Stepping in manure

I live in Australia, an island of unique properties and places with vast distances of space. Driving from one end of the country to the other is an adventure undertaken with bravery (I have never done it nor do I ever plan to). I remember the first time I visited Darwin and I sat on Mindil beach and thought about the fact I was on the complete opposite side of Australia to my home town beach at Seacliff Beach, South Australia and I knew then how small I was in the scheme of land mass.

I loved living near the beach, I walked the Pete daily for years, not the weekend warrior kind, the devoted owner winter and summer kind daily. There was hardly a time I missed unless I was away. Being the Golden Retriever he would swim summer or winter he wasn’t fussed and I had to start bathing him weekly as he would get that smell of wet damp dog hair that sometimes is mistaken for a boy’s room smell. But we did it and loved it.

Then I met the farmer and moved to the country to live on the land and as much as I have loved it I have developed a love / hate relationship with it. Pete also loved it here, he had freedom, other animals to be with and dams to swim in. My relationship with the beach is one of love, it is a place I find peaceful and calming and I miss it. It’s like having to answer the “favourite child question” the minute it’s asked it’s an automatic “I love you all the same ” response and I know it’s not. I feel more at home near water than I do on the land and at times like long hot summers it’s hard on everything here, the land, the soil and the animals.

Being on the land means 24/7 with your partner / husband and this is another special skill one must adapt to. Many woman know that what gets said in the cattle yards, sheep yards or pig yards stays there, they is not for the faint nor soft-hearted. But sometimes one must dumb oneself down to get the right answer before it becomes the issue.  Let the cattle out of the cattle yards is not such a simple request as I found out today. I take the ute out to the cattle yards and there is 5 lots of them locked up in different pens, be careful as the gate may be electrified, only to be discovered it was live upon touching it that it as I got a shock. I noticed the cattle have turned on the tap and the water is lapping over the gate and electricity which is making it ‘live’. I took my shirt off so I could unlatch the gate without further shocks to myself, I have no clue how much shock the cattle would have felt staring at me in my bra and jeans but the tap needed to be turned off and this gate open so the cattle could go into this paddock out of the cattle yards. Once done I could let the cattle out, then realising they were in separate pens I knew I had to look for the farmer to ask the dumb question, do I let them all out or only some of them? A dumb question or smart one depending upon what they have been put in their for. I track him down 15 kms away and ask, sometimes it’s better than the alternative, letting them out and getting sworn at for not just ‘letting the cattle out of the yards’ confusing isn’t it? They were to all be let out, back I go and walk through them to do this, one panics and jumps over the 4 foot gate to get away from me, ‘good riddance I say. I walk back to shut one of the sets of gates and as I’m doing so I happen to tread in a pile of manure in my sandals, nothing like the slippery feel of fresh manure as it flows onto your foot.

My sandal is outside washed under the hose, my foot has been scrubbed of any evidence of said manure and the cattle all ran out of the yards without a look back to see if I was still there. It started this morning with a suggestion of a cooler rainy day and has ended hot and windy. Mandy the retired kelpi – lives on my office floor now and decided today was the day she tore up Pete’s old quilt to make it comfortable for her body and I let her. He has been gone 7 months I still look for him and now I see the same look of love and devotion staring back through Mandy’s eye’s and it lifts my mood.

I see the towels waving to me from the washing line, flapping in the sun and spinning round and round in the wind and I know they are not going to take themselves off the line. The chooks are off and pecking at my sandal near the tap, that’s the last time, I don’t put my boots on to go about the farm.



Closing shops in a rural community

I am at a sale today, living in a rural community is tough but made even tougher by drought over the last 12 months. It is never more obvious how tough economic times are when businesses close in rural communities. Over the last couple of years I have opened and closed a business, attempted to run an online business as well as help manage the farm, but some things have to give.

I have made some lovely friends in my rural town and have supported their businesses when I could. One of them that is closing today is the kids store. Chaos kids, this is terrible for a country town, Lana the owner has worked hard to get stock, carry various ranges including shoes and employed local staff. So with the closing of her shop people lose incomes. Whilst the dollar has to go further now people will have to pay to travel further to purchase kids clothing and shoes, she is keeping items for her online business but today is sad for her as she will be closing the door to her shop front for the last time. Get to her online business

Having older children, nieces and nephews I will miss the store as I could rush in, buy for said nieces or nephews and walk to the post office and send it, getting gifts to various states in Australia when I needed to. There will be families in our area who will really miss this shop and others who have come in and said “I haven’t been here before, why are you closing” should be ashamed.

I am trying to sell the last of my handbags, fascinators, scarfs & stuff from 3 years ago, at ridiculous prices and hope they don’t come home with me again.

