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 robynverrall@bigpond.com

The Ripple Effect

Thank you all for the lovely words following Pete’s passing, it has been an emotional time for many from what I’m being told. He like many family pets are that FAMILY pets.  They come into our lives and we don’t think of life without them till they go, much like people really. I have slept through 2 nights now for the first time in nearly 3 years, as much as I loved him it was difficult cleaning up poop, lifting him off floors (as he found his arthritis difficult to get up) racing home to get him out of the heat, the cold, the wind, the rain. monitor his foods he ate twice a day due to his thyroxine medication. But I still look to the door in the kitchen and expect to see him lying there, I suppose that will take a while to go.

I have had lovely friends and family tell me they shed some tears, when you have things and people you love in your life it is real grief when they go. Don’t feel sad for me celebrate the fact he had a fantastic life, he travelled, he had sleep overs, he slept alone, inside, outside and anywhere he liked. He ran, swam and walked, he had companions in cats and other dogs, he knew the ocean, he loved the beach and he knew the country and he loved the dam and riding on the back of a Ute.

The ripple effect of having such an animal is the friends and family that took ownership of him and cared for him when I travelled and made him part of their lives. It is like the pebble or drop in the water, it seems like a drop but the ripples grow bigger and encompass many. Pete did that, talking about Pete did that his life did that. Now without him physically here my life can grow again, I can look forward to spending more than 1 night away from the farm without worry or the both of us racing back to ensure he is ok. I can now take up walking outside again, I stopped as he would follow and with his age his hips either collapsed or he lost me. There are many things I can do but the biggest he taught me was that I can love and though there is no rushing out getting another 16 year commitment, I have time for the 3 dogs & 4 cats we have here.

 

Friday

Rain, from our front door 7th Jan

Rain, from our front door 7th Jan

Isn’t that a great word. it means the day following Thursday and before Saturday, which heralds the arrival of the weekend. For many time to rest, play sport, recover from the working week, or work weekend shifts and get better penalty rates or a day to plan a date, party or night out.

Fridays before a long weekend are normally busy ones for people, who plan trips away and for those parents preparing their children for school and especially important for those parents getting ready to send their children off to boarding school.  It’s that for many a country parent this weekend. time to cherish, spend moments together as families knowing that the house dynamics and the relationship with boarding children is about to change forever.

Sending ones child away would be difficult, I didn’t have to make the choice and I am so glad about that. But I know of families that did and struggled with goodbyes each and every time. These families will work to school calendars, exeat weekends and spending as much time planning for those as they do saying goodbyes.

Fridays don’t mean much to graziers though, as they still have stock to look after regardless of the days of the week. It is a laborious task for many. Picking weekends where you can escape is difficult and can only be done last minute (in case water troughs are empty, cows are calving, fire season and and and.) it makes planning difficult and I am a planner so sometimes it’s hard to say you can attend as you know you may not be able to and so I now decline and hope if I ever do turn up unexpectedly people would be happy to see me.

We are going into the January Long weekend and are awaiting the arrival of one of my brothers, one of his sons and three of his mates. They have a project in mind and I shall be putting them on the bus back to their parents on Sunday night, This will get them home in time to enjoy the Monday and then get ready for school either Wednesday or Thursday (depending whether or not it is private education or public). We are both looking forward to their arrival, though I suspect the cat’s won’t be, they are only used to our company and go running when they hear strange voices (stupid things). They’ll cope.

I hope whatever you are ding this weekend you enjoy it with family, share it with friends and I hope any plans you have made work out. For those wanting to know what face they have for a Friday’s born child here is the poem.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath day,
Is lucky and happy and good and gay

 

Today is brought to you by the letter X

It beginning to look a lot like Xmas isn’t it? It is coming up to a hot summer in Australia and as much as I dislike excessive heat, especially our 40+ degree Celsius or 104+ Fahrenheit. The land is needing a drink (so early in the season) and I have gotten as far as getting the tree up, discovering the lights don’t work and have come to a dead stop (with the tree)

However, I have managed to get to Adelaide shop, wrap gifts, and now have boxed them to go to the post office tomorrow to get them sent to nieces and nephews in different states in Australia. It has installed the Xmas spirit back into me and I am determined to get the tree finished today so that I can feel like its Christmas.

Its been a struggle to get to this point so far, many things have stepped in and taken over, there’s always the farm, study, work, worry about family and friends and life seems to be getting busier and a little bit harder. The cost of living is taking it’s toll on everyone and this year with rainfall being lower this year than last farming is becoming a bit harder as we become a little bit older.

