range meat.
Not only do we eat to the seasons but we also farm to the seasons. We have very distinct seasons with hot dry summers and snow in the winter. Summer sees long and dusty days weaning lambs, fawns and calves. Evenings are spent riding the pony down to the river with the dogs and having a swim, washing away the sweat and dust of the day. Autumn arrives and we have beautiful windless days, perfect for picnics and jetboat rides on the nearby lake. It is also a time to prepare for the upcoming winter. We have had baleage cut and stored and winter crops growing as the grass becomes dormant over winter. With winter we slow down a little. We see severe frosts and temperatures dropping into the negatives, the snow is always capping the tops of the hills and livestock are shifted behind break fences daily, giving them fresh crop to satisfy their immense appetites. Just when you think you cannot see another frost the weather turns and blossoms start to open. Spring has arrived and with that comes the joy of new life. Baby animals everywhere, and orphan animals if the kids are lucky. A vegetable garden to think out and plant and a list of preserves planned for the summer months. Spring has to be my favourite, it just sings of a fresh start, of joy and optimism. And I do hope you all enjoy seeing a snippet of our spring farm life on Homestead Mamas.