Coming back

It’s hard some days to write on my own blog as my bullysbeefothermeats blog has been picked up by the global website mytrendingtories so I’m having to commit to doing at least 3 to 4 blogs per week on farming and I suppose it gets blurred but it’s been a thrill to have been asked. I am also the unpaid farm hand, who is needed to drive tractors, quad bikes, deliver farmer to paddocks in Utes so that he can do his job.

I do the selling of our meat, trade shows, doing our book work, budgets and finances for the business and feed baby animals when they arrive. Nothing gives me more joy than watching and assisting an orphaned animal survive and become part of the Caloundra farm family.

At the moment I have also been asked to present at a nurses conference so am about to put the final touches on my speech. This is for the South Australian Peri-operative Nurses Association. What a thrill and honour to be asked, but also slightly frightening at the same time. For all of you nurses out there join your association, now that we are under legislation to get our continuous development points or CPD to maintain our registration, our chosen profession has groups and associations that provide high quality education for country as well as city nurses to get their points.

I know when I renew my Registration Certificate each year we tick a box that says we know we are competent to work in the field in which we trained. I take this seriously and know that I am coming to the end of that grace period. I didn’t leave nursing to not keep up my skills, I married in the country and there is not a job for me within 150km’s so when I take one I know that I’ll need overnight accommodation and have to weigh up whether it’s worth it or not. I know that it is and I keep getting told “you should” “you have to” in relation to my nursing career.

I know this but it will also make me a FIFO, and I wonder how many of my fellow nurses would like this idea or do it. It does not mean fly in fly out it actually means, DODI Drive out and Drive in, I live where there is no airport, we have a landing strip for RFDS and hang gliders but not a commercial place for me to get to work and back. The drive will either be a 5.5 hour round trip or a 6 hour round trip. I have been told, he will travel to you, it’s a great theory but there is ALWAYS something on the farm that can keep him from family BBQ’s in Adelaide or events. When you have animals, it’s an obligation and life long passion to look after them, feed them and assist them when they birth if they are in trouble.

Getting work  within my area is difficult, as both hospitals in my area have their quota’s of nursing staff and unless anyone leaves then there is no opportunity. Also I am limited as I love the Operating theatres, it’s is where I always felt at home. I have and do firmly believe that we are the eyes, the ears and the voice for the unconscious, frightened and voiceless, if we are not there to protect, defend and care for all who come to theatre then we should move out and let someone else who has these values do it.

picture

Here I am as a nurse and my twin sister Jacqui as a chef, so from the age of 4.5 years it was my chosen dress up costume and career.

What is your chosen profession? Did you reach your goals? Have you taken the long route round?

you can follow me on instagram as @Bullysbeef

twitter @RobynVerrall

 

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

2015-06-27

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

Country Living

Life on the farm can be very satisfying if you live in the country as you get to become multi-skilled and multi adaptable. There are many circumstances where you need to be able to problem solve, there are so many aspects to farming life that are so rewarding and there are so many that are not.

I came onto the farm about 11 years wide-eyed and impressed by my now husband and the work that he has done and continues to do. The work was overwhelming, the animals were beautiful and frightening, I had never been up close to cattle, and loving lamb (as a meal) I never knew how much work animals are to get them from the paddock to the plate.

I also never realized that being summer, winter, autumn and spring brought with them their own set of problems. As the partners of farmers one must get involved so that the burden of hard work does not always fall on the primary person (this could be male or female) I have learnt to drive tractors, use a front end loader, double d clutch on a truck, lamb mark, ear tag, weigh cattle feed out hay and numerous things in my life that I never dreamed I would even have to know, including fire fighting!!

I am the second pair of hands that assists when asked and when I can and also does the farm book work. We decided early on I should be able drive all of the machinery if for nothing else than if an accident occurs I should be able to grab something that may get someone (including myself) out of danger and or trouble. (pulling a bogged Ute for instance).

Whilst the rewards are good there is also negatives, animals need full-time people to care for them, to check them, to feed them, to move them be part of most aspects of their existence and this is the tie that binds people to farming properties. Getting away normally means 24 hours at the most together and if you plan a holiday it can require you to hire staff in to do the daily running of things, this brings its own problems. Most women I know in the country with children take the children away and their partners / husbands join them on and off for that period. The last time we have time away together and our second holiday together was 2009, we have done the odd night here or there but never more than 2.

Living on a farm also means one discusses retirement plans early on in the picture for the following reason. It’s all hard work

THE PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FARMERS

Farmers were more likely to be male – 139,500 or 72% of all farmers were male, compared to 55% of all employed persons in 2010-11.

The age profile of farmers differs from that of all employed persons. In 2010-11, the median age of farmers was 53, compared to 39 for all employed persons. Seven out of ten (71%) farmers were 45 or over compared to four out of ten (39%) employed persons. The largest differences in the age distribution were apparent in the younger and older age groups. While 23% of farmers were aged 65 and over, only 3% of all employed persons were in this age group (graph S8.2). Conversely, only 2% of farmers were aged between 15 and 24, while 17% of all employed persons were in this age group. In 2010-11, farmers comprised a significant proportion of older workers – 14% of all employed persons aged 65 years and over. However, they made up a smaller proportion of younger workers – less than 1% of all employed persons aged between 15 and 34.

Farm life & work

It’s Tuesday again and I am tired, I made a really nice Thai BBQ Chicken and dipping sauce last night as there is no white wine in the house, I choose to drink a couple of glasses of red. To end the night I had a couple of glasses of water and went off to bed. I was woken up at 245am with the worst case of indigestion I have ever had. I got up and searched the house for some anti-acids to abate the rising acid and chose to climb back into bed. I couldn’t lie down so I sat and watched the TV. At 0600 this morning it settled and I took a couple of Panadol and lay back down to sleep. DH choose to get up and get ready for his days work.

He comes in at 720am wakes me and says can you come and help now, to which this made me really grumpy. I had to drive the tractor a couple of kilometres to where he needed it. This isn’t hard I can operate most of the machinery on the farm, I think it’s important in case of emergency that you can pull a car or vehicle out of trouble with a tractor, and I drive it when we plant trees. DH is a kind man, he doesn’t kill things for the sake of it, he does not shoot kangaroos or emus for the sport, his philosophy is live and let live, “they don’t really eat enough to destroy a crop or take food from the farm animals” so we let them go. He believes we/they are all God’s creatures and deserve to be left alone if they are not dangerous. He shoots animals if they are suffering,injured or maimed.

This morning I had to witnessed one of these shootings, one of our bulls was ‘bashed’ by three other bulls and choose to sit under a tree, DH thought they had broken its leg. He took it food and water for the last couple of weeks hoping it would get better. It did not, it began to lose weight so he did the kind thing and assisted it. This is really confronting for me, I don’t like guns never alone being present when something is shot. I took the tractor in case the animal needed to be moved but he was still sitting where DH found him a couple of weeks ago. This was all before 0830am so it is very tiresome, it is a long day ahead.