Stepping in manure

I live in Australia, an island of unique properties and places with vast distances of space. Driving from one end of the country to the other is an adventure undertaken with bravery (I have never done it nor do I ever plan to). I remember the first time I visited Darwin and I sat on Mindil beach and thought about the fact I was on the complete opposite side of Australia to my home town beach at Seacliff Beach, South Australia and I knew then how small I was in the scheme of land mass.

I loved living near the beach, I walked the Pete daily for years, not the weekend warrior kind, the devoted owner winter and summer kind daily. There was hardly a time I missed unless I was away. Being the Golden Retriever he would swim summer or winter he wasn’t fussed and I had to start bathing him weekly as he would get that smell of wet damp dog hair that sometimes is mistaken for a boy’s room smell. But we did it and loved it.

Then I met the farmer and moved to the country to live on the land and as much as I have loved it I have developed a love / hate relationship with it. Pete also loved it here, he had freedom, other animals to be with and dams to swim in. My relationship with the beach is one of love, it is a place I find peaceful and calming and I miss it. It’s like having to answer the “favourite child question” the minute it’s asked it’s an automatic “I love you all the same ” response and I know it’s not. I feel more at home near water than I do on the land and at times like long hot summers it’s hard on everything here, the land, the soil and the animals.

Being on the land means 24/7 with your partner / husband and this is another special skill one must adapt to. Many woman know that what gets said in the cattle yards, sheep yards or pig yards stays there, they is not for the faint nor soft-hearted. But sometimes one must dumb oneself down to get the right answer before it becomes the issue.  Let the cattle out of the cattle yards is not such a simple request as I found out today. I take the ute out to the cattle yards and there is 5 lots of them locked up in different pens, be careful as the gate may be electrified, only to be discovered it was live upon touching it that it as I got a shock. I noticed the cattle have turned on the tap and the water is lapping over the gate and electricity which is making it ‘live’. I took my shirt off so I could unlatch the gate without further shocks to myself, I have no clue how much shock the cattle would have felt staring at me in my bra and jeans but the tap needed to be turned off and this gate open so the cattle could go into this paddock out of the cattle yards. Once done I could let the cattle out, then realising they were in separate pens I knew I had to look for the farmer to ask the dumb question, do I let them all out or only some of them? A dumb question or smart one depending upon what they have been put in their for. I track him down 15 kms away and ask, sometimes it’s better than the alternative, letting them out and getting sworn at for not just ‘letting the cattle out of the yards’ confusing isn’t it? They were to all be let out, back I go and walk through them to do this, one panics and jumps over the 4 foot gate to get away from me, ‘good riddance I say. I walk back to shut one of the sets of gates and as I’m doing so I happen to tread in a pile of manure in my sandals, nothing like the slippery feel of fresh manure as it flows onto your foot.

My sandal is outside washed under the hose, my foot has been scrubbed of any evidence of said manure and the cattle all ran out of the yards without a look back to see if I was still there. It started this morning with a suggestion of a cooler rainy day and has ended hot and windy. Mandy the retired kelpi – lives on my office floor now and decided today was the day she tore up Pete’s old quilt to make it comfortable for her body and I let her. He has been gone 7 months I still look for him and now I see the same look of love and devotion staring back through Mandy’s eye’s and it lifts my mood.

I see the towels waving to me from the washing line, flapping in the sun and spinning round and round in the wind and I know they are not going to take themselves off the line. The chooks are off and pecking at my sandal near the tap, that’s the last time, I don’t put my boots on to go about the farm.



back into it

It’s been an interesting start to the year so far, no the drought hasn’t broken and we are still feeding cattle hay which becomes as repetitive as anybody else’s work, except it comes with lots of noise. Cattle make noises and follow ‘the Ute and farmer around. It is still dusty and the paddocks show little growth despite the face we did get a good rain in January – our first since August / September 2014. No we are not talking climate change the 50 + years of records here show that it all averages out, we are having a moment with no rain.

We have felt the sorrow of a dear friend’s passing after a fantastic fight with breast cancer for 14 years and deeply admire Andrew (her husband) and Alex (her daughter) going into year 12 without their partner in life and mother. It is hard to imagine how much they have to change to adapt to a life without someone they love.

