Today is brought to you by the letter J

Farming by my definition is a complete juggling act and farmers are “masters of the ring” and the rest are spectators on the merry-go-round. Except sometimes it isn’t merry but still goes round and round way too much. The break in the season, no rain left in the season, sowing crops, calving, lambing, marking, harvesting, baling to name but a few farming tasks. I can see the carousel now, there would be the obligatory horses of course, we could have rain clouds, calf’s, lambs, dogs of various kinds, black & tan kepi’s, red kepi’s, border collies, cats, mice, birds and of course a scarecrow. It would be a ride of thrills going too fast and then slowing to a dead pace, no ride would be the same but it would be an adventure.

The juxtaposition in farming occurs daily, you can drive around your property and in the same paddock, sown on the same day, same calculated seeding technique and identify some growing beautifully and the next furrow that doesn’t. The contrast is obvious even to the untrained eye, it can be caused by many a different factor, sandier soil to name one. On the one property you can tell that rain can fall over certain areas and paddocks can remain dry for weeks, whereas the paddock next door will get rain, be planted to crop and grow.

There is a lot of joy in farming though, nothing more satisfying than assisting to deliver a calf and the mother & calf survive. During birthing season the farmer spends many an hour driving around with binoculars checking animals, keeping his distance until he has to intervene for the sake of the unborn calf or lamb to assist the mother. Seeing animals run freely on the farm is a sign of good farming and contented animals.

Farming is about commitment, dedication, knowledge and having the ability to cope when things get tough and enjoy it when things are good. I am not as dedicated to farming as my husband is and luckily he does not make me feel guilty for not wanting to be more involved than I am. I unashamedly admit, I won’t retire here, I will go back to a city where health care and hospitals have services and are accessible. Where going shopping for food alone is not a 2 hour trip, where working for women is not restricted or non existent. I am looking to getting paid employment again next year as I miss the independence.  Will I miss the farm? yes but not enough to stay, I won’t miss the constant 7 day a working week where getting off the farm is only for 24 hours.

I am heading down to the shearing shed to assist in getting it ready for the shearers this week so have a great day everyone. enjoy the cooler weather this Sunday.

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Today is brought to you by the letter i

We have one on our property as do many to help drought proof and grow crop, leaving things to the elements is difficult when living on the land. It’s too hot, it’s too cold but it’s never too rainy we could have rain everyday of the week. I must admit I prefer winter to summer, not a fan of anything over 32 degree Celsius. We worry about our animals when it gets too hot, though we plant trees and isolate areas for them to get under the shade and for roughage, it is quite a thing to see trees ring barked from cattle.

A couple of years ago the farmer had his name in the ballot for a water allocation after over 10 years or so (before my time this commenced) it was awarded. Then it came to building the pivot so we can irrigate that was also another process. Now we have it I call it the “big sprinkler” and it works well to keep the ground watered and the cattle will follow it around drinking out of the sprinklers while the irrigation runs.

One thing the irrigation does though is hum and as there is no noise in the country at night so we can hear it from 4 kms away. This can add to his tinnitus (ringing in his ears) and adds to his insomnia. He sleeps with either the radio or TV on and gives all of us in the bedroom broken sleep. I still wake quite quickly and readily, I hear the cats crunching if they bring things into eat. One night I heard all four cats growling and hissing and in the midst of it was something else spitting. I hate the light going on so I now sleep with a torch, turned it on and there in the middle of a coven of cats was a frill neck lizard warding them all off. I was so annoyed I bent down picked it up so it wouldn’t bite me and put it outside. The cats watched and went off to their beds without further interruptions.

Pete the dog is in my opinion showing signs of disorientation at night and as I live in constant state of “will he or won’t he” (poop) every move has me jumping out of bed with torch ready to shove him outside, guide him to his water bowl in bathroom (prevent him getting on the treadmill) or have to go outside to get the pooper scooper to clean it up after he has been. It annoys me when he doesn’t even wake up and I’m inside, outside and cleaning up. Matilda the cat will sleep next to him on the mattress, she is not fussy which end of the dog is pointed her way, she jumps up and down when I get up and down as she is a flighty cat, the only night she never came back was the night she was at the wrong end of the dog and he pooped on her. Matilda will not sleep with anybody other than Pete or on her own.

We also have a parade of cats that wish to sleep with the farmer. Frankie loves to sleep up between our pillows and the minute he touches her she starts purring loudly, I have to push her away from me and closer to him so I can get back to sleep, Rita, Frankie sister loves to sleep on him, between his legs, lying full length alongside him and every time he rolls over or moves she jumps off and then back on, she will even run or jump on me to get height get back on and off. Now there is Gatsby the ring in, he loves to climb onto me and sleep at my feet, if they all happen to be there at the same time we have hissing at each other.

