The beginning. I met my cute farmer boy

Back to the beginning. A long summer holiday, I met a farmer and fell in love.

I was 16 years old when I completed year 12.  I finished the school year with no intention of studying in the future. I was looking forward to the summer.   My parents and my younger sister and brother had just moved from our family owned pear orchard in the Adelaide Hills to a little coastal town on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.  My family and I had been holidaying at this spot for 6 years, so I knew the place well. It was an isolated little place, with farming families who had lived there for generations. The population was less than 100 people.  It had a town hall, a primary school, a cricket oval, a croquet court and 2 little shops.  It was surrounded by farming land and kilometres of untouched, stunning  beaches.  I loved it.

I planned on staying with mum and dad for the whole of summer, about eight weeks, so I could hang out with my friends and family and decide what my future held.  The summer stretched out luxuriously in front of me.   I was excited.

Looking back, that summer was the best time of my life.  It was hot and sunny every day.  (That is what I remember).   I had no responsibilities as my dad and mum were looking after me, with mum cooking and washing my clothes.  I didn’t have to go to work, school was done.  I had a car to drive.  There were plenty of friends to hang out with and adventures to be had.   My hardest decision each day was which beach had the best surf.

I had adopted my dad’s beat up old blue 1970 XY Ford station wagon.  It was solid, never missed a beat with three on the tree and a good sound system. I would drive the dirt roads with my windows down and music up loud. Sometimes my little sister was riding shotgun. I was loving life. When I look back now I like to think I knew how lucky I was and that I appreciated the sheer freedom, but I probably didn’t.

It was on one of my many trips from the beach to the shop to get food that I saw this cute guy.  He was standing by a gate in a paddock.  I clearly remember what he was wearing.  He had a blue and white striped jumper, very short shorts and work boots.  Very interesting.   I thought I knew all the locals but hadn’t seen this guy around.  For a few days afterwards I drove past that paddock more times than I needed hoping to catch another glimpse of him but it was not to be. I really wanted to know who he was.  I knew a few people in the area but I was embarrassed to ask anyone. There are no secrets in a small country town and I didn’t want everyone knowing I was interested in a boy. I did eventually ask.  After that it wasn’t long before I had everyone of my friends telling me stories about the “cute farmer boy” who was home to live and work the farm with his dad and brother.  For the last four years he had been at boarding school in the city.  He was cute and I was curious.

So, yes, eventually the ‘cute farmer boy’ and I did get together.  His neighbour and best friend from primary school told him I liked him and then he helped organise us to meet each other.  Yep, the good old days.   It was hard work trying to find out if you liked each other in the days of no mobile phones.  You couldn’t message to meet up or chat on snapchat.   You had to sit in your living room or kitchen to use the phone, which was firmly attached to the wall. You got to talk to your boy friend in front of all the family.  The ‘cute farmer boy’ had to come to my house and meet my parents so that he could drive me to the next town to see a movie in the town hall.

We dated, yes very old fashioned. We talked on the phone for hours, yes very old fashioned and yes the ‘cute farmer boy’ was eventually, officially, my boyfriend.   I clearly remember being at a party at his house when his parents were away. He gave me a ‘beer bottle top’ ring.  We were in his kitchen when he put it on my finger.  It was kind of awkward but cute.  We were only 17, both too young to be thinking of anything serious, but looking back I think we both knew.   The intention was there.   I still have that bottle top.  My ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ probably doesn’t even remember it, but I do.

Thinking about that summer I know I was very fortunate to have my “summer holiday”.  My parents weren’t rich enough to support me long term, but seemed happy enough to look after me for a while. I made my bed and helped mum out around the house but I wasn’t pressured to get a job, to play any sport, to volunteer or to study. I felt no judgement. I felt like I was allowed to have the last 8 weeks of my childhood without any expectations. It was a summer of freedom and joy.

Unlike the children of today and very much unlike our eldest 21 year old son and our 19 year old twins. They didn’t have the choice of a “summer holiday”. They had been away in the city at school and once they finished Year 12 they came home to the farm for harvest. All of them had jobs, either off the farm or with us. All of them worked every day for most of the summer. They did not have the freedom to go to the beach when it was a perfect surf day. So that makes me wonder, do our teenagers and children have too many responsibilities at an early age? Do they get to have a childhood? Do they even know the freedom that I had? Probably not and I think that is a bit sad. Do we expect too much from them, or not enough?

It worked for me. I will always be very grateful for my “summer holiday” because I met my gorgeous farmer husband.

Washing – where does it all come from?

“Based on the amount of washing I do, I think there are people living in my house that I haven’t met yet”

Unknown

A classic old washing line

Washing, where does it all come from?
On average I do about 3 loads of washing a day almost every day of the week. It consists of varying types of washing. It could be big full loads of dirty work clothes (I have a fantastic 10kg front loading washing machine) or a cold wash delicate cycle for my two or three good jumpers. Then there are the shearing clothes from ‘Number 2 son’, they are washed seperately. The white load, not often very big but still needs to be done. Not to mention all the sheets for four beds, towels for five people, bath mats, tea towels and cleaning cloths.