As I type this I hear the sound of the Ute and hay trailer pull up out the front of the house and wonder if it is my turn to get off the computer and assist. I think I am a token helper, and he likes my company. I get to cut and pull the strings off the bales, change seats and drive through the cattle in low range approx 5km’s an hour whilst he jumps onto the trailer and pushes the bales off so that the cattle are spread out and eat. I have to drive through the mob approx 300 and make sure i don’t hit them with the Ute as I go. I can however (if need be) drive the tractor and pick up the bales and load the hay on to the trailer and could it without him if there was ever a reason to, I was fully prepared to with our fire a couple of years ago, but he came home after 24 hours and as it was loaded went and did it before he slept.

We have also lost my beautiful mate Pete (Golden Retriever) in the last couple of weeks after 16 years and that i did find difficult when i first went into my office. He has really slept on the floor of my offices for the time that I had him and instantaneously I saw a clean floor (I know it’s a surprise to me) and missed his face looking up at me as I passed burst into tears and struggled all day with it. I am fine now, I really am.

I have also done a closing down sale’ with a dear friend in our rural community, I had stock from my first venture into retail in a country town in boxes and she could see that her kids clothing store was not paying its way we decided to have a joint sale. This went well despite the emotional upheaval this brought (not for me but for my lovely friend Lana), I have very few items left and it even made me have to do something about my pandahats.

Faux Fur pandahat

Faux Fur pandahat

plush fur

Plush Fur Pandahat

Those of you that know, realise I have a storage container of them (I am not going into the story of why I have them that’s now boring) so whilst Lana was busy with sales I was busy writing to children’s hospitals and associations to see if I could do a deal to be rid of them. No the Zoo is not an option I have been waiting for 4 years for them, they keeping coming back and saying they are interested but that is as far as it has got.

After struggling this year with lots of things I have now decided I need to ‘toughen up princess” I have had a positive response for my pandahats, watch out for world animal day and a teddy bears picnic in Adelaide over the coming months. Thanks to the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation and also to the Tutti foundation, I hope you make lots of children smile and money from them.

Now that these things have passed it is time to concentrate on many new things, I have also managed a 6km brisk walk today for the first time since my partial rupture of my Achilles in May of 2014. didn’t make it in under an hour, but made it I did. Have a great sunday everyone and guess what I have a wedding anniversary on 10th march, 8 years I find this amazing as I never thought I would actually ever get married. It’s a 3rd on the podium (bronze) only 17 to go to get to second place.. Copperart anyone?



Good byes

Well here it is then, it’s time and sadly after 16 years & 6 months our beloved Pete (the Golden retriever) passed away yesterday. What a sad day for us, not for him he was at peace when he passed, in fact we got a last wag of his tail. What does one say when they have lost a large part of their lives, nothing as my daughter said we can celebrate the fact he was the “best dog ever” and he was. He always greeted us with a smile, a wag, got up and licked hands, when younger he use to run around in circles in excitement when he met people he loved, as he grew old and lost hearing and some sight he would go and sniff then lick.

I am grateful for the time we had him, he was loyal, faithful and loving. When younger he use to sleep on my feet, he would come and lean against people’s legs that he liked when he was in his middle years and in his older years he would lay on the floor where ever I was and sleep, his presence was comforting and I never felt alone.

He loved the beach, the dam, the shower, the rain as do all goldies in summer the first time the farmer shaved him he ran to the dam and washed the years of thick fur off him and then we noticed he started to get freckles from being in the sun. I use to smear him with sunburn cream as his skin was so white.

