Happy New Year 2016

It’s the morning after the night before and how are you feeling? Happy, hung over or sad and looking forward to a new start? Us, we are doing fine, no hang over, not sad and I am so looking forward to 2016 and feel relieved to have left 2015 behind.

2015 was a hard year on the farm we rolled over the 2014 drought into 2015 and it was difficult. I promised the farmer (and everyone else) I wasn’t going to do another drought, yet here I am.

Looking back on last year I lost my beautiful old mate Pete, it is only recently I have stopped looking for him. The thing about farms is there is always another animal to take it’s place, albeit not in my heart. I am now the care taker of a 15 year old retired kelpi Mandy, the Caloundra 6, Josie the lamb, Rosie, Delilah, Abby, Hope & Annie all calves, and as at 2 weeks ago Jeremy another baby calf who is now about 3 weeks old.

I opened a business in a local country town in December 2014 and closed the doors for good on 30th December this year. The down turn in the economy and the failure of crops in our district have meant many are evaluating their finances and putting it where it needs to go, back into the family pockets.

I have passed a milestone birthday which was celebrated sitting with family & friends at the Big Lunch one of the charities we support by being able to supply the meat every year for 300 guests to enjoy grass fed true aussie beef and lamb from our farm to Adelaide via the Hilton Hotel Renown Head Chef Lloyd Cremer> This is one of our long term charities and a must not miss lunch in July at the Central Market supporting the Big Issue a magazine which enables sellers to earn an income to work their way out of desperate circumstances.

I along with many others from my school year – held our breath following a beloved class member undergo life changing organ transplantation. It was a long and bumpy road to which we can say 1 year of life has been celebrated with much love and joy. During the highs and lows of this major achievement, in support of the family, many donated blood to the Red Cross, did you know every donation can save 3 lives? make this something you do in 2016. Many signed up to the Organ Donation Registry so that many more can live should others die.

We watched as the siege at Martin place in Sydney played out in broad daylight and knew we were no longer protected from terrorism. We watched world events in horror, the senseless deaths caused by terrorism, avalanches, volcanoes, road deaths and stood on the side lines with sympathy & empathy to the families that lost loved ones.  We watched as 2 Australian Citizens were executed in Bali in a time when we needed good news, William and Kate gave us Princess Charlotte.

We have watched the fires in our state that have taken property and lives and I have watched my husband don his CFS uniform and go off to assist fighting these fires. It catches my breath every time he gets the call, I feel so uneasy until he comes home. He is one of many who enter when others are fleeing.

We have had mainly good health this year, a family member recovering well from a stroke to the point that most people can’t even tell they have had a major episode. We have had many happy episodes but not enough time with our families. We go into 2016 with hope, hope for rain, hope for each other and lots of exciting events to come.

As I leave 2015 behind, I can smile, I did what I could and changed what needed to change, now I can concentrate on the things that matter, family, love, friendships and more time spent on all of these things. Also to the weather gods, any time you want to turn the heat down to a simmer from 44 degree to a nice 24 would be my preference, please feel free and if you find a couple of rain clouds looking to drop a load, we are located in the Upper South East of South Australia.

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Happy New 2016 everyone

 

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

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.

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

 

Today is brought to you by the letter J

Farming by my definition is a complete juggling act and farmers are “masters of the ring” and the rest are spectators on the merry-go-round. Except sometimes it isn’t merry but still goes round and round way too much. The break in the season, no rain left in the season, sowing crops, calving, lambing, marking, harvesting, baling to name but a few farming tasks. I can see the carousel now, there would be the obligatory horses of course, we could have rain clouds, calf’s, lambs, dogs of various kinds, black & tan kepi’s, red kepi’s, border collies, cats, mice, birds and of course a scarecrow. It would be a ride of thrills going too fast and then slowing to a dead pace, no ride would be the same but it would be an adventure.

The juxtaposition in farming occurs daily, you can drive around your property and in the same paddock, sown on the same day, same calculated seeding technique and identify some growing beautifully and the next furrow that doesn’t. The contrast is obvious even to the untrained eye, it can be caused by many a different factor, sandier soil to name one. On the one property you can tell that rain can fall over certain areas and paddocks can remain dry for weeks, whereas the paddock next door will get rain, be planted to crop and grow.

There is a lot of joy in farming though, nothing more satisfying than assisting to deliver a calf and the mother & calf survive. During birthing season the farmer spends many an hour driving around with binoculars checking animals, keeping his distance until he has to intervene for the sake of the unborn calf or lamb to assist the mother. Seeing animals run freely on the farm is a sign of good farming and contented animals.

Farming is about commitment, dedication, knowledge and having the ability to cope when things get tough and enjoy it when things are good. I am not as dedicated to farming as my husband is and luckily he does not make me feel guilty for not wanting to be more involved than I am. I unashamedly admit, I won’t retire here, I will go back to a city where health care and hospitals have services and are accessible. Where going shopping for food alone is not a 2 hour trip, where working for women is not restricted or non existent. I am looking to getting paid employment again next year as I miss the independence.  Will I miss the farm? yes but not enough to stay, I won’t miss the constant 7 day a working week where getting off the farm is only for 24 hours.

I am heading down to the shearing shed to assist in getting it ready for the shearers this week so have a great day everyone. enjoy the cooler weather this Sunday.

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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.