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

Shutting up Old Broads

The farmer didn’t like my post yesterday, he thinks I have no understanding of what we do here on the farm, when it comes to drought management and animal husbandry. Having been with him for 13 years (I know a long time) I have marveled at how he manages the farm, the cattle, the sheep and the crops. I have long stated I won’t have time to learn what he has forgotten when it comes to farming, business planning and management of animals.

Why did he take offense? because he’s thinks the work he does I don’t see and when I comment it’s a criticism of his abilities and it’s not. It is far from it, he doesn’t see that I worry about the animals that I can’t help with, other than the odd assistance or (slavery as I call it) I can help with lamb marking, putting rings on tails & testicles, whilst vaccinating them, I am no good at crutching or shearing. We rely on our great mate Ronnie to come and help pick up, put up and as a team we can do over 300 in a day. It’s hard yakka, bending, lifting, drafting (I can do this as well) we manage to work together and enjoy each others company (thanks Ronnie).

I can help with ear tagging the cattle, mustering and weighing, I can’t do the ringing of testicles as the size of these animals scare me and he gets to them young enough they are only about 200 kilo so it’s not so hard. When we ear tag them we have to put them in the race, head bale them (hold their heads with metal doors) whilst I grab their right ear and pierce it and put the legislated ear tag in it. Boy they can make a large noise as they bellow in protest, it’s the same as having ones ear pierced.

I have watched over the summer months as he has gone outside to check waters in troughs and dams, if they are out of water he has to locate the problem and fix it. We spent the best part of one Christmas day – missing lunch with my family to dig up water pipes clear them and wait for the troughs to fill over the farm in 40 degree heat (104 fahrenheit). Cattle and sheep can die without water in one day in this sort of heat.

I have watched him go out and feed hay to animals when our feed has declined, I see him jumping on and off a hay trailer whilst the ute is moving slowly so as to spread out the hay to keep animals fed. He does this every day maintaining the quality of our animals and their food source. I have watched him and gone with him checking things over our 5000 acres, I have taken him drinks and lunch whilst he is sowing, reaping, raking and fencing. We have spent weekends planting up to 3000 trees per year to give animals shelter belts and to re-vegetate tops of hills that blow with sand.

I have adapted to farming and I do have a deep love of what it is I don’t see and I don’t have the passion nor the drive for all of it like he does. I rarely criticise anything he does as I am aware he drives heavy machinery, he can build a shearing shed from plans drawn up with Ronnie on a scrap piece of paper,  he can swear like a farmer (as only they can) at anything and everything, he can care deeply for small animals which is why I am hand rearing 2 calves & a lamb currently.

How to shut me up – sorry Chris it won’t happen.

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Excuses one gives

I have an office that over looks the rear part of our house block, I could call it a back yard but I am aware it is bigger than my house block in the city. Our house is located on 20 acres but I couldn’t tell you exactly how much is back side or front. I wasn’t here when the farmer bought the house, moved it from the purchase location and built his home here, I came later.

All I know when I look out my lovely big office window is green grass, bush, dog compounds, grape vines and cattle of late. We have let a mob into the house yards as they are good a chewing down over growth, it’s good roughage and helps keep the bush from over growing and creating fire risks.

The cattle are quiet and they roam together eating, it sets the working dogs off, they love to ’round them up’ that is what they are taught to do, so on days like this when the farmer has had to go to town and get some things fixed, I leave them in their compounds. Don’t worry the compounds are approx. 4 metres by 4 metres, they have shelter and baths and they can watch things come and go. But they bark and with the cattle in the yard they bark day and night.

I sit doing book work, at the moment it’s BAS work and taxes time – yes I have to admit I ma late submitting this year. But I promise (my accountant) I’ll have this to you before the due date. I was chatting to a girlfriend on the phone when I could see a sprout of water being spewed into the air, surrounded by cattle happily munching and drinking it. They love fresh water, in-fact cattle drink 1 gallon or 3.7 litres to every 100 lbs or 45 kilos and as we have them ranging from 200 kilos or 440.9 lbs to over 600 kilos or  1322 lbs they drink a lot.

I raced to the back door, saying “gotta go cattle have turned the water on, last thing we need is the rain water tank drained, we have already pumped up from our emergency tanks”. I threw the phone on the couch and then pulled my boots on which I leave a pair by both doors and raced outside towards the spurting hose. I talk to the cattle as I go as they need to move on rather than run at me in fear. I managed to get the tap switched off, some of the cattle stood looking and they younger ones walked quickly in fear.

I figured that was the best excuse ever to get off the phone. Have a good hump day everyone.

yard bull

yard bull


I think that is how I need to describe it, I have an allergy personality, I am allergic to many antibiotics, penicillin, erythromycin, cephalosporins, latex, banana and avocado and now I am going to add Shiraz to this list. I feel like I have been hit in the head with the bottle not consumed 1 glass of it. Truly it was only one glass, every time I drink it I get the biggest headache like I feel I have been hit with the bottle.

Today is one of those days, up at 430am to clean up after Pete (the dog) who had an adventure of his own last night. Drink large glass of water and go back to sleep, wake up at 530am with the biggest headache, throw down some paracetamol more water and complain loudly to farmer of my headache. Then back to sleep till after 8am, Pete is still asleep on his mattress on the floor.

I’ve had to take phone calls and pay bills, so much so early. I have ventured to having a cup of coffee, something I don’t really drink a lot of these days, when I stopped smoking years ago, (approx. 20)  I gave up coffee as well. I hate the bad breath coffee gives you and the after taste is fairly ordinary as well, but I fell I need something to try to shift this stupid Shiraz induced headache.

Whilst I do enjoy it when I drink it, it was interrupted when we realized that Pete was gone an awfully long time, considering this week he has lost sight in one eye and hasn’t walked further than 5 metres from the house in years. As he is very old and frail (and blind) these days, and our house yard is dangerous in the dark, an empty clay pit / dam, tractors, machinery and farming stuff he could trip on fall over and well get lost in. We decided I should go and look for him in the car, so I drove around for approx. 5 minutes and decided I needed to head out on to the road and here in the car lights I see 5 sets of eyes.

I found him, he was having a late night stroll, all of the cats were around him bumping his face to turn him around and walking under his belly and chin getting him to move back towards the gate. He didn’t stop when he saw the lights but I pulled up next to him, got out and picked him up and put him on the back seat. Matilda the cat jumped in next to him and meowed loudly on the way home. (in fright) The other cats came running behind. The animal kingdoms is amazing how they look after their own.

I’m off now to take more Panadol and drink more water the coffee hasn’t helped. Crap