The Cat, The bat and the farmer

Marrying a farmer has many adventures, living and working together can lead for some interesting times and conversations. Fitting into the farming life for me has been interesting, I can help with most things and do lots but there are things I can’t do.  There are things I have taught myself to do which I never thought I would ever be in the position to have to do it.

There is the removal of spiders from houses and cars, once left to a parent or ignored, when you become a parent you have to do these things and I know “they are more scared of you than you are of them” haven’t we all heard that. It doesn’t help if you have a fear of them, regardless of how big or how small they are, they are awful looking and in my eyes frightening.

We have a house that is very active at night, with 4 cats that come in and out of the cat flap at their will, any time day or night (and they do) The Farmer has been good over the years and worn ear protection with all machinery he has used, but he seems not to have night hearing. I on the other hand can hear most things including cats running across the bedroom floor which is carpeted.

There are times when our house is busier than a shopping centre or main street of our country town with the comings and goings. Over the years we have had a range of animals alive and dead brought into the bedroom. I remember waking up one night to an unusual hissing sound (thankfully not like a snake) and not like the cats hissing at each other. I sleep with a torch by my bed so I flicked that on and shone it towards the sound and there are the four cats all standing around in a circle looking at something. I got up and saw it was a frill neck lizard, some how one of them caught it brought it inside and then it got away, so it was standing there frill up hissing at these four cats, it had no where to go, so I bent down picked it up (carefully) so it wouldn’t bite me and opened our door let all the cats out stepped back closing the door and walked the lizard still hissing, around to the kitchen door and let it go out the back, where no cat saw it. I think for the next hour they came in and out looking for it.

Recently Gatsby the ginger walked into the cat flap with a mouse in it’s mouth, casually strolled up to us, dropped it on the floor and continued on to get to the food bowl. Thinking the mouse was dead I bent down to pick it up and it moved so I had to quickly get it outside before it bite me. Amazing so casually dropped from mouth and walked off.

The farmer is good at getting most things but of late it has been me, a bunny from Rita four nights ago, which got all of the others away from the fire and into the outdoors when I threw it out side so she could continue eating it there. I check the mice they bring in though as they have been catching the little Australian marsupial and if it’s alive we let them go, they are similar in size to the mouse but have rounded ears, I chased one into my gum boot the other day and checked it was one before I let it go.

We have had bats as well, they normally are alive and as they can fly when let go they move quickly towards light, so chasing bats out side has become an interesting art form or lesson in moving quickly. Matilda or Frankie seem to find these and of course they make a noise which brings the rest in so with the release of this bat the farmer jumps up pushes the curtains back to the sliding door and opens it as wide as he can, tells me to get out (which I do) it’s 2am in the morning and chased it until it flew out. We would have made Youtube had it been caught on camera. Cats jumping, women outside in nightie holding a torch freezing and naked farmer chasing a bat out of the bedroom.

Rita, Matilda & Frankie are all sisters, Gatsby is the ring in came 5 years after them

From Top Rita, Matilda & Frankie

From Top Rita, Matilda & Frankie

Gatsby

Gatsby

Allergies

I think that is how I need to describe it, I have an allergy personality, I am allergic to many antibiotics, penicillin, erythromycin, cephalosporins, latex, banana and avocado and now I am going to add Shiraz to this list. I feel like I have been hit in the head with the bottle not consumed 1 glass of it. Truly it was only one glass, every time I drink it I get the biggest headache like I feel I have been hit with the bottle.

Today is one of those days, up at 430am to clean up after Pete (the dog) who had an adventure of his own last night. Drink large glass of water and go back to sleep, wake up at 530am with the biggest headache, throw down some paracetamol more water and complain loudly to farmer of my headache. Then back to sleep till after 8am, Pete is still asleep on his mattress on the floor.

I’ve had to take phone calls and pay bills, so much so early. I have ventured to having a cup of coffee, something I don’t really drink a lot of these days, when I stopped smoking years ago, (approx. 20)  I gave up coffee as well. I hate the bad breath coffee gives you and the after taste is fairly ordinary as well, but I fell I need something to try to shift this stupid Shiraz induced headache.

