Country Living

Life on the farm can be very satisfying if you live in the country as you get to become multi-skilled and multi adaptable. There are many circumstances where you need to be able to problem solve, there are so many aspects to farming life that are so rewarding and there are so many that are not.

I came onto the farm about 11 years wide-eyed and impressed by my now husband and the work that he has done and continues to do. The work was overwhelming, the animals were beautiful and frightening, I had never been up close to cattle, and loving lamb (as a meal) I never knew how much work animals are to get them from the paddock to the plate.

I also never realized that being summer, winter, autumn and spring brought with them their own set of problems. As the partners of farmers one must get involved so that the burden of hard work does not always fall on the primary person (this could be male or female) I have learnt to drive tractors, use a front end loader, double d clutch on a truck, lamb mark, ear tag, weigh cattle feed out hay and numerous things in my life that I never dreamed I would even have to know, including fire fighting!!

I am the second pair of hands that assists when asked and when I can and also does the farm book work. We decided early on I should be able drive all of the machinery if for nothing else than if an accident occurs I should be able to grab something that may get someone (including myself) out of danger and or trouble. (pulling a bogged Ute for instance).

Whilst the rewards are good there is also negatives, animals need full-time people to care for them, to check them, to feed them, to move them be part of most aspects of their existence and this is the tie that binds people to farming properties. Getting away normally means 24 hours at the most together and if you plan a holiday it can require you to hire staff in to do the daily running of things, this brings its own problems. Most women I know in the country with children take the children away and their partners / husbands join them on and off for that period. The last time we have time away together and our second holiday together was 2009, we have done the odd night here or there but never more than 2.

Living on a farm also means one discusses retirement plans early on in the picture for the following reason. It’s all hard work

THE PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FARMERS

Farmers were more likely to be male – 139,500 or 72% of all farmers were male, compared to 55% of all employed persons in 2010-11.

The age profile of farmers differs from that of all employed persons. In 2010-11, the median age of farmers was 53, compared to 39 for all employed persons. Seven out of ten (71%) farmers were 45 or over compared to four out of ten (39%) employed persons. The largest differences in the age distribution were apparent in the younger and older age groups. While 23% of farmers were aged 65 and over, only 3% of all employed persons were in this age group (graph S8.2). Conversely, only 2% of farmers were aged between 15 and 24, while 17% of all employed persons were in this age group. In 2010-11, farmers comprised a significant proportion of older workers – 14% of all employed persons aged 65 years and over. However, they made up a smaller proportion of younger workers – less than 1% of all employed persons aged between 15 and 34.

Fire

Well we didn’t get lucky and escape these South Australian bushfires, the one I have been concerned about for the last couple of days had a wind direction change and it came on to our property, Caloundra Station. Luckily for me, my husband a veteran CFS volunteer happened to be here as the fire truck that had called for him couldn’t wait the 20 minutes for him to travel from our property to the fire shed.

I was out watering the tomatoes (as you do) and preparing the property for another hot night when I noticed white flakes coming from the sky and appearing on the cat’s fur that had followed me up to the vegetable garden. Being a city girl I had to ask the question, “are we safe with ash raining down on us?” the fire was over 16km away at this stage. The answer was yes, but we had better check the Mount Rescue our Ngarkat boundary.

There is was, we could see the flames from a distance away but none the less we knew it was going to hit us. We weren’t as safe as we thought. Husband donned his CFS gear and headed to the fire whilst I got ready to leave, but then it all happened quickly. He called, I couldn’t leave as there wasn’t time for anyone to come and help so I also put on fire appropriate clothing (his old CFS uniform) boots etc and drove up to him. We then had to sit and wait with the fire fighter at the ready. We retreated back as the flames were a couple of stories high and not safe for anyone to enter into. My heart races, my mouth dries up and I know I shake – adrenaline fear.

We waited for it to jump the fence and start spot fires, and just as it was doing this the CFS fire truck turned up, you do not know how welcoming those red and blue flashing lights are. The people who are on them give you the thumbs up as they drive directly into the line of fire.

They are in uniform, gloves, boots, hard hats and safety masks – it was still over 35 degrees when this was happening. But it is safety first. It jumped and raced along faster than anything I have seen, the sky around us was very black and thick with smoke and you sit there dripping with sweat waiting to go in and help extinguish fires. I watched it race and heard it running into neighbours properties, as more and more fire trucks turned up.

Then we see the wild life, the kangaroos who happened to get out of fire, come racing towards us. They stop and rest, some don’t survive, some are singed and others just fleeing to safety away from the fire. They shall live on our property for days till the land cools and here there is water and some feed. My husband says he saw about 40 of them this morning all milling around watching and waiting. We are safe, no livestock lost, our neighbours are in the same boat, it’s fencing and trees.

Stay safe everyone, stay alert and thanks for everyone’s thoughts and good wishes, it’s trying times for all in the Upper South East of South Australia. Here is a picture of the fire jumping into our property at 2100 last night.

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