I remember when I lived in the city before meeting and marrying the farmer I walked him everyday on Brighton beach, he swam everyday, winter and summer. Once on a winters day when the whites of the waves were crashing into the sand he ran out into the water and body surfed it back in, he was surrounded by white tops and small young boy with his dad yelled out “look Daddy it’s a polar bear”. Out Pete came and shook all that water all over that little boy, licked his face and ran back in. Luckily his father laughed and said it was a golden retriever. I remember when he swam out to the dolphin that comes into Brighton in summer and people yelling at me to get him out as he would eat the dolphin, all I was worried about was the fact that he would follow it and I would not be able to get him back, much like the two goldens that swam after one and they had to get the rescue boat out to get them off Marino beach, they were nearly 2 kms off shore when they pulled them in. Seeing those two dogs on really long ropes after that was funny. Pete never hurt the dolphin, in-fact they swam together (before mobiles had cameras)

Pete moved to the farm with renewed vigor, he had dogs for company, cattle to bark at and sheep to stare at him and the dam. He was leader of the posse. We secure all dogs on backs of Utes and he would be in the middle, in winter the other dogs would huddle close for warmth and in summer lay in his shadow for shade. He loved it, even when he broke his paw and had to be relocated back to the city for 12 weeks following putting 3 pins in his paw he was thrilled to come back to the farm. (it was the cost of a small car to fix that paw)

He ran and ran until he stopped, well actually we think he went under a gate to get to the dam and tore his cruciate ligament, so he was again limping. We took him to a knee vet who said then, we could do surgery but he’s an old dog and it would heal on it own (he was 10) and he probably wouldn’t live that much longer. Ha, he proved that vet wrong, he went on for more years to come.

He has had arthritis over the last few years and found it hard to sit quickly, stand quickly and get out of his own way (hence the pooping without notice – can I say I won’t miss that). He has not coped well with 40 degree days and a few times over the last couple of years we have watched with worry. From the hot weekend past where we were without power for over 14 hours we all suffered and he woke on Monday not well. As sad as it was to say goodbye, we did.

I wanted to put a picture of him taken the day before but looked at it and saw how unwell he was, so I got one from Jan 2nd and have shared that. I shall miss everything about him, he came into my life rescued by a dear friend and became all I needed, Amy & I loved him unconditionally and he loved us back. I will miss driving up and watching him lift his head as he knew the sound of my car, I will miss going to the door and letting him in and out up to 6 times per night despite being asked by the farmer “does he really have to come in?” “um yes he does” I will miss trying to walk around him whilst preparing a meal as he waited for a lucky drop (which he ALWAYS got).

Even the last year when we have watched him age, my husband said “pat him as much as you can as after they go, they are gone” I did that frequently, every time I walked past him I would touch him either with my hand or my foot. I would sit on the floor with him sometimes and pat him like I did yesterday for about 3 hours. I would bend over and kiss his head and he would lift his face to me. I am glad I was there for him and I am sorry he has gone.

Good bye, farewell my friend, my pet , my companion, I already miss not bending down to pat you and feel your soft fur under my touch.

2 - 1 -2015

2 – 1 -2015


I think that is how I need to describe it, I have an allergy personality, I am allergic to many antibiotics, penicillin, erythromycin, cephalosporins, latex, banana and avocado and now I am going to add Shiraz to this list. I feel like I have been hit in the head with the bottle not consumed 1 glass of it. Truly it was only one glass, every time I drink it I get the biggest headache like I feel I have been hit with the bottle.

Today is one of those days, up at 430am to clean up after Pete (the dog) who had an adventure of his own last night. Drink large glass of water and go back to sleep, wake up at 530am with the biggest headache, throw down some paracetamol more water and complain loudly to farmer of my headache. Then back to sleep till after 8am, Pete is still asleep on his mattress on the floor.

I’ve had to take phone calls and pay bills, so much so early. I have ventured to having a cup of coffee, something I don’t really drink a lot of these days, when I stopped smoking years ago, (approx. 20)  I gave up coffee as well. I hate the bad breath coffee gives you and the after taste is fairly ordinary as well, but I fell I need something to try to shift this stupid Shiraz induced headache.

Whilst I do enjoy it when I drink it, it was interrupted when we realized that Pete was gone an awfully long time, considering this week he has lost sight in one eye and hasn’t walked further than 5 metres from the house in years. As he is very old and frail (and blind) these days, and our house yard is dangerous in the dark, an empty clay pit / dam, tractors, machinery and farming stuff he could trip on fall over and well get lost in. We decided I should go and look for him in the car, so I drove around for approx. 5 minutes and decided I needed to head out on to the road and here in the car lights I see 5 sets of eyes.

