Living and working on the farm means that you are with your partner 24/7 and to some it probably would be too much, for others they would enjoy it. Farming is a different kind of work and a different kind of life. There are many different types of farming also, some farms breed animals to sell, some breed for meat, some plant crops to sell, some milk cows and others do a mixture of different enterprises depending upon soil type and expertise.

We are a multi-mixed farm here, but our highest concentration is breeding and caring for the animals that reside on our farm. Not only do we put them first, their health and well being is checked twice daily and this means we can not get longer than 24 hours off the farm without hiring staff to come in and check them.

There are many reasons why they are checked, in hot weather to make sure they have enough water or shade, in breeding season to ensure they can deliver and be given help should they require it, to make sure they do not have bloat in winter and in times of drought they will be fed hay to ensure they remain healthy.

There are times though when animals are orphaned, and if found in time they are brought home to be bottle fed and hand reared. We have the Caloundra 6 from last year 1 lamb, named Josie after my cousins daughter  named Josie, 5 calves, Rosie, Delilah, Abby, Hope & Annie and of late we have had a bull come into the house yard and become part of the crew. It is quite a sight seeing a 2 tonne bull walk around the house eating lawn and bellowing. As we have smoked glass on our sliding doors we have to be aware that he can sometimes see his own reflection. He has been caught licking the glass, so we have to go out and shoo him away, we don’t want him thinking there is another bull in the place and charge at it.

We have also had the arrival of another calf in December  2015 whom we think was a twin and his mother left him so he has come to us. I am amazed to see that it didn’t take long for the Caloundra 6 to get use to the Bull “Mr Grumpy”as I have named him cos he walks around the house making a mmmmmm sound making him appear grumpy and me a little fearful of him. They also have taken to the little calf who was probably 3 days old when he came to us.

They will go to the vegetable patch now known as the animal nursery and sit on the outside so he can see them and feel them. I have caught them leaning against the fence so they can touch him. The bull will also join in. It is amazing to see and last night Jeremy decided he didn’t want to live alone, the reason why we won’t let the others in the nursery is because they would knock him out of the way to get to the milk, they are no longer being given milk and they miss it. Abby is the only one who will continue to come up for a rub under the chin,  we found her on my birthday and my cousins daughter’s birthday. In honour of our Abby the calf was named as such as soon as we knew she was a girl.

Jeremy has now happily found his place in this posse of which Josie is the leader, the lamb came first and bonded with Rosie until the others came along. Josie leads them around the place and will come up to my office window and say hello to me, it is cute but can be off putting to people on the phone, I have been asked many a time ïs that a lamb?” as she baa’s loudly at the sound of my voice Yes I will say.

These animals have formed their own togetherness, from the tiny 3 week old to old Mr Grumpy, it is an amazing sight to see and we are lucky to be able to witness it.

2016-01-03 02.09.35

The baby Jeremy is behind the fence whilst the others are sitting outside in a build up to a thunder storm on 3rd Jan 2016.

Things you can count on

One thing we can count on in Adelaide, South Australia is the heat, it gets mighty hot here, we have consecutive days over 40 degree Celsius 104 farnheidt. It gets hotter here on the farm and without air conditioning I can count on it being unbearable.

I could spend time listing all of the things we can’t count on but there is one glaringly obvious thing we can can count on and that’s the head line gripping behaviour of politicians. Even on slow news days politicians can manage to make merry on the public purse, tarnish their images and come out looking less than desirable.

We read about these stories, sometimes as they die on their swords or if someone ‘leaks ‘it to the media either way it’s (sadly) becoming common place and we can all count on it, no matter who you  vote for, they all do it.

This last couple of weeks have been Jamie Briggs, Mal Brough, the Royal Commission into unions which shows no one in great light, whilst the politicians who were called before it can say they weren’t aware – it’s not really good enough is it. People’s hard earned money paying for thousand dollar dinners, business class trips and no one checking the checkers. Did they really need to spend all that money on a Royal Commission to discover it? in my opinion probably not.

In this day and age, with cameras in phones do they really expect to get away with it? Let’s face it Jamie Briggs MP looked foolish enough by his own admission and vowed to protect the identity of the women whom says his behaviour made her feel uncomfortable and was inappropriate with, has since sent the image to ‘his mates’ and one of them has kindly assisted him in breeching all the codes of privacy and common decency by giving it to a media outlet.

Are we supposed to think by being able to view the image that it was put out there in self-defence? if we could all see her “piercing eyes”would this mean we would understand why he grabbed her and kissed her neck? Is this implying we should take it as her fault? As one reporter suggested perhaps he should find better drinking partners – here’s a tip don’t drink whilst working, we all know the rules around work functions, it you attend you are working until you get home in what ever state you left the work function, it becomes the responsibility of the boss to protect the worker even if they are drunk, sober or anything in between,  politicians are no different or do they just think they are?