Whilst I do enjoy it when I drink it, it was interrupted when we realized that Pete was gone an awfully long time, considering this week he has lost sight in one eye and hasn’t walked further than 5 metres from the house in years. As he is very old and frail (and blind) these days, and our house yard is dangerous in the dark, an empty clay pit / dam, tractors, machinery and farming stuff he could trip on fall over and well get lost in. We decided I should go and look for him in the car, so I drove around for approx. 5 minutes and decided I needed to head out on to the road and here in the car lights I see 5 sets of eyes.

I found him, he was having a late night stroll, all of the cats were around him bumping his face to turn him around and walking under his belly and chin getting him to move back towards the gate. He didn’t stop when he saw the lights but I pulled up next to him, got out and picked him up and put him on the back seat. Matilda the cat jumped in next to him and meowed loudly on the way home. (in fright) The other cats came running behind. The animal kingdoms is amazing how they look after their own.

I’m off now to take more Panadol and drink more water the coffee hasn’t helped. Crap

 

First Day 2015

Well it’s the first day of 2015 are you hung over? tired? full of energy? where are you placed today?. me I am doing fine, had a sleep in though, saw the New Year in with the TV & 4 cats. The cats only stayed till I started dancing around the lounge to some of the music from the Sydney Fireworks. We are lucky / unlucky with satellite TV we are 30 minutes ahead so we get it live on channel 2.

Cats and my dancing, I am taking no criticism from them for the fact that they ran out of the cat flap, almost at the same time, they had to line up and go one after the other. Phfftt I say, farmer on the other hand was asleep on the couch so he got up just on Sydney time midnight 1130pm here and went to bed to wake up at 3am (I think) to go back to sleep at 6am. Pete the dog also seemed to have slept through the noise of TV & snoring so he looks fine this morning also going into his 17th year.

I want to thank some of my face book friends for affirming that dancing on ones own does not mean I should be scorned by the cats, it is in fact relatively ok, no one mentioned the word sad, so that’s great. I perhaps taking cue from the cats need to improve my dance style to a cats ignored me or I need to do it more often so it doesn’t freak the bejesus out of them and all I see is bottoms as they run out the flap.

Perhaps needing to have a party – this year may be the year, there are people in my house who are turning 50 as are some really close friends (according to face book Guess your age quiz) I am turning 37 this year so I am young enough to party. We hope to celebrate all our friends good health, and many more celebrations not yet thought of. It is exciting to plan things and I like being organized so am planning on a few trips around Australia to see friends and family.

I hope you all had fun, held those you love a little closer, laughed loudly – I did when I saw the cats flee and woke up feeling happy to be alive and well. For those out there doing it tough, know that there is someone somewhere thinking about you and wishing for you nothing but the best. If you feel you need to be close to some one call them, even if it is a 5 minute conversation, say hi, doing ok, speak soon.

Happy New Years first day people, I’ll try to be more consistent with my blog this year, thanks to those people who have commented on it, written to me to tell me you enjoy it and those that read it and ignore it after that. As for the rude cats, sleeping dogs & husband I hope all of you are with me next year !!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gatsby looking relaxed today after his midnight dance fest scare !!

 

 

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 C

This is the one that I know people are waiting for, I have been asked, how are you going to write around this? Well it’s easy really in farming you either are one or you’re not. Many people react to being called the c word and yes it can be insulting and degrading and it certainly needs to be defended when the title is aimed at you.

There are many things on farm and off farm that earn this title and it can be said out of the blue or sometimes on people’s faces you can see it coming. I have heard it slip out in general conversations and quickly glossed over with an apology or ignored. It brings shock to people’s faces regardless of the situation and the spruker.

Farming brings with it many a thing starting with c, I immediately think of our lovely cattle, they too on occasions have been known to be c’s. they can walk up the race wrong, they can jump fences, eat energisers, break fences, find their way back to their mothers and yell loudly when being mark and tagged (requirements under law). But they are really gentle curious creatures with whom we treat with kindness, compassion and slight fear.

