How to date a Farmer.

How to date a farmer, advice based on experience.

Seriously though, this is an important topic,  because we all know that single farmers are a species that are extremely shy and prone to habits of living alone, never venturing near populated areas, and being neither nocturnal, nor daylight creatures.. They just hibernate and hide in hollows in the wheat fields if there is a sign of female singleness around..

They are also a nationally recognised endangered species, with no public reserves in which to hide or increase numbers. The eligible single farmer (SEF) is officially declining, and it is a tragedy not recognised by national media, or animal welfare charities.

Step one, The hardest part is finding the single farmer in his natural habitat, you so rarely catch them out of it, so often your only option is to sneak quietly into their habitat, and approach very slowly, with great caution.

The farmer is rarely aggressive or dangerous, but they are very shy and may flee on sudden movements, so keep it calm Ladies, very calm.

I recommend taking positions such as ‘country nurse’ or ‘country nanny’ or most popular the ‘country school teacher’  These familiar positions in society seem to assist the SEF in feeling comfortable and occasionally even reaching out of his own accord to meet or familiarise himself with the Single Interested Female.

A less endangered species that often is found nearby the single eligible farmer is a strange and somewhat interesting study of a creature, and that is the ‘Farmers Mother’

It is highly recommended that you seek them out, and much easier found I assure you. Coffee shops in country towns, pilates classes, the small town IGA, and CWA meetings are a good place to begin. Look for the well dressed older lady with jeans and floral button down shirt-collar turned UP, and large colourful, chunky bead necklaces.

These are the Farmers Mothers you need to target. Once you have established a repoire with them they will assist you to find your desired SEF.

Step two, once you have established contact, be wary. Until you have secured the first date, do NOT I repeat DO NOT make sudden moves. It takes a great while for many of our dear endangered SEF to feel comfortable around the Single Interested Female (SIF). Take your time..

Step three, this is the most important step, once you have secured the all important First Date, stay classy. There are far too many advertisements that indicate getting down and muddy in your ripped jeans and bikini tops will attract SEF, however they do not imprint as firmly on such a SIF.

I recommend wearing pretty sundresses, and sensible but smart clothing at all times, never being unwilling to go to work, but never exposing your mud wrestler talents either. At least not until the SEF has fully developed the dependance on your company you require. Perhaps even keep such a side hidden until after the all important Proposal.

This is step four, if you have performed all tasks correctly, you should after a not too long a period secure the proposal. No, silly, not a marriage proposal, no ma’am those is far more significant!

When he says to you, ‘would you like to drive my tractor’ then you know for sure, you have hooked your very own Single Eligible Farmer.

Congratulations.

xox Jillaroo. ❤

   

  

  

  

 

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The Fading

I am ashamed to admit it has been a very long time since I have posted here, too long in fact.

Its not because I no longer care, because I always will, nor is it that the romance of rural life, the hardships and the good times are gone, because they never will be.

There is always something to say, something to enjoy, and something to weep over in life on the land.

So why the silence you ask? well that would be because I no longer live on the land anymore. And in many ways I grieve for the loss.. But, I also find there is a fading in my mind.

You see, once a country girl, always a country girl! but the urgency fades, and the desire to share it fades. The need to tell people about how it really is fades, and so does the excitement.

I’d like to say something about adversary wearing you down, and how peoples disbelief of how it really is on the land makes you feel disillusioned, disheartened, and exhausted. But to be honest that was happening BEFORE I left the land, now as a ‘town girl’ I feel that the fire to make it right and tell people simply fades with the busyness and monotony of town living.

Yes, be offended, town life is monotonous, it is boring, and it lacks the true colour I was raised to see. And it wears you down until you can hardly see another way of living.

It all becomes about paying the rent and the car is due for another service, and Oh look! pretty shoes! our thrills are reduced to what money can buy, and for me weekend trips to the farm, where I am never there long enough to actually DO ANYTHING!!!

It has been nearly a year since I have ridden my beloved horse, nearly as long since I have helped out mustering the cattle, and even longer since my last branding.

I am reduced to occasional drives around the farm staring at everything google eyed like a city slicker. And even the cropping farm I visit nearby, where they grow grains and legumes, I am reduced to the phrase ‘oh maybe don’t come today we have work on and I don’t want you to be sitting around bored’

I don’t want to be sitting around bored either!! I want to get in, get dusty and DO SOMETHING! but such is the life of a town girl. I feel a little lost, a little bored, and not at all happy to sit at night and just watch tv, while I eat my dinner alone in my tiny house in town.

There is so much still happening on the land, so much to see and do, so much to capture the interest and imagination of anyone who wants to see it. And trust me, sharing articles on Facebook about farm life and even the hardships happening at the moment in QLD and NSW does not even come close to seeing how it really is. Trust me, I know!

And yet, it fades away. So easy to take the easy route, and only remember the romance. In ten years time I can see myself saying similar things to other ex country girls, things like ‘its not that hard’ or ‘I’m totally informed about how the aussie bush is right now’ but truth be told, if you aren’t living it, you simply.. well.. you aren’t living it!

And I feel as though I have done a disservice to the people who read what I write! Just yesterday, I was reminded to return and write some more, when I read an article, a blog post written by a girl still on the land, and she quoted one of mine, I am reminded that I created a responsibility to talk to you, because of the internet friendship we have developed. I apologise, and I promise to talk to you a little more often than I have. Perhaps my topics will be a little different, a little more varied, but I’m sure if we look, there is always something fun going on in our hearts.

I personally cannot wait until this friday, I’ve bought a new freezer, and so I’m headed back to the farm, going to spend some quality time with my daddy, and butcher a few sheep.

One for the farm, and one for me, organic, pure, stress free, and highest quality lamb to bring back to town to eat. Because even as a newly appointed ‘town girl’ I still get the perks of being a country girl at heart. mmmm chops!!!

xoxox

Jillaroo!

 

 

 

 

Media Misconceptions

We as landowners seem to always struggle when we watch the news, if they aren’t talking about our desperate plight in the current drought situation, then we wish they were. 

And if they are talking about it, they seem to always be getting it just a tiny bit wrong.
How do I mean? well take the latest rain reporting for example.
To begin with the national disaster of this massive drought we are currently experiencing in most of QLD and NSW at this present time is hardly in the media compared to other stories, then for several days prior to the rain event, you know the one that was supposed to be record rainfall for all concerned there was a large amount on the news and TV about the drought and its devastation, but not to worry people-Its going to rain this weekend and everything will be fine.

Of course the reports included relieved looking farmers and graziers who have been waiting for years for the rain to fall, and it was all very hopeful.

