In Our Paddocks

Thank you all for the over whelming response to Tears, Drinking, Coping, Drought it was snippets of stories of what goes on In our Paddocks  and kitchen sinks. It’s the story of others that makes it interesting, heartwarming and according to one of the emails I received overnight gave comfort that she was not alone in her thoughts and feelings.

Relationships women share with each other are bonds that can be broken, a wrong word, a withering look or breaking trust will destroy even the strongest of friendships. We’ve all seen it, friends that leave and never come back and you may never know what happened but they left without so much as a backward glance, a goodbye and along with it left you with a feeling of isolation and sadness.

Drought can bring on the same feelings, but for the woman who gave me the honour of telling me your stories, calling  and writing to ask me if I’m ok and to say thanks for sharing small snippets of them, it made them feel valued and less alone. It also gave them an outlet away from the farm, family and those closest to them as it broke their day.  I am doing ok for those that asked.

One of them told me of a life long friendship that over the past couple of years has been made difficult as she can not disclose how tight money is and they are no longer  “popping down to Adelaide for family celebrations,  spontaneous get togethers or shopping expeditions”. In fact she wrote the invitations have stopped coming and the correspondence of any sort spasmodic, but the biggest thing she has noted is the amount of times the friends have traveled to be with them on a weekend. Not once she wrote not once, it was in fact a city based friendship that has not been two ways despite the numerous invitations. She is unsure how she will approach it once things improve or even if she will bother.

There are also the funny times or moments as well, I have read and heard stories about farmers coming home in the Utes wearing only their hat, they get out of the Ute not realising there is a visitor or stock agent sitting at the table waiting to chat with them, as they walk through the door naked. One of the things farmers do in drought is spend hours in the hot dry sun checking all water points for animals, they will do this twice a day if need be and if things go wrong they will jump into tanks, walk in dams and work around flooded troughs to ensure stock have water.

Another said in the middle of a fight about “nothing”she said he looked at her and said “but I just want to drive the tractor” in a tone like a 3 year old and they both burst out laughing. For a farmer the tractor is like a briefcase to a lawyer or a stethoscope to a Doctor, their tool of trade and when he said it she said “he sounded like their son at 3 who only wanted to play with his lego”.  It will be months before the tractor will be driven unless it’s loading and unloading hay to feed stock.

One of the things that is good about living on a farm you can grow stock for eating and many farm houses have freezers full of meat, but this year one says they decided to eat all of the meat out of the freezers and turn a couple off to save electricity. She now tells me she can “write a cookbook on 101 ways to cook and side dishes to put with a lamb chop”. “The struggle to make dinner nightly and make it appealing was a struggle with only lamb chops as a base, there was 45 nights in a row they had lamb chops, how did she know ? he counted guess what he got on the 46th night? yep nothing, she had wine & cheese.

I can write with some knowledge on this topic and I now understand why cricket is part of the Australian culture. Cricket comes with summer, summer can be tough on the land so when it’s too hot to go out, cricket can be watched in the cool of the house.

As women we all need to support each other as we are doing a great job supporting the farmer, the family, the land and the diversity the seasons bring. The Channel Country Ladies day in QLD looks like it’s a model we need to repeat here, I am starting a face book page In Our Paddocks – let me know what you think about a not for profit weekend of women celebrating women in SA and I’ll get me function hat on and start to plan it.

Don’t forget if you need help call LifeLine Australia 13 11 14

Feel free to keep sending me your stories and snippets robynverrall@bigpond.com

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.

Mandy

Mandy

I’m waiting for your response yet…

For those who have websites will know what this means, It means someone – mostly from India has sent you an email asking if you would like them to do a web design and investigate your web site and give you a 20 page report on it. I get approx. 2 of these daily and send them to delete box. Then the follow-up email will come as titled above.

I have occasionally and sometimes not very nicely asked them to send me a ‘faux document on someone else website to show me what this means. Really I have nothing to post here as they have never responded even if I have asked nicely. Imagine (shock / horror) this could be another scam, much like the phone calls “you have a serious problem with your computer” One day I said really can you help me? of course and they wanted to confirm my details and I said yes go ahead… there was a long pause on the phone and the caller said “I want to confirm your details” and I said yes please go ahead, you have told me you have them so once you tell me who I am, where I live and my date of birth I shall confirm you are not a scammer and a bullshit artist”. They hung up in my ear – imagine my surprise that there was nothing wrong with my computer and this was only a scam…..

