Incomes, luxury and Living

There are some days one gets up and it starts, you know you already feel irritated from the minute you open your eyes? Sometimes it can be put down to PMS, other days stress, cold and being confined. If one doesn’t like their job the luxury of changing at will have now gone, especially in South Australia where the unemployment rate is 8.2% and no break in sight.

Living rural it’s even worse in the South East of South Australia the figure has hit 8.7% with over 7600 people looking for work, this doesn’t count those that have given up. It is something politicians make fodder out of, of course the opposition blame those in power until they become the sitting and then blame the ousted. It’s a cycle that is the carousel of all politics isn’t it, the way these people fight, spend our money with the saying ‘it’s for the good of the people” well I never asked them to sell the forest to build an oval and take 300 or more jobs out of the economy in a rural area, I wonder if there is now 300 people working in the oval on a daily basis, I suspect not. They paid off the debts of the cricket association, both AFL football teams and said we would all benefit. I am yet to see this benefit, I have been to meetings at the Adelaide Oval and it is fantastic but it was built at the sacrifice of many.

I would like for them (the politicians) to stop in-fighting, it’s a farce seeing the opposition people reading out statistics and when asked what would they do, they brush it off saying it’s not on their watch. If they get in power they them continue the blame. It would be great to see an opposition leader saying to the media, you know what I do have an idea and I’m catching up with the premier, Prime Minister etc so that we can plan this together. But they don’t and they won’t it’s be out there and criticize.

We then hear them on radio stating things like, “no we have to be positive, or we can’t move forward.” I can tell them, moving forward for most people is work, pay and paying the ever rising bills, without any source of income, how can anyone be positive. I am positive, it’s hard to keep motivated and happy about not having paid work, something politicians NEVER suffer from, for once they are voted out or retire the pension starts immediately and for life, the payments normally are more than the average wage and the benefits they get with travel is enormous.

Having B Bishop this week ousted for a chartered helicopter ride is the tip of the ice berg, not only is it living so far from reality it is offensive. If she truly believed she was acting in the rules, then why did she pay it? It was only $5000, there is no uproar for the $88,000 spent in a 15 day trip, why because they all do it.

I didn’t start this to be political diatribe I did start about putting on the cranky pants and I know this feeling will stay with me for a few days. I am unsettled, ready for change and yet stuck in the same place all at once. I rejoice in people’s happiness especially family joys and I also feel the confinements of rural living, I am now looking to closing down the salon, it is not earning enough to remain open, but that is the same story in cities and country towns, there is only so much money to go around, I know laser hair removal is a luxury many can’t afford and with the highest rate of unemployment in Australia being in my area, one can’t be surprised.

#Buy #Sell #Swap pages

I’ve started the day ranting, after my big day driving for over 3 hours and bending doing Laser Hair Removal (my business) most of the day (a blog for tomorrow) I have woken with a really sore back to match my #still sore leg.

I am the generation that embraces social media, I have 2 face book accounts, established 1 for my High School reunion for all of my year graduates and we have had a great time connecting and a twitter account. Most mornings I get up and check face book before I start my days work. I also have 4 pages of logins so if something should happen to me a loved family member can close all these accounts instantly.

One thing I have started to unlike and not follow are the #Buy #Sell #swap pages since they became about puppy farms and cat farms (in my opinion). A constant almost daily stream of puppies & kittens to sell, with most stating pedigree parents, or parents on show. All this demonstrates to me is that they have adult dogs who may or may not be pedigree they have mated to make money. Most state vet checked, wormed and or micro-chipped, to me I think this is the least one can do with a litter of live product.

The prices are those of a pedigree but you get no papers, so I don’t know why any one would pay for a puppy that is just a puppy, if they are asking for over $300 then I would insist when they had the dog vet checked that they get them certified as pedigree – it’s is a $200 blood test but if I’m going to pay $300 or more than I would know I’ve helped the breeder pay to have the animal properly checked. The sale price will then include vet visits during pregnancy, I often wonder how many do this (have the bitch checked during pregnancy ) otherwise one gets the feeling they breed the animals factory style for the money. With over 10,000 animals surrendered to the RSPCA in South Australia last year – how many of these animals were bought from face book pages? Most of those were euthanized and face book sales seem to be increasing.

