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.

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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.

One of THOSE days

I struggle living in the country, but I didn’t grow up here, I married to be living here. Most of the days are great but with drought brings a whole new load of challenges, ones that only those who live it can relate to and survive it.

It brings with it challenges one has never thought about, when we see dust storms in Adelaide or capital cities one never thinks about where the dust comes from do we? When we see them in places like Birdsville, the United Arab Emirates we know they come from the deserts. When we see one in Adelaide where does it come from? sadly it likely to be the top soil of a or many farmers paddocks. This is caused by lack of rain, soil erosion and lack of growth on the ground, so when the wind blows so too does the top layer.

When I drive around the country at the moment this is happening in most paddocks where there is no pivot or naturally occurring grasses that have grown over summer, contrary to the climate change people, it is not new it has been happening for as long as time itself. The ground is dry, brown and in need of a decent rainfall.

Why do they call it a dust storm when it really is a dirt storm? I have no idea but on the days when the dirt blows it unsettles the animals, farmer and the environment in which one lives. It can turn a rational outdoorsy farmer into a brooding inside man in an instant. Luckily these days are few and far between.

When it comes to achieving anything on one of these days it is next to impossible. We have satellite TV which can flicker in and out as the wind blows and rocks the dish. We also have satellite broadband which is slow and almost useless when the wind blows or if we have gone over our allowance, we will be shaped – which means slowed to a stop until the next billing cycle.

On the days when it’s like that farmers still have to go out and check stock, waters and find jobs. Mine is good at indoor things, identifying jobs, doing them and then pointing out he has done it.

We have been without an oven door for three or more weeks, one of the hinges broke, he went to fix it and I called the supplier and they offered to send a new door with new hinges attached. This was generous of them as I discovered my old oven door was in multiple pieces. It came the other day by post so the farmer went about putting it back on, he asked how I clean the metal wire components inside. I told him I do them in the laundry sink, saves on mess and I can leave them soak. The next thing I hear is the sound of an angle grinder going.

Unable to find steel wool to clean it, he went to the shed put the wire brush on the angle grinder and came in and did the oven wires racks. I walked past him in the laundry and didn’t say a word, I couldn’t. He also has ruined a toe nail from years ago when he dropped an engine on his toe (lucky it missed most of it or it would have amputated the toe) But it killed the nail bed so it grows up instead of out and when it’s too sore for his boots he grinds it down, I know,  there has been the occasion where he has taken skin off but I figure at 50 he’s a grown man and if he doesn’t want to see a podiatrist I can’t make him. If he amputates the toe, then he really only has himself to blame. They can think outside the square these farmers and have solutions one wouldn’t dream of.

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

Shearers and Farmers Agree

I want to thank you all for your words of encouragement and the positive words on the face book page and my blog. I think it is vital we all have a voice for our animals and our trades, there are very few farmers in Australia and the world that advocate cruelty to animals, in any way shape or form. Not to say that we are all perfect we are not, but deliberate attempts by organisations to show the rogues (there are those in every industry) the randomness of the trades, the bullies and those that need education all differ and high light the fact that we need to support even these people.

We can take stock and look back now at what PETA has done and thank them, we can thank them for the unity they have created amongst us all. We need to thank them for the fact that they have put our industry in the fore front of people’s minds to defend it. we can thank them for highlighting how ignorance and discrimination can create change for the better.

We are better off with them than without them and I mean that, for if they had not been so determined in their lies, fake lambs, vegan spokes person (nothing wrong with being a vegan – though to a meat eater it’s a different life style choice) and tried to con Australia into believing that the wool industry is full of horrific practices we would not be having the support of Australia and beyond. Groups such as PETA can do some much good, like expose puppy farms, – take photos of those cruel people who deliberately cage dogs for profit, close that sector down.

PETA we invite you to come to our farm next time we are shearing, I will actually pen a letter to them – an open letter and post it and wait for their response. I hope they do take me up on the offer, in fact I say why don’t we all do it, I am happy to write this and will share it with you. Lets get them to film us and our teams of workers and make them understand the frustration, the heat, the barking dogs and the work makes long days and frayed tempers but it doesn’t make shearing the skin off sheep and leaving them to die in agony as their picture depicts.