Not only do all politicians get good salaries, they all get the perks of a tax payers credit card and travel expenses. When they become Ministers rather than back benchers we can count on the fact they get a pay rise and elevate themselves to a higher standing than they should have.

Those of us that are lucky to have seen the New year in, know that we can count on today doing what one can to get through hard times and good times. I do understand politicians are in fact humans working like we do, except they get the benefits of public life and access to money and travel that none of us do, every time I see headlines around their bad behaviour it irks me more.

We have farmers in QLD who are showing signs of third world malnutrition this article should be front and centre of all of their thoughts and abilities to assist.  We should be able to count on our politicians not getting pissed in a Hong Kong bar, kissing a woman who never asked for it, not enlisting a staffer to steal private records which leads to a police investigation or not being party to unions that take hard earned money from working people and so on….

We like politicians, can count on the fact that their behaviour is reported to the general public as they continually tell us the Australian taxpayers are their bosses and they are accountable. So from this boss to ALL politicians, lead by example and just stop allowing yourself to be portrayed as twits.

Happy New Year 2016

It’s the morning after the night before and how are you feeling? Happy, hung over or sad and looking forward to a new start? Us, we are doing fine, no hang over, not sad and I am so looking forward to 2016 and feel relieved to have left 2015 behind.

2015 was a hard year on the farm we rolled over the 2014 drought into 2015 and it was difficult. I promised the farmer (and everyone else) I wasn’t going to do another drought, yet here I am.

Looking back on last year I lost my beautiful old mate Pete, it is only recently I have stopped looking for him. The thing about farms is there is always another animal to take it’s place, albeit not in my heart. I am now the care taker of a 15 year old retired kelpi Mandy, the Caloundra 6, Josie the lamb, Rosie, Delilah, Abby, Hope & Annie all calves, and as at 2 weeks ago Jeremy another baby calf who is now about 3 weeks old.

I opened a business in a local country town in December 2014 and closed the doors for good on 30th December this year. The down turn in the economy and the failure of crops in our district have meant many are evaluating their finances and putting it where it needs to go, back into the family pockets.

I have passed a milestone birthday which was celebrated sitting with family & friends at the Big Lunch one of the charities we support by being able to supply the meat every year for 300 guests to enjoy grass fed true aussie beef and lamb from our farm to Adelaide via the Hilton Hotel Renown Head Chef Lloyd Cremer> This is one of our long term charities and a must not miss lunch in July at the Central Market supporting the Big Issue a magazine which enables sellers to earn an income to work their way out of desperate circumstances.

I along with many others from my school year – held our breath following a beloved class member undergo life changing organ transplantation. It was a long and bumpy road to which we can say 1 year of life has been celebrated with much love and joy. During the highs and lows of this major achievement, in support of the family, many donated blood to the Red Cross, did you know every donation can save 3 lives? make this something you do in 2016. Many signed up to the Organ Donation Registry so that many more can live should others die.

We watched as the siege at Martin place in Sydney played out in broad daylight and knew we were no longer protected from terrorism. We watched world events in horror, the senseless deaths caused by terrorism, avalanches, volcanoes, road deaths and stood on the side lines with sympathy & empathy to the families that lost loved ones.  We watched as 2 Australian Citizens were executed in Bali in a time when we needed good news, William and Kate gave us Princess Charlotte.

We have watched the fires in our state that have taken property and lives and I have watched my husband don his CFS uniform and go off to assist fighting these fires. It catches my breath every time he gets the call, I feel so uneasy until he comes home. He is one of many who enter when others are fleeing.

We have had mainly good health this year, a family member recovering well from a stroke to the point that most people can’t even tell they have had a major episode. We have had many happy episodes but not enough time with our families. We go into 2016 with hope, hope for rain, hope for each other and lots of exciting events to come.

As I leave 2015 behind, I can smile, I did what I could and changed what needed to change, now I can concentrate on the things that matter, family, love, friendships and more time spent on all of these things. Also to the weather gods, any time you want to turn the heat down to a simmer from 44 degree to a nice 24 would be my preference, please feel free and if you find a couple of rain clouds looking to drop a load, we are located in the Upper South East of South Australia.


Happy New 2016 everyone


Fear of the times

Drought is one word that sends normally sane people into periods of depression, walking on eggshells around each other and periods of high stress. This has been proven, there are many organisations that provide workshops, individual and private counselling for mental health and financial advice. Groups form to “catch up” so it gives people time to get off the farms and away from the situation even for an hour or so.