Sadly however, for many the expected rainfall, and the actual rainfall did not match up and now many are sitting back devastated about the 2-3 inches that did not fall. For some, the tiny amount of rain which did fall, as little as 5mm in some areas, did more damage than good being followed by frosts and cold weather.

But do we see the follow up reports on the 7:30 report about how things did not quite go as well as hoped? Well no of course not. The media has moved on. Now I am not saying this is all bad, and to a certain extent its completely understandable.

But what we the public needs to be aware of is that the whole story is not always told on the TV, and to always look further afield to see the full story.

The drought isn’t broken, and realistically, nobody thought it would be by a single rainfall in August. The hope was there, but the reality is harsh. More rain is always needed.

But on the plus side, our family farm has been lucky to score a gorgeous 44mm of rain, and we are going to do ok for a while-not forever mind you, but for a little while. And hopefully with follow up rain in September/October we will have an ‘OK’ summer.

Now, please don’t think this a rant against the media, no its not, not in any way. I mean, really I am so grateful for the media-without whom you would not be reading this now would you? But I do recommend, if you personally don’t feel like the whole story is being told, get out there, get a blog or website, and start telling YOUR STORY! Its easy, trust me-if it wasn’t, I the biggest blonde in the history of blonde cowgirls, would not be talking to you now!

xo Jillaroo

A houseyard drought.

When you think of drought, most often the mental image is of a farmer struggling with his brown and dry crops, or sick thin and starving cattle.
But what about the houseyard? For a lot of farmers their home is their haven, and our home is no less true of the fact.
Mum is an amazing gardener, and we have become almost selfsufficient by virtue of her green thumbs.
A massive vegetable garden and a fruit orchard filled with produce just for our family, and with enough left over to share around.
Then drought hits, the first thing we do is stop watering the lawn, it dies, and becomes brown and hard, next the orchard, and finally the vege garden is dead. Flowers? What flowers? Our rose garden is long gone these days.

Now this whole subject coming from me-a person whose thumbs are not only not green, but I can wilt a plant just by looking at it? I love our garden, I love the way mum can grow things out of a patch of bare dirt, and I hate to see her sad now that the garden is gone. We got 4 inches of rain in March, and for too many people came the assumption that the drought is ‘over’ for us. And for a few short months it has been ‘ok’ in that we haven’t had to cart as much water or work quite as hard to feed starving cattle.
But for my Mum and her gorgeous garden? Its going to take a lot longer to grow back the wonders that were before. Perhaps if we can change the idea of drought from something a short shower of rain will fix, to a mental image more like a garden, the world might just have a better idea of how long it takes to recover from the devastation, just as a lawn cannot survive on a single watering, neither can a crop, or fodder for cattle. And just as our fruit trees are going to take years to recover from the dry before they produce again, so will all farming methods take years to recover from what is proving to be a very nasty ongoing disaster.
Whatever kind of garden you grow-large or small, I hope it is getting the rain it needs to grow and be gorgeous!!

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Isolation versus isolation.

Loads of people ask me how I ‘cope’ living so far from civilisation and on a farm surround by nothing but animals, how terribly isolated you are they say..

Well, I guess so in some ways yes, we are isolated. There is no mobile phone service, the internet is shocking, drops out all the time, and is basically useless for anything that requires a high speed connection, it’s also very expensive. Our TV is satellite based, and to be honest we don’t watch that much of it. We don’t go to the cinema, and I haven’t seen the latest release film.
I don’t even fully understand the ‘coffee culture’ of the cities, go to a coffee club to hang with friends, when you can stay home and make your own, and have cake too? 😜

Yes, I guess I am isolated…

But then, my friend the Kiwi sent me something he had written, during a ‘meh moment’ as he calls it, and strangely enough, he explains why I never NEVER feel isolated, in a way I really honestly couldn’t explain.

Now I remember a few of you requested to hear more of Kiwi last time he wrote, so here it is.. (But don’t tell him it’s here, coz I didn’t ask permission first!) 😜😈

~Jillaroo

You can still feel incredibly lonely being surrounded by 1.4million people.
All too often we attach ourselves to the most fickle of relationships which are based on looks, style, money and activities.
The true tragedy is that, whenever someone delves into any questions along the lines: “hey what about life” we’ll revert back to those materials that we think our lives are all about.

Is it because we see too much glass, metal and concrete? Manufacturing and adverts? Bank balances and transactions?
What ever happened to living for the sake of living? Seeing life through the eyes of a new born? Or time through the eyes of those that have spent the most of it?
Why is more lessons learnt through TV & the internet than through books, human interaction and observation?
Why is it, that the more connected we are to “information”, the further we move away from each other?

Life it seems is quickly turning into nothing more than being an object signalling and self-sustaining processes a chemical or electrical process.
Robots who receive instructions with perceived expectations that they draw up because living becomes no more than the ease of which they create and maintain symbolic materials with no base value.
Value… somewhere in the deep recesses of our brain we know what is truly valuable: Time, Relationships & Love. Having plenty of all 3 we know would make a person feel incredibly happy.
We all seek it and yet, we don’t long for it nearly as much as we used to.
If we feel we lack in one, we’ll kid ourselves in thinking that material things will fill in as a substitute?
Why do we not use these things to complement life?
People will often look at the tools of which we complement our lives and shift the focus away from life itself and this is exactly what we’re doing.
Life is more than obtaining more mechanisms in which we can advertise ourselves or keep ourselves occupied. Yes, we need some in order to actually stay alive but, you have to admit, the world is getting worse.
Those that have the material want more and those that are removed enough from it simply want to live. And yet we, those that have it are unwilling to share because we are unwilling to care which is because we are unwilling to see.
What is it about a holiday that helps you reset, feel more human and more connected?
Is it the computers and mobiles that you surround yourself with? -If there was no one willing to interact with you on the other end; just how long do you think you want to keep using them?
Is it the clothing, accessories or body art that you style yourself in? -If there was no one there to appreciate it, is there really any point?
If you had a house with nothing to connect with, nothing to love… For how long could you stand the silence?

It’s amazing how easy it is to see just how much more there is to see once you remove yourself from the lights.
A day in the country with the right people does make you think “Have we stamped life out?”
What is it about seeing life grow, die and move that warms the heart?
If you were to become society’s primary producer, would you, like a parent tending to a child, feel a greater satisfaction that you’re directly helping your fellow men grow?
Would you, having hundreds, if not thousands of living creatures directly under your care feel a deep appreciation and strong connection to life itself?
How would you feel if the whole outside world shut you out, and tried stamping out everything that you know and hold dear?
No, as someone that has experienced it and wants in, I can tell you now that throwing them out is not an option and how dare we try and disconnect those that are closest to the true nature of life.

If you haven’t yet, head out for 1 round of life on a farm.
As for me, I’m ready for round 2.