We have had a plethora of creatures and insects that come in and out of our bedroom uninvited, some alive but mostly dead (see cats in the above paragraph) bunnies, hares, moths, beetles and bats that survived as they were able to fly up and hide behind the curtains, birds to be honest fifty / fifty alive or dead here, mice and lizards that survive and mostly at night. Pete will wander about 3 times per night and then if I have a cat land on the bladder then I have to get up for myself. We hear cars, trucks and animal noises at night and will occasionally have to get up to yell at the dogs to shut up if they are barking at the frogs or other animals at night. Then when one is ready to go back to sleep the rooster announces the dawn at 430am.

I don’t have insomnia unless I am stressed as I can easily go back to sleep where as he can’t. Some nights I wish he would leave the bedroom, nothing more annoying than question time in parliament house at the early hours of the morning, or a really bad D grade western or musical film. Some nights I wish I would leave the bedroom and then think about the fact the spare bed is not made up. Some mornings I will get up and glare at all of the cats sleeping as though they have not done anything all night, Pete will lift his head and look surprised that daylight is here and sometimes, not often I will leave him to lay in bed, he normally gets up before me.

Today is brought to you by the letter H

I love how Peter Goers from 891abc radio on the “Kids Quiz” gets them to spell or pronounce the letter “H” he gets them to emphasise the “ch” in Hch not hach. It is simple really isn’t it? He engages the kids and gets them interactive in the show, he remembers them and asks after grand parents, siblings and often throws in a random questions on likes and dislikes which they always answer.

I have suffered ‘hay fever” from when I can remember, as soon as the wattle comes into bloom I’m medicated, my eyes itch and my nose runs, it’s awful. For as long as I could remember I truly believed that Hay fever came from Hay – living in the city it now appears quite a silly assumption as we never lived near a property sowing and cutting hay. Living in the country we sow crop to be cut to hay and even after he has cut it I do not get the so blamed “hay fever’ from hay. Now I have been slightly more educated, hay is made up of Rye grass, Lucerne Grass, Vetch and other grasses so it really is the grasses one’s mucous membranes are stimulated by.

We get hay balers into turn the cut ‘grass’ into square bales and then he has to cart it. The bulk of the work is the sowing, the fertilizing, the spraying and timing. Having the balers in he has to head out to rake it first, turning it over and getting it in rows so that the baling machine collects enough to create the bale. Once the bales are done it is now time to get the tractor out collect it on trailers and bring it all from the paddocks to the house. One cannot leave it in the paddocks as the animals will help themselves to it.

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I worry sometimes for the amount of work that he does, as he does 99.9% on his own. I try to assist where I can but sometimes I am useless and some of the things he wants me to do scare me. Working on the farm brings many a hazard and hay carting and carrying can be one of those things. The tools of trade are really big and weigh enormous amounts so the accidents can be horrific, we hear about them all of the time. He has about 3 more double trailer loads or more to collect yet.

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Today is brought to you by the letter G

Genius is what springs to mind when i think of farmers today and  I married one (willingly). A farmer and genius, some of the things he says and does beggers belief, but the bulk of them are clever at coming up with amazing solutions. Farmers are adaptable and come up with solutions to problems that would leave many people scratching their heads. This morning I have taken to doing the washing and as we have septic tanks you can normally tell by the smell as to how full they are. I am capable to get the pumps working to empty them and was in the process of doing this when he came along. I may not be as quick as him but I turn the pump on and walk to where they run and go back and forth until I hear the water running. Farmer comes along and puts a hose in it, gives me (another) a demonstration and talk on how he does it then turns on the outlet tap where water sprays over the power point. Water and electricity do not mix thus throwing the safety switch and turning everything off.

This is the same power point that a couple of years ago had a couple of ‘live’ wires dangling after he decided to change the power point and I was always careful not to touch them if I needed to put the septic on. One day in a cold winter day and happened to brush my finger on the wires and they sent me backwards by a foot and left a little burn mark on my finger. Thankfully when we did the kitchen up it was fixed by a qualified electrician, there is no loose connections now at ground level

In our house he even names adaptations of things after himself and calls them a bullenerisation, not to be confused with skilled technical solutions. Some of his are impressive, farmers are mechanics, builders, electricians, plumbers and handyman all rolled into one. They garnish skills for machinery as they go, it can be about the cost of getting skilled labor out to assist within a small amount of time it is also about needing to have it fixed there and then saving as much money as they can.  Most say I don’t know what I would do if I gave up farming – not realizing that the skills they have are and can be transformed into Diplomas and Certificates with minimal work.

When we were painting our the extension we had set up paints outside and all of the stirring equipment as we used  20 litre tins of paint. He put the paint stirrer on the cordless drill and turned it on and withdrew it and sprayed paint everywhere including all over himself.