I love the ceremony of Christmas, the tree, the presents, spending time with family and friends and being able to take time off the farm as limited as it is. I loved the Christmas Pageant in Adelaide and took nieces and nephews to it when my daughter was too old to go. I miss the pageant as we no longer even get it on TV as we live rural and apparently it is now with a commercial TV station so it can’t be seen outside CDB. The pageant is the time Father Christmas comes to town and it rings in the yule tide season, I normally wait in putting the tree up so that family birthdays are celebrated without the interference of Christmas. It is something I still do despite the fact we don’t live in the same house together anymore.

I have also delayed this practice this year as I have struggled to find Xmas cheer, I don’t know why but I have. But I am determined to do it today as yesterday a dear friends Aunty (whom I have met) was killed by a hit run driver, the police have since found the driver and charged him, a small comfort to the grieving family. I send all my love to all those involved, to be filled with sorrow at this time of year must be difficult.

But it is time to celebrate life and it’s offerings, as we never know when it will change and we miss the things we can do now, rather than delay.

I hope that you all have a great Xmas and a happy and safe new year, may 2015 bring everything one needs to be happy, healthy and content. This is a precious decoration that my daughter made in reception and annually it gets dragged out and placed on the tree. We had lots of fun making it along with her reception class (aged 5 yrs)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Today is brought to you by the letter D part 1

It is something in the country many of us are aware of, we can look at each other and know that D applies to all of us. There is no escaping it, we have to interact on a daily basis and we know those coming to see us are partakers of this. Driving is one of the biggest time wasters country people have to participate in. I can hear the sales reps who work on the road howling their protests and the great truckies of Australia, but that is their jobs and they get paid for it.

Farmers cover kilometres just driving around the farm checking on things. they have to check fences if they have livestock. They have to check troughs, waters and dams, they have to check the stock that live in the paddocks, that drink the water out of the troughs and they need to drive to do this. I currently have a husband who is wearing out trouser belt tabs from his pants as he is forever hitching them up as he gets in and out of the ute. Even the classical mens shed is not attached to his house or ‘in the back garden’ it is normally close on 200 mtres from the house, the place where they go to ‘fix things, check things, get tools from and plan their day.

Women get to drive everywhere as well, if you work off farm then you are travelling, I have clocked myself some weeks and I have done over 1000 kms in a week. It is such a tiring waste of time that it is boring. I have travelled many times just to see family and friends, you can not do business from the ‘farmgate’ that is a complete myth, one has to travel for this.

As farmers if you require service people they charge you the driving fee and though we only live 50km out of town there is always a travelling fee, it is as if they are travelling into Adelaide, it is offensive most of the times we receive it. We can not charge them for return of goods, we can not charge them for the inconvenience of them not doing their job properly in the first place require them to come out numerous times nor if we have to take the machinery or parts back into them and when questioned they get offended.

Living in the country is kilometres and kilometres of driving whether it is on the property or off the property and it’s boring. I waste large amounts of my life driving but sadly if I don’t do the trips very few opportunities or people come our way.

 

The Resolution Dilema

Now is the time isn’t it to look at your year in review and to see if you have done and achieved those things you set out to do? Did you set a New Years Resolutions and keep them? I didn’t … meaning I didn’t do either, I didn’t make new years resolutions so therefore I did not break any nor kept any. This doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me (in my opinion) smart.. I do not set myself up to fail (well that’s what I tell myself anyway)

Let’s start with “I’m NEVER Drinking AGAIN” I bet this is the catch cry of the morning for those that have been out had a wild night to add to the many you have had during the year, I bet you do. I know I do, not that I have had such a big night on the turps that I have not had reason to say this for years. The older one gets the harder it is to ‘back-up’ to function properly the next day and worse still to not feel like shite for a couple of days afterwards. I have spent the last couple of years moderating my drinking from not drinking bourbon anymore (at all) to mixing white wine with lemonade and stopping myself from drinking the last drop. I come from a “long line of alcoholics” and it is something I do not wish to become. I am one of those people who find it hard to have just ‘one drink’ so if I am driving I don’t have one at all.  Some people do not get along with alcohol at ALL, they become loud, aggressive, boorish and mean.. being funny when drunk is a short burst of time and can clear a party quicker than anything.

