And still the drought is hurting us.

You would think that selling your farm, giving up the only life you have ever know – saying goodbye to farming to escape the drought would bring it all to an end.  It doesn’t.

Months have passed and we are yet to have sold our Versatile or Header, in fact over a year has passed since our clearing sale.

So we sit and wait, and wait. There has to be someone out there who needs them?

In our new location it had been over 5 months without rain.  Five months?  I can’t believe it.  I thought the earth had forgotten how to rain…..but then, this Anzac weekend, it rained.

Thank you for the rain!

53mm we got, FIFTY THREE millimeters!  Water is running everywhere, puddles up to my middle – are every where!

Here’s hoping you got the rain too.

Here’s hoping this damn drought is breaking, that the life of  the Aussie farmer returns to normal, that the heart break ends.

Here’s hoping that someone will now buy our machinery.

My thoughts go out to all….

I am sending my thoughts and wishes to all those families who have been affected by the bushfires happening in many places in both Victoria and New South Wales. Too many lives have been lost already, such a huge tragedy for all. I wish I could do something to help ease the pain. Love and light to you all at this tragic time.

It rains here

where we are living now.

In fact, over winter, it rained almost every day.  It was amazing.  With each drop I smiled for us, but in the back of my mind was knowing that thousands of farmers were still looking, waiting and praying for rain.

I know in some areas the season started out great, those opening rains falling, giving the earth back the much needed moisture.  Blokes out there, happily going round and round for hours on end.  I know my husband was feeling the pull, missing that solitude, that endless driving, the love of open space.  He didn’t say much, but I know.

He misses having all that land to call his own, what we have now is ‘just a pocket full’.  Those thousands  of sheep, the dust, the constant work.  No weekends, no holidays – just work…and yes he misses it.  He misses being his own boss, the feeling of satisfaction when completing a job, finishing the shearing, the end of seeding.

Versatile air seeder and hopper

The tractors, his ‘toys’, we still have the two not sold at the clearing sale.  They sit and wait for a new owner.  The calls don’t come though, Australia is scared, farmers are scared.  Why buy machinery when the rain might not come back?

It may have rained where we are now, but the rest of the country still suffers.  Those crops, sown with the opening rains got some good follow up rain, but then it stopped.  Now the weather is too warm in some parts for this time of the year.  The crops are thirsty, the hotter weather knocks them around, they suffer…and so do the farmers.

Thank you

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have left comments.

Your comments spur me on and make me want to write more, to share more with you all. I am so sorry that some of you are going through what we have been through.  I am going to write some more soon, to share with you just how we are going and how we are coping.  Hopefully it will help you all to see that life does go on and it goes on well in our case and for that we are forever grateful.

Stories from the past – Two

Little Rivers – 2004

Today started like any other day. Husband got up and fed the sheep, but for a change I didn’t help. I decided as it was a public holiday I would remain in bed and have a lie in, until at least 8am……it was wonderful.

I have one problem with this public holiday thing……when you are a farmer you don’t have them…so that is where the problem lies. Whereas most families would spend it together doing something, or just hanging out, when you are a farming family the word HOLIDAY is non-existent.
So today Husband trudged off to begin re-roofing the shearing shed down at his brother’s place.
I finally crawled out of bed, the kids were already up watching kids TV. I threw on a load of washing and started to do some much needed dusting.

Now when you think of dusting you have this image of lightly running your beautiful pink feather dust over a tiny bits of dust and VOWLAH…….the dust is gone. Obviously if you have this image stuck in your head about this place, the image is highly distorted.

First when approaching dusting out here you must first get out your safety gear and jack hammer…because that is how thick the damn stuff is………especially after that dust storm last Thursday.
Ok, so maybe not a jack hammer, but you definitely need lots of water and a decent cloth. Each area requires at least three wipes to get all of the dust off.
Once I had finished scraping half the Simpson Desert off my furniture, I thought it would be nice if myself and the kids went for a walk up one of the dry creek beds.

We packed a backpack with water and off we went.

It was fun exploring all the rocks and finding animals sleeping spots hidden away in the trees.
On the way back to the house we passed by the sheep maintenance lots. I noticed a small river running down through the yards. I sent the kids back to the house while I went and investigated where the water was coming from.

I went in through one of the yards, climbed my way over fences until I got to the water trough that was overflowing. It was number 4. Now these troughs are about 1.5m in diameter they have a float arm extending into them. The float is made of hard plastic, the arm of brass. This is then connected to a valve which releases the water. The water flow is stopped by the water pressing upwards on the float.