~Kiwi.

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Breaking Even

Did you know that a bed in a private hospital costs $1200 per night?
And that intensive care beds cost even more? That the anesthetist for
a single surgery can cost over $2500?
What about the idea that the public health care system can sometimes
not set a broken leg for up to a week after the accident?
How about that farm work is considered one of Australias most
dangerous professions?
And what about private health cover? Income replacement insurance?
Private health cover was not something that I thought I could afford,
in fact I can still think of so many better ways to spend $150 per
month, or better still, not spend it at all! But the fact is, had I
not given in to the pressure from my parents and taken out a medium
level cover, with extras, a mere couple of months before my fall from
the horse, I would now either not have a leg, or be facing a bill
equivalent to buying a brand new car.
I thought private health cover was expensive, in fact, I can now pay
into that fund for 20 years, and not pay back what they spent fixing
me. I am the first person to recognize that what happened to me was a
freak accident, I have had horses fall on me in the exact same way so
many times, and never so much as sprained an ankle! And I know many
people pay into insurances for many years, and never make a single
claim! But that one time that it ended with a serious injury, or even
the chance that it might end in serious injury makes owning a policy
so much more worth it.
How easily my $40,000 hospital bill could have been $100,000, or even
higher! I don’t know many people who have that kind of money stowed
away that they can afford to spend in one hit like that.
One of the things that happened to me while I was in hospital, was the
accounts lady came to visit me, holding a $32,000 bill, and asked me
what method I was going to use to pay it, and could she have my credit
card details. I was terrified, emotional, a very long way from home,
and alone. What a blessing that I was able to tell her [albeit through
tears] that I had private health, and thought they were paying for it,
she apologized and sorted out the mix-up immediately.
During a drought or tough financial time, insurance is often the first
thing that gets cut from the budget, but if we are honest with
ourselves, can we really afford to not have it?
I know, for me personally, and my family, insurance will be the last
thing cut from my budget, whilst ever I remain working or living on
the land.
I sure hope it is for you too.

 

~Jillaroo

Winning the Break, part 2

Finally going through one of the last bags from my hospital stay, its called my ‘Silly Bag’ and when I tipped it out one of the first things I found is my diary… Maaan! I used to practically sleep with that thing! My life was mapped out to 15 minute intervals some days, and I never went a day without looking at it, every single page was full or scribble and notes of stuff I had to do, Until the 23rd Feb, and then every page from there is either crossed out, or blank. Was quite a shock to thumb through it and see the things I had planned and the stuff I was going to do.. All cancelled. So much I missed out on.

 

But after that, underneath the black book of my ordered life, is about 50 cards, this huge amount that just about covers my entire bed!! From everyone who wrote me while I was in hospital. From all these people who I never knew cared, or perhaps I kind of knew they cared, but I never really understood just what that meant. And even from complete strangers who had no reason to care, I still don’t know why they did.

 

It is so very easy to go through life planning every single thing, and hating the things that come along and cause stuff to go awry, I especially hated it when I had something written in my diary, and it didn’t happen as planned.

I admit, I used to think I was easy going, patient, and a good friend to people. But the fact is, over the last few months, I learnt a lot about what those qualities actually mean, and why I didn’t have any of them

And most of it, didn’t come from inside me, actually all of it did not come from inside me.

 

After the first surgery I had, I woke up in hospital, and my surgeon uttered a phrase I was going to hear from him a lot during my time under his care-I think we are winning. He said that a heck of a lot, and frankly after the first few times, I was not sure if he wasn’t just saying it. In fact, one day, as he tapped on my leg,  pricked me with needles, and told me to move my foot this way and that, and I watched as my foot just would respond to my attempts to move it, as he was touching me and I could not feel anything, and honestly, I felt defeated.

Then he finished his exam, and said, well you know what, I think we are winning.. So of course I smiled at him and thanked him and he left. And I curled up and cried.

Because I didn’t feel like a winner, not right at that moment. Nothing was going to plan, I was supposed to be home carting water for our cattle, and going to work every Wednesday and Thursday, and then going overseas in a few weeks. It wasn’t meant to be like this!!

But, my plans, and Gods plans are not the same thing, and no matter whether you believe in the existence of a higher being or not, one thing is certain-best laid plans are the ones most likely to go awry. And in my case a good thing too.

Its so easy to not be thankful for things, especially the little things in life, they pass you by and you never really notice that you missed them. But in a place where you have no choice but to notice things-because honestly staring at a wall sulking only works for so long when you are in hospital for a month. I started to notice things, and little things become a  lot bigger when you take away all the crap we surround ourselves with to make us feel like we are ‘in control’ and to fill our lives up. Now I am no saint, I didn’t sit there having epiphanies all day, in fact I spent most of my time on youtube or facebook, or watching silly movies. And I didn’t read a single book all the way through despite being given many for that purpose. And I did a lot of colouring in and playing with lego.

Even so, I realize that loving your friends isn’t about reading their facebook updates, or sending an occasional text, although that became important to me, (despite my lack of reply-sorry guys) love is what I learnt in hospital, because I never knew how loved I was. Through no virtue of my own, people were sending me cards and flowers, and chocolates, and I didn’t go a day without a visitor, despite the nurses telling me that many patients, especially rural patients, don’t get many at all.

I wanted to write about the miracles that saved my leg, about how had Emily not turned my leg immediately when she found me, out of sheer instinct and no training, I would have lost it then and there from lack of circulation. How had the Royal flying doctor not been in the St George airport that day, to pick up another patient who decided not to use them, I would not have been flown out that day, and I would have lost my leg and potentially died because of serious and rare complications-swelling and circulation problems, how I somehow ended up with the best ‘lower leg orthopedic surgeon in Queensland’ despite his 4 month waiting list, in a prestige hospital that doesn’t take emergency patients, and the list goes on.

But the thing is, my real miracle, is the people who rallied to help me get through this, my sister who took time off work to be by my side, who came and sat with me every single day despite being exhausted herself. My parents who drove some 500 km to spend a week with me, despite our cattle desperately needing them to stay home, my two younger siblings who singlehandedly did the work of 5 people, to allow my parents to come away.

And that’s what is expected. What is not expected is the people who flocked to support me from unexpected places, friends who cared way more than I expected, bringing me unexpected things, like chai tea, because I love it, and cant get it at home. A teapot and teacup so I can have it anytime I wished, lego and coloring in books-of horses no less, so I didn’t miss my own. My teddy bear that held a heart saying ‘I love you more than chocolate’ and my penguin to squeeze when it hurts, I woke up many times in hospital only to find teddy tucked under my chin, and penguin gripped firmly in my hand.

