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

Interesting aspects of life

Since I married a grazier or farmer as some would like to say, never in my life had I been interested in silence. I know, one would think this would be the weather, the scenery, the animals or the paddocks but I have decided it’s silence. We all drive in Australia our land is vast and spacious, so getting around can require long ‘road trips’ for me getting to the city and back is a 6 hour trip, I have done this on many occasions in one day, there is no option to fly, no airfield and no private plane is parked at my house nor in the town. Keith does have an airstrip which lands the RFDS, and other flying machines but there is no commercial service available.

I travel and note the scenery and changes to it with the seasons, the land is dry and the paddocks and hills are still brown considering we are now in the middle month of Autumn. I love the greenery of the Adelaide Hills it always reminds me of winter – my favourite season. It is a time when my grazier husband can relax, there is food around, there is water and the dams fill. we can have fire which provides warmth and comfort on those cold winters night.

I come to Adelaide a lot, not as much as I would like but a lot more than him, and it is here I realize that I miss it. The silence at night, the calls of animals the sounds of wind, rain, leaves rustling, stillness, roosters and dogs barking, it is a comforting silence. It is the noise of the land that allows you to lie in bed awake in the dark in peace. To really feel the soul of the earth is to hear the sounds of silence. We do get the occasional noise of a truck or car but this is rare and it is not a constant drone that seems to descend upon the city.

The sounds of the night I can hear are cats jumping on fences, cars constantly moving, droning through the night like they are looking for something. The noise level is defined by the size of the vehicle, trucks and cars make very different patterns on the road surfaces and keep coming in succession. Where is the sound of nothing? even after the vehicle has passed you can hear the next one coming, there is no rustling of leaves, no silence of the land as it rests ready to be woken at dawn.

The city is always awake the land never appears to rest, it is always assisting. I enjoy the city, it is alive but so too is the country, both offer many things, lifestyles, life choices and for me both are vital to my happiness and future growth. Living where I do is special and we try to leave the land value added rather than take away it’s value. Having the luxury of a welcoming bed at my daughters or parents place or hotel gives me the best of both world, though I now find I do sleep much better in the country.

Holiday in Bali? no thanks

I have recently read that 1 Australian a week dies in Bali, that is an astounding figure so of those that get reported say 1 in 10 there are 10 more that go unrecognized by the media but not by their families. We read and hear about methanol being put in drinks, this is not a one-off but a CONSTANT story we are hearing, yet people flock there and drink the cocktails that will kill them. I cannot understand why the authorities are not doing anything about this long-established practice, I really can’t.

The other thing that amazes me is also the amount of people who travel there without INSURANCE, what is that? an extra $150 to save your family from having to sell their house, cash in their superannuation or worse still get money of all of their friends in the guise of fundraising? This amount is about $150,000, surely if you are travelling overseas insurance should be compulsory, I don’t whether people take the risk if they travel to America, it is well reported the medical costs are enormous, even repatriating a body back can cost more than people’s houses.

It is well reported that tourism is the life blood of Bali, yet there seems to be countless horror stories about ‘holidays’ and there never seems to be a solution. I have also read countless stories of raw sewerage in rooms, dirty sheets (others have slept in) and poor conditions in total, yet people flock there. It is ‘cheap’, ‘fun’ you can drink lots, have your hair braided and buy countless counterfeit goods, DVD’s and jewellery. Wow, doesn’t that sound enticing.

I myself prefer to travel within Australia, you don’t need insurance, good health care is the rule not the exception, and you can have fun, drink and see some even more beautiful scenery than overseas. Darwin has mindil beach markets, it’s free, multi cultural and you can sit and watch a fabulous sunset. Sydney has the Bridge & Opera house where you can walk across it, walk around it all the while watching the boats and life in the Harbor, these activities are also free. Melbourne has Federation square, MCG and many more icons in close proximity, no one charges you here either. WA has the swan river, Margaret River region and they are all beautiful, Tasmania has Salamanca markets in Hobart and much more, Adelaide has the City River precinct or Glenelg Beach and a world renown wine region that are easily accessible and free to sit and enjoy the scenery. Queensland also offers many an exciting area to go and enjoy

Each state has its own nightlife and fun is what you make, when you are anywhere, people make fun, not places. Bali is not on my bucket list and I love travel in all states and territories in Australia. Keep our dollars here, we too have the impoverished, homeless and industries that need supporting. Shop home first, you may pay a little bit more to get there and every place has it’s cultural and food precincts that need to be tested and enjoyed. Holiday at home, not as prestigious as saying I was overseas but value for money never the less.

the budget & me

Well here it is, the budget for 2012, no matter what your political leanings are, it is hard to believe that by upping your limit on your credit card and taking money from other areas will bring ‘savings’. In my household it does not work like this. I have been a budget freak for years, with one income and child in private school I had to account for every dollar and sometimes I did not do this well but other times I did.