There has been a case on face book where someone even downloaded pictures of another person’s dogs who went to the effort of making them look inviting and cute and placed these pictures on his advertisement to sell his puppies. Good that someone who knew the other seller notified her and she asked him to take them down, informed potential buyers the dogs were even a different colour to the puppies in the pictures and asked admin to delete the false misleading post. It worked, but I wonder how many people have fallen to this false advertising but also the over whelming visual pull at the cuteness of the pictures and raced off to buy them not understanding the needs of the breed, the growth, the expense and the time-consuming event it is to raise a puppy to a dog, much like having a child the reality can be far from the fantasy. I see he still has the dogs for sale over 10 of them from ‘pedigree’ parents.

As fast as these sales are advertised so is the rescue sites for dogs, asking people to foster a dog till it finds a forever home’ some of these dogs are so traumatized it can take 6 to 12 months to socialize it. Some need to be put down and others remain with the foster parent as these people identify that the dog could not cope be re housed again. I wonder if the people selling animals even give second thought to the puppies & kittens? go and check out the circumstances and environment they are selling the animal into.

I also wonder if after the litter they do the bitch a favour and have her de-sexed or is it too tempting to rebreed her as the money they get is so much? most sales would be  undeclared as income as they would be cash only sales. I know of professional breeders who only allow the bitch one litter bi-annually and only 3 before they retire them or if they get in distress in pregnancy they have it de-sexed immediately after weaning.

If you are looking to purchase a puppy, check the RSPCA website (listed here for SA) for pictures of what is available, or check out the rescue dogs sites this way it would assist these organisations to get ready for the next incoming lot and decrease the commodity and impulse purchases from face book.  I hope the citizen’s jury on cat and dog management in South Australia take this into account and legislate against being able to use these sites for this reason, it is costing the tax-payers large amount of money to pay for other people’s stupidity.

#rant over

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rescued cats

Today is brought to you by the 3am and 4 am slaughter hour

The farmer is an animal lover and as such has cats, dogs, cattle, sheep and anything else that comes along. One day he sent me a photo of two baby foxes he saw living in our cattle yards and I banned him from bringing them home. We have a property that has kangaroos and he won’t go out and kill them because they eat minimal crops, he will occasionally shoot predatory birds that peck at baby animals that are being born so other than that most animals are welcomed into our home. I am currently hand rearing 2 calves Rosie & Delila and a Lamb – Josie who now live in my vegetable garden

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We also have the 3 lovely shed cats (called this because he found them in the shed and they now don’t live there) rescued from a freezing winter in 2009, Gatsby (a ginger cat)was rescued 2 years ago this month. All of them are desexed as I didn’t want excess of litters all over the farm and in the cold months of winter (and the hot days of summer) they live inside.

Many a night we have had parades of mice: alive and dead, rabbits: alive and dead birds alive and dead, bats 99% alive, gecko’s mainly alive that we have put outside and frill neck Lizards alive that leave alive as the cats have not worked out how to get through their tough exterior and frill when they protest. Our motto is that if we catch any of these things alive we lock the cats inside and let the animals go free outside.

Many a night I have woken to the sound of crunching and am so none fussed about it now I roll over and go back to sleep. If we hear noises we will get out of bed to try to chase the cats outside with the animal intact. Other times there is a “look at me, look at me” flinging and rolling with the animal (dead) in the spa bath. Where the cat shows us the prey and then eventually the creature is left intact and we are left to clean up the mess.

We have watched as these cats over-estimate their abilities and their prey – the farmer has seen Frankie stalking a kangaroo (as if she was ever going to catch it) we have seen Gatsby jumping in the air to catch swooping birds as if they were going to fly into his mouth, Matilda has on a few occasions stalked the chooks when we use to let them out, the chooks are confined to their pen as the working dogs try to round them up and chase them till they die.

I don’t mind it during the day but in the middle of the night I could do with out it, you know when you have to get up early, you set your alarm and you wake almost hourly hoping you don’t miss it? That was last nigh t and I was back into sleeping when I could hear a growling, at first I asked the farmer to roll over as I thought he was snoring  loudly so he did but the noise got louder and I realized it was coming from his wardrobe.