There is so much more and I cant list it all, but these things were brought to me at my lowest points and lifted me up. And more than material things, my adoptive parents who looked after me so my own could go home and rest easy knowing I was ‘ok’

Being taken out of my room, to the coffee shop downstairs, or having coffees brought up. A cousin who would ride a train for over an hour, just to bring me up a chocolate and a quick chat, the friend who would pop by on his way home, or in their lunch hour, for no reason..

I was known in hospital as the girl with the flowers, and nurses were coming into my room just to see if it were true, did I really have that many?

One nurse sat beside me and admired the flowers, and told me sad stories of people who sat for months in hospital and didn’t get a single visitor, phone call, or bunch of flowers. In those moments, I learnt a little of why I might be winning..  Because I was learning. My dad always has this saying whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I would just like to add, that only if you learn from it.

I learnt to be grateful. I learnt to be happy. And I learnt that to overcome doesn’t mean that you come out standing victorious on a pile of dead bodies like some medevial action movie, it means to withstand a storm. To remain, and to stick with it, even when you don’t want to.

I most importantly I learnt that withstanding a storm, is not something you do because of surface materials. Its what is underneath holding you up that matters, and underneath me, I had no sandy foundation, I had and have some of the most amazing friends and people in my life that I have ever been blessed to meet.

My life is NOT ABOUT ME! My strength to withstand does not come from me, it comes from the people who stood to hold me up when I wasn’t able to stand.

Since being out of hospital, I have gone to a drought resilience talk, done by Suncorp bank in town, and there they had a speaker, a psychologist talking, and he asked the question that we should think about the hardest and most difficult time in our life, and then to think about what got us through that time. I didn’t have to think too hard about what my toughest time was, and to think about what personal strength got me through it? Well none! I got through it because of the people who visibly came to the fore to hold me together. Most importantly, I learnt that these people had always been there, but I had never credited them with the importance that they deserved.

The advice I can give to anyone who asks, as a result of what happened is only this, surround yourself with people whose qualities far exceed your own, and then don’t be shocked when they rally and love and support you in ways you never dreamed, and never underestimate what they do in your life behind the scenes, don’t wait until all the rest has been stripped away to notice how amazing they really are.

 

I am still learning, I am still making mistakes, I put deadlines on my recovery, and I try to predict how far love extends, to find an end to things, to measure it. And I don’t meet my deadlines, my plans are still going awry, and when I think I have found the extent of love, it reaches further into the expanse than I thought possible. I am still on crutches, I wont be able to ride a horse again for 12 months maybe longer, and maybe not ever again the way I wish and hope to be able to.

I will not ever get back to the way I was before, I have nerve damage, I have a wonky leg, I have some pretty impressive scars. I also have the most incredible friends and family ever, I have learnt that my personal strength extends further than I ever imagined because my friends wont allow anything else.

No, I wont be the way I was before, I will be better, I will be stronger, and I will overcome.  I wont forget, and I will get back on my horse, both literally and metaphorically. And when I do, I credit the people in my life, family, friends, and in some cases complete strangers who stood to help me when I needed them the most.

I am winning.

 

~Jillaroo

Standing at the Break, a farm injury part 1

It was silent, that was the worst part. All those white and blue gowned people, not saying a word as they laid me out on a stainless table, each of them preparing to do things to me that I knew would be unpleasant.

One anonymous person, fully masked and wearing safety glasses took my arm and I watched as he began to inject the drugs into me, others organizing things around me, strangers everywhere and not a friendly face to be seen.

Then right as the world began to become unstuck, I see my surgeon walk into the room, a friendly face in a sea of strangers and his promise that all would be ok was only a little bit comforting.

How on earth did I end up here? I am a healthy, happy and reasonably fit country girl. I’m not sick!

 

Well to answer that question I need to rewind a week or so, to a warm February morning, I pulled out my favorite black moleskins, zipped up my ariats, strapped on my spurs, and picked up my favorite thing in the whole world, my saddle!

I always love the smell of my saddle, the oil conditioner, and the horse hair I can never quite get out of the saddle cloth.. I am  horse girl, always have been, and I love my ponies..

When I bought Yoyo, she was bound for the dog meat factory, by bringing her home to live with us I saved her life, and she taught me a lot in return.

When I bought Yoyo, she was bound for the dog meat factory, by bringing her home to live with us I saved her life, and she taught me a lot in return.

 

 

My dad needed help to muster our cattle in, the Santa cows, they were in serious distress, and we needed to get the calves off them.

Early weaning is not a fun job, taking calves off their mothers as young as 3 weeks old. But it’s a job that must be done in drought, to save as many lives as we can.

I choose to ride my Yoyo, my high spirited 5 year old mare, and we hurried to reach the paddock before the others arrived on their motorbikes. (myself being the only horse user on our place these days) we were firing on all cylinders, despite her drought affected condition, and mustering those cattle was what we both wanted to do. Cantering around the paddocks, mostly watching for cattle flushed out of the wattle by the motorbikes, and shushing them through the gate at the top, and thoroughly enjoying myself I might add, I could hear the bikes approaching, but first I saw the cattle..

 

A steady canter around them and bring them the final few hundred meters to the gate, for some reason they went to break away just before-as cattle always do, and I followed at a good clip, spinning them around and the last 100 meters to the gate traversed at a higher speed. I turned away from the gate still going in a canter. Right then little sister Emily, appeared over the rise with a couple more cows, and we exchanged a quick wave.

But at the moment my hand left the reins I felt my steed falter underneath me, 3 more paces, and she was going down. She slipped on the hard packed soil of the ridge, heavy because of our speed, and forward thrusting, she fell flat on her side, not the first time it has happened to me I react fast, flicking my leg over the saddle and leaping clear, as I have done in the past.

My thoughts as I did so, that I would have to convince everyone that this wasn’t Yoyos fault this time, and ‘gee I hope I get a decent bruise this time, coz whats the point of stacking your bike and not having anything to show for it’

 

But I wasn’t fast enough getting out of the road, my toe caught on the ground as she landed and turned my leg around, as her heavy body fell with all her weight on top of me.

I heard as much as felt a slightly wet crunch, and a lot of pressure as her body came to a halt trapping my right leg under her. But not for long, as Yoyo leapt and bolted away completely unharmed.. Lucky her!

 

From the day I rode this horse home (no literally rode her home-35km!) She has been an adventure, from the quietest horse I ever bought, to the biggest troublemaker, to the best lesson I ever learnt.  The horse that broke my leg, and taught me so much about myself.  And I have only owned her for 7 months! Imagine what she will teach me in her lifetime!

From the day I rode this horse home (no literally rode her home-35km!) She has been an adventure, from the quietest horse I ever bought, to the biggest troublemaker, to the best lesson I ever learnt.
The horse that broke my leg, and taught me so much about myself. And I have only owned her for 7 months! Imagine what she will teach me in her lifetime!