Now somehow those tricky sheep wrenched the float arm from out of the valve area, breaking it off completely leaving the whole arm and float floating around the water trough. There was nothing to stop the water flow, which is why we had the miniature river running through the yard.

I turned off the water at the tap, each trough having their own tap. I then trudged up to the house to call Husband on the radio and let him know what had happened.

I got Husband on the radio and he said “no worries”, leave it and he would fix it when he got home around 5pm.

That got my mind ticking………..stuff it I thought…it wouldn’t be that hard to fix…….actually it wouldn’t be hard at all.
All I had to do was replace the whole valve and put a new arm and float on. Easy!!

Well that’s what I thought until I had to find the parts in the workshop.

Now if I had kitchen cupboards set up like my husbands workshop I would be in strife. You would never in a blue fit find a thing, you would end up starving. According to my Husband he knows where everything is 🙂

I started searching. First thing I found was some tape, that was easy. Then the search was on to find the fittings.

I found fittings for plumbing right in with the 7698 spare tractor parts, next to the 4 empty CB radio boxes, stored behind the old oil tins, wedged against the 497 cans of nuts and bolts (You never know when you might need one.)
Wouldn’t you know it….wrong parts, to small…keep looking.

I started searching in another part of the shed. I looked past the welding rods, more empty boxes, more plumbing parts but still the wrong ones, hessian bags, nuts, bolts, bits of off-cut metal and there it was…low and behold…….the part I was looking for….. thrown up against the old stove that is used for heating things, what things I will never know, but there was the part…. so who cares what was being heated or not.

Lucky for me it had the arm and float already attached so my search was over.

Once again I trudged out into the maintenance-lot and was confronted with………………ANOTHER RIVER!!!!

It was in the pen up from the one where the float was broken off, pen 3. The silly buggers, in their thirsty rage had bent the float arm right up and out of the water, so now the water was overflowing.

Luckily this one wasn’t broken, it just needed to be twisted back into position.

What had happened was that when the water trough in pen 4 had overflowed, the other troughs had not filled, as trough 4 was taking all the flow. So the sheep were thirsty…I think all 400 of them in pen 3 decided to have a drink all at once and pushed and bent the float arm out of place.

I suppose its a bit like sale day at Myer? All in!

After fixing that one I climbed back over the fence and stated to work on pen 4’s trough. I removed the old valve and placed it aside. I put the tape onto the new valve the screwed the whole lot back onto the pipe and TAR DAR…fixed…….that was it…..easy! No more rivers (well for now anyway!).

Stories from the past – One

Salty Cow – May 2004

Today being Mother’s day I got to help out around the farm.

First off, just for a change we had to feed the sheep. Today it was oats so it took almost 5 hours.
In between we did other jobs, including preparing the Veggie patch…it now has onions and spinach in it.

We also fed the two steers, first though we had to roll the oats for them. This entailed setting up two Augers, a tractor, the mobile feed bin which was filled with oats…and of course the grain roller.

After crushing the oats we finally fed the hungry buggers (we crushed enough to last a few weeks), my husband gave them three large buckets full then we started to put some hay into their pen as well.

Whilst doing this I noticed one of the steers has like a stick thing hanging off of his hairy bit where his ‘manhood’ is. I tried to work out what it was..thinking some how he had got a stick stuck on it !!!!

I couldn’t get a good enough look so I asked my husband if he could see what it was.

Husband said “Oh that…well that’s a bit of hair that is salty”.

I started laughing…………the thing I want to know is……..

How the hell does he know it’s salty?

I’m only a Farmer

Those were the words my husband said when I told him that he would easily find work when we moved.

He was worried that no one would employ him, the words “I’m only a farmer” ringing loud against the silent room, me stunned that he would think he was only a farmer.

I wonder if farmers the world over think the same? Having only been a farmer, worked for himself, never that outside world letting him know just how skilled he is.

He couldn’t see it then, back before we moved, but he can see it now.

He is skilled, and highly skilled at that. The amount of skills, once listed, are immense. He had never stopped to think about it really, never thought that doing the thing he loved day in and day out was actually providing him with the skills to work in so many occupations.

When we first moved my husband joined the local CFS within the first week. He has always been a member so naturally would join where ever we ended up living. People asked questions – Where you from? What did you do up there? The next night after his first training at the new group, the phone calls started.

There was an experienced farmer moved into the district!!!