We have the CFS whom are fantastic volunteers that risk their lives for others to help save property, animals and vegetation. My husband is one and we have been through two fires together on the farm that have luckily only destroyed fencing and crop. Croping is another c word that can bring out the ire in a farmer, on a tractor / air seeder / boom spray / day and night, sore hips, knees, necks and these things ache for over 2 to 3 weeks and those around them know about it. Then we can throw the combine harvester into the mix, this machine is used with the reaping of all crops and is a dangerous tool in the hands of amateurs and farmers. They can cause fires, catch on fire and cost large amounts of money to maintain them.

Lets not forget the cats & chooks who live on farms, useful animals, chooks for eggs and cats to catch mice, rats and company. We have 4 cats that have all been caught by my husband as kittens in the freezing cold of winter, the first 3 he used to use welding gloves to pick them up and pat them as they were so feral, now they are house bound and quite nice cats. Gatsby the 1 year addition to Caloundra Station (our property) never had the feral scratches he found warmth and food on his first night and decided not to go.

Today we are going out to plant 2000 trees and no doubt at some stage the c word will rear its ugly head. Regardless of what people say we live in the COUNTRY, the COUNTRY throws obstacles much like the CITY. Call me what you like but never a COUNTRY BUMPKIN, now what were you all thinking I was going to write?

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The art of life.. are you involved?

I shared an experience on face book today about a lady I assisted this morning and how a can of tomato soup led me to assisting. She was putting things back from her shopping as she only had $13.15 in her purse and a $24 grocery bill, she had been robbed the night before and not only had they taken her money they took her cats food, her only companion in life left without anything to eat on a really cold winters day. I asked for it to be given back and I paid for it with my groceries a total of $45. I then handed her the rest of the money I had in my purse and told her to enjoy it.

They had taken her rent money and she was worried about asking her son who lives interstate to assist her. I talked to her about going to the bank first thing Monday getting an ATM card, as she used a PASSBOOK and setting up a direct debit for the rent so she would never have to withdraw that amount again.

I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t watching what she was doing as we sometimes do at the checkout, ignore the person in front or behind. I don’t approach the checkout on the phone or if I am I will hang up on the person and converse with the person assisting me. I have seen too many young people with limited conversation techniques due to the non-interaction daily with people. So I ventured into this woman’s conversation and her life. I watched that red can get slipped back towards the attendant and I saw her look of sadness as she did it. I did a scan of her box of goods, 4 cans of home brand cat food, home brand kitty litter, 300ml carton of milk and a loaf of bread and I thought WHAT? I stopped her and became involved the young boy was pleased and he gave her back her groceries there was that can x 2, a jar of coffee and some sliced ham, a sliced chicken breast – all her weekends foods.

Mine on the other hand, 2 baguette, 6 rolls, a crunchy loaf, pesto and a couple of packets of chips (luxury foods) nothing necessary here. I could not have ignored the conversation she was stressed and wanting to share her misfortune as well as justify why she was putting items back. I didn’t feel sorry for her I felt angry for her. To be vulnerable, alone, cold and robbed of her safety, security and money is truly awful. They are the targets, our elderly, as with age comes the holding on of independence, isolation from family if they move away from country towns and reliance on limited incomes which someone else feels they have a right to take.

I don’t worry about the money I gave her, I emptied all the notes out of my purse and I told her to enjoy it. I hope she meets up with friends and they go to the local for a drink, or lunch I don’t care. She didn’t want to take it from me as she was worried I was an invalid, I still have a terrible limp from my partially ruptured Achilles and I have to take my moon boot off when I drive. I told her I was fine I had so much in my life, I wish I had the money in my purse to cover her rent. She wanted to hand the $100 back but I refused to accept it, I may see her again, I may not, I don’t care.

We need to stop, look around, get involved for there are many I suspect that go without to keep companion animals fed, hide their own misfortunes. In a wealthy country like Australia we all should have enough. If you can help with a charity to provide for others do. I would only hope if it were my mum, someone like me would not let her walk out of a supermarket unable to have a 99c can of soup for her lunch on a cold wet winters day. If I found out this happened I would never forgive them.