We have united to try to clear out, we have joined with another girl who had a very successful party plan business on-line, it was spammed and she lost customers. She has beautiful cake stands, and party wear – check Leini’s gear out at, she is now concentrating on her commercial business, where she can cook and deliver to your shop. contact her at  

Here is a group of entrepreneurial ladies making the most of living in the country, managing family and farms earning a living to support their families and now looking to close down. It is a shame, there is no competition in town, many people will have to drive over 100 kms to get clothes & shoes for their children. If there is a business in your country town and they are struggling go in and purchase something, even to keep in the present cupboard, it may be the difference to keeping things open or closed.

To Lana I am sorry you are in this position, people don’t appreciate things till they have gone.



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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Country Living: Its time to clear the pantry

Living on a farm when one goes shopping you seem to purchase food for the pantry, ingredients you think you may need at some stage of another, well my new shelves of my pantry are bulging from the weight of said pantry tins. My husband has determined that he can not find anything he wants – he started his own shelf a few years back but refuses to acknowledge that this was in spite of the fact he wouldn’t use what’s on it anyway. I do 99% of the cooking, needless to say I have placed things in front of his said items and made better usage out of the pantry.

There comes a time though doesn’t there when one has to admit they can’t find anything, never have the ingredients one needs to cook with and can’t remember what’s even there. I’m not quite at this level but I get accused of it not being organized, he also blames me for not being able to find his ‘men foods” tinned spaghetti – which I use when I do mixed grill or on toast on a cold winters day, cans of tuna (which I have never seem him eat one) which when we ran out of cat food and couldn’t be bothered doing the 100km trip to buy it we fed them the tuna and the jars of coffee, which I rarely drink and we buy a couple at a time to ensure we do not run out. Other than these I have NO IDEA what he is talking about.

I have decided to cook things using at least one item from my pantry per meal I cook or at least x 2 per day. As I am home most of the week working I do prepare lunches for my husband, most times I cook something or make warm foods to sustain him and the work he does. I started this idea last week when I went to find a tin of spaghetti to find I couldn’t find anything. I did however find 8 cans of coconut milk or cream (lots of curries coming up) 12 can of diced or whole tomatoes and lots of pack noodles.

Yesterday for lunch I did sausage rolls – using cumin seed of which I have 4 bottles of, real beef sausages, filo puff pastry & cheese slices looks like lots of things with cumin coming up, I have posted the recipe on our website Last night I used a packet meal curry – just add meat and rice, it actually was delicious. The only problem is I have decided not to purchase anything more until I have used all of these cans, packets, tubes and jars up. I am out of basmati rice, a favourite and tinned bean sprouts, it looks like I am going to have to grow them using the 5 kilos of mung beans seeds I have. Oh the JOY!!

Today before I left the house I did a beef straganoff in the slow cooker, using a packet mix – I normally make from scratch – oh well at least it will be ready when I get home. Anyone with any recipes for coconut milk & cream and tinned tomatoes please send them in, my husband thinks I am mad but this is one way to ensure nothing expires and we use what we have.

Alphabet on the farm will be on the blog using the letter B tomorrow and no I am not clearing the shelves to move out, in case anyone is wondering


I’m Bored.

We were lucky enough yesterday to have friends drop in and spend the day with us, they have two boys and one brought a friend. The youngest two seated themselves on the couch and happily played with electronic toys and games (until the power ran out). we then got power and commenced lunch. It is nice to share a day with a good girlfriend and seeing as we had such great weather it was also lovely to sit outside.

Her husband and teenage son went in search for the farmer if for nothing else but to assist him and for male company. So the BBQ was cooked, wine poured, beer cans opened and then it was time to sit, but from the inside of the house came a statement I haven’t heard for a while “I’m bored”. I did laugh and I wasn’t surprised how two country boys who are normally active can sit for hours without being bored. “Ok” I said and went and got a cricket bat and tennis balls, “come on time for backyard cricket then.”‘ With happy faces they came out side and looked at the lawn “we don’t have wickets” “yes use the tin can for one and the step-ladder for the other.”I ventured, necessity being the mother of invention also I didn’t think they needed to be inside watching a DVD which was the next option.

So off they started, it wasn’t long till the teenage boy joined in and then the farmer. The farmer was a great cricketer in his youth and won many awards for his ability. So the afternoon started to shape up to become a little more fun for the boys, Dad of 2 boys joined in and then myself and their mum, here is where it became competitive. It reminded me of my brothers and the fun I had on the beach as a young girl playing cricket. Once the farmer started hitting balls all over the place, rules came in – 6 and out was to hit it on the roof, into the dog kennels or any other place that required a concentrated effort to retrieve the ball. Once the boys gained confidence but also lost stamina, they would like to sit till they considered it their turn to bat, so the rule came in, no fielding, no batting and bowling didn’t count.

We then went to one hand one bounce and then ”tippygo’ I was never good at batting but played anyway – I got six and out for hitting the ball onto the roof where it still sits today.  but I am happy to field. There was shouts of “bum before”  similar to “leg before” but different you can get the picture, no shouts of LBW more of “run just run” “don’t forget to say crease” and lots and lots of laughter. Self stumping was also a problem when it was discovered the stumps would somehow be moved into the batters crease. The adults outlasted the children and it was a fun time had by all. It is a great way to spend an afternoon, good friends, good food, good wine and enough exercise to break up the afternoon.

