Fear of the times

Drought is one word that sends normally sane people into periods of depression, walking on eggshells around each other and periods of high stress. This has been proven, there are many organisations that provide workshops, individual and private counselling for mental health and financial advice. Groups form to “catch up” so it gives people time to get off the farms and away from the situation even for an hour or so.

A lot of the women in farming families feel the stress of this greatly as they cope with what it all brings. It’s not like depression though, that is a different element, if you suffer from depression I am positive it would be harder to manage this, the farmer and the change in lifestyle if you do. Luckily I can only imagine how much harder it is for people with depression to cope during difficult times when families depend on that person more. We must watch out for each other during these difficult times as it is only people who keep people going.

Some days are harder than others and with all of the white noise around concessional drought loans (there have been minimal allocated in South Australia) from what sounds like political argy bargy many are going hat in hand to the Banks. It has been decided SA or parts of SA like the South East & Mid North are in drought after record-breaking lack of rain falls yet the State Government is playing politics with federal allocation of money that can assist some farmers during this time.

I wonder sometimes about the choices we make with voting our politicians in, there is no doubt they all go into politics to ‘help people out’ yet most of the time it looks like grand standing, self-absorption and self-importance, doesn’t it? These people are making decisions they rarely know anything about and do it thinking about the deficit they have created in the economy. Many people need financial assistance especially here in the South East but feel it will only be given out whilst taking from the back pocket with drainage levy hike, NRM levy hike and what ever else is next . This leaves many wondering if politicians really do know what it’s like to live rurally? they have good salaries, fantastic accessible pension funds from the day they leave office, they use the tax payers money for dinners, bottles of wine, business class and first class trips around the country and the world then come back and tell us all to tighten our belts. I often wonder if this mentality will ever change, if you can get away with the finer things in your job then one suspects everyone would do it.

When I was a sales rep, I traveled for my job and often at conferences met up with other staff members. I vividly recall being told that on one representative I went with ate and drank the mini bar dry 3 times whilst they were there for 5 days. In a 10 day trip and my expenses of eating in cafes and pubs for the 10 days I was away were not as much as had to be paid for the other reps gluttony in 4.

I have been told dealing with the banks is almost as difficult, though most farmers plan for drought, they also plan to get income, either through stock sales or grain sales and hay sales to name a few. When in drought the crops don’t grow, so it can not be sold as there is nothing to sell. I had a lady email me to tell me the most humiliating thing that has happened to her during this hard period is having to go into the bank and sit across from her friend and be scrutinised over their spending habits even to be told her monthly coffee catch up with her friends (including the bank manager) was out of their budget. At that moment she writes, her stomach started churning, her palms started to sweat and she knew she was going to vomit.

There was only one way to get the overdraft and that was for her to get a job in her chosen profession, she is a lawyer and with no option open to her to work in this field and with a 3 month old at the time, she has taken a job in the meat works in the local town 4 days per week.Her husband has also taken off farm work, as a truck driver and she said over the last 6 months they have worked 60 to 80 hours per week and their daughter has seen more of the child care assistants than of her or her husband. They are coping and are managing financially. She writes that this saved the property from foreclosure and they are able to pay their bills on time. She has never returned to the coffee group as she can not face her friend again.

If you can assist with my drought ladies day in March 2016please let me know, sponsorship, gift bags and prizes. Dates and sponsors will be announced over the coming week. InOurPaddocks is going through the system to be a Not For Profit Charity so I will be able to issue tax-deductible receipts. Anyone can contact me through the Facebook page or here.

If you do need help call Life Line 13 11 14

#newneighbours #travellinghome #emus

#newneighbours #travellinghome

I took this photo yesterday on my way home.

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

It’s Fire Season

There are terrible fires in South Australia at the moment, we have lost homes and sounds like there is going to be lots more lost before this day is over. I can only imagine what those people are feeling having lived through a property fire myself this time last year. It is hard to imagine unless you have been in one, the terror one feels, I am feeling really anxious about this coupled with normal farm issues, I had a very sleepless night.

It didn’t get below 27 degrees here after reaching 44.3 degree Celsius yesterday, for those volunteer Country Fire Fighters and metropolitan Fire Fighters, out battling these fires it must be over 100 degree Celsius in all of their fire protection gear. They are in it and the front line to stopping this awful thing.

I had to ask my husband last night to turn the radio off due to the distress I was feeling, he normally sleeps with the radio on due to his tinnitus (roaring ear noise). The radio is on this morning and I am gob smacked with what I have heard. Our official state fire co-ordinator telling us, the fire planes and bombers have had to not go into the area as there was an unknown plane (tourist) having a fly over the fire zone. Can you imagine this? I can’t, the pilot of this plane should be arrested and lose their license, as far as I am concerned.

