Communication’s Breakdown all around

Well I have well and truly had enough of this week, it being Friday and all it’s been a tough week since last Saturday. I received another of those calls that no parent wants to hear, the first one (many years ago) “do we have ambulance cover Mum?” yes we do and yes it was used for a dislocated shoulder. This saturday, “I have been in a car accident do I have insurance and what do I do?” yes she does and I’ll see you in 3 hours as I hang up the phone and race out the door. That is the perils of living in the country, it’s never just 20 minutes away, it is three hours and one can not shorten it. I have a wonderful family that are close by that can help her out and did so, by packing up all the stuff in the car and delivering her to her home. She was sore and has a suspected fractured rib, so I stayed and worked on doing 3 years of business tax whilst looking after her.

This is where the trouble started I was loving myself sick on Wednesday night when I got back to the farm, I have set myself goals to complete tasks so I can move my life forward and look for work. I am still effectively unemployed and I hate it. So yesterday I have 1 folder of receipts to go and was in the process of doing this when we needed to head to the local town to organise our banking, but we also needed to go where we could get internet access. Our home Internet has not worked since Tuesday and we need to do banking etc. I shut my computer down as per normal to return to reboot and it would not reboot. Not having done a back up on this information I felt sick. I rang the company as per the instructions on my screen to be told it needs a new hard drive. UGGGH! the waves of horror waft through me.

I spent the better part of 2 hours on the phone for the house internet provider to be told it needs to be replaced and they would send a new box within 2 working days – for us that means no internet till next Wednesday at the earliest. Talking with technicians re my laptop they will send a technician on Monday to an Adelaide address. In the meantime I am panicking about my taxes and then all of the Keith Hospital Cook Book stuff I have done over the last month or so. Yes slap me you computer geeks I only do a 1 month back up but in this case I had left it for 2 months. Standing in the shower this morning I feel like Carrie Bradshaw when she lost all her info on her computer and could not get any of it back.

I have rung another town computer service explained the problem and was lectured – you should do a daily back up (I know I know) if you want to keep important files. That won’t help me now will it, that is lessons for later. He wants my laptop, adaptor & back up drive to see if he can recover it. I explain how it went and he tells me I may be lucky, I have no idea and I feel a massive headache coming on. I put off all this work on my taxes as I was too busy, too preoccupied with Keith Hospital and well just plain annoyed with the work I had to do, so put off till tomorrow what I should have done 3 years ago. It’s terrible, now I regret it. I actually may have to start over and will do so by this afternoon as I can not wait to see if it retrieved as I need to close it off on my schedule now.

I have dug my old laptop out so that I can use it, so I sit here in town using the computer and instead of doing all I need to do I am blogging as I wait for the call about my important laptop. I have put all the files from my back up drive here on this computer and can work on ‘stuff’. I have applied for 5 jobs over the last 7 days and 3 have already got back to me that I am not what they are looking for. Sigh!! I need to keep moving.

 

Bank Accounts and Farming

We have had to change banks this month, the account belonging to the farm was opened in excess of 15 years or more ago. It was opened as an operating account for the trust (of which I am not a part of). The Directors of the trust as those that own the farm, DH, & the In laws. This has worked well for many years and will see it to cessation as time goes by. The Adelaide bank has sold off this section of the branch and the new company have decided to close that banking arm – FANTASTIC in the year of the Farmer NOT. We were sent a letter which gave us a one month period to find a new account, it has to have the basic criteria of having a cheque book, though these little paper slips are almost extinct some businesses can not be B paid, Anypay, pay at the post office or by cash they need to be done with cheque i.e. ASIC.

I have researched options and boy Banks cash in on small businesses, there are some that offer a 5 transaction limit then charge $1.60 per transaction after that and on average the farm would do 15 transactions per month on a slow month. This is on top of the account keeping fee and cheque book fee, etc. These are the days of the shareholder banks that make many millions in profit despite crying poor. Also we in the country are limited by closures and lack of branches, so we looked at what is available for convenience and closeness. with a limited time to do this we asked advice from our accountant and then proceeded to meet with the local manager.