A lot of the women in farming families feel the stress of this greatly as they cope with what it all brings. It’s not like depression though, that is a different element, if you suffer from depression I am positive it would be harder to manage this, the farmer and the change in lifestyle if you do. Luckily I can only imagine how much harder it is for people with depression to cope during difficult times when families depend on that person more. We must watch out for each other during these difficult times as it is only people who keep people going.

Some days are harder than others and with all of the white noise around concessional drought loans (there have been minimal allocated in South Australia) from what sounds like political argy bargy many are going hat in hand to the Banks. It has been decided SA or parts of SA like the South East & Mid North are in drought after record-breaking lack of rain falls yet the State Government is playing politics with federal allocation of money that can assist some farmers during this time.

I wonder sometimes about the choices we make with voting our politicians in, there is no doubt they all go into politics to ‘help people out’ yet most of the time it looks like grand standing, self-absorption and self-importance, doesn’t it? These people are making decisions they rarely know anything about and do it thinking about the deficit they have created in the economy. Many people need financial assistance especially here in the South East but feel it will only be given out whilst taking from the back pocket with drainage levy hike, NRM levy hike and what ever else is next . This leaves many wondering if politicians really do know what it’s like to live rurally? they have good salaries, fantastic accessible pension funds from the day they leave office, they use the tax payers money for dinners, bottles of wine, business class and first class trips around the country and the world then come back and tell us all to tighten our belts. I often wonder if this mentality will ever change, if you can get away with the finer things in your job then one suspects everyone would do it.

When I was a sales rep, I traveled for my job and often at conferences met up with other staff members. I vividly recall being told that on one representative I went with ate and drank the mini bar dry 3 times whilst they were there for 5 days. In a 10 day trip and my expenses of eating in cafes and pubs for the 10 days I was away were not as much as had to be paid for the other reps gluttony in 4.

I have been told dealing with the banks is almost as difficult, though most farmers plan for drought, they also plan to get income, either through stock sales or grain sales and hay sales to name a few. When in drought the crops don’t grow, so it can not be sold as there is nothing to sell. I had a lady email me to tell me the most humiliating thing that has happened to her during this hard period is having to go into the bank and sit across from her friend and be scrutinised over their spending habits even to be told her monthly coffee catch up with her friends (including the bank manager) was out of their budget. At that moment she writes, her stomach started churning, her palms started to sweat and she knew she was going to vomit.

There was only one way to get the overdraft and that was for her to get a job in her chosen profession, she is a lawyer and with no option open to her to work in this field and with a 3 month old at the time, she has taken a job in the meat works in the local town 4 days per week.Her husband has also taken off farm work, as a truck driver and she said over the last 6 months they have worked 60 to 80 hours per week and their daughter has seen more of the child care assistants than of her or her husband. They are coping and are managing financially. She writes that this saved the property from foreclosure and they are able to pay their bills on time. She has never returned to the coffee group as she can not face her friend again.

If you can assist with my drought ladies day in March 2016please let me know, sponsorship, gift bags and prizes. Dates and sponsors will be announced over the coming week. InOurPaddocks is going through the system to be a Not For Profit Charity so I will be able to issue tax-deductible receipts. Anyone can contact me through the Facebook page or here.

If you do need help call Life Line 13 11 14

#newneighbours #travellinghome #emus

#newneighbours #travellinghome

I took this photo yesterday on my way home.

In Our Paddocks

Thank you all for the over whelming response to Tears, Drinking, Coping, Drought it was snippets of stories of what goes on In our Paddocks  and kitchen sinks. It’s the story of others that makes it interesting, heartwarming and according to one of the emails I received overnight gave comfort that she was not alone in her thoughts and feelings.

Relationships women share with each other are bonds that can be broken, a wrong word, a withering look or breaking trust will destroy even the strongest of friendships. We’ve all seen it, friends that leave and never come back and you may never know what happened but they left without so much as a backward glance, a goodbye and along with it left you with a feeling of isolation and sadness.

Drought can bring on the same feelings, but for the woman who gave me the honour of telling me your stories, calling  and writing to ask me if I’m ok and to say thanks for sharing small snippets of them, it made them feel valued and less alone. It also gave them an outlet away from the farm, family and those closest to them as it broke their day.  I am doing ok for those that asked.

One of them told me of a life long friendship that over the past couple of years has been made difficult as she can not disclose how tight money is and they are no longer  “popping down to Adelaide for family celebrations,  spontaneous get togethers or shopping expeditions”. In fact she wrote the invitations have stopped coming and the correspondence of any sort spasmodic, but the biggest thing she has noted is the amount of times the friends have traveled to be with them on a weekend. Not once she wrote not once, it was in fact a city based friendship that has not been two ways despite the numerous invitations. She is unsure how she will approach it once things improve or even if she will bother.