Bloody Cats fighting in the wardrobe, so I spring out of bed, turn on the lounge room light so as not to blind myself or the farmer but to shine light on the area, open the door and see nothing, I move clothes around to see if I can catch them hiding but I see nothing, so I shut the doors, stoke the fire and as I go to turn off the light I see 3 cats casually walking around the lounge room, squinting at the light with the innocent look of no it wasn’t me, I glare at them as I go to back to bed, it’s 3am. I’m back sleeping when the slow and loud growling starts up again, this time I’m cross I jump out of bed, step on the remote control, stub my toe on a laundry basket I have left in the way, go out to the fire, pick up the poker and come back to the wardrobe and one by one open the doors and thrash it about (hoping I can collect one of these cats as I do it). I look to see Gatsby’s tail disappear out of the wardrobe and run around the corner to get away and Rita slowly slink out heading towards the door. I shut the wardrobe put the poker on the floor and go back to bed, I note it’s now 4am.

Gatsby the only male

Gatsby the only male

Both of these cats go outside and as I drift back to sleep I become aware Gatsby is back in, he has jumped on my foot, shaken himself off as he is as wet as anything and flops down on my bed at my feet. When I do get up at 5am I note Matilda is standing by the wardrobe door, sniffing and I begin to think perhaps the other two were fighting over a late night slaughter. I didn’t have time to check before I left the house and I bet whatever it is will still be there when I get home this evening.

We have a spot I call slaughter corner, where some mornings we can wake up to find no evidence of the animal except a blood stained wall. We occasionally have a kidney or the bottom half of a mouse, if it’s a rabbit sometimes I get the entire gastrointestinal tract with pooh intact. Feathers of a bird are common and is the foot or tail of a rabbit. These can also be found out by the cat flap if they can’t carry it in or in the spa bath if we don’t hear them. Anything and everything is foul and I wish they would stop, once I asked the farmer “what’s with the green feathers in the corner?” without missing a beat he said “I didn’t like that grass parrot anyway!”

I occasionally say to birds, “You all need to live 1km away from the house as these cats will get you if you are closer. I feel exhausted before I even left the farm, getting home tonight will be a bit of a struggle, it is about 220km’s away.

3 cats on the car

3 cats on the car Rita on roof, Matilda in front of steering wheel & Frankie other side

Telecommunications #fail or #pass

Living in regional areas means having to use every thing available to stay in-contact with families, travel safely in areas during daily work life, maintain and do business, so it requires properties and families to have a land line, mobile phones, satellite internet and satellite TV services that are affordable and relevant. It also makes sense to provide these areas with great services due to the high risk of fire, isolation, horrific road tolls, farm accidents, distances needed to travel to get to anywhere and educational opportunities that city children don’t have to give a thought to. These are a few of the daily activities that regional and rural people need to combat in order to be educated, informed and involved in their local communities and lives, even medical services are now looking to linking up with video conferencing to diagnose and treat people in these areas as Doctors stay away in droves.

Yet in Australia, Governments historically and modern-day concentrate all finances and upgrading of services i.e. roads, high-speed internet to the cities, to get more votes. Their tunnel vision doesn’t expand greater than for self-serving and vote grabbing. Despite the fact that all politicians admit and acknowledge it’s an issue, one will come up with an idea i.e. NBN Co  the next incoming Government will veto it, change it and then make it so redundant it fails to provide anything for regional and rural areas, it becomes obsolete or rather the service so over subscribed they cut everybody sighting a ‘Fair Use Policy” designed to discriminate against “‘only regional customers” as told to the local radio station by a CEO of a provider, when challenged.

When paying subscribers were notified by email of this announcement to cut GB to 20Gb for all, there was a written disclaimer of being sued for breach of confidential information should you share it ( they were trying to infer regional people would just accept this as delivery of more poor services to our areas without a fuss). In the city, emails seen to fly out of sent boxes with ease, regionally you sometimes have to walk away and or disect the email and send in consequential lots, 1 email in the city and 4 from regional areas, depending upon content (thankfully there are now drop boxes and clouds).

