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!


  1. Haha love your shares ... I knew about dorpers but that damara really does look like a goat ... a fat headed goat. I'll have a think so I can share. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Totally look like goats! Agreed! Thanks for reading, CountryMouse x

  2. I'll give you an opposite, being a born and raised country kid, new to the city, I was posting my mail, as everyone knows you put it in your mail box for the postman to pick up? dont you? red faced......

    1. Hahahahaha Ohhhh Wendy, that gave me a great laugh... until I remembered I have almost done the same, but opposite again! Before we'd moved to Burragan, ST and I came down from QLD to visit his parents. I collected their mail one day... only to be told no, no, no, take that back, that's our mail to be posted! Haha :D

  3. Great article as always. Such a light hearted look at country life.

  4. I LOVE THIS POST. Moving to my boyfriends huge sheep farm the first of November and plan to print this out and put on the fridge!

    1. Thanks so much Nathalia!
      Good luck with your move! Read this one too babe, you'll need it xx

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  6. hahaha, I love reading your posts and I'll share my embarrasing moment. I grew up on properties and married a city guy. At dinner with his parents and grandmother one night I had stepped out of the conversation mentally for a few moments when his gran asked me if I'd had pink eye before. Coming off properties Pink eye, to me, is an occular infection cattle get which I had seen and treated many times in the past. Obviously I was a little confused and explained that no, I had never had a cattle disease before. She looked at me funny and then explained that pink eye was also a potato and that was what she meant. How was I to know, we'd always grown our own brush potatoes on the properties. :-/

  7. Loved this - I'm currently writing a book 'Would YOu Marry A Farmer?' and your mistakes are definitely 'Australian' versions - though I have to admit people do mistake goats for lambs here too and drive on the rim etc. Wow, 200km from the nearest supermarket - and Irish farmers think some of them are isolated :)

  8. Great cheat sheet. One I would add is always, always check the water whenever you are in a paddock. The one time you don't you are sure to get asked about it.