I hope that once reported by the officials that they could not enter the area, that plane should have been tracked and police waiting for them when they land, except we know how hard our Police are working today as well, they are SAVING people’s lives. There is a whole town evacuated and they are stopping people from entering danger zones, directing traffic out of the areas at great risk to their own safety.

I can send only prayers for all of the CFS volunteers, fire fighters and people who are in the danger zone today. Houses can be replaced, I have my fire plan which I have everything in place in case we get lightning and fire today. I know my way out of property via 3 different routes and have got all of our things ready. One never knows when it strikes and coupled with wind it can cause massive destruction.

Here is a picture we took last year July 14th 2014 of where a lightning bolt ‘blew up a tree’, it was lucky it was in winter or the fire it would have caused would have been terrible, my husband found branches over 10 metres away.



Feel Good Campaign for those that need a pick up in drought

I Its a tough time in the country all over Australia at the moment, we all know the focus is on QLD but SA has moved into drought as well, sadly we don’t have a Bob Katter or a Barnaby Joyce giving us exposure. Farmers are calling out for the same options as offered to our QLD counterparts, I see lots of support for the farmers what we don’t see if a Buy a Bale campaign for SA farmers, charities calling out for money to give to SA farmers and a Government here in SA not mentioning it.

How do I know, we are feeding hay daily, we have had no rain since October and the ground is bare. I am hearing stories of farmers being foreclosed in our area and friends thinking of selling off stock to be able to keep the farm, cropper finishing harvest before Christmas has not been heard of since 2006.

What we know about farming communities is that they are resilient and hard-working, they put animals welfare above their own and look to the skies for the rains to come.

I am opening a Salon today in Bordertown, SA, where everyone is welcome to pop in all day to see me, book appointment and share my joy. I offer most beauty services including medical laser hair removal, I am qualified and have almost completed my Diploma of Beauty to go with my Nursing qualifications, my plan is to hire staff and grow the business for the community. I know I am lucky to be able to do this in difficult times so I want to give back to the community.

I am launching tonight along with a Feel Good Campaign, which I thought up today. I have had clients tell me they can not finish their treatments due to farming issues and other stuff, so I want those that can afford it book and pay for a Manicure or Pedicure at $25 a treatment with polish (shellac coming after Christmas) and I’ll put $5 towards a feel good one or by paying $50 for a single treatment and this will ‘buy 5 manicure, 5 pedicures’. You can even nominate someone and I’ll send them a gift Certificate to come in and have one. I’ll have a blackboard tally on display so that if you’re feeling low need a pick up come in and tell me your want to ‘feel good’.

We’ll give you a professional service, relaxing foot or hand massage and I’ll talk your ear off all for free, so you can enjoy sparkling new nails, in colours of your choice. I’ll be running this campaign from now, if you are in Bordertown SA tonight pop in, we are having a Chef’s Tool Box Consultant cook Pizza & 8 minute risotto, Arbonne Skin Care Consultant and a Tarot card reader. Even if you don’t attend tonight text for an appointment 0408542057 or the address.




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



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.


Managing the Heat

We are in the midst of a ‘heat-wave’ we have them every year in South Australia yesterday at the farm we registered 44.5 degree C 111.2 Fahrenheit which makes it incredibly hot. We have large amounts of animals that need us to constantly check on them, my Huz gets up and goes out to check on waters that all our animals need. This is not as easy as it sounds, if the trough breaks and cattle do break them, he has to be out in the heat to fix them, this can also drain the main tank that holds the water so after it’s fixed we then have to use power to pump water around the place. He does this check twice a day a least in this heat.

He also takes his working dogs, they are not working but get to ride on the back of the ute and afterwards he wets them all down. Me I have the chickens to look after, they are a bit dumb in that they will head into their coop (made from corrugated iron sheets) rather than sit under the trees and shrubs planted in their coop for shelter. We will even put a sprinkler on over them so that the ground is cool, if we find them distressed they are picked up and placed in a trough or bucket of water. We do the best we can in this weather, the 4 cats (expect Frankie – who always disappears in this type of heat) migrate inside, they have learnt the pleasure of lying under fans and or the air conditioner. Gatsby the new rescued cat has just been introduced to the pleasure of fan and air-conditioner and will now look up at the fans if they are not on, once on he stretches full length on the couch and sleeps. Pete my golden retriever is always at my feet or lying under fans or on the cool tiles. The house is closed up early and curtains drawn to keep the heat out so the thing I dislike the most is meal planning.

Cooking provides the same sort of issue, cooking inside heats up the house further and the main meal is at almost the hottest time of the day or close to it. The last couple of days I have used the BBQ and the wok on the BBQ. It may be hot standing outside but at least the heat remains outside. I have done basic things, like lamb and pork chops grilled, the wok was to cook the vegetables.

How are you all coping with the heat? Send me your tips on meals – that you make at home – we are no where near any take out places. BBQ tips and easy to prepare meals are the go. Stay Cool.