Farmers are also good at pulling things apart and keeping bits and pieces they can use else where as well as putting things back together and getting them working well. One Our most recent purchases was a washing machine which when my old one stopped it was pulled apart to be fixed but it never was..

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One thing he has done over the years is made me laugh, the disasters are funny and the achievements are impressive. I married someone who will rarely offer me a boring life, if nothing else than to be able to have a laugh (behind his back). As they say laughter is the best medicine and some days I need that more than anything.

 

Today is brought to you by the Letter F

Living on a farm you get use to the fact there is no noise. You can hear cars coming from kilometres away, day or night. You can tell the difference between Utes, tractors town cars, semi-trailors and trucks just to name a few. We can hear the sounds of animals cattle and sheep, the occasional dog bark and the call of other animals depending upon the stillness of the day or night. There is one sound though that sends dogs running, has farmers wives on tender hooks and looking to render assistance should it be called for and has farmers red in the face, sometimes followed up by the roaring around of the Ute on the farm or the slamming of the door as the farmer comes inside.

It can carry from the shed, the paddocks, the shearing shed, the cattle yards, the sheep yards and the Ute, it comes unexpectedly, is loud and strikes that fear into all who hear it. It can travel all  over the farm yard and if it followed up by a loud bang then things have gone awry for some reason or another. If I see the working dogs come running back to their compounds then I know that things are turning into a disaster and the dogs have bailed on the farmer.

If the Ute comes roaring around the drive to the front of the house and I happen to see it I will hang up the phone (if I am on it) and go to see what the problem is. When it occurs there can be a dozen or more problems, I have given up guessing I wait to hear the story. The cattle have eaten the cables to the pivot, the energizer, taken out fences, don’t have enough to eat are “bastards” same goes for the sheep, Made worse by the fact that the dogs upon the commencement of the yelling will run away.

They say animals especially dogs can learn over 100 words and this is one I can attest to, they duck and go running when they hear the word “fuck”. I could say with confidence it can be the most used word in the farmers day and said in many tones and afflictions. It can be said with meaning, said quickly, yelled and said in relation to inanimate objects, living objects, mechanical objects and of course people.

Also how it sounds can be determined by the location on the farm the farmer is at the time, the winds and how quickly the dogs make it back to the farm house. “Fuck” on the farm is used as a noun, an adjective, a verb or an adverb depending upon the situation, who is involved, what is involved and the outcome at the end of the swearing episode, lets be honest it can be said consecutively up to 6 times or more. It is said as machinery breaks down, phones are hung up and a plethora of other instances.

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Dogs patiently waiting for the farmer

Today is brought to you by the letter E

It’s one of those days, a Sunday which started with an early morning phone call from a farmer in the “north” wanting to pick my brains about the fund-raising I did to assist the Keith Hospital. I did qualify that many people including the entire community and expats of Keith & beyond were involved and it was almost a 24/7 commitment to come up with ideas, nurture other people’s ideas and assist where I thought I could to get the dollars coming in. There was also the pledges that the community made to the Hospital in the early stages to meet the shortfall, an idea that came from the Board to support the Board. he hung up with a “right then, good to know, hard to do”.

Followed quickly by the need to commence work, farming is 7 days per week and mostly relentless, so before the day begins I like to try to start the days with an Egg or Breakfast of some sort. Simple you say, go up to the chook pen and grab a couple,  we have chooks & a rooster and we have eggs right? Wrong – we purchase caged laying hens from a farm and we let them become free range and wander the property and lock them up at night they do a good job in providing us and the extended family with eggs. Not this time we have had them for a few weeks and they are not laying at this time.

I have had to purchase some and luckily I live in the Limestone Coast and one thing farming does is bring solutions to problems and one of these is free range, free roaming chooks who lay organic eggs and they are sold locally, Hood’s Earth Produce. and they are as nice as the ones we would have eaten had our girls gotten their acts together. Get on and support them, they can be found in at Feast Fine Foods stores around Adelaide. Look for this happy container and you will know you are getting real free range grass-fed eggs. (Yes the background is deliberate – thanks SAWeekend Magazine)

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Farming from a city girls point of view is nothing short of hard work, dedication, care and problem solving. Many have gone from farming families to enterprises which employ people, provide food for the greater communities and extensively work to maintain and grow the business. Adaptation and experience are things that farmers have in abundance, I often say I will never learn what my husband has forgotten about farming as I don’t have time. His experiences have been over 40 years on the land and he loves it (most days) practices change along with machinery so farming grows. Farmers are great sharers of ideas and experiences.

Happy Sunday and Long weekend to those who have them, drive safe and look after each other.