As for waiting for my response do people really fall for this and to all of those web designers out there and SEO experts, can anyone really do a 20 page report on your website without having your logins? Sorry I also forgot I have mine parked at the moment as I need them to look and be more professional then they currently are. The only ones that come up are my word press websites, nothing more and really I don’t need any more criticisms or should I say critical analysis of my writing style (if I have one)

Even face book told me today I was also very outspoken and upbeat, I must apologise I resemble that. It also told me today to “expect the best, be prepared for the worst”. really. I expect (actually would like) rain, a lotto win, a holiday, more feed in the paddocks than we have, a happy husband, more time with my daughter, did I say holiday and rain yet?

 

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

When things create change in one’s life

Things on the farm have settled as the rains came, we have had 60 odd mils of glorious rain on our paddocks, and where there was sand and dirt we now have tinges of green, something we have not seen for a while now. The farmer is more settled and happier and the animals appear calmer, with rain comes cooler weather and animals prefer that. We have planted belts of native trees to grow and provide shade for them. We have water troughs that get checked daily and we are feeding out hay to supplement the lack of greenery in the paddocks.

With cooler temperatures comes cooler tempers, things that bother one in extreme heat don’t seem to do so in cooler weather. I have even hung washing on the line in rain as it cleanses everything even gives it a quick rain rinse. An old farming wives tail is to hang the heirloom family handed down by mother in law quilt on the line when it looks like rain so that it can continue. There is no heirloom quilt here – despite mother in law keeping everything, but I am happy to put sheets, towels, quilts & clothes on-line when it rains.

With the rain comes a sense of relief that one can see things change for the better, it may not seem like this to city dwellers as there isn’t the same need for rain except to fill rain water tanks and to water the gardens. lawns and parks. People in the city are not as greatly affected by heat and rain as country people. Most can get relief from heat and rain, here animals need checking more in extremes than ‘normal weather.’

Farming is very consuming and I am very conscious of the fact that I write about this more than anything else. We work together as a team and sometimes it’s difficult, I am not as capable as some men but I am better than most. I can drive all of the machinery on our property, I can lamb mark, cattle mark, muster, vaccinate, do the book work and also be lucky enough to have time for family and friends. It also can annoy me as it may not be what I want to do that day, in-fact I let the working dogs off this morning, many, Patsy & Mollie and they choose to come running to the back door than answer the farmers whistle, my sister said “don’t worry it’s Friday they are taking a mental health day.” So I gave them a bone and they were happy to be lying on the lawn chewing on them instead of tied to the back of the Ute in the sun.

I admire people who can live more remotely than us, have longer periods of drought and less rainfall than us. The mental strength of farmers and families is admirable, for me there is a small 3 hour drive to see family so I can justify going when I do leave, for those with longer drives it can be too much, not only financially (fuel costs, accommodation costs and time away from animals that need you) but can be visit limiting, making sure your time spent in the city is spent doing al the things you need to and catching up with very few.

My words today, enjoy the time you have, never take anything for granted and include all of those you want in you life the best way you know how, be that phone call, email, face book or twitter. There are so many more options to keep in contact these days than writing letters and waiting for a return. Make sure those you love, know you love them, make sure those you care about , are cared for and mostly be grateful for little things, simple things  such as rain, sunshine for we never know when this will change.

2014-09-12 01.13.04

Dogs on the Ute but not today, they are sleeping on the lawn.

 

Christmas Miracles

I have been in the privileged position during my time as an operating theatre nurse to assist in some people and families last wishes. One of these being organ donation, a special gift from unknown to an unknown and each time I have been involved it has been heart wrenching and raw. Each person is treated with respect, dignity and yes tears are shed by Doctors and nurses at this precious time. The loss of anyone’s life is awful.

We all know that in order to donate organs, one is dying and prepared to share their final wishes by keeping others alive and perhaps parts of themselves, a truly philanthropic gift. One which can never be returned nor the families are personally thanked. It is such an honor to be with that person assisting in their final wish.

