Saturday, July 31, 2010

When it rains...

If you live on the east coast of Australia (or in the tropics, or in fact any place where rain is commonplace) this means bugger all. Firstly, you probably don't even know what an inch is (especially if you are under 50 years of age), or you don't care what an inch is. But essentially, an inch means you hear the gentle pitter patter of rain on your roof for a period of minutes. 

If you live where I live, an inch means something else entirely. An inch (or 100 points, or 25 ml) means our tanks and dams get a little fuller, our stock get a little more feed, and our crops get a little much needed watering. An inch also means that if the dirt road into town (all 20km of it to the bitumen) has been recently graded, there is every chance I will need to put the car into 4WD. And compacting this, is the unwritten rule of the bush that you can't complain about rain under any circumstances. Rain is good. Even when it's flooding. And an inch is perfect. Despite any inconvenience that it has caused me personally.

I'm not really complaining. (Oh, who am I kidding? Yes I am.) Friends of mine can't even leave their property with an inch of rain. So I consider myself lucky. But I am a city girl at heart, and the mere thought of engaging in any 4WD activity is enough to put a thin layer of sweat on my brow. 

When I was a kid, my Dad was a member of a 4WD club. This seems to give my husband endless hours of pleasure, imagining me and my siblings strapped into the back of a 4WD, high tailing it to some private property; unwilling recipients in my father's quest for excitement. It was actually fun, I think. But now that I am all grown up, it's very different.

When hubby and I first purchased our first 4WD (a Nissan Patrol wagon- or a big white car for the uninitiated) I've got to admit, I was kind of pumped. I thought it was a bit like a status symbol. Silly me. What I quickly realised is that if you live out in the sticks and you don't own a ridiculously over-sized vehicle (which is inconvenient in the city to say the least), you will spend a fortune on tyres, and never be able to leave your property with even a whiff of rain. So really, to live out here, you need a big car. And that's all well and good until you need the big car. Like today.

Hubby would be rolling his eyes and snickering at my apparent ineptness in the world of driving in the wet. And I consider myself a good driver too. (I should be, my father is a driving instructor. But as it has been pointed out to me before, if my father is a doctor, it doesn't automatically make me a good doctor too.) In fact, hubby probably could have handled the road today without the use of 4WD. But not me. My legs start that uncontrollable "knock knocking", my knuckles turn white,and my brow creases for the duration of the trip. I don't breath properly, and the mere whisper from a passenger is enough to send me off the deep end. 

But we made it. Easily. I know some of you reading this actually might even get off on 4WD-ing, but it's not my thing. Not with 3 children in the back. And not even on my own. And even though I am very grateful for the rain, I prefer it on days when I am staying home.

Last night we had just under an inch and a half of rain. But what does that mean?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Farmer Probably Just Wants a Shag...

Attention ladies who might ever have contemplated hooking up with a farmer!

A word from the wise. I married a farmer seven years ago. That was after accepting a teaching post in a remote area of Australia, vowing and declaring I would NEVER EVER EVER marry a farmer. Especially one who wore a cowboy hat, RM Williams boots and clothes, drove a ute, had ever attended a B and S, and who chewed grass. Incidentally, my husband is all of the above.

Prior to getting married, I used to tag along on the back of hubby's motorbike (the wind whistling through my hair, arms tucked snugly around his waist) and dream about how we would be like this forever. Acreage for as far as the eye could see. Sheep and cattle and kangaroos and emus, dotted intermittently across the countryside. It was, of course, very romantic. What I didn't realise at the time, however, was that my hormones were playing tricks on me. Those pesky little pheromones spinning throughout my body and clouding rational thought.

After being married for seven years, I find myself practically begging hubby to take at least one of the kids out on the bike with him, and to take his time coming home! Our lives have become (at times) a mish-mash of overlapping schedules, that directly relate to the amount of precipitation in the air and the availability of man power at any given time. With three children we find ourselves "high fiving" each other on crossover between dropping kids at the bus (20km away) and heading out to fix fences or pull stock who have become stranded in a dried up dam.

When I watch "Farmer Wants a Wife" and hear such gems as "of course I can see myself living on a farm..." and "I just adore horses!" all spurted from the mouth of a wildly attractive woman wearing completely impractical heels and a strapless mini-dress, and a months worth of makeup in one sitting. What these women don't realise is that there is every possibility that the men they are chasing on this fantastical program really only want a shag. There is a good chance it has been a while between drinks, so to speak, given the far-flung areas of Australia these blokes seem to spring from. (And PS: An hour out of Melbourne is NOT remote.) 

In the first few episodes we watch the awkward moments where potential romance is blossoming. Where people say and do the most absurd things in the name of bagging a beauty. 

The cynic in me thinks that while the farmers are soaking up the physical aspects of a potential mate, they are also hoping to get some 'vibe' from the lovely lady as to whether or not she will also be able to cook and clean for him, iron his shirt the same way his mother does, get up at the crack of dawn to prepare a cooked breakfast, and organise smoko, as well as head out and put in a good 10 hours of work with him. 

The female is presumably hoping to find a "Marlborough type man" who will care for her and protect her (and maybe let her ride horses on a whim). When in fact she should be asking to read a copy of the succession plan his family has firmly in place, so that they can discuss their future on equal footing. Because when she actually gets to the part where they might actually get married, the woman should be fully prepared for the fact that when you marry the farmer, you actually marry his whole family.

And this is no joke. There is every chance, ladies, your in-laws will live within walking distance of your house, and certainly close enough to hear you argue, and watch how many days you leave your clothes on the line for. If you are lucky, you will strike in-laws who respect your privacy and leave you be in your new relationship. If you are not so lucky, you can expect 3 or even 4 people in you marriage, as opposed to the 2 you thought you were getting. If it's rolling green hills,and acres of pasture you are after, then think again. My husband asked me to marry him as we sat overlooking the empty house dam. If it's being "the master /mistress of your own domain" you are after, then think again. "Family property" means exactly that. If it's a small, tight knit community lifestyle that you are striving for, then remember you will never be a local. You will be called an acre-chaser and hectare hunter by wary local girls. And then after you have served your time, you will eventually be married and have kids, at which point the whole community will welcome you with open (albeit cautious) arms.

It's not all bad though. I mean I have a great life. A hard life, but a good life. We both work hard doing our own things. We really do depend on the weather to guide us in how we plan our days,week and months. Our children grow up in the most amazing circumstances. You see things you never thought you would ever see. You open your eyes.

I think the point I am trying to make, is that being married to a farmer is not all beer and skittles. Sure, I am (mostly) very happily married. One day I will write more blogs on the nuts and bolts of all of that. But if it's McLeods Daughters you think you are signing up for, then think again, in reality it's probably closer to The Beverley Hillbillies. (But hopefully without the Hillbillies).

But if a farmer is really what you want; what you know you need; then don't let a cynical old farmers wife like me try to steer you away. Because god knows we need new blood. And if a crusty old city slicker like myself can make herself at home in the country, than why can't anyone else? 

Oh, and "never say never" if you think that life on a farm is definitely not for you. Look where it got me?