My friends at in NSW property Goongirwarrie sent me a picture of one of their Merino Rams being shorn – how hard does this look?

Shearing the Ram

Wool Industry and Australia

It’s funny (not funny really) that since the myth has been debunked about the treatment of our sheep and lambs during shearing, there has been no word or apology from PETA. I have started the facebook page, requested photos and pictures and I live the feedback it is getting, so much so I may even have to create a webpage. In the 5 days I have had it open there have been over 2000 likes, keep spreading the word.

What it shows us is there are an enormous amount of farmers, families and shearers who take so much pride in their work, the industry and each other it really is heartening to see. Keep those videos coming – I am more than happy to promote good high quality shearers and their work.To the shearers out there, send me your details or a picture of yourself – so that we can promote it through the page. It really is an industry unless you are in it, no one knows how tough it is, how respected most of you are by those that employ you, how frustrated we are that we can’t get you (you are all so busy) especially if the word of mouth says how good a team you are and how good your skills are. If you have a show coming up jump on the facebook page (click here and it will take you too it)  or email me and I’ll put up an events page where people can see where you’re doing displays or competitions get the public out there supporting us.

I know there are teams of you that travel overseas for demonstrations, come to country shows and have competitions and put hours into your craft. Shearing the wool off the sheeps back is exactly that, it provides an income for families, including your own, it provides the industry with high quality wool for national and International sale. It is used for many different purposes and mostly puts wool on bodies all over the world. The softness of wool and it’s usability is what we want to see.

Mr Barnaby Joyce MP said it best really so I have copied the you tube video for you to listen to. Whilst I don’t subscribe to name calling, it would be nice if someone from PETA would admit that the treatment of lambs during shearing does not produce the kind of image that they have displayed.

I have also received a spiel about a cottage industry (Australian) of course that uses aged sheep manure, bags it and people buy it to add liquid and it turns in to 100% natural fertilizer for their gardens. Not only do they produce wool but they have turned what could be years of poop under the shearing shed into a business. Their fund raising idea is fabulous, get on over to their website and have a look, promote it on your page and get the industry talking about all of the great things it does. They call themselves Baa Baa Brew, great name too.

Baa Baa Brew

Baa Baa Brew

For Peta’s Sake support the Industry and Buy Wool

For Peta’s sake buy Australian Wool and support the Industry

Most farmers I know have no issue with ethical treatment of animals they do it themselves. The farmers are out there day and night checking stock when they are ready to give birth, to assist cattle, ewes, horses well all animals under their care to birth without much complications as the rest of a terrible birth is the same as for with humans, things die and it’s awful. I myself have assisted in pulling a calf when required. So in most cases farmers are the true representation of Peta, without the scare tactics and money to photograph ‘famous people’ holding fake animals to prove a point.

The Shearing Contractors Association of Australia has acknowledge that poor treatment of animals is not tolerated nor is it endemic of their association. the footage that Peta run is from last year and they took that to the Association and it has been dealt with – each shed and Shearer has been notified and educated. That should have been the end of that, but no nearly 12 months on it become a topic to run in the media and to try to garnish a response, what did they want? do they want to shut the shearing industry like what happened with the Live Export ban? Do they want sheep to be left unshorn and suffer from this practice? or are they looking to up their membership base? One can only guess.

I am launching a campaign today and have written to many stores, wool producers and Associations asking for their support to assist the industry and get you all to buy a piece of Australian Wool, be that clothing to wear, like jackets, coats jumpers etc. or accessories to display i.e. scarfs and or Australian wool to knit with. If we don’t support the retailer, the whole industry will suffer, that is, farmers getting our of sheep, thus reducing the wool supply and putting our experienced shearers out of work. It is hard enough to get experienced teams to come and shear lets not erode the industry by supporting the fabricated campaign of Peta.

If you are a producer, or retailer or stockist of wool products and want to have a plug, please contact me of jump on my Facebook page or contact me direct I want it to be full of positive things about the industry and promote Australian Made. Here is a lamb being shorn, lifted onto an old tyre, for comfort and to ease the strain on shearers

Shearing sheep - no cuts here