It is hard at this time of year, as deaths occur more frequently than others and a lot also occur around the easter break, making for some the holidays a time of sadness and for others a time of celebration and happiness. We are in one of those times, a time of prayer, a time of waiting and a time to reflect on a person’s gift. We have a dear friend who is undergoing a transplant as I type.

It is a hard road for all families, those that do not wish to say their final goodbyes and those that wish to be with their loved one whilst under going surgery. There is no distinction here as to which is the easiest and which is the donor or receiver as this type of surgery is specialized, lengthy and outcomes may not be what one expects.

I wish for all organ donors long and healthy lives and organs and for those on waiting lists, the time is short and not too stressful. To the family who has kindly given organs to my  friend, may the angels hold you all in their hands as all of us who know the receiver will hold you in our hearts. Know that the precious gift you have given is being given to someone who is loved, loves life, lives it to the fullest, has people they love and will forever be grateful to your loved one.

Today is brought to you by the Letter L

“We are now doing random alphabetical jumps, no longer any order to my blog, but it’s nice to be back writing. We are moving into summer and already we look to cloudy skies for rain. The paddocks are getting dry and the dust is beginning to swirl with the winds, my hay fever is active and I am now sitting in an office where I have 3 computer screens and wearing glasses most of the time. I go between this and my other work in my local town.

I am desperately looking for Tax assessment notices for myself to complete some paperwork I need (plus it’s time to ditch the old 1990’s tax stuff) and in going through my filing cabinet I have come across a ‘fax note’. He was never one on letters and also by the time we came to being a couple – letter writing was SO 1990’s, we moved into the fast past fax & emails. He had no computer skills at the time so faxes it was. Isn’t finding interesting things so much more better than doing the work you HAVE to do?

One thing he did do, despite really not having a romantic bone in my body with distance was the tyranny, phone calls expensive and our time together limited, was he would send a fax. I have been lucky over the years to have worked a lot from home, this was great for being able to work and spend time with my daughter. But sometimes as in now I find myself in the office with computers on and paperwork all around me.

Faxes were the go in the late 2000’s, scanners weren’t really a thing and as I stated he was very computer illiterate (he didn’t even own one) so he did a ‘love’ fax thing. we had been ‘seeing” each other for approximately 1 month. He did make me laugh and some of the things he wrote made no sense till I could contact him later in the evening to get an explanation.

One such love fax is attached here but it had me scratching my head all day (I did preference this with the fact I don’t have much of a romantic notion about life or people) they are what they are and who they choose to be, we all have faults (some less than others) and we all have great traits. His was the ability to make me laugh and soften my rough “I’m a singe mother” hard edges.

It reads love letter

sent at 07:36 20/11/2002

Stop Press

“Tom attacked by Rooster  Last night”  hurt tendon in wrist

“Rooster Dead”

wish I was there

No calf marking today.

Initially I had no idea who Tom was (his father) why he would be attacked by a rooster (they can be mean and charge when angry) hurt tendon – pictured a torn wrist with tendon hanging out and needing surgery – did I tell you I am a Theatre RN, we all jump from simple scratch on wrist without seeing it to requiring micro-surgery to repair said torn tendon in order that “Tom” would be able to use his hand again. My nursing friends will know this is a logical conclusion without a first hand (witnessed) account.

Rooster Dead – had no idea why it would die, never thought for a minute it would become dinner. Wished he could be there – for him to laugh at his father, me only to apply first aid (Florence nightingale style – picture lamp & moist head cloth or hand cloth here to stem the  pulsating blood flow)

No calf marking today – never having seen it or done it I had no idea what to even think about this except perhaps he goes to the paddocks and marks the calves – ticks or crosses on a sheet as to good size or small size, never knew about this procedure until much later in our relationship. hard work on one’s own.

The Love Faxes never really got much better than that, I know jealous aren’t you all, I wonder what I would do or feel if I was ever sent a real ‘love letter’ but life isn’t a movie is it? it’s an opportunity to be who you are and if you’re lucky, share it with an equal whose company you enjoy, makes you smile more than 80% of the time and is kind, caring and shares your views on family.

Enjoy your Friday everyone