My husband had planned to take a bit of time off when we moved just to chill out. Perhaps he should have waited a week or two before he mentioned what he was 🙂
There are people lined up waiting for him to work for them, its great not only work wise, but great for my husband to know that YES he is highly skilled and that people like him are sought after and needed by others.

So yes he is ‘Only a Farmer” but a bloody highly skilled sought after one like they all are.

The Move

Moving house is hard enough, moving a farm is even harder especially when your heart is tied to the place.

The packing up had been going on for weeks. My husband took 6 months to get ready for the clearing sale. At the same time getting things we were keeping ready for the big move. There was over 100 years worth of stuff here that had to either cleaned up, sorted, thrown out, scrapped or sold, and going through it all bit by bit takes a bit of time.

Slowly we got there, the farm was all packed up and ready to go. The house almost empty, the children running from room to room squealing and yelling, excited at the echo their voices produced – oblivious to the meaning to why the house was empty.

We did numerous trips over a month to move it all. I suggested a removalist in the beginning, “NAR” said hubby in that she’ll be right sort of voice, “we will do it on our own”. Ask him now, after we did all that moving, if he would recommend using a removalist……I think his way of looking at it all may have changed after having to do it!

I kept up the jokes telling him after his third, fourth, fifth and tenth trip back to the house, cursing and swearing about how he hated moving, that he’d be right as he could always get a job as a removalist! Oh did I get the evil eye LOL
We had a few calamities (as my husband would call them) along the way, but now we can look back and laugh.
The wind blew the double bed mattress off the trailer, whilst husband went to get the ropes, right into a muddy patch. Yes a muddy patch. It’s Murphy’s Law. It always rains when you don’t want it to.

Rain happens……..

-In the middle of shearing, for most of shearing. Dragging out 7 days of shearing into three weeks of off again on again shearing.
-When you finally have washed the car/tractor/ute. Ask my husband about this! He washed all of our machinery for the clearing sale and then it rained, the wind blew up and all the dust that wasn’t yet mud blew onto and stuck to the newly washed items.
-When you are loading up to move, the wind still blowing, kaboom mattress meets mud!

The night before the final morning for me and the kids was strange. My husband was to come back and continue moving farm related items we had kept and all his workshop items over the following week, so this night was not his last night at our home.

We were camping in the bedroom, the house empty except for us and a few small items. I lay there thinking about it all, still thinking that it wasn’t real that perhaps I could wake up in the morning and everything would be back in it’s place. I thought of the kids, our 9 year old understanding what was going on, the two younger ones once again oblivious to it all. Our 9 year old cried, cried about how she missed her room already, she missed her best buddy, she missed her life as she has only known it.
My heart broke for her, our sweet little one having to have her life turned upside down and inside out. It’s so unfair.

Morning came all too quickly after a night of tossing, turning and worrying. Kids up, breakfast had, time to go.

I was to drive the family car with the canopy trailer bursting at the seams, parts of our lives packed tightly inside, towed behind. My husband was driving a truck, our furniture, our household carefully packed and placed ready for the long trip.

The butterflies came back as I sat in the car and turned it on. I had walked around the house, fingers running along the walls soaking up the memories, smiling to myself as the memories from each room came back. In the hall there is this wonderful drawing, done by our then 2.5 year old in permanent red marker, his wonderful piece of art left behind. The kitchen and bathroom we designed together and turned from a dream into a reality, the whole house and its memories. Sitting here now writing this down has me in tears.

It is amazing how much life and love you put into a house, just like those 28 years my husband put into his farm, his love his life.

As the car warmed up I looked back at our house, our beautiful garden, put the car into gear and started to leave. I was holding up ok for the first 100 metres, but with every 100 metres that passed the lump in my throat grew bigger and more tears flowed.

This was the last time I would leave our home, there was no going back, it was so final.

As I reached the end of our driveway and turned onto the main road, I was crying hard. The kids and I sang out goodbye to our farm, our three year old yelling out goodbye to the sheep, goodbye to the birds……goodbye.

Goodbye Farm, thank you for one of the most wonderful experience of our lives. x x x

The Case Loader

I never thought I would cry over a tractor.

Today the bloke who bought our Case Loader turned up with his Semi and Low loader to take it home with him.

My heart leapt when I went outside and saw the loader on the trailer, the new owner chaining it on, making sure it was safe for the trip to it’s new home.

I have a love for this tractor.

Back in July last year my husband shore a sheep that was slightly fly blown in the neck region. As the rest of the flock were in the paddock just up behind the house, once shorn he put it out and followed behind it on foot, heading it in the right direction.