I have written to all Communications Ministers, Sitting and Shadow, State and Federal to receive, at best, a substandard response from them all, when sending some of these onto radio producers I have had to send them with a warning “this will be 5 minutes of your life you will never get back if you read this” some Ministers Shadow and Sitting, actually think it is ok to make this about THEM, not only as individuals but as a party, the absolute vanity and non caring of these people sitting in $100K+ salaries telling us that if it weren’t for them we would have nothing was awkward at best. The radio producers have had to agree and then not able to put it to air so as not to embarrass themselves with such stupidity. Others have referred me off to the Dept of Communications – beautifully side stepping the issue.

Our local ABC radio has been great with the cause as it affects all of regional and rural areas, having diminished services puts safety at risk of all road users and travellers, tourism, business, medical services and educational growth of these areas. I was lucky enough to be able to get onto the regional telecommunications review webinars to hear how these decreases have affected many people in different forms from all over Australia.

My other issue is that though the provider has reduced the satellite internet services by 2/3rd they have not reduced the price. All our communications services are extremely expensive and fairly useless, mobiles do not ring or can’t be answered in houses, we get great reception 30kms away so we are reliant on a land line which during our fire was damaged and though, in an active fire zone was told we “were not important enough to have it fixed” it took Telstra 6 weeks to reconnect us. Recently it was out for 9 days with no explanation as to why they wouldn’t come and fix it, when they did it took less than 30 minutes.

Now with the reduction in Satellite internet services we also have had the announcement that Mobile black spot funding has been settled at 11 towers in SA, due to lack of input and finances from our State Government. In the South East of South Australia there was none allocated despite areas being identified where there is no network, no safety for people in these areas and no level of comfort they are being taken seriously. Our State Government has had over 12 years to improve our state and regional areas, with the exception of Port Pirie, they haven’t nor do I feel comfort that the opposition party will be any better, there is no money. Governments spend and spend tax payers money with no real planning for future growth and needs.

I have heard of families struggling with remote education, saying that their 2 teenage children had used the quota up in two weeks with school work and then they were cut off till the next billing round, does this then make it necessary to have local and regional libraries open after hours? Will the Government be proactive and allow this? pay the wages and encourage students to go there? the problem is lack of foresight by  Government and lack of finances to pay wages due to poor fiscal management.  Distance being an issue for families in that some of these libraries are attached to schools and are over 100+kms away from properties. I think not, its put up with it until we fix it sometime in 2016.

For anyone wanting to let the Department know of their issues and problems with reduced services please go to the Regional Telecommunications Review, issue papers and do a submission you have till 15th July 2015 to get your voice for your area read. It may not help solve the problem in the short term but will give them different aspects to work on. To make it easier click the link and it will take you straight there. I am also happy to share with you the correspondence I have received from the Ministers and Shadow Ministers if you would like to email me requesting it.

Some of these people and Departments make as much sense as standing in a paddock full of cattle, the language barrier is huge and the lack of concentration and understanding by the parties is a great divide.

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I’m giving our Governments and Telecommunications a big #FAIL

Shutting up Old Broads

The farmer didn’t like my post yesterday, he thinks I have no understanding of what we do here on the farm, when it comes to drought management and animal husbandry. Having been with him for 13 years (I know a long time) I have marveled at how he manages the farm, the cattle, the sheep and the crops. I have long stated I won’t have time to learn what he has forgotten when it comes to farming, business planning and management of animals.

Why did he take offense? because he’s thinks the work he does I don’t see and when I comment it’s a criticism of his abilities and it’s not. It is far from it, he doesn’t see that I worry about the animals that I can’t help with, other than the odd assistance or (slavery as I call it) I can help with lamb marking, putting rings on tails & testicles, whilst vaccinating them, I am no good at crutching or shearing. We rely on our great mate Ronnie to come and help pick up, put up and as a team we can do over 300 in a day. It’s hard yakka, bending, lifting, drafting (I can do this as well) we manage to work together and enjoy each others company (thanks Ronnie).

I can help with ear tagging the cattle, mustering and weighing, I can’t do the ringing of testicles as the size of these animals scare me and he gets to them young enough they are only about 200 kilo so it’s not so hard. When we ear tag them we have to put them in the race, head bale them (hold their heads with metal doors) whilst I grab their right ear and pierce it and put the legislated ear tag in it. Boy they can make a large noise as they bellow in protest, it’s the same as having ones ear pierced.

