Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anything you can do... I can do backwards, in heels

A question which pops up more often than not from family, friends, and strangers alike is, “Are you enjoying it out there?” or “How do you cope with being so far away from anywhere?”

Well, I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes it’s hard! Like when medical emergencies arise and none of your neighbours answer their phones… Or when it’s been eight and a half weeks since you left the property, or six months since you’ve had a proper haircut, or you’re trying to organise a wedding from 700km away… And then, just to kick you while you’re down, an essential element of coping with all of these types of challenges is gorging on copious amounts of chocolate, which, of course, you’ve already polished off weeks ago (cooking chocolate included!), and there’s no just popping down to the shop to buy some more.

So, being rather competitive, my general rule of thumb comes from the immortal words of sharpshooter Annie Oakley - well, Betty Hutton’s portrayal of her in the 1950 musical Annie Get Your Gun - “Anything you can do, I can do better.” And it’s all been done before, by people from all walks of life. People have lived in far more isolated and harsher environments, with less technological advancement, than I have. And if they can do it, I can do it – hopefully better.

But it certainly helps when your neighbours answer their phones. ST and I are lucky to have neighbours just 10kms away, over the back way. It’s unusual to get neighbours that close out here, but we have a couple in their 60s whose son and daughter-in-law are around our age and live on the property too. They are all great fun, would do anything for you, and ST has known them his whole life. We don’t get to catch up with them all that often, but it is always appreciated when we do.

And it certainly helps that when you can’t get to town for eight weeks, I still have ST on my team – I haven’t tried to kill him yet! (That's him below, looking wistfully at the sunset!) And my family and friends are only a phone call (or a facebook message) away.

And it helps to brush your hair, pluck your eyebrows, put on perfume and dress nicely every once in a while – even if you haven’t managed to get a haircut for six months.

It helps to take a deep breath and relax every once in a while. Enjoy the isolation instead of fighting it. You could be the only human to ever tread on that patch of ground, in a 10,000 acre paddock. Walk to the clothesline in your undies, dance around the house to guiltily pleasurable music you’d never get caught dead listening to, and eat chocolate for breakfast if you really want to. No one is watching.

It helps to be productive, get things done, but don’t get so caught up in it that you can’t see beyond your own backyard, no matter how bloody big it is. It’s a common grievance from country women that often their men get too bogged down in the never depleting list of things to do on-farm. I haven’t come up with a solution to that one yet, but I’m quickly coming to the realisation that if I need a mental health day, a wine (or whine) and cheese arvo at the boundary gate with my neighbour, or a date with my blog, then I need to take it. Of course there’re limits to this, if there’s work to be done, then there’s work to be done – and that’s when it’s good to remember, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”

It also helps to always have a secret stash of emergency chocolate, but if you’re anything like ST and I, then this has generally always been consumed within the four-weeks-since-town mark. There’s not much that can be done about this, except maybe you could bake a chocolate cake instead. Cake helps too.


  1. LOL Just my luck if I tried hanging out the clothes in my undies I'd get the only visitor or lost traveller in history pulling up outside!!!! I think in any situation if you can always sit back and look at the bigger picture and have a sense of humour-you'll always find a way to cope. I think you're amazing! xx
    Karly Lane.

  2. Ha ha, I'm onto you Bess! You just want everyone to feel so terribly sorry for you and guilty that we can call into the shop and buy chocolate any time we like and therefore everyone will send you chocolate in the post. The amount of chocolate we took to you over Easter would be enough to last most self respecting house holds at least 6 months. However I would love to be able to meet up for a wine and cheese at the boundary gate. xx

  3. Hey Bess, reading this made me think of 'the Drover's Wife', Henry Lawson, it's a great story of pioneering life! She dressed up every Sunday and took her children for a walk down the bush track that didn't change for as long as she walked. Life is what we make it and I am sure you are going to experience many wonderful things and share them all with us, your interested readers.

  4. Bessi

    Fortunately you come from a history of women living in remote and harsh conditions from many generations ago.

    I don't doubt you are made of the same stuff.

  5. Chocolate Icing is amaaaazing stuff. There is nothing like appreciating the small things in life. I only get to town every 2 - 3 weeks and I still cant get our chocolate supply right.

  6. Love the sunset photos ... especially the fence. Thanks for sharing.