What’s your passion?

I look at the farmer in amazement (in a good way) most days, he lives doing what he loves, farming and he is a good farmer at that. I have always said to him I will never learn what he has forgotten about farming, I’m doing care taking. His love of the land is matched by his love of the animals and his dedication to ensuring he farms to the best of his ability.

He has grown up here, a familiar story to men from the bush, they can relate on a deeper level to the earth than most people. The house block was bare when purchased and he has planted every tree here, maximising for wind breaks, shade and aesthetics. He has re vegetated fence lines to provide boundaries, grass breaks and shade from wind, rain and hot sun for animals. He has utilised Trees for Life to get natives to plant that will beautiful the landscape, encourage bees to pollinate vegetation and stabilise ground cover.

He checks everything daily to ensure, it’s safe, this includes water in troughs, no open fences for escapees, animal girth for bloat (in winter) pregnancy how far along they have progressed and paddocks that allow the animals to roam on the property without much interference from humans.

I got him to teach me how to feed out hay, most of you would think this is easy but there is skill in everything and safety first when doing farm work. It involved being able to drive a tractor to collect a hay bale, get it to a trailer attached to a ute, place the bale so that it sat within a specified place to ensure safety and room for 2 more, flip the bale and load 2 more. Drive the ute to the paddock where the cattle would come around, cut the six strings, set the Ute into low gear and let it drive itself whilst you get on and divide the bales up and drop the biscuits off both sides of the moving ute. Terrified me it did when I had to do it on my own, the thing about farming is that you have to accommodate for all instances.

Me, learning to do this allowed the farmer to go off farm for more than one night without having to come back to feed he hasn’t been able to do this since 2009 when we holidayed together.  Working as a partnership has it’s ups and downs as there is only the two of us, no next generation coming through the ranks, but that happens in many families.

I haven’t found my passion here yet, I still feel at home in the city where I have family & friends. In the country there is so many highly talented educated unemployed women that have married into a life of no career and duties from times past. I know women who are charted accountants now bank tellers (part time) para legals now abattoir workers, nurses unemployed or working as cleaners. There is no shame in gainful employment don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to be employed close to home, but some of my women friends have 2 or 3 jobs to earn a decent income well out of their chosen field.

 

 

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

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?