Between the paddock and the house we had recently put in new water tanks, these in a race way area and they had not yet been fenced off. The sheep decided to run in behind the tanks. Sheep being sheep (and suffering from three day madness due to just being shorn) got all confused and scared. My husband managed to corner it, straddled it and was holding its head with his left arm trying to direct it out from where it had cornered itself.

The sheep had other ideas, which as I have come to realise, sheep do. It’s a sheep thing.

The sheep decided to try and head the opposite way, my husband had a strong hold but that didn’t stop the sheep taking off in the opposite direction, taking my husbands arm with him. I heard a yell from outside, but as my husband didn’t come to the house I thought everything must be right.

He came into the house ten minutes later, cursing the sheep, telling me that the sheep had hurt his arm but he’d be right, he done this before and it’d right in a few weeks.

He went to shower. As he took off his shirt over his head the cry of pain that came from the bathroom was shocking. I ran in to make sure he was fine, he said he was but I knew he wasn’t.

We got in the car and drove to the nearest hospital. The doctor there checking it out and insisting we had to travel to Adelaide asap and get it looked at by a specialist. Hours and hours later, after much driving and waiting, we had a diagnosis. He had torn the bicep muscle off the arm down near to the elbow. He would require surgery and a lot of rest for the arm.

Now the time that this all happened we had 1500 sheep that we were maintenance feeding. My husband due to his injury and pending surgery was out of action for a few months. He had a good set of legs and one good arm, not much good for driving, let alone lifting and doing general farming jobs. This is where I stepped in and became friends with the Case Loader.

The sheep were being fed grain one day, hay the next.
The grain was fed out from a grain bin mounted on the back of the ’79 Land Cruiser. A wonderful car, but without power steering. Those first few days my arms were so sore, but they became used to it quickly and before I knew it I didn’t notice the heavy steering.

The grain bin had a drop down arm to which the grain would flow out through into the troughs set up in the paddocks. There were four paddocks, each set up in the same manner. My first go at lining it all up, feeder arm, grain flowing, driving forward- thinking I was going straight, was a disaster. I think I got more grain on the ground than in the actual troughs. I actually stopped and laughed out loud it was that funny. Lucky the sheep didn’t mind a bit of dirt mixed in with their grain.

By the second paddock I had it all sorted, had worked out the pace and steering and did a wonderful job. Something about oats though that makes them stick, so half way through the second trough I would have to -shut of the flow – jump out shovel the grain – get down start the flow and drive on again. Then it was back to re-fill the grain bin and finish the last two troughs.

I learnt how to use Augers and about the joy or shovelling grain from inside a flat bottomed silo, and now know why my husband curses those flat bottom silos!

On the second day the hay would be fed out. This is when I learnt how to drive the Case Loader. Three paddocks of the sheep would have a half bale, one a full bale. We had those rectangular bales, around 400-450kgs in weight.
I would take the loader to the hay shed, removing two bales at a time ( I eventually mastered three at a time). The hay would be placed ready for me to load one at a time onto the flat tray trailer which was hitched behind the Hilux.

When I first got in and drove the loader the swivel action in the centre threw me, but once I got used to that I was fine.
I quickly mastered picking up and placing down the bales. It was just a matter of a flick of the fork tilt either up or down a little to make sure they didn’t pull the hay back off the trailer when I reversed.

I must admit, I loved it. I loved being in control of a large machine, the fact I could do it easily. I secretly wished that people would pop in for a visit and see me doing it so I could hear them be impressed that I could!

The hay was then driven out to each paddock, the Hilux put in low gear and I would use a hay fork to push off hay sections as the car drove slowly along. I was pretty crap at the first half bale I did. Once again I just laughed at myself and tackled it a different way. I didn’t have the strength in my arms, so centred the handle of the hay fork at stomach height getting my legs into action as well to help with the pushing. This worked well.
I won’t tell you how long it took to push off that first bale, but the car almost hit the end of the quite large paddock by the time I finished. Oh well nothing like a bit of space around each hay section, the sheep weren’t crowded at least.

I thought that driving the ’79 land cruiser hurt my arms, but the hay pushing almost did me in. I knew I had no choice, so kept at it and the soreness only lasted that first week. I sure got strong!

That’s the story behind why I love the Case Loader. I love the feeling it gave me whilst driving it, and it is such a wonderful machine to drive too.

Goodbye Case loader, I hope your new owner enjoys you as much as I did.