I don’t know at what point I moved, but it was my yell that brought my brave girl Emily back to my side. I knew that my leg was broken, but it seemed more annoying than anything else.. What a way to ruin a decent muster, me being the idiot and messing everything up-as usual!

 

Emily brought her bike to a sliding stop next to me on the ground yelling about how she is not happy with my horse, (if you know my girl, you know I have understated her meaning just a tad) but she halted for a split second before dashing forward towards me, with an indrawn breath and a cry, ‘I think you have broken your leg’

She grabbed my foot, and quickly, she turned my foot around, and straightened my leg out, even before I was aware of how twisted it really was.

More in shock than pain, I was pretty convinced that I was not going to die right then, so off Emily went to fetch my Daddy and little brother Craig.

Some few minutes passed before they returned, and as I lay there in the dirt I pulled the 2-way radio out of my hip pocket, I had landed on it as I fell, but it wasn’t broken. My akubra I placed over my leg, it was still a little too wonky for my liking. Given that time to collect myself, I got to think about how awful this really was.

In the middle of the worst drought in history, with barely any rain for the year-our first summer shower fallen only the week before, cattle starving, water running out, all the work, all the feeding of cattle, everything that was going wrong, and here I was breaking my stupid leg.

Just another thing gone wrong, another straw on the camels back.

 

My family came back and a blur of activity went past, as Emily, rushed home to tell mum, ring 000, and bring back a vehicle to take me out of the paddock in, Dad too left, when he realized that the cruiser had a flat tyre he had been putting off fixing.

 

So Craig, my 19 year old brother was left holding me together, rubbing my face and keeping the sun off me.

20 minutes or so later, Dad returns with ‘Betty’ the town car, kitted out with a mattress in the back for me to lie on. Together, Dad lifted me in with Craig holding and supporting my leg, which was floppy beyond belief.

 

The ambulance was sent out from St George, and after transferring Mum into the drivers seat, and Emily in the back holding my hand, we drove out of the front gate. I forget my Dads exact last words to me, but I know he was apologizing, and the trauma on his face-not something I want to see again.

 

We met the ambulance halfway to town, it was both the longest and the shortest 60km of my life. I don’t know how long it took, but I wont forget it in a hurry.

 

The ambos were great, first thing they gave me was that whoppa green whistle, a few sucks on that, and I believe I knocked myself out! I woke up in the ambulance, and had the very pleasant paramedic tell me all about his injury just 3 months before-he said ‘I broke my leg, just like you, hiking in the mountains, it was terrible-much worse than yours, I nearly lost my leg, you wont have it that bad…” His advice was that even though I would have a broken leg, I would not be sick, and it was going to drive me stir crazy, but to take it easy, and be patient, things will heal in time.

He was right of course, about everything but one, my break, was just as bad as his, perhaps even worse.. But I haven’t caught up with him to compare stories yet, maybe one day.

The doctors in St George were fabulous, my own GP being on duty that day, he shook his head in disbelief, and roused on me for being ‘the most accident prone female he has ever met’ I cannot deny that it might be true, he was still getting over last time he saw me with shrapnel in my eyes from an exploding rifle. Initially Dr M was simply going to X-ray and then set my leg before deciding if he should send me off to Toowoomba for possible surgery.

But when he unwrapped the splint the ambos put on my leg, his face changed, and he called in another fellow, Dr T to have a look. Both immediately said I must go to Brisbane, Dr T ringing up a close friend orthopedics to find out what hospital I should be sent to. His friend, A specialist, after having the X-rays emailed to him, immediately offered that I should go into his care, at Brisbane Private hospital.

So the Royal Flying Doctor was called, and I ended up on a plane to Brisbane, only my 3rd time on a plane in my life!

It was a long flight, with the pilot having to make several stops along the way, but eventually I landed in Brisbane and was taken to the hospital where I was to spend the next few days.

A nurse met the ambos in the lobby, and led the way to my new room, D17, a room all to myself, with a city view at that!

The next morning, I was woken by a tall efficient looking man, who introduced himself as Dr Tim,

Surgery was scheduled for 3 pm that day to put a nail all the way down my leg, but by 10am things were not looking good, and by 11am I was being rushed into surgery to save my leg.

 

When I woke up I had two rather strange contraptions on the bed next to me, with pipes going from there to my leg. Vaccum pumps they called them and they were busy keeping a negative pressure on my leg, to reduce the swelling and clean out the blood and bruising. Underneath the bandaging I had large wounds cut by the doctors to relieve the pressure inside my leg, each side of my leg was opened up almost completely all the way from ankle to knee, and the swelling meant the wounds were over 10cm wide on each side. These wounds were to remain open, the one on the inside of my leg for a week, but the one on the outside for almost 3 weeks, in the end, a large skin graft was taken from my hip to close that wound up.

These funky pumps were cause for more than a little bit of entertainment in the time I had them attached to me, from causing the near fainting of a visitor, and grossing out of many others.

 

I was on a phentinol drip for the pain, nurses say it was twice the recommended dosage for my size, IV antibiotics, blood clotting medications, as well as two different types of morphine, and other painkillers.

 

The bleeding in my leg was so severe I had to have 4 blood transfusions, and let me tell you, that’s not as simple as it sounds, the taste of blood in your mouth, nausea, headaches, feeling itchy all over, nightmares and 15 minute observations to check for rejection. My heart rate was up to 150 beats per minute, shaking and dizziness.

Originally we thought a trip to St George, surgery in Toowoomba and home at the end of the week, then it was Brisbane, and my parents drove up the day I had my first surgery, thinking that when they went home in a couple days they would take me with them.

Not so, as for the next month the date of my release from hospital was extended further and further into the future.

 

My second surgery was 5 days after the first, and unlike the first it was terrifying. The first surgery, they were racing me in, and I was unconscious before I even arrived at the theatre. The second, I was waiting outside theatre in pre-op for 20 minutes, alone, and scared of what was to come, cold from the low temperatures there, and eventually when I was wheeled in to the operating room it was by an anonymous person who never spoke a word to me, blue mask covering most of their face. The lights in the room were brighter than I expected, and the operating table was bare cold steel. As they moved me from my bed onto the table they took the sheets with me, and I was laid out cold and frightened waiting for what I imagined would be the worst experience of my life.

When I woke it was with a sudden fright, and it was as I was being wheeled out of the surgical room. Strange people I didn’t know grabbed me and pushed me back down onto the bed as they pushed me into recovery, where my doctor was called back into the room to calm me down, I remember he told me I was ok, and that I wouldn’t remember any of this when I woke up properly. I disagreed and asked for proof, how many stiches did I have in my leg? He laughed at me, but the number he told me was 26. There was 28 when I counted a few days later.