I don’t know about anyone else but my washing never seems to go away. I feel like I am in the movie, “Groundhog Day”. Different day same amount of washing and yes it can be a nightmare. I am the washer woman. It is easier for me that way. If there is a load of wet washing in the machine I know it is there, as I put it there. There are no surprises when I get to the machine in the morning. No stinky mouldy smelling clothes when the machine door gets open after two days. No baskets of half dry clothes sitting around the laundry that I didn’t know about. My problem isn’t putting the washing in the machine, it is getting the washing hung out, brought back in, folded and then actually put away. I love the washing part, that is the easy part.

So the reason I am going on about washing is because it is the middle of winter here for us in the South of Australia and that means short days, most of which are cold, overcast, rainy and sometimes (more recently) foggy. I feel like in winter it is harder to manage the washing. My clothes very rarely get outside on the legendary ‘Hills Hoist’ clothes line during winter. So all the clothes are inside on my two portable inside lines. I have an ancient wooden clothes drier which my mum gave me and a brand new, largest size you can get ‘Mrs Peggs’. Between them they do a good job. The wood fire is going flat out to try and get everything dry.

It has hit a peak for me and I have washing everywhere. Dirty washing on the laundry floor, some on the bench, a load of washing in the machine, a load of damp clothes in the basket ready to be hung, newly washed clothes drying on the inside line, some bigger things on the outside line (been there for 2 days now). Dried clothes in a pile on the cupboard, not folded. Folded clothes on the table ready to go away. The sock basket, full and hanging around, keeping the bath towels company, the said bath towels are draped everywhere, either drying or dried but not folded or put away and finally T-towels and other cloths on the coffee table. It looks like a bomb has gone off in my living room. And the most frustrating thing is that it looks like this 90 percent of the time during winter.

But, I am completely happy to be responsible for the chaos. Because if I was a keen, disciplined housewife I could have a dedicated folding day and make sure I spent that day actually folding and get the nice, dry, clean clothes into drawers and cupboards. Instead I normally choose to go and have a coffee with my neighbours and ‘best buddy girl friends’ or go out in the garden. Most times my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ and the kids come and find me to ask me if I have seen a particular piece of clothing that they need and then they put it on. Just this morning, ‘Son number 1’ noticed that his Dad was not wearing socks. I was curious as to why my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ was not wearing socks? They are in a very big bssket in a very convenient spot in the living room. They are so obvious you could trip over them (and I probably have). It seems to me that he presumes he has no socks just because they haven’t made it to his sock drawer yet. I am still promising myself to fold those pesky towels after dinner at night and if those pesky towels get taken off the pile to be used by someone without going into the cupboard well, all the better for me.

I also choose not to iron. Anything!!! I do have an iron and an ironing board and at one stage in my house wife career I used to enjoy ironing and watching a movie or something on the television but that has gone by the wayside at least 5 years ago. I do not iron. I fully believe that hanging neatly when wet and folding neatly when dry helps reduce creases. The fact that all the boys work on the farm where no one sees their creased shirts helps and they are all very casual farmer boys who most of the time don’t care about their creases.

A line-up for the machine

I have put a photo (or two) with this blog just so you can see how much washing I am dealing with. Although the photos do not look as bad as I think it is. I am very much snowed under with washing. I truly believe there is no shame in being un-organised at times. Who are the washing police anyway? Why is it we worry about what people think of us? Most times I think that it is far better to go out in the garden for a few hours or have coffee with a friend or play with your kids or write a blog, rather than to fold and put away the washing. It will still be there. And if you get surprise visitors (not your ‘best buddy girlfriends’, who don’t care what your house looks like), then you can always quickly shove it all in the spare room out of sight. Or own it. Be proud of it. Who cares. This is how I roll.

My living room laundry

One day in the future I may actually post a picture of me being an organised, tidy, amazing farmers house wife, but don’t hold your breath. Even though it doesn’t seem to last that long I actually do love the satisfaction of getting all the washing up to date, washed, dried, folded and put away.

I would love to hear about how you manage your washing day blues.

I think I have spent enough time in avoidance. Now I am going to face up to the washing.

Have a great day

Anne x

Farm Gates

A Rusty old farm gate, doing its job

I have always loved old rusty gates, small or large. We have a few around the house which I have bought (or very rarely found tucked in an old shed). But there are no decorative, rusty pipe gates hanging around on any of our fences or going into our paddocks anywhere. I know as I have looked, many times.

Unlike me most farmers I know intensely dislike rusty, old, quirky, gorgeous gates. They really like plain, ugly gates, probably because rusty, quirky gates dont keep the sheep in and are not practical.
Why shouldn’t we have gorgeous gates? I just want to look at them, not open them.

Back in the early days before our four kids came along my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ and I would regularly take drives around the property, checking the sheep and the crops. It was a lovely outing but there was one downfall. I was sitting in the front passenger seat, which made me the designated ‘gate opener’ and as every farmers wife knows most of the time that is not a fun job. (Once the kids come along and get old enough and strong enough the job can be delegated). Most gates on our farm are tricky, to say the least and they are not even beautiful, rusty old quirky ones.

Most gates into the paddocks are either heavy and large and not hanging right so once you convince the weird awkward chain with the bit of extra wire to open, you then have to let the gate swing, (hopefully in the right direction), it hits the ground as you chase it and then you have lift it up and walk it out of the way of the ute. I am puffed even writing about this.

Then there are the all wire gates, strung up tight, sometimes with barbed wire across the top and always with a very tricky handle. Once you release the pipe handle from its little wire ring holder you need the muscles of ‘Thor’ to hold it or it feels like it is going to fling back and break your wrist.

That is just opening the gates. I haven’t even got around to how hard it is getting them shut!

So “gate opener” is not a prestige job and it is often thankless. You get out in the cold wind or rain and struggle with the gate. Nothing happening. Great. Throwing a glance of “help me I am stuck” to the the ‘handsome farmer husband’ who is warm and dry in the ‘commanding boss’ drivers’ seat of his ute. He then looks at you with a questioning glance, “really?” You can see him thinking. “You need help with that?” “It is only a gate”. So he puts the handbrake on in his ute and waltzes over opening the awkward gate with ease. “This old thing is easy, you just have to do this….” he says. The ‘handsome farmer husband’ has had 20 years of experience opening this gate. He has ridden with his dad as shotgun and the “gate opener” for many years before he moved up into the ‘boss’ driver of the ute. So now he is in a position to be able to delegate to the next in line. Which is ‘little old farm wife’ me. So I am eternally grateful for the muscles and knowledge of my ‘handsome farmer husband’. So then eventually when you do get a couple of gates open all by yourself, you feel like Wonder Woman. Look at me! Way to go girl! I can open these gates! And I have only just started my apprenticeship as “gate opener”.

Now I am not suggesting by any means that we are weak and insipid women who should wait in the ute for our strong husbands to do all the physical work. No! What I believe is that men obviously designed these gates, because if it was designed by a woman any four year old child could open it and close it with ease. That being said I am not designing gates, unless they are rusty, beautiful quirky ones that I can see from our house that don’t need opening at all.

The joy of being gate opener is that there is time together in the ute, it is a ritual of learning and also working together. Learning how to open a gate, learning the best place to access the paddock, learning the names of every paddock or block and learning about the love of the land.

Fortunately we have another generation to pass that onto and I am now happy to pass on the mantle. I get to sit in the back and just chill, observing my ‘handsome farmer husband’ and his kids communicating, engaging and learning. We have four “gate openers” now and it is a joy for me to see the knowledge of the farm being passed on from their Dad. And just for the record they are all better “gate openers” than me.

Anne x

I fell in love with a farmer

I love a farmer and he loves his farm;

me;   (his beautiful, funny, clever, amazing wife)

and his four kids (all wonderful, helpful and well mannered of course).

His loves probably go precisely in that order,
* farm
* beautiful wife (me)
* kids
depending on the day.   Often the kids come a very clear second….

No, that is not really true, but as all farm wives know sometimes it feels that way. We are often trying to raise healthy happy kids, while also catching stray sheep, driving farmer husband and workers out to a paddock, feeding chooks, washing, food shopping, cooking, cleaning, tackling book-work, answering emails and sometimes (when allowed) driving the new big tractor. All of this while trying to fit a quick coffee catch up in with the neighbours who happen to be ‘best buddy girlfriends’ so that a girl can stay half sane and keep the wheels from completely falling off.

So at times we may feel under valued. As with all stay at home mums, running the household and then also helping to run a family owned business there is no minimum wage pay rate.

Our perceived value depends on how well we are managing things. Our true value is how much we believe in ourselves.

Today is a beautiful sunny winter’s day here on our farm. I live with my ‘gorgeous farmer husband’ and our four kids in a renovated old stone home on our property called Rosevale.  Our house is around 100 years old and was built by my farmer husband’s great grandfather and inherited down through the family.

Our beautiful home is conveniently situated about 8kms from a busy little town in rural South Australia. The sea is only a 15 minute drive in three different directions. We are very fortunate.  We have space, lots of paddocks, scrub to roam in, fresh air, a dirt road in front of us and sand and sea only a hop skip and a jump away.

My ‘gorgeous farmer’ is currently busy having coffee and chewing the fat with a salesman who is very keen to sell him some machinery.  While he is occupied with the salesman I am going into the small town closest to us to collect the mail, shop for food and (the real reason) to have a coffee with a girlfriend. Sanity prevails. Thankfully.

We are now about a month post-Covid19 and there is no more isolating in South Australia.   Fortunately things are a bit more normal outside of the farm gates now. During our isolation period in rural South Australia farming work carried on as normal.  As farmers we are classified as essential workers, which was good for everyone concerned.  Seeding went ahead as scheduled and all went well.

But that is a story for another day.
I am going to have a nice strong coffee with one of my lovely girlfriends. We get to swap stories about our week, our kids, agree with each other about the unusual habits of men and have some good nurturing fun girl time.

Have a great day.

Anne x