They all ended up staying for dinner and a couple of the neighbours called over for a drink. The two young boys, ready to go home and happily packed up their things and went as soon as they were asked. We talked about easter and making some ‘stumps’ for when they came then. I love days like these and the people who come to enjoy our company, I could do with more of them, it is nice to have friends who understand the isolation of the country, the work load of the farmer and the need to come offer help and then once the jobs have been done, time to sit relax and enjoy life.

Hey, how would you cope with being sick whilst living in the country?

What does this question mean to you?  For many people unless you live in country and rural areas it is not a question that springs to mind when you are sick. If you live in metropolis you pick up the phone and call a General Practitioners office or get to the Emergency department of your closest hospital. It’s really easy (in most cases) the biggest problem most have to deal with is the lack of appointment availability or having to be put off till the next day.

In the country we have such limited services available to us that when people go out of their way to provide services they are well supported. Sometimes you can ring a GP office on the Monday to be told only “Emergency” appointments are available and the next available is 4 days away. Not good if you need a sick certificate for work, have run out of your medication script and need a new one, or injured yourself over the weekend and need a medical examination. When you are sick and need to see a Dr it would be great if there was more than one available.

Living in the country or rural areas brings limited medical access, for some reason Dr’s can’t see moving to a country area for a couple of years worth while. Financially it is but they want what the city offers; anonymity, back up support and a rotating roster or just a normal working week, Monday to Friday is what they desire. All we need is a qualified Dr to train an unqualified Dr so that in country areas there is always someone here. We would be happy to have a stable workforce but realise this is the dream not the reality.

Imagine if you get a serious illness or are pregnant? You have to leave your area, support network and travel to the city to, in some cases languish in a hospital bed for weeks without regular contact from loved ones and family. There are people who feel un-confident even driving in the city, so this limits their ability to get to see loved ones and become reliant on others to get them there. This is a skill I will never give up, I want to be able to get myself anywhere I want without relying on others which can be inconvenient to say the least.

When you have jobs or farms to run it can take 2 to 3 hours of your day driving into see a Dr, so people must feel sick to go there. I for one hate wasting the Dr’s time, so I make sure my scripts are up to date, if I need referrals I make sure I get them and I talk about my issues. It is called streamlining my medical concerns without having to go back weekly or monthly. We take our health for granted when we are well, we take our medical services fro granted when we have easy access to them, but living in the country we appreciate our health (there is no sick pay for the self employed) we appreciate our medical practitioner and wish we had more of them. For those sitting in hospitals far away from family & friends I hope you get home soon and I hope you are well quick enough for discharge

Tiresome not to confuse unemployment with boredom

How does one cope when they find themselves through different means, unemployed? Though the Director of Nursing job was interim, the Project Manager position was a couple of days per week but in the best interests of the hospital the position has been ‘deferred’ until a better financial structure has been put in place. This is fine with me, I will not be a hypocrite and moan after spending months trying to raise dollars to help support it, I will continue to work behind the scenes doing this.

This does not make me a martyr – I do not mean to offend by using this word as I said, it does not relate to me, there is not a religious sacrifice or any other sacrifice involved to this extent with the Keith Hospital. Though in recent years this word has been related to those dying for their cause, but that is a topic for another day.

I struggle living in a country town not having work to do, though it is nice to spend time with DH,  I struggle being at home with him all day. He has lots to do and he goes out all day working in the area that he loves. He is a man of the land it is in his blood, he loves the animals, the hard work and finds nothing more satisfying than coming in at the end of the day face covered in dirt having accomplished his tasks. I on the other hand am not a farm worker, though I help out where I can, I can drive tractors to help shift things, pull vehicles out of being bogged, move hay bales to help feed the animals, I can’t do fencing without supervision due to the surgery on my hand many years ago. The plate and the pin in it give me grief if I do too much. I can shift cattle, sheep and open and shut gates but this is a very small part of life on the land. I do the book work and arduous tasks at the best of times. For all my friends who have businesses and do BAS statements it is time-consuming and at times extremely frustrating.

Unemployment gives people around you a false sense of what you are doing. I am still actively involved in doing the cook book for the Keith Hospital and Amy P our designer is doing an absolutely outstanding job – also in her spare time. We saw the first draft copy last night and now it has spurred us on to getting it complete, we have planned a launch and will start talking with book shops soon so that they are ready for purchase by Christmas. I have to work to do to help the process so will complete this today. But my main worry is where do I find work and earn an income to remain as independent as possible? We live far enough out of the township that I get comments on if it doesn’t pay your fuel bill why do you bother? I bother because I want to, wanting is not enough to give independence, financial or otherwise or create a job out of thin air. I am not bored as you can read three is much to do and I made the mistake this morning of asking for help to do the insurance claims that I know nothing about. Looks like it will be a long morning, lucky I have the afternoon to do the cook book commitments.