This is closely followed by, “I’m giving up smoking” lets face it if you are smoking in this day and age you need medical intervention to stop. We all know it causes cancer, there is no if, buts or maybe’s. People who smoke always defend their behavior and on New Years Day will put the ciggy’s away  (normally because they feel terrible from the amount they smoked the night before) and pick them up citing the excuses, “the kids/dogs/cats/parents/sun/moon/universe made me do it”. It has been over 18 years since I gave up this terrible habit and do not miss it at all. For women over a certain age smoking (30) you are giving your face terrible wrinkles, as it ‘suckers’ your face in every-time you draw in the smoke, for men it can actually cause impotence, cuts off blood circulation due to long-term use.

Here’s a classic “I’m going to lose weight” ah yea good luck with this, it is a really hard journey. Losing weight requires enormous willpower, in this multi billion dollar industry you can, body trim, weight watch, be Lite & Easy, fat blast, invite Jenny Craig into your home and have total well being by following calorie counts and or weigh, measure, scoop, get home delivered meals or eat protein bars and meal replace! I love food, I love the variety that is available to us and to be honest, dieting is about not putting so much in your mouth than is necessary and using up energy in the form of exercise to burn off what you are eating. The best most of us do is become Bridget Jones, where you don’t lose but you do not put on, I am good at maintaining my current weight. What people should work on is waist size to get it under the ‘here comes diabetes measurements’

Speaking of exercise ‘I’m going to become fitter” this is easy, it involves walking, riding, roller skating, skate boarding or roller blade (only some pursuits I have followed) everyday. You need to walk a minimum of 30minutes a day for good heart help, yea but what if it’s 40 bloody degrees? going out in it will give you heat stroke or just a stroke in general, so I stay inside. What happens when it rains? is cold? is in minus degree? well-being under the doona is a much better option, isn’t it? You could become a weekend warrior, you know these people they only exercise on weekends and ruin the daily exerciser route or area by dawdling along. All those joggers get a bit miffed when they have to run around you don’t they?

Speaking of running “I planning on doing a marathon this year” no? really? Guess what I’m not, I think. I know of many people who love to run marathons but I’m not one of them, I am happy doing my 3kms a day jogging on the treadmill, I walk 6kms in total and at the rate I am doing it would take me over 8hours to finish one. I am WAY too busy to do a marathon at that pace. Some days I feel I have done one, I am sure there are people out there who do this as well, parents running around after children, partners, at work, at home, just getting through some days is like a marathon.

I am going to be “debt free” this is a good one to work towards and will be helped if the credit card has not been abused to its last dollar during Christmas spending and if you only have a couple. Work out a budget be that weekly, monthly depending upon your debts and pay then try and stick with it.

I want to see my “family more”, well actually I do, living away from them sometimes makes it really hard and as the internet services to rural SA are SO BAD we can’t even Skype.  Many parents and children who live away from home for study or work too many hours or are away for other reasons this will involve more travel, cutting work hours and generally making time for the things you feel you miss out on.

What ever your resolution is, there is no magic solution to what you chose to do and what you chose to stick with. Good Luck!! I have not made any again this year as I figure it’s easier just to do what I feel is right for me. Happy 2014 may you all have a great year regardless.

The Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before christmas and all through the farm-house, every creature was stirring even the mice

The tinsel is wrapped around chimneys with care, to prevent anyone creating a fire in there

The kelpi’s are nestled snug in their beds, while visions of cattle & sheep dance in their heads. The retrievers inside along with the cats all settling in for a hot summers night nap.

When out on the lawn there is the ewe, with baby lamb trampling through               Looking for a feed or a blade of green grass , with the farmer hoping summer will soon pass. There is a cloud less sky with stars all ablaze, the cattle are mooing all looking to graze.

We hear the crickets and the croaking of frogs as we have the pumps going to fill all the troughs. This is a sunburnt country with hot summer days, which we want our animals to get through it seems a long way a ways.

There are presents under the tree for the long trip away, we shall make the journey to family to spend Christmas day.

It takes us a while to prepare to leave, there are animals to check and all the dogs to feed.    The chooks need to be checked and the tomatoes watered, gates to shut before heading off to see daughter.

Car to be refueled all for the trip to town, once we get there it’s almost time to turn around.

Quality time we will spend as it’s not going to be too hot, but we can’t stay long so we always pack in a lot. We love to see family & friends, spending time comes quickly to an end.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope to catch up with more of you in 2014

Robyn

xxxxxx