Togetherness

Living and working on the farm means that you are with your partner 24/7 and to some it probably would be too much, for others they would enjoy it. Farming is a different kind of work and a different kind of life. There are many different types of farming also, some farms breed animals to sell, some breed for meat, some plant crops to sell, some milk cows and others do a mixture of different enterprises depending upon soil type and expertise.

We are a multi-mixed farm here, but our highest concentration is breeding and caring for the animals that reside on our farm. Not only do we put them first, their health and well being is checked twice daily and this means we can not get longer than 24 hours off the farm without hiring staff to come in and check them.

There are many reasons why they are checked, in hot weather to make sure they have enough water or shade, in breeding season to ensure they can deliver and be given help should they require it, to make sure they do not have bloat in winter and in times of drought they will be fed hay to ensure they remain healthy.

There are times though when animals are orphaned, and if found in time they are brought home to be bottle fed and hand reared. We have the Caloundra 6 from last year 1 lamb, named Josie after my cousins daughter  named Josie, 5 calves, Rosie, Delilah, Abby, Hope & Annie and of late we have had a bull come into the house yard and become part of the crew. It is quite a sight seeing a 2 tonne bull walk around the house eating lawn and bellowing. As we have smoked glass on our sliding doors we have to be aware that he can sometimes see his own reflection. He has been caught licking the glass, so we have to go out and shoo him away, we don’t want him thinking there is another bull in the place and charge at it.

We have also had the arrival of another calf in December  2015 whom we think was a twin and his mother left him so he has come to us. I am amazed to see that it didn’t take long for the Caloundra 6 to get use to the Bull “Mr Grumpy”as I have named him cos he walks around the house making a mmmmmm sound making him appear grumpy and me a little fearful of him. They also have taken to the little calf who was probably 3 days old when he came to us.

They will go to the vegetable patch now known as the animal nursery and sit on the outside so he can see them and feel them. I have caught them leaning against the fence so they can touch him. The bull will also join in. It is amazing to see and last night Jeremy decided he didn’t want to live alone, the reason why we won’t let the others in the nursery is because they would knock him out of the way to get to the milk, they are no longer being given milk and they miss it. Abby is the only one who will continue to come up for a rub under the chin,  we found her on my birthday and my cousins daughter’s birthday. In honour of our Abby the calf was named as such as soon as we knew she was a girl.

Jeremy has now happily found his place in this posse of which Josie is the leader, the lamb came first and bonded with Rosie until the others came along. Josie leads them around the place and will come up to my office window and say hello to me, it is cute but can be off putting to people on the phone, I have been asked many a time ïs that a lamb?” as she baa’s loudly at the sound of my voice Yes I will say.

These animals have formed their own togetherness, from the tiny 3 week old to old Mr Grumpy, it is an amazing sight to see and we are lucky to be able to witness it.

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The baby Jeremy is behind the fence whilst the others are sitting outside in a build up to a thunder storm on 3rd Jan 2016.

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

Today is a Continuance from yesterday

After spending the large part of yesterday with the farmer planting trees, driving a tractor, cutting the tree packets and planting them I have decided the living with a  C is difficult and interesting (I’m not talking about the country bumpkin by the way). There is one in every household and sometime togetherness is sooooo over rated.

Still struggling with my ruptured Achilles, I have limited up and down motion, you know the motion most required when you need it to walk and the tractor seat sits high so my foot dangles, so after an hour it was hurting me. Not only that planting trees is an art. We get “trees for Life” to grow natives for us, which they do and once we get them we plant them, this involves cutting the black plastic around them and planting them. He did put the seat down so that it didn’t dangle but the pain had already set in.

Here is where the fun begins, it is hard work and tempers fray, one can drive too fast, drive too slow, the trees may be too dry so they disintegrate when planted, the tree planter (him) has made up a seat which can hold the boxes of trees and it is on the back of the tractor. As we move along the ground ripped or furrows made prior need to be followed otherwise the dirt can clump underneath and lift the seat higher than necessary. Here is where whistling, finger-pointing and yelling occurs, one must be able to keep driving the tractor (me) lift the seat up, follow the track and then put the seat down whilst keeping to the same speed and pathway. It is as complicated as it sounds.

Spending the largest part of the day doing this leaves little time to do anything else. I determined that regardless of the make up of the household, there is a C in every house regardless of the population of the house, time of day or year. You can find these in the kitchen, office, bedroom and occasionally the toilet. They like to dictate what you do, when you need to do it and can not be changed without numerous consultation.

They bring good and bad news to people and will involve many others without them even knowing they are included in the C’s sights. I struggle with them and I notice them as soon as I get to others houses, it is hard not to look at the C without taking note of what it is doing or saying. The C can change how you view people as there might come a time when you clash, this can be unpleasant and awkward. Regardless, I don’t base my feelings or friendship on this but at this time of the year I can start to be overloaded.

Please if anyone has anything else they would like to add to my calendar, email me, as it’s filling up fast. 🙂 .