I found him, he was having a late night stroll, all of the cats were around him bumping his face to turn him around and walking under his belly and chin getting him to move back towards the gate. He didn’t stop when he saw the lights but I pulled up next to him, got out and picked him up and put him on the back seat. Matilda the cat jumped in next to him and meowed loudly on the way home. (in fright) The other cats came running behind. The animal kingdoms is amazing how they look after their own.

I’m off now to take more Panadol and drink more water the coffee hasn’t helped. Crap



Life moves fast doesn’t it? taking the saying from Ferris Bueller’s day off and things change around us rapidly. Besides having to survive over 40 degree celsius heat with no electricity over the weekend. I have had lots of things change and some are permanent and others aren’t either way they have made me reflect and think about making changes to compensate.

I have had 3 friends battle significant health issues since December and sadly one of those friends we had to say good-bye to, the other two thankfully are still fighting on and inspiring many to change how they think and feel about their own health issues. I have had a male friend start to identify his weight as a problem and he is bravely and weekly putting this out on Facebook and from my recollection he is now approx. 25kg’s lighter and looking to lose another 20 or so more. He is inspiring others and I have told him he should blog about it as a male he would not be alone, but as a male they commonly don’t share this type of struggle never alone post the weighing scales weekly – what an amazing bloke, he makes me stop at the fridge door and ask myself why am I eating? Weight is something we all have a battle with mostly don’t we?

I have another friend who has had an episode of gout and referred back to the battle of one of our other friends saying it’s nothing compare to what she is going through. I did agree but it all becomes relative doesn’t it? But it was lovely to read and see that people wish to share, these are men and women from my high school days and it makes me feel part of their lives following our 1st reunion over 12 years ago. Facebook is great for this type of thing.

I look around me and see our farm and see how hard we are working in this drought and I know others are doing it tough, the business I opened in December is now virtually non-existent, it is 4 days per month, I had such big plans but living in a rural community where people spend money on food for stock rather than themselves I now need to wait it out till we get a break, it is distressing.

I also woke this week following horrific heat wave over 3 days to see that the beautiful Pete, my nearly 17-year-old Golden Retriever’s smoky eye has whitened up and he is having problems seeing. I have started eye drop treatment and hopefully it will help him either get better or retain the sight in his good eye. I don’t want him to suffer any pain, so I am lucky to be able to get medical advice over the phone and by text. I know that he will not live forever and I will be sad when he goes, but as I said to dear daughter, he can still find his water and food bowls. He needs a little bit more intensive care than previously.

This year has started with challenges and I hope doesn’t end with them, I love winter and am looking forward to cooler weather, happier news and great times with friends.



Animals and Ageing

I have for the last 12 months struggled between guilt and love, I have a beautiful Golden Retriever named Pete, who for the past 16 or so years has and is a loyal, loving friend who has developed arthritis in his hips and has taken to not being able to stand or walk quickly and he poops where ever. The medical term is “walk, sit and drop syndrome”

I can tell when he is about to as the only indication is he lifts his tail, sometimes I can get him outside in time but others especially at night he doesn’t realize he has done it. The smell of dog pooh wafts up and we both know one of us has to get up and deal with it. Pete for all of his life has slept on a mattress on the floor of my bedroom, with the occasional stint on the bed and in his compound outside at the farm if we go away. We abandoned that as he aged as he doesn’t wander off the farm now he sleeps by the door on his mattress waiting for us.

Over winter he started to do this every night and as he has moved to sleeping by the door or next to my bed, off his mattress so it is me that gets up to deal with it. We can sometimes leave him out all day for over 14 hours and he will come in lie down and within an hour poop. Lately it has turned to 3 times per night and I have to admit I now can’t do it any longer.

I feel guilty at putting him outside as he walks around the house going to each door, front door, lounge doors, bedroom door, rear lounge where the cat flap is and to the laundry door and barks, He will even lay down on the grass and bark, I have gotten up from my office a couple of times as he won’t stop (his record is 1 hour) to ensure he is ok.