I had another surgery after that, skin grafts to close the wounds in my leg, but that one wasn’t too bad.. I mean the Anesthetist was pretty determined to get my phone number by any means possible, and who plays dance music in an operating room anyway?

I copped a bit of flack for going to extremes to get a holiday, but it wasn’t much of a holiday destination.

From the beginning everything worked out worse than expected, I had reactions from the blood transfusions, pain like you wouldn’t believe, delirium , fevers, shaking, twitching, seizures, adverse drug reactions, into ICU with suspected kidney failure, back out again, catheters, blood tests, nurses poking and prodding just about every inch of my body, developing a reaction to morphine, allergic reactions to phentinol, withdrawals when they took me off it, reacting to the antibiotics, dressing changes that they would have to give me morphine and sedatives to cope with, and the time they forgot to give me any pain relief for the dressing change. I could go on…

Nurses told me that not so long ago my injury would have been fatal, and when my GP rang me during my stay because he was concerned about me, he told me in any other hospital, under any other doctor I would have lost my leg.

Its scary to think about how close to the edge I have been in the last few months, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think about it like that.

Why? Because without a word of lie I can say, this has been the best experience of my entire life!

 

~Jillaroo

 

p.s. if you want to find out why keep watching to read part 2 very soon!

 

Yoyo,  I do not regret buying this horse, despite all she has put me through.  And one day, God willing, I will ride her again,

Yoyo,
I do not regret buying this horse, despite all she has put me through.
And one day, God willing, I will ride her again,

 

 

In an age of personal responsibility

”The age of entitlement is over. The age of personal responsibility has begun,” Joe Hockey.

Wow.. Big big words. I wonder if he is willing to follow through on that statement to the full extent of its meaning.

You see, personal responsibility the way he sees it, is telling Rural Australia that the record breaking drought we are enduring, the crash of the cattle market, and the complete lack of government assistance is perfectly normal, and perfectly acceptable in this age of ‘Personal responsibility’

It is in fact, our fault that this has occurred.

Our difficulties stem, not from 2 years without rain, not from the government closure of the northern cattle markets via the live ex shut down, and not from the complete crash of the market as a result. No, our current problems are directly related to in his words ‘bad business practices’ and ‘a lack of viability’

Mr Hockeys idea is that we the australian primary producers are going through such difficulties off our own backs, we brought it on ourselves, and we now have to cope with it alone.

Ok.. ok.. and.. ok..

Now, lets put this age of personal responsibility into full practice nation wide.

No more disability pension, because, lets face it you should be personally responsible for being hit by that car and being permanently paralysed. Its ‘your fault’ It is also your fault if you were born blind, or born with a mental disorder like autism, or downs syndrome. You should take responsibilty for it, no more government assistance.

No more aged care pension, you should be personally responsible for getting old. Its your fault after all, lets not count all those years you worked hard, and paid taxes to our great nation, after all, the age of entitlements is over.

No more Army pensions of course, its your fault you went to war, and well if you lost a leg or now suffer from PTSD as a result, tough titties, personal responsibility is the latest craze.

What about those illegal refugees? oh, what their boat is sinking? well.. its the age of personal responsibility, they are not entitled to rescue-that would cost the government money! Who said they were entitled to anything from us?
Asylum seekers? no more monetary handouts for you guys.. Tough luck, you are personally responsible for coming here after all…

If we go a little further into it, what about that $30 million we gave to the Philipines after the massive natural disaster they had recently? Lets face it, Joe Hockey says its their fault! Why should we the tax payer be giving them money?
or for any country going through a major national disaster for that matter.. Perhaps we should just sit on our hands and quote ‘The age of entitlement is over. The age of personal responsibility has begun’ so you just go over there and be personally responsible for your own crisis…

So maybe this is a bit extreme, but this is how many farmers now feel after that bald and rather uninformed statement made by our treasurer earlier this week.

We are not allowed to hold up our hands and say we have been hit by an unprecedented natural disaster, we have to button down the hatches and weather the storm alone, without government coming to our rescue like they are supposed to do during times of great trial.

Despite it not having the media urgency of a major flood, or the dramatic entry of a typhoon, or earthquake, drought is every bit a natural disaster as any other that may hit. It hasnt rained in some areas for up to 2 years, longer for some people.

I am hearing stories of such great desperation that people are soaking wood chips in mollasses just to give their cattle something to chew on.. Wood chips! cattle cannot live on wood.

If this were africa, humans would be dying in their hundreds, and world vision would be fighting for aid. But this is australia, and our people are just expected to ‘make do’ and battle on. Families are going without food, or living on rice, just to put that tiny bit extra towards cattle feed. People say, walk away, or why stay, but how can we leave, and leave our cattle to starve or die of thirst?

We cannot sell them all, prices are as low as 8c per kilo, and in some areas cattle aren’t being sold at all, but given away, to anyone good hearted enough to take them. It is cheaper to shoot the cattle, and many are doing just that.

A carton of bullets for the stock, and one extra for me.

To say that the crisis that our rural areas are going through right now is a result of bad business, is burying your head in the sand. To say that farmers are receiving plenty of assistance from the govt is telling lies.

There is aid out there, in the form of low interest loans, which you have to pass a means test to receive. A means test which will cut you out if you are financially unviable. Somebody tell me if it is possible to be financially viable in a time of natural disaster?

Did we question the Haitians when we gave them some millions of dollars, did we send them means testing paperwork first? no, we didn’t because it was not about only helping those who could afford to help themselves, it was about helping them to stay alive, and stay there, to get back onto their feet, and to maybe have a future when they would be viable once more.

We have given aid in the past to car companies to the tune of millions of dollars, just to keep them in the country! Was it a loan? did we require the money back from them, or was it an incentive to hang on and stay here? Should we, the australian primary producer take ourselves off shore, because our govt will not give us any assistance?

If only we could.

What we need right now is not a government to judge our practices, and deem us unviable, in the face of insurmountable obstacles, we need help! We need water, fodder, money, and most of all long heavy and soaking rain. We need rain.

If we can hand out millions of dollars in aid to other countries during national disaster, why not half that amount to our own people?

After all, there is an old saying, and I believe it is true, Charity begins at home.

http://www.aussiehelpers.org

~Jillaroo

1000 Ways to Die, a kiwi’s story

A few weeks ago our family was very happy to welcome into our home a Kiwi, and city born chap, to show him a taste of the aussie bush.

Despite my protests that he should wait til it was cooler and wait til after it had rained, to be able to experience the bush, the way it should be experienced, he insisted on coming while we were in full drought.