I have watched over the summer months as he has gone outside to check waters in troughs and dams, if they are out of water he has to locate the problem and fix it. We spent the best part of one Christmas day – missing lunch with my family to dig up water pipes clear them and wait for the troughs to fill over the farm in 40 degree heat (104 fahrenheit). Cattle and sheep can die without water in one day in this sort of heat.

I have watched him go out and feed hay to animals when our feed has declined, I see him jumping on and off a hay trailer whilst the ute is moving slowly so as to spread out the hay to keep animals fed. He does this every day maintaining the quality of our animals and their food source. I have watched him and gone with him checking things over our 5000 acres, I have taken him drinks and lunch whilst he is sowing, reaping, raking and fencing. We have spent weekends planting up to 3000 trees per year to give animals shelter belts and to re-vegetate tops of hills that blow with sand.

I have adapted to farming and I do have a deep love of what it is I don’t see and I don’t have the passion nor the drive for all of it like he does. I rarely criticise anything he does as I am aware he drives heavy machinery, he can build a shearing shed from plans drawn up with Ronnie on a scrap piece of paper,  he can swear like a farmer (as only they can) at anything and everything, he can care deeply for small animals which is why I am hand rearing 2 calves & a lamb currently.

How to shut me up – sorry Chris it won’t happen.

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Retiring Old dogs

I come back to my blog after a long absence, I did not stop writing because I didn’t have anything to say, I left because I didn’t know how to express the last couple of months in writing. The last of the summer months were hard on the farm and upon me, losing my beautiful old Pete has been upsetting, his presence has provided 16 yrs + of comfort and assurance without him it was difficult. My mother in law did a painting of him and laminated an old shot which is now on the fridge and every time I open it I give it a pat.

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Moving into the drought and into winter certainly has us all feeling a little bit of relief and I openly (much to the farmers dislike) declare I won’t go through another drought. In fact I told a couple of friends in the supermarket on Saturday, I will move back to my house in the city. He didn’t comment till over 4 hours later and stated I shouldn’t be telling people as they will think I’m going to leave him … news is I will be for the summer. It’s a tough battle mentally watching the farmer and the farm going through drought, nothing looks fresh or green, we are lucky we have had more rain than some people we know.

With Pete gone, it has allowed us to take a breather from things, re-evaluate business and draw up another plan moving forward. I have always talked about moving to retire off the farm. It is something that we both need to agree on, I can see country communities are not great places for the elderly, especially if their families have moved away, the time to stop traveling or driving leaves many isolated and that is not how I want to be nor is here the place I wish to retire in.

I find it amazing when we talk about a plan with others, I get this comment “what will the farmer do if you retire or sell?” it offends me, when I gave up a career I loved, moved away from my daughter, friends etc  these same people never said to me “what will you do living on a farm, 50+kms away from anything, not knowing anybody” not one so as we come to moving our plan forward  I understand how difficult it may be for him, but he too can adjust like I had too.

With Pete gone we have also had time to re-evaluate our working dogs and have noticed Mandy our eldest one needs to retire, she limps on her front foot and looks sore in her back legs, many years ago she jumped in the sheep yards and dislocated her hips – we nursed her back to health and now that she is moving into being 14 or 15 it is time for her to become a house dog. I am sure it’s arthritis setting in and when she looks pained we give her medication to assist. She is transitioning to be an inside dog quite well, she comes in at night jumps on the couch and slept there quite happily for a while till she found her way into our bedroom and on the floor at night scratching for a blanket. This noise woke me up as I was worried she would be too cold and uncomfortable on the carpet, then in Bordertown I found this dog bed and purchased it. As of today Mandy is now the retired dog and today the farmer said she would have to stop traveling with him, it’s stressful  to have her sliding around the front of the Ute if he has to chase cattle, so she is now the inside dog.

Mandy in her bed

Mandy in her bed

Do we identify ourselves when it is time to retire, will we be able to look and see that retirement needs to be an option whilst we are fit, well and young enough to enjoy it? or will we be like Mandy – have that moment where you jump out of the Ute, get put inside and told that’s it, she doesn’t know she’s retired as she still wants to be with him, travel in the Ute and play the vital roll of a working dog.

Welcome to the office floor Mandy, I know I’ll enjoy your company and you can enjoy your retirement.