Even his friend Matilda the cat who use to sleep with him has found better, by better I mean cleaner digs to sleep in without the smell or the substance. He has on one occasion gotten her with his poop. Pete also has this week (2 nights) been disorientated and I have found him struggling to get off the treadmill, I have no idea how he got on it but I was on Friday at 130am thinking I was going to have to get a night light for him in the bathroom so he can get up drink and not get lost in the night.

I had a day and night with him yesterday and last night, I left him out all day whilst I cleaned the house, floors and carpets and cleaned up 4 “oopsies” as my husband says – all done outside but by the doors so flies and the smell waft in, I let in him at 930pm and I was up to him at 1am – cleaned up put him out, let him back in at 3am – cleaned up at 330am and then shunted him out at 530am, where he slept against the bedroom screen door and pooped, so I had to clean that up.

I have woken and decided I don’t want to do it any more, broken sleep, dog poop and feeling resentful towards him. At least outside it is still outside, not on the tiles or carpet. It is time for me to move him out, the weather is better and even if it was cold, we have bought him a lambs wool jacket that we put on him in winter and he has a fleecy lined bedding.

He is very much loved and wanted and I want to allow him to age gracefully and fully medicated (arthritis medication) I want to be able to go bed and not worry about dog poop, I know I will have guilt for a couple of days as he will bark, he will want to come in and be at my feet but I will spend time with him outside and I suspect tonight – going to be his first night out will be the hardest.

Pete on his day bed..

Pete on his day bed..

Pete & Matlida - she sleeps away from him but touching him when she can

Pete & Matlida – she sleeps away from him but touching him when she can



Happy Anniversay

It was an extremely hot day and a long weekend in March that we got married at the farm. It was a great party and we had people we love come and celebrate with us. I wore boots he wore sandals, mine were made in white leather by R M Williams specially fitted.

All my family were there expect youngest brother who was in England at the time, my daughter and twin sister my witnesses, my 3 nieces (I only had three at the time) did small speeches and then signed the papers leaning on a hay bale we were married. It thankfully cooled down during the evening and we were left to enjoy the evening.

As I say to people “he’s my first husband and I am his last wife”, I still enjoy his company and have adapted and changed to fit into the life of being a farmer’s wife. I do work but not full-time anymore and I live here with him rather than travel to and from the city. The worst part of this is I miss my daughter who lives and works in the city and always look forward to visiting with her when I am in the city.

We sat outside last night sharing a drink and talked about our years together, he measured it by saying I have been with him through 3 droughts (we are still in drought as I type) Pete my golden retriever came to live on the farm and he has outlived 4 of his working dogs and a 21 yr old cat, only god knows how many chooks have come and gone in this time. We still have 3 working dogs and 4 cats, as I sit and type Gatsby has decided to climb behind me and push me off the chair. Pete has been put outside in disgrace, he has arthritis which limits his ability to get up quickly thus he is having ‘accidents’ before he gets up (something I am getting very tired of cleaning up). It amuses me that whilst I am cleaning it up farmer walks down the passage holding his nose. The irony here is that he happily preg tests cows, delivers animals and generally can come home often covered in unimaginable animal body fluids etc and the smell from the dog sends him away.

We don’t really celebrate in the traditional sense, mind you it is one of the first times we have not had people come and stay for the long weekend, but then I have done some small things to let him know I appreciate him and think of him, on Friday night I did a favourite dish of his, oysters Kilpatrick and oysters Thai sauce that a little Asian man told me once whilst I was buying oysters from him. Yesterday he got a frog cake a South Australian classic – very sweet but yummy. Tonight he is getting a lovely dinner cooked and prepared by me.

One thing I have liked over the last 7 years is our ability to laugh at things, we do many things together, we argue but we move on. I am not a grudge holder neither is he, he has brought many things to my life and I value his part in it. 7 is Wool – we have enough sheep and lambs, 7 is Copper I wear little jewelry and this sort turns your skin green and in modern times it’s a desk set – what a load of rubbish. I wish for the gift of happiness, rain and many more shared times with friends and family

Here is a picture of my Oysters