There are also the funny times or moments as well, I have read and heard stories about farmers coming home in the Utes wearing only their hat, they get out of the Ute not realising there is a visitor or stock agent sitting at the table waiting to chat with them, as they walk through the door naked. One of the things farmers do in drought is spend hours in the hot dry sun checking all water points for animals, they will do this twice a day if need be and if things go wrong they will jump into tanks, walk in dams and work around flooded troughs to ensure stock have water.

Another said in the middle of a fight about “nothing”she said he looked at her and said “but I just want to drive the tractor” in a tone like a 3 year old and they both burst out laughing. For a farmer the tractor is like a briefcase to a lawyer or a stethoscope to a Doctor, their tool of trade and when he said it she said “he sounded like their son at 3 who only wanted to play with his lego”.  It will be months before the tractor will be driven unless it’s loading and unloading hay to feed stock.

One of the things that is good about living on a farm you can grow stock for eating and many farm houses have freezers full of meat, but this year one says they decided to eat all of the meat out of the freezers and turn a couple off to save electricity. She now tells me she can “write a cookbook on 101 ways to cook and side dishes to put with a lamb chop”. “The struggle to make dinner nightly and make it appealing was a struggle with only lamb chops as a base, there was 45 nights in a row they had lamb chops, how did she know ? he counted guess what he got on the 46th night? yep nothing, she had wine & cheese.

I can write with some knowledge on this topic and I now understand why cricket is part of the Australian culture. Cricket comes with summer, summer can be tough on the land so when it’s too hot to go out, cricket can be watched in the cool of the house.

As women we all need to support each other as we are doing a great job supporting the farmer, the family, the land and the diversity the seasons bring. The Channel Country Ladies day in QLD looks like it’s a model we need to repeat here, I am starting a face book page In Our Paddocks – let me know what you think about a not for profit weekend of women celebrating women in SA and I’ll get me function hat on and start to plan it.

Don’t forget if you need help call LifeLine Australia 13 11 14

Feel free to keep sending me your stories and snippets

Summer Rain

It’s coming up to Christmas and into summer in Australia and its the time we prepare for the happiest of times and for the saddest of times. How I love winter, I love the fact one can get warmth and be warm whilst the weather out side does it’s job, it rains… well most times it’s does. We haven’t had enough rain yet and now coming into summer on the farm is going to be another long one (hot summer) that is. There are areas all over the world that could use rain to get out of drought and poverty, Australia like other countries has them at the moment.

In the country that I live in we have had a below average rainfall, and now summer has hit in a big way – much sooner than we wanted or expected. Outside our temperature gauge hit 37 degrees celsius 98.6 F the other day in spring and this is not considered unusual, it is part of the pattern of our seasons. With these types of temperatures so soon in spring many farmers are watching their crops ripen and set seed early so many will start to harvest. It will be a tough year for farmers in the south-east of South Australia with many harvesting early and many de-stocking to reduce food load on finances.

For the croppers they are cutting crops such as canola, wheat, barley and others early due to low sub soil moisture and no back up rains. They will be expecting the livestock people to buy the hay bales. They will all be wanting a good price for their hay but in times like this where most of them will be doing it I suspect the prices won’t be there, but we’ll see.

There are many things people do when they come into summer – most women shave their legs which they have left over winter as they were either wearing stockings or trousers to hide them and many people look to the perfect spray tan to start wearing summer clothing without looking like the lighthouse beacon with lily-white legs. In the country not only do women think and do these things they also have to work off farm for income and on farm as unpaid labour, the extra pair of hands to help when it’s easier to do the job ‘now’ rather than wait for paid employees. I know many a wife who help at shearing time in the shed as a general roustabouts whilst running and maintaining everyday issues of family, school, business and even continue their part-time careers during this busy time.

Summer also brings the thought of fire, when I hear dry lightning storms I worry, when I read there is to be controlled burn offs by the Government I worry more. I prepare for fire now, after having had 2 in the last 4 years. I listen and act, everything is in place, this year though there will only be a plan for 3 dogs instead of 4 with Pete safely at rest, it has taken some of the stress off me. All fire fighting equipment is checked and at the ready something no one wants to do but is necessary in a country where fire is one of the greatest dangers in national parks and on properties.

No fires for us this year, we keep hoping for summer rain and look to the skies when it gets dark and cloudy. With 9 Fridays left till Christmas it’s time to prepare and get ready for the celebrations with family and friends.

before and after shearing

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.


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.