Down on the Farm

Long ago Max was in Australia on a “Work & Travel” visa and “Red’s farm was his home base and the place he learned to be a farmer. Catherine‘s brother “James” is also a farmer in Victoria. James and Red are the same person – one is his given name, one his nickname – and he agreed to let us spend some time down on the farm.

Catherine was travelling the 1150 km from the Blue Mountains to the farm and agreed to divert “a little” to pick us up at Lakes Entrance. It was “only a 300 km diversion” – nothing to an Australian. We found three helpful locals – thank you James, Harry & Jeremy – to look after the boat while we were away so waved Artemis goodbye and drove the entire day to Tahara.

We arrived after dark and found a warm, log stove heated kitchen waiting for us and a hot, tasty dinner. The log fire burned continuously for a week and the great food never stopped – almost all from farm produce. We should have put on weight but luckily a farm has even more to do than on a boat so we could burn off the calories as we ate them.

Herding the cattle along the road to a distant pasture

On the first evening Catherine wrote a list of jobs that needed doing and we set to the following morning to be useful. The interesting thing about the list was that it got longer as time went on. Each evening for the first few days we ticked items off and then added more at the bottom. Luckily we all decided that we should stay a day extra and thus left with almost the entire list ticked.

I am not sure if the spare bed was one of the best I have ever slept in but every night we lay down and immediately slept until dawn.

Maybe it was the variety of tasks we were allowed to participate in:

  • pick up the second utility truck from the workshop in the local town (70 km round trip)
  • collect dead wood and old fence posts from the fields and bring them back to the farm
  • cut and stack the wood for the fire
  • tidy up old wire and fencing and bring it back to the farm
  • feed the cattle and dogs
  • plant 239 trees (one was taken back to the Blue Mountains)
  • pick stones off the fields and throw them in the ford
  • mow the grass in the farmyard
  • jump start tractors, move them around and connect various implements
  • roll an entire field flat after it was sown
  • replace a gate and a light and rehang a door
  • herd cattle and sheep
  • collect the fish nets from the reservoirs
  • tag the calves and mark the heifers

Or maybe it was the social program:

  • Visit the Blue Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole in South Australia (a 200 km round trip)
  • friend John’s eightieth birthday party
  • dinner at the neighbours
  • Uncle Ray’s eighty-seventh birthday party
  • a nieces eighteenth and a nephews twenty-first birthday party
  • an overnight fishing trip to a shack on the Glenelg River (another 200 km round trip)

Were we really only there for seven days? It was an amazing experience to be able to visit and work on an Australian farm – normally an experience reserved for twenty something work & travel people. It was thoroughly enjoyable as James was such an amazing host and always willing to answer our stream of questions. Thank you James! Thank you Catherine!

We have created an album with our best farming pictures.

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