Rural families are different from any others, the Directors are also parents, I have no legal claim to anything which is ok with me, it makes things difficult though. I am not a signatory on any of the accounts, though I do all of the book work for the business. This is not an issue for me as such in that it is only inconvenient at times when I need to have cheques signed. The request of the parents in opening the account is that they remain signatories and it has been requested that I am as well. The farm pays for many of the parents living expenses and will do until they are no longer with us, they have bequeathed their shares to each other and only after death does it become DH’s. There is no issue here, this is just the matter of fact, this is how they work and this is what farming families do. In the new ear of credit & debit cards, no pass books the issue now is according to the bank manager – how many cards do we issue and how many customer numbers are required, as they will remain signatories. Our Lovely bank manager found it a bit perplexing that the three directors would be signing and I would just be a signature and we only needed 1 card, 1 customer number.

There we all sat with the bank manager and he was working hard to accommodate us, it took him about 2 hours work to put it together and then we invited the parents in law to come and sign the paper work. 5 of us in his office and asking how many linking up of the accounts to other accounts did there need to be? Only 1 the current working Director. 4 cards? no we settle on 2, 1 for the current working Director and 1 for the book-keeper, bill payer then we even have to choose a colour of the card. This being done the parents in law sign and check that it is not stated that I am a Director but a signature only. Bank Manager then wants to show us how to use the accounts, register it and link it all up, I am in the far corner and can not see the screen (not helpful for the book-keeper really) so DH informs parents they can go, which they do albeit reluctantly. It is not that we hide anything from them, they get copies of the books annually or upon requests  it’s just that it has become in their words far too complicated for them to do all of this now (sign of old age).

This is how it rolls in rural families, sons and daughters may not own their own places till the parents pass on. It is restrictive and it is still controlling the lives of middle-aged children, in some it breeds resentment, others complacency and contentment in others. My DH is content with his lot which is lucky, he has been left to his own devices to run the property and the stock as he sees fit. He has always wanted what was fair rather than a pot of gold he had not worked for.

 

Dependency

This was not the blog I wanted to write this morning, I was going to talk about machinery in farming as my Facebook friends, (farmers) pointed out,I said he was out on the header and they said “harvesting this early?” no actually he seeding so he must have been out on the Air Seeder. I not very good after all this time identifying these useful and expensive pieces of equipment, I get to drive them when he needs a break, move them to re fuel or fill with water to add chemical if it is the boom spray but naming them without assistance isn’t difficult if I think about it. I just lazy and have limited involvement unless I am asked.

We are currently going through the process of getting another bank, as the business has used a grain pay account that the bank is no longer going to support and we have 5 days to find a new one. Of course now, one must consider the fees and charges that have not been with the other account as the farm has had it since the 60’s before banks became corporate and worried more about shareholders than account holders. I have taken over doing the books years ago and this is now a complicated process, it gets harder annually and I have to juggle more than I think. This year with the realisation we will not have children together and with aging parents we need to consider our options so we have changed accountants to accommodate possibilities one doesn’t think about in your twenties, such as death and who would manage the farm or books should something happen to either of us.

The sharing of these decisions opens topics to wishes and wants as we age, a who gets what scenario that perhaps we wouldn’t talk about if this was not a going concern. We both have wills but these were done before we married so we are also looking at renewing them so that our wishes are clear. These things are vital to healthy relationships and aging farmers, many a death occurs where there is no will and it is a nightmare for the person left behind. As this is a family business owned by three people, I am not a part of it, but would like my interests to be considered should he die before the other family members and what people say in life and do after death can be to different things. We have all seen this side of human nature, when one considers they are ‘owed’ more than the other.

Here is where we depend on each other, not to be generous but to be fair and kind to each other without excluding the others. We have talked about what to do with pets as we both know should he go before me, I will sell and leave the farm, if I should go before him he would stay but I would expect my daughter’s interests to be put first. Now this is clear it makes moving into our middle years easier to deal with and plan for. Being on a farm one becomes dependent on the other for many things including social interaction, happiness, respect of opinion and all things in between. It also makes an argument harder to not work through, one can not go to work and forget about it, nor can one meet up with girlfriends have the coffee session ‘compare notes’ and move on, one learns to become honest and say how the other made you feel, confronting yet it is a quick and easy way to move on. One soon learns the art of sharing. Dependency isn’t a bad thing nor is it a good thing, at times I feel the constraints as I am sure he does and at others it gives freedom to be open and real.

 

Guns

Isn’t that a provocative topic? Just the word alone needs no introduction, no explanation but perhaps justification. They need to be treated with respect & care and in Australia registered. There is gun storage cupboards that need to be considered and ammunition that needs to be stored away from the gun, only the registered owner of the gun should know where they are kept. Not practical you say, but if we had the police out here and they ask me to show them to the cupboard, he can be fined for I am not a registered user nor owner of the gun.

