Monday, September 9, 2013

Cheat sheet for country living…

Yesterday I did something which caused ST to call me a “city slicker on her first trip to the sticks.”

Did I accidentally leave a gate open?

Did I mix up some sheep in the yards after they’d been drafted?

Did I drive the ute to the other side of the property and run out of fuel?

So what did I do that could possibly have received such a harsh critique?
Well, when asked to pick up some steel posts from the shed and deliver them to him about 15km away, I grabbed 210cm long posts instead of regular sized 165cm ones. Woops.

ST: “But didn’t you look at them when you grabbed them, and hold them up next to you and realise they were too big?”

Ummm… No. I popped them straight in the back of the ute and drove off, congratulating myself on what a good job I’d done choosing the nicer, straighter, blacker posts instead of the bent, rusty, dodgy looking ones next to them.

As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the city but you can’t make her drink when a champagne in the hand is worth two in the fridge. That is what they say, isn’t it?

So as a public service to the people of Australia, I'm sharing some of the stupidest, most embarrassing city slicker things I’ve done in my 2.5years at Burragan. This way everyone else can learn from my mistakes, and we’ll become a nation of uber paddock-savvy, professional farmers.

Things you need to know (or what not to do) when you visit your country cousins… or marry a farmer:

1) Not all sheep look like miniature versions of Goulburn’s famous Big Merino.

I found this out not long after moving to Burragan, when I went to collect the mail and came back with a wondrous story about all the things I’d seen during the trip. It’s 15km to the mailbox and most of that is through the neighbour’s place…

Bessie: “…and oh, you should have seen the goats! Thousands of goats that were in the neighbour’s place… thousands, just thousands… all there running in a mob! You should have seen them! It’s like they are running goats instead of sheep!”

ST: “Where did you say they were?”

Bessie: “Just in the neighbour’s place there, in the paddock with our mail box in it.”

ST: “They’re not goats. That’s the neighbour’s dorper-damaras.”

2) Some sheep don’t have wool.
They’re still sheep. Not diseased sheep. They’re just meat sheep, not wool sheep.
I found this out during my very first shearing experience. ST and I were helping his parents draft sheep at their place. His mum and I was pushing up the sheep from behind, making sure they were running through the draft continuously… when all of a sudden this crazy looking animal came through the mob with all its weird hairy wool stuff half falling off…

Bessie: “Ohmigod! Ohmigod! WHAT on earth is THAT, that, that, THING?”

ST’s Mum: “What thing?”

Bessie : “That! That one there! What’s wrong with it? Why does it look like that!? What’s happening to it?”

ST’s Mum: “Which one?”

Bessie: “The one with the MOHAWK! What IS it!?”

ST’s Mum: “The dorper ram?”

3) Sheep eat grass.
They have done for centuries. They’re unlikely to try eating meat any time soon.
I found this out, quite embarrassingly, when ST’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting. ST and the brother-in-law were talking about poison baiting for feral animals such as foxes and pigs, when I piped up and asked: “But doesn’t anyone ever have any trouble with the sheep eating the baits?”

BIL: “Well, generally sheep eat grass.”

Bessie: “Yeeeaahhh… but what’s stopping them from accidentally eating the baits?”

BIL: “Being herbivores and all… they don’t eat meat.”

And my brain connected the dots in three, two, one...

4) Driving with a flat tyre is not OK.
It’s not even forgivable. Even if it's an accident. Just don't do it.
I found this out the hard way. The overhead tank at the house was empty so being a good farm-girl I grabbed the jerry can and jumped in the ute to go to the dam and start the pump. ST was on the motorbike, moving some sheep in the same area, and when he noticed the ute parked over at the dam, he called me up on the UHF…

ST: “Hey Bess, did you fix that flat tyre on the ute?”

Bessie: “No. What? What flat tyre?”

ST: “You’re joking, aren’t you?”

Bessie: “No. What flat ty- oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.”

ST: “Tell me you didn’t just drive that ute all the way from the house on a rim.”

Bessie: “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…”

5) Mustering the wrong paddock is also not OK.
Remember the time I tried to muster Pretties Paddock? You can read about it HERE. But, yeah, let’s not bring that up again.

OK, I told you mine, now you tell me yours... Go on!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life… with a side of salt

I’ve been feeling a bit off colour lately. More of a volcanic grey than my usual sunshine yellow and devil’s sidekick red.

Blame it on the lead up to shearing, the atmospheric pressure, the post party blues that happen after nine lots of visitors in nine weeks (and just before the tenth), the end of winter funk, the poddy calf getting sick, or a lack of champagne and decent evening TV… but I just can’t seem to kick it.

It has been one of “those” weeks, you see.

The ones where you manage to burst three underground water pipes within 24 hours (one with the bobcat and two with the trench digger) despite consulting the pipe layout map.

The ones where you end up washing all the dishes by hand because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes that no one is feeling sprightly enough to unpack.

The ones where you eat leftovers for dinner four nights in a row.

The ones where you discover the freezer at the shearer’s quarters was accidentally turned off a week ago. And it’s full of meat.

Yeah, those weeks. Ever been there?

And it’s not like anything totally disastrous has happened (though listen up universe, I’m not trying to tempt fate with that comment, OK?)… but as usual there’s just too much to do, not enough time, not enough hands, not enough energy, not enough money, not enough swear words in the world to get it done.

Wow, that came out much more whiny and depressing than I was aiming for. Oh well.

But moving on…

You might have read my last post A poem for my friend in the stars…

Late last month my friend M should have turned 25. Instead she is forever 18. I don’t talk about her because I’m acutely aware the internet is a very loud place. Her memories are not mine to broadcast.

But she is in my life, in everything. And she is my daily reminder that I am intensely lucky to have a voice, and a platform to use it.

My blog was very bare last month as (a) we’ve been busy and (b) I wasn’t up for writing any more light hearted, entertaining posts. And I like to try to use my words wisely.

This was going to be a blog about criticisms on the internet and a correlation between that and “yard language” (farmers will know what I’m talking about there)… But instead I’ll shelve that idea, keep it short and sweet, and hope that getting this out in the open will clear the channels for many more up to date blogs this month.

As for those little things that go wrong in life, I am learning to take them with a big salad-bowl sized serving of salt.

I just wish it was more often preluded by a shot of tequila.

That would keep my cheeks rosy.