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Puketoro Station — village in a bubble

Puketoro Station, inland from Tokomaru Bay, has been in lockdown for three weeks now under the Covid-19 rules, and it's the same as every other farm in New Zealand — business as usual.

But what makes Puketoro slightly different from most farms is that there are 19 people in the station “bubble”.

So the McNeil Farming operation is a tiny village on its own, and in typical village fashion, the residents range in age from four months to Goldcard-holders.

The bulk of the shepherds are under 25 years old, so it's been somewhat of a tough call for them to stay put for four weekends in a row.

But they have managed to keep themselves well occupied on their 21,000 acre playground.

There's not much time for boredom to set in as every night the six boys have a hearty communal dinner prepared by the cook Jen Chrisp, with up to half a dozen people from our bubble at the cookhouse.

Also, the beer that comes up twice a week on the freight truck certainly helps!

Everyone on the station has taken the lockdown seriously and there have been no trips past the boundary fence, except for a couple of visits to the vet for a dog to have his broken leg re-X-rayed and re-plastered.

Fortunately, there is a great Four Square supermarket an hour away in Tokomaru Bay.

Chris, Becky and the girls there pack up to seven different orders for the station, which is delivered without fail on Mondays and Thursdays on the Rural Delivery truck.

We could not be more grateful to live where we live and to work in the farming industry at a time like this.

We have a job that we love, we have space, and we have a great group of fantastic hardworking and entertaining people to be in lockdown with.

PUKETORO BUBBLE: The villagers in the Puketoro Station Covid-19 bubble, (from left) Tom McLean, Jordon McClutchie, Jen Chrisp, Jaddy Bull holding Tilly Destounis, Cara McClelland, Cole Whitehead, Louis Twigg, Josh Dearden, Afa Masame, Tennant McNeil, Rob Perks, Wiri Taare, Ted Destounis holding James Destounis. Missing are Tom Nimmo who was taking his dog to the vet, and Hayden McNeil and Nikki Barbarich-Waikari who were in isolation as Hayden had been called away to work outside the bubble on another of the station's properties, so he had to self-isolate when he returned to Puketoro. Picture by Leigh McNeil (who was missing from the photo for obvious reasons).
FARM LIFE: Hayden McNeil (left), Tom Nimmo and Tom McLean ride out on the 21,000 acre farm. Picture by Leigh McNeil