Friday, July 27, 2012

21 things I didn’t realise about living out bush, until I lived out bush…

21 things I didn’t realise about living out bush, until I lived out bush…

1. The weather is more than just a mundane conversation topic; it’s a living entity, and also the boss.
2. Mobile phone reception is not a right, it’s a privilege.
3. Chocolate: I know I’ve mentioned this before, and I don’t want to harp on, but as I woman I feel it should be brought to the attention of females around the world that chocolate, a life essential, is not readily available in the middle of no-where. One must purchase chocolate in large supplies before heading out bush, or risk certain death.
4. Mail only comes twice a week, and not at all if it’s raining.
5. Grocery items, plants, alcohol, gas bottles, motorbikes and assorted mechanical parts can all be ordered through the mail and delivered to the mailbox. Mailboxes are generally the size of a 44 gallon drum. Our mail box is 15km from the house.
6. Fuel is bought in the thousands of litres instead of tens of litres… and yes, we have our own fuel bowsers!
7. There’s no such thing as the weekend, or business hours.
8. The world consists of only two types of cars: Toyotas and motorcars.
9. Number 1s and Number2s don’t just disappear into the ether for someone else to deal with once you flush. And if something goes wrong, then sometimes you really are, literally, in the shit.
10. Medical receptionists, accountants and government employees will never understand the inconvenience of driving 300+km for an appointment that is rescheduled or cancelled. Pharmacists and optometrists, on the other hand, will post almost anything to you!
11. Border Collies and Kelpies are actually one quarter human… and can understand (but not speak) English.
12. Reading a book on an afternoon off is not considered a valid use of time. (Nor is having an afternoon off.)
13. A 90 kilometre return trip is not too far to drive to get a roadhouse burger and chips (or a proper espresso coffee) for dinner when you really can’t be bothered cooking.
14. You can never have too much toilet paper. Always have backup for your backup, and backup for that backup.
15. Same with wine. And batteries. And matches. And chocolate.
16. Smoko is the main, most important, and most enjoyable, meal of the day.
17. A Leatherman is a magical implement, kind of like a lightsaber, which can be used to complete any task from digging splinters out of your hand, fixing fences, fixing engines, “disposing” of feral animals and cutting your cake at smoko. In order to retain its special powers, the Leatherman must not be washed between tasks.
18. Fencing, shearing, crutching, spraying and marking are all nouns, not verbs.
19. Plumbers are not always necessary to get a job done right. Electricians are. And they live far away, and charge a per kilometre rate to visit you.
20. There is no garbage truck. Everyone has their own rubbish dumps… so you actually have to load your rubbish into the Toyota, drive it to your dump, and dispose appropriately.
21. 4.30am is actually the morning of a new day, not just the end of a big night.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Getting back to business and a very special delivery

Life as I know it at Burragan has been back to the norm lately. No major events, no snake sightings (thankfully, given it is winter), no bizarre injuries… just life, slipping by, with the day to day workings of the property.

We’ve been lamb marking for the last few weeks. For those not in the know, that’s when we ear tag, ear mark, castrate and tail dock the lambs. The ear marks and tags help to identify which sheep belong to which property and which are male and female, while tight elastic rings are used to castrate the boys to control breeding and dock the tails to help prevent flies laying eggs in the woolly areas around their hind.

While it can be monotonous - and messy - lamb marking is one of my favourite “on farm” duties. As a child growing up in regional Victoria, we had a friend who used to give me an orphaned lamb every year for my birthday. We’d rear it in town until it was old enough to go back to the farm. There was Snowball 1, Dandelion 1, Snowball 2, Dandelion 2… I think you can see where this is going…
I used to walk them around town, and years later, in my teens, I was still known by some as the girl who used to have pet lambs.

I LOVE lambs… and I love lamb marking, when we get to see all the lambs together in the sheep yards and they’re bleating at me saying, “Beeeesss, love me Beeeeess, love me.” It’s like being in a pen of 500 adorable puppies, with bows on their collars… offering unconditional love… and a never-ending supply of chocolate… and a neck massage.

While I do enjoy the actual process of lamb marking, it also involves mustering every paddock on Burragan, as well as ST’s parent’s place, and the third property we run stock on. Which means a lot of down time for me while the men are out on their motorbikes rounding up the mobs.

And generally these days down time means getting stuck into another renovation project. A few weeks ago my totally awesome dad drove down from Queensland with a special delivery for us – our new laundry! Ever since the great snake incident of Summer 2011/12, we’ve thought it might be a good idea to start moving the laundry from its old tin shed outside, into a vacant “sleep out” area in the house.

So it was The Block meets Burragan for the better part of a week while Dad worked tirelessly to install new windows, plumbing, cupboards and benches, and tile the splash back wall. Renovating is always an interesting game out here when you have to make sure you bring out every possible material and tool you may need. One missing or broken component, sometimes as simple as a pipe fitting or a certain sized screwdriver/drill bit/chisel/saw blade, can stall a project for weeks or months while you try to arrange to get something sent from a hardware store 500km away and other jobs keep cropping up along the way.

Sorry I don't have any great pics of this room before we started the reno, but I hope you can make out from these that the room was all old louvre windows so we actually had to put new walls up, as well as plasterboard the ceiling, and enclose some open gauzed areas. We still have to paint the whole room (Arctic white and Shale Grey), but the laundry is well on its way and I think it’s looking damn fine even if it is half finished! The cupboards and bench tops are actually from my Mum and Dad’s old kitchen, which they recently renovated.

And while we’re on the subject of special deliveries, I’ve been bouncing from the walls to tell you all about an amazing package that arrived in my mail box last month. It really deserves its own entire blog post dedication, that’s how much it blew my mind…

Shortly after writing my “Anything you can do I can do backwards… in heels” post (also commonly referred to as the one about how much I love chocolate) back at the end of May, I received a package with unfamiliar handwriting on the front.

In the hesitant knowledge that yes, it could be hate mail, it could be anthrax, or a bomb, the package and I stared at each other as it rode in the passenger seat for the 15km trip home from the mail box.

“Who sent you here?” I asked it. “How did you know where to find me?”
But the package remained silent.

By the time we arrived home that journalistic need to know everything, about everyone, all the time, got the better of me. And as I tore at the padded postage satchel its contents was revealed as… CHOCOLATE!! Freddos and Cadburys and tasty treats galore... oh my!! Tea bags and a personalised pen… magnets and assorted goodies… from who? From a woman I’ve never met! A fan? And a famous fan at that!

My big bag ‘o chocolate was from the extremely talented Australian rural romance author Karly Lane. And when I thanked her on her Facebook page that evening she said, “I just wanted you to know, that even though you’re far from chocolate, you’re never far from friends.” What a line! My heart melted into a gooey chocolate mess. Isn’t it an amazing world we live in, when strangers can possess such kindness as this.

We had a visitor for dinner that night and when I showed him my fan mail he said, "That definitely seems like a great friend to have Bessie," and I couldn't agree more!

So if you’re into chick lit with a rural twist, please share the sweet, cocoa covered love and check out Karly’s books: