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.



Ode to my Farmer

I passed away in the early hours of this morning, outside when the sun came up and in a place I knew was home. It was where we sat having drinks in summer, near your chair where one of you would reach down and pet me. The outside erection built by you, I wasn’t well and have been slowly letting you know I was going to pass over a week ago. I started to not want my food.

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I remember you coming and selecting me, you picked me up held me to your chest and I felt your heart beat and you brought me to the farm. I was little and it was big, there were other dogs that looked like me and white 4 legged wooly animals as well as big black 4 legged creatures. All of this was frightening but you carried me around until you felt I was ready to join the mob. You spent weeks touching me, encouraging me, training me to obey, sit on the back of the ute, run after sheep and cattle whilst growing up.

I loved the space, I loved working, you would drive the ute and whistle, I would know what to do, I was your right or left hand depending upon where you sent me. These cattle and sheep were never frightening after you took the time to teach me, I could get them where you wanted them. You would lift me up into the ute, pat me and tell me all the time what a good dog I was, sometimes if I was hot I would run to the trough, jump in and lie down whilst moving my body from one end to the other to cool off.

I loved the farm and I loved you, you would pat me, feed me and put me in my kennel at night for protection. I was never chained except on the back of a ute to protect me and as I grew and became the oldest working dog I earnt the right to sit in the ute with you whilst the other younger ones got to ride in the back. This was great in summer with the air conditioner on and in winter with the heater. I would stand with my head resting on the dash board looking out. You would reach over and pat me often, I loved working with you. I loved summer when we would go to the dam and swim whilst chasing a ball it was what I was bred to be.

I learnt your voice, your whistle and your touch, you were who I wanted to be with. I learnt the good words and the bad words. Sometimes (when working in sheep & cattle yards) there would be swearing and I would look for a way of running off. It was here in the sheep yards that we had our serious accident. I jumped, missed and dislocated my hips. You picked me up and took me into the vet, I then had to spend weeks getting better, I never really recovered to my best but you never seemed to mind. You would come and get me, sit on the step and hold me like I was a puppy again, I would place my head on your shoulder and breath the love between us

During my growing years, I had a coat given to me in winter, I had a bed I was always happy to go to, it didn’t even become crowded when the new puppy came along and she dug under our joined fence and started to sleep with me. We were fed, we were allowed to swim and we were a family. When I was really sore I was given the best health care going, I even was allowed trips to town, the bank teller still remembers when you brought me in and placed me on the counter (where I was a little scared and I peed) no one told me off you picked me up and patted me. I also had many people that I loved and they loved me. People came and went but you were always there.

Then last year I became sore in the hips, slowed down and found it difficult to keep my balance in the front of the ute (I had turned 15) I suffered if I had to work so we decided I could move inside at night. I was given the couch, no one told me to get off and when the other dogs came inside I didn’t even have to look up when you shouted for them to get out. I was safe and warm again in your care.

Then I had to retire from the day trips, that was initially difficult, I would bark as you drove away but could easily find my couch, then when I stopped being able to get up on the couch the padded bed was bought. This was also lovely, it was taken to the office daily and returned at night so I could sleep at your feet. I still barked when you drove off, but from the comfort of my bed, either from the bedroom or the office. I was warmed protected and loved.

I had begun to get sick and I noticed no one told me off, in fact yesterday I was found lying in it, instead of being put outside, I watched as my bed was moved to the darkest corner of the room, my blanket was freshened up and she lifted me up, bathed me with a warm hot towel and laid in my bed all the while she was telling me what a good, beautiful and wonderful dog I was. She laid on the floor for a while petting me, telling me how much I was loved and how hard I had worked for 15+ years and it was ok to join the others.

You came home and came straight into see me yesterday, you didn’t mention the vomit to me, I know you loved me as much as I loved you. I loved the fact you would pat me and make me feel safe and loved, I knew this as I passed. I know that when you buried me you carried me close to your chest, holding me gently like when I was a puppy and as a last act of love you patted me one last time.


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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?



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.


Things I have seen

Sometimes I think my life has given me more than I need, not by the way of material things but by the people in it who I love and cherish. Though I feel I never get to spend much time with them I know and I hope they know how much they mean to me. I have been given ample opportunity in my work and life to have great balance and have been to places and seen things I never thought I would when I was growing up. Though what is growing up essentially, I still don’t feel any older than when I left school – just a wiser head on my shoulders as they say.

I worked as a Nurse for the formative years of my working life, I have seen many things I have wanted to see and many things I didn’t want to see. These things can not be unseen, I didn’t realise the great rich diversity i would see and do having chosen this sort of career then I moved onto medical sales where opportunity was afforded me to travel. I have done and seen things here in many places in Australia and beyond, things I also wanted to see and others I didn’t.

But coming to farming life, I get to see and do much more than I ever thought goes on at farms. I have seen my Huz put chains (correctly) on a calf hooves and use the ute to assist a cow to give birth, 9 out of ten deliveries are fine, the ones that die, died in utero. I have seen things that also can not be unseen. Like the entrails of eaten prey our cats have brought in. Most times we discourage them if they bring us their prize, last night was a bat, it was tiny and the cat (Frankie) now call bat girl (she is a female) was playing with it. I thought it was dead so I went to pick it up and thought better of it and used the dustpan, the poor thing was still alive. How does one keep a bat for a pet, get it survive the attack of killer cat and then let it go. This was 1am I was contemplating all of this, I decided to open the door and let it out. Much to my and the cats amazement it flew off, sometimes they just need a minute or two to get over the attack and off it went.

How does one cat get high enough to catch a bat, one suspects the poor little thing moved into our fruit trees and took refuge from the cold and heat and was getting a meal there till our nosy cat caught it. Some times the night life in the house is like a party a cat posse all waiting and crying at the clever cat that caught prey, it’s awful. I even feel sorry for the bunnies they bring in. But that is the second time for a bat, I wonder what the rest of the year will bring.