So, for his very first experience here on the station, Kiwi got to see very few of the positives of lliving life in the bush, as he watched (and helped) us desperately trying to feed our starving cattle, the early mornings and the very late nights. He helped us work on our windmill, and learnt how to put an animal down when it was suffering.

Its hard work for one brought up in this land, mentally, physically and emotionally, I can hardly imagine what drought must look like through the eyes of one who has not grown up with it. Someone whose experience of death and suffering is limited to what the city is able to provide. Don’t get me wrong, I am not by any means belittling city life, but I do have ultimate respect for someone who came out with very little idea other than what can be conveyed in writing and words on a sheet of paper. 

So when Kiwi offered to write down a little of what he experienced through his own eyes, I leapt at the chance, and after sending back too many very interesting but altogether far too long attempts, here is a taste of what bush life in drought is like through the eyes of a city boy.

(edited heavily from 8 pages, to about 3)

~Jillaroo

 

Image

 

Home: Downtown Auckland New Zealand
Average yearly temperature: 15 degrees Celsius
Maximum temperature recorded temperature since 1853: 34.4 degrees Celsius

So, what is this doing on a farm girls blog?
It’s a long story and believe me, I’m going to TRY and keep this short.

Let me introduce myself and I’ll give you the back story what influenced me visiting their farm in the first place.
Firstly, I am not a girl. I have not had much to do with farming in any way and I am in fact, a born and bred New Zealander AKA: Kiwi.
I have lived in downtown Auckland for many years and I met a young couple at a conference held in one of the northern most cities in New Zealand.
They were polite, extremely helpful to everyone they met and exceptionally courteous towards the elders of our group.
Talking to them, I found their outlook and behaviour different enough to get me to start to wonder about what culture, what background could have nurtured them.
I was intrigued but, all I knew about them at the time was that they came from a country full of dangerous creatures and lived in a city that I’ve already visited a few times.

I learnt that the wife was originally from the countryside when she met her husband from the city.
We added each other to our various social networks, as I would any other person, and I got to know them even better. Through this medium I met the sister of the young wife..
Enter: Jillaroo.
After many exchanges, I learn the lived on the farm and she worked every day with her best friends.
Actually, calling them her best friends is an insult. However, for the rest of society where values are so twisted, I believe that is the best way for me to convey just how close their family is.
But if you’ll stay with me here, I’ll touch back on this point a bit later.

I was curious as to what she does since I wanted to find more of such people.
Questions abounding, she; with all the colourful descriptors, creative use of humour and with the delightful wit that she has – obliged me with answering every.single.question I had about life in the harsh countryside conditions of Australia.

Eventually, plans to visit the farm were made so I could see for myself

I downloaded an ‘app’ that listed most of the poisonous creatures in Australia. It even gives medical advice should I come across anyone that needs my help or worse, should I need to seek medical help myself.
In my bags, I packed as much protective gear as I could think of. Most of which are things to ensure my fair city skin remained as unblemished as I can keep it.

When I arrived in Brisbane, I caught up with the young couple.
Jillaroo’s Brother in law just came back from off the farm. He was to help erect a 50ft windmill on the property.
Much of it has been completed but, even with his help, the windmill still needs a fair bit of work before it’s ready to do its task and pump water to some of the property.

Before leaving on the bus, I checked out my social pages and saw a message from my Mum.
She was worried about me and was telling me things to look out for. Knowing that she’s still in worry mode, I also took the chance to give her assurance that I’ll be okay.
Having read her messages, I started questioning whether I really stopped to think how many ways I could be killed.
If I work on the windmill, I could fall.
If I walk out at night I could stand on a snake. My app actually says that 3 of the 5 most deadly snakes in the world are around this area.
A few days earlier I saw a video about some particularly nasty spiders too. ALL of which existed in the area.
My Mum told me about a family friend who actually nearly died with fluid in his lungs somehow because of the heat in the city I was already in. Given I was going to a place which gets about 10 degrees hotter, I thought there was a very real possibility that this too could be my fate. Especially given that I’m not going to have any hospitals nearby.

The bus was heading west, and I made sure I was wearing appropriately safe clothing: heavy hiking boots, a long sleeved shirt & long pants that have an elastic corded ends to allow me to reduce the gap from the boots… Everything I was wearing was my ignorant attempt to protect myself from Australia’s most dangerous of wildlife.

At the end of the bus ride, I see a car waiting by the road.
I honestly was thinking the worst as I approached but, after tapping on the windows, I realised that the bus was quieter than we realised.
It’s Jillaroo in there. And when she comes around the side of her car, I see she’s dressed all in pink and I quickly turn her attention to her not wearing shoes. We are on gravel road but, I can feel the heat through my shoes and was concerned that she left her shoes in the car on my account.
Turns out, she’s used to the heat and her feet are a fair bit tougher than mine. Right then, I make a sort-of new year’s resolution to toughen up the skin on the soles of my feet. Really not too sure how well I can do that.

She takes me for a drive down the road travelling next to her family’s property.
It is by far and away THE largest property I’ve ever seen.
I’m told that it’s not particularly large by Australian standards and that a couple of kilometres on one side is not unusual.

We eventually pull up to the yard and as I look into the yard and Jillaroo explains that the animals there are the “critical care/intensive care” babies that I’ve heard so much about in her letters.

We meet her Mother inside and who meets me with a smile.
Having already met 2 of her daughters, I can tell you now that if I was to bump into her in the busy streets of New York, I’d still be able to tell that she was their Mum.
She had a quiet effortless grace about her as we conversed.
She showed me to the room and asks me if I wanted to give a call to my Mum to tell her I arrived ok.
Now, I work for a Telephone company so, being as far out as this family is from any city and, seeing that it was going to be an international call to boot, I knew that it can’t be a cheap call to make. So, I did say that my own Mum was quite savvy on the social network so, a message to her might suffice.
However, their Mum gives me a “are you kidding me look” as she gives me the phone. You know that look. The look that says “Mums know better” and she said that my Mum should know I arrived. She’s right of course and I make the call.
She tells me later that the internet is “iffy” at the best of times but I don’t think that was why she told me to give my Mum a call.

Later on, I meet the Dad by their ute,
He’s a “bloke’s bloke” for sure and although he speaks at a normal volume and even though we were roughly about the same height, he still had the presence of a towering leader. I’d imagine that people gravitate to him all the time.

The youngest sister was by the gate and I get introduced. She gives me a firm handshake and I could see that she’s trying to figure me out already. There’s a personable intelligence there that seemed a bit more pronounced on this one. It was almost a quizzical look to say that I might be too “city” to survive out there in the countryside.
Her warmth of welcome was very obvious though, and I already started to feel completely at ease.