The first time in my life I have been in close contact with a gun was when he put it on the table, by gun I mean a rifle, there is no need to have hand guns on farms they do nothing. I was taken aback when I saw it and for a fleeting moment I thought how irresponsible he has left it loaded and I verbally tackled him about this. He looked blankly at me and stated he never left anything loaded especially in the house. They look like weapons, they look like killing machines and in fact they are.

I heard him loading it last night before dinner and I asked what was he doing. When he pulled up in the ute after dark there was a fox the size of a dog on the front lawn and was worried as to the whereabouts of the puppy recently purchased. The puppy was inside as I heard her barking and thought she was again chasing one of his cats up a tree, but he suspects she was barking at the fox. I asked why he wanted the gun and he said to get rid of the fox and that explains the 20 dead sheep and lambs discovered 3 days earlier. He thought one of our dogs had run the mob of sheep till they fell, but is now convinced that it was the fox. An introduced species in Australia and a very unwanted one much like the rabbits. So he waited, the dogs bark all night when a fox is around and it keeps us awake, they and the chooks are safe they all have enclosed pens with fencing 8 to 10 feet high. He went out and waited in the dark but after 30 minutes in the freezing cold and the dogs ceased barking he gave up.

Guns are useful on farms, they help put injured animals to sleep, they help source food stuffs for other animals. He mainly uses his now for putting injured animals to sleep, he no longer kills for the sake of it and hasn’t done so for years. On our property we have cattle and sheep, but living amongst these mobs are kangaroos, emu’s occasionally deer from the national park and he allows them to live here. He states that they don’t eat enough or destroy enough of the crop to shoot them. I tried it once but being short-sighted and short in arm length it was too hard for me, so happily I don’t have to worry about these things though I did make him put it away last night after he came in.

Long weekends & farm life

When I met him, he made me laugh with his saying ” long weekends, public holidays & weekends were for the general public not for farmers” I remember this as it was beyond me to think one did not or could not take time out from their daily work to enjoy a bit of down time. I worked weekends as well occasionally but was able to take time out during the week to do the things I needed to do. I really didn’t believe him, it couldn’t be possible to work that hard and not have time off. could it?

I met him through my own doing, I was travelling a lot and was lonely on the road, I would spend hrs, days and weeks away from home and I remember a specific eye surgeon who I worked with and who happened to be my high school graduation partner and we talked about how no one did anything for our 10 yr reunion and we should do it for our 20th year high school reunion, so I began to arrange a committee to organise one.

We were never high school sweet hearts, I already had one of those, we were friends though. So we met up and here we are 10 years later together and happy but I struggle with the above mentioned saying. I admire him for he works the property alone, he crops, he sows, he harvests, he breeds cattle, he breeds sheep, he feeds them, he saves them, he delivers them, he sells them, he fences them in and does everything in between. This is sometimes at the detriment of all things and I struggle with that, I also know this is selfish for he gives up more than I do.

But it is too much for me I am not a country girl at heart, I love the land, the animals and the farm but a farmer I will never be. But at this stage in my life I feel I am losing my identity, living in a small country town has its up’s & downs. I think I am having a down at the moment. I am looking for work and now we have come to the conclusion I will probably have to travel again to get work. We had plans for this weekend where we would travel to spend time away, but spraying and sowing come first, I realise this but it doesn’t mean I like it. Due to a number of factors mainly time and re calibrating equipment we were unable to manage it, this has thrown me into a down time. I like his company but I also like the company of others, I think I need that more than he does, he grew up in isolation and has adapted well, I didn’t and I don’t think I have adapted as much as I should have (perhaps).

I am happy to help out, I can drive the tractors and did so yesterday to fill up the boom spray to save him 2 hours so he could keep going. This was two-fold, firstly to help out and secondly to enable us to get away, which never happened as in the end  it just ran into our travelling time. He still makes me laugh and I still know how special and lucky I am that we are together but I also look for the company of others. I feel the loneliness and isolation of the farm more so these days than ever. This has to do with not being employed and my own self worth.

He also told me once that farm life was not really for city women and it was important they had their own identity. We know women farmers and we, especially I admire how resilient, resourceful, strong and capable these women are, I am not this woman and that is nothing to be ashamed of, it is what makes country living different and challenging. I would love to go away 1 weekend with him and leave it all behind, but the reality is things die without supervision and he feels guilt if this happens when we are here never alone when we are away. I have used this public holiday Monday to clean the house, this is much better than boredom…