What I didn’t account for ever was not having a job and this has become now a task, a full-time career, trying to make money or get gainful employment when there is limited opportunities in the country. I look at these people in politics and think no matter what they have great super, a great pension and really will not ‘suffer’ the same fate as the ordinary person. Going into Aged Care facilities now requires a down payment of $300,000 so if you or your parents do not own a home – where is this money to come from?

The budget may be the talk of the day but it does not stop the bills coming in, food to be purchased, mortgage to pay or rent depending upon your circumstances. Without an income how does one look at their day and move through it? It simply is hard and I think I can say most governments do not see this or if they do, they forget whilst the average person pays all their taxes (as do politicians) they do not have the luxury of having no car expenses, Rego and petrol, these people get driven everywhere, being able to transport oneself at the expense of others is a savings on its own.

The budget does not mean much to most people as everyone knows you need to work to pay bills, no work, no money and no budget by this Government will fix unemployment or create work where there is none. I consider myself lucky in that I have a roof over my head, food and family that I love. The budget will affect many people in all areas, DH read out to me this morning that overseas they pay a $4 carbon tax so how can we ‘Australia’ be looking to pay $20? I have no answers for him, I don’t get it either.

Farm life & work

It’s Tuesday again and I am tired, I made a really nice Thai BBQ Chicken and dipping sauce last night as there is no white wine in the house, I choose to drink a couple of glasses of red. To end the night I had a couple of glasses of water and went off to bed. I was woken up at 245am with the worst case of indigestion I have ever had. I got up and searched the house for some anti-acids to abate the rising acid and chose to climb back into bed. I couldn’t lie down so I sat and watched the TV. At 0600 this morning it settled and I took a couple of Panadol and lay back down to sleep. DH choose to get up and get ready for his days work.

He comes in at 720am wakes me and says can you come and help now, to which this made me really grumpy. I had to drive the tractor a couple of kilometres to where he needed it. This isn’t hard I can operate most of the machinery on the farm, I think it’s important in case of emergency that you can pull a car or vehicle out of trouble with a tractor, and I drive it when we plant trees. DH is a kind man, he doesn’t kill things for the sake of it, he does not shoot kangaroos or emus for the sport, his philosophy is live and let live, “they don’t really eat enough to destroy a crop or take food from the farm animals” so we let them go. He believes we/they are all God’s creatures and deserve to be left alone if they are not dangerous. He shoots animals if they are suffering,injured or maimed.

This morning I had to witnessed one of these shootings, one of our bulls was ‘bashed’ by three other bulls and choose to sit under a tree, DH thought they had broken its leg. He took it food and water for the last couple of weeks hoping it would get better. It did not, it began to lose weight so he did the kind thing and assisted it. This is really confronting for me, I don’t like guns never alone being present when something is shot. I took the tractor in case the animal needed to be moved but he was still sitting where DH found him a couple of weeks ago. This was all before 0830am so it is very tiresome, it is a long day ahead.

is there really ‘fun’ in fundraising

I was at a function this week for thelongwalkhome2012

check out this blog and follow and donate to her she is an amazing young lady who is walking the Simpson desert to raise funds for the RFDS and I am proud to say she is also my cousin. But after all of the work I have been doing for the Keith Hospital in the ‘fun’draising capacity, I drove from Keith after work to attend this function at Glenelg, stayed with my daughter and then got up at 430am to drive back to Keith to work.

For those attending a ‘fun’draiser they go knowing they have to pull out their wallets and bid, play games, toss coins, participate in auctions, donate goods, products such as key rings, stubby holders to purchase and this is after you have paid to get in. This is not a go at the process this is to highlight how the process works. There is food to consume, drinks to swallow, meeting people who come from everywhere to support the cause. There are speeches to go through  and stories to hear. Most times inspiring, poignant, sad, happy and people want to hear them. It makes one feel attached to the cause, understand the motives as to why funds are needed. Once we know this many are happy to spend, we do then go home and forget it. I have found many are happy to attend and those that are not won’t come, for many and varied reasons.

Jenna Brook is attempting to walk the Simpson to raise funds for the RFDS and when she started she wanted to do it for nothing. Then her family told her to do it for a cause. In raising funds what people don’t see is the people or person behind the scenes that do the do. They are the ones who ensure the ‘fun’ is in ‘fun’draiser. They chase people, write letters, take the flack if it doesn’t work out. They make the calls no one else wants to do and most importantly they ask for money. This is a really specialised skill and one which many people can’t do. I have been in sales for many years and I have been able to do this, I have people in my own business who are shocked when I ask them to pay me before I let them out of my shop. But when ‘fun’draising I have no fear or shame as the money is not being gleaned for personal use it is for the ’cause’.

Good luck to Jenna and all the others who today are out doing things for other people. We are an amazing race, where we try to help others, I watched Dick Smith this morning and he should be held up as a national treasure instead he is treated with disdain as he offends the government with his push to support our dying industries and as a philanthropist he is probably unmatched in Australia, if there is somebody else greater please let me know. Oh and by the way the next time you are asked to a fundraiser – having seat warmers is good for the figures, you don’t really have to buy any of the additional extras.