After these introductions, we make our way to our first job of transferring water from off the water truck to one of the dams.
These dams are HUGE. Or at least I thought so.
They looked capable of holding roughly 3 to 4 times the water held in an Olympic sized swimming pool but, without exaggerating, what water was left seemed nothing more than a small pond.
This far out inland, it was obvious that a person should attempt to stock up on as much water that is humanly possible and, that was the hope of these dams.
The water left is now an extremely precious commodity meaning that wild and feral animals are now even more desperate to get these waters and they’re becoming an ever more increasing danger to all life on the farm. Not only do they drink what precious little water there is, but they often carry with them ticks and diseases. Far too risky to expose any of the stock to further risk when the animals are already fighting to survive as it is.

When we arrive back at the family’s home and I meet their brother.
I give him a firm handshake and we each size each other up as we say hello, He’s young but, seemed very much a “bloke’s bloke” already. The connection between him and his Father could not have been more obvious.

Even though it was late, I still felt like I was cooking out in the heat. The Brother tells us that their thermometer hit 52 degrees C earlier that day. 52!! A new record for the area since records began and three times that of what I was used to.
My mind wonders back to my families’ friend… I hope that won’t be me.

As the night draws into a close, I witness the family’s close bonds as they send each other to bed.
The love and affection for each other was so obvious and I could not imagine a better send off.

Mornings start early just after day break and begins on the veranda.
A bible chapter is read and then discussed with the family first. This is then followed by breakfast.

On my first day there, Jillaroo takes me for a small walk maybe covering 2 square kilometres.
I get to see that the property stretches beyond my view. I see some of the equipment and buildings and get a brief overview of what the cattle can and can’t eat.
The beauty of the land was awe inspiring but, evidence of the desert was strongly showing through. Try as I might, it was difficult to imagine the land as once being green.

We start making our way up to another dam when all of a sudden, Jillaroo lets out a sudden “ohhh noo” and she’s looking directly ahead towards the water.
To me, I could only notice the muddied water and the trees surrounding it. There’s bits of tree debris around but I just couldn’t spot what it was that made her heart sink.
She sort of half runs across the dried mud to a small dark sport in the water.
She reaches in and pulls out the body of ‘Busta’ – one of the families much beloved pet and working dog. He had been heat struck the day before and went to the dam for a swim, where he must have collapsed in the water.
Having seen their love for their animals in her letters to me, my stomach wrenched as my mind seemed to wipe itself blank from the shock. I was stunned to silence.
I look to her and she’s got her face in her hand. She was trying to keep quiet but, the muffled sound of a woman crying was unmistakable.

When we eventually make our way back to the house, there was a heavy sense of purpose with everyone’s movements there.
It turns out; one of the cows has got itself stuck in the thick mud next to one of the dams.
Their Dad and brother goes out for a rescue.
I felt helpless but, there’s little I can do in this situation.
After a while, I could start making out the twinkle of lights through the trees way out in the distance.
Their Mother laments “Ohhh they needed the crane” as she looks at the clock. I could tell that she’s worried for them and for the poor animal that needed such a rescue. It was obvious that it was going to be a good while before they’d be coming back for dinner.

THIS was all on the first day!

In my first draft of this story, I went on to describe the highs and lows of most of my days there.
It was a week worth of learning and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of what they experience every day.
In fact, imagining that I’ve even scratched the surface seems to be too much of a boast at this stage.

Yes, there was devastation in almost everywhere I looked there but, that was through my city eyes.
There, in the space of only one week, I witnessed the full gamut of life and it was something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. And they deserve all the thanks I can give.
There, they showed love to a near complete stranger who entered their home with only 3 bottles of wine. They gave him food, shelter and even the water of which they have little of.
They showed great love for their family, their land and love for their animals. These animals which themselves cause great heartache every time one of them dies.

As a person from the city visiting the farm, I think I’ve gained some perspective.
Outside the farm, we worry about what’s happened to our cell phones, why the busses are late, whats the holdup at the traffic lights and wishing that there was more to do in our spare time.
Inside the farm, the normal working day is literally from sun up to past sundown and spare time is something that they need to make and not a luxury that they simply have.
Inside the farm, you hear of complaints from animal rights activists demanding that farmers help their cattle more and protect the predatory animals. Ridicule from outsiders about farmers abilities and even persecution of the knowledge passed down through many generations.
It all seemed like many people felt like they knew enough about farming without actually being there and so, being a person who was once about as far removed from the farming scene as possible, I felt a great honour in being there with them and truly humbled that they shared what they had with me.

What I’m trying to say is that, it was so obvious that they love without need or want for reward.
In fact, the entire time I was there, I felt and witnessed nothing but love. And love that was being tried and tempered through the toughest imaginable times.
What’s more, it is likely to be tried again and quite likely it’s going to be tougher than ever.

So, what have I seen us as a people giving the farmer in return?
From safe havens where we demand water and free money, protection from the government, animal and pest control, I see people demanding that our primary industries slice their earnings and increase their expenditures. We have faith that the government is doing something to help and yet, do not question it or seek proof.
We dare not venture out to see for ourselves what else there is to where our food comes from or put even care to put a face to those that support us.
If anything, we threaten our countrymen that feed us by looking to foreign food suppliers with questionable ethics.

I am a proud New Zealander. There is no question about that, but I am not so proud as to boast that our farmers go through tougher times. They go through tough times – yes, tougher than Australian farmers – No.
In fact, I feel a fair bit of satisfaction knowing that as Kiwis, we’re better connected to our farmers. The rural news is not something we avoid and we do actually take an active interest in it.
As neighbouring countries, I know we enjoy our ANZAC relationship. We  take pride with what we can each country can accomplish and even more pride when we see what can be accomplished when get together.
Together, we are pioneers, world records setters and have a relationship that is the envy the world over.
That said, it just eats at the soul when I see Australia neglecting that which makes them grow. Australia should be better than that and I know it once was.

Now, if you read from the start, you’ll see that most of what I set out to do was to learn more about human decency and caring. To seek out chivalry and virtue.
I found that. And I found it in abundance. All in a place that I expected to threaten me with 1000 different ways to die.
But, as we reach the end, I can tell you that I did not once fear for my life. In fact, the most danger I’ve felt in the last few weeks was in downtown Auckland by a man threatening to punch me for not giving him more money for his bus.
I’m sad to say that all that preparing and all the stories did not prepare me for the true hardships of the Australian farmer.
The family I stayed with have given me so much, and I know I can never pay them back.
It’s time that we, as a society support our famers. It’s time we question our government and demand that our money is spent properly to support the country that we choose to live in and live from.
As countries, we depend on our farmers more than we know and I can only hope that we all pull ourselves together to give them the support that they so richly deserve.