Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bush Kids

There is a distinct difference between city kids and bush kids.

I suppose, having grown up on a farm myself (all 20 acres of it), I always considered myself something of a "bush kid". When my sister and I once looked back at childhood photos of us, my sister commented that "she had never seen more dirty children" - until she saw my own children at home. And that's when I realised that I wasn't actually a bush kid as such, but rather a country kid. And there is a difference.

Country kids are au fait with getting down and dirty in the mud. They like playing outside and are happy roughing it with pets and neighbourhood kids.

Bush kids do that too, but they take it to another level. As some of you are reading this you may even think your own children (or children you know) may do the same things that I describe... but stay with me till the end, and you will see the difference.

Bush kids don't need summer clothes. They get around in the nude. This is because it's too bloody hot to put anything on anyway. Bush kids don't really need winter clothes either- and for the same reasons- except that their parents worry about chills and flus and illness. Bush summers are filled with mozzies and flies and hoses in the garden. Bush kids drink from an old tap, and don't care about bacteria or germs, because they have built up a serious immunity to such things from the time they spend outside.

Bush kids have 'farmers tans' by the time they are 10. Even with all the sun safety available, bush kids spend so much time outside, it's impossible to escape the genetic curse of a farmers tan. And bush kids love hats. The bigger, the better. No outfit is complete without an Akubra or straw hat on top.

Bush kids love the rain. They speak in terms of how many "points" or "inches" we have had, and happily share that news with friends and neighbours. They understand the effect of rain on a crop, and in harvesting.

Bush kids own boots. Lots of boots. And not soft suede dress ones. We're talking heavy duty working boots that will ensure that tiny feet stay protected from an array of accidents waiting to happen. Having said that, bush kids also like to go barefoot lots of the time too. Across burrs and prickles and rocks. These kids are tough.

Bush kids understand the life cycle. Something is born and something dies. They watch dogs and cows mating and understand that it takes 2 to make 1. And likewise, they know that the meat in the freezer comes from an actual (once living) beast, and there is every conceivable chance that your bush kid helped get it from the paddock into the freezer in some capacity, whether that be witnessing the killing of the animal, to helping Dad peel the skin off, to helping cut it up in the butchers shop, to bagging the meat for the freezer.

Bush kids ask questions like "who's car tracks are they?" and "when can I help you muster?" and "why do some sheep get fly blown and others don't?" Bush kids care about the weather for more reasons than what it means they can and can't do at home today. Bush kids, like city kids, have a fascination with learning. But the learning doesn't end on a trip away from the house. In fact, much of the learning is done at home. Field trips are a way of life. My kids can name all the paddocks (and that's no easy feat!), as well as tell me what each paddock is used for and when. They know the difference between our own cattle and the adjistment cattle. They know the names of tools that Dad uses, and makes of cars. They can differentiate between lamb and beef when they eat it, and will happily tell me if I have cooked the meat too long and made it tough. And my eldest is 5.

Bush kids go to school and talk about "when Dad killed the chook on the weekend."

I know of one bush kid (aged 10 at the time) who paid (with her savings) for a pure bred dog so that she could breed it with another dog and make money off the litter. She did this over a period of years, using the school newsletter to advertise the puppies. She drew up the advertisements herself. And when she sold a pup, she sent invoices for payments that she printed from a computer. She sent receipts too. It became quite a little money spinner for her. Love that bush kid!

My neighbours 9 year old son recently noticed significant damage to a grid that my hubby had spent some time repairing. He went home devastated at all the hard work gone to waste, and was genuinely saddened for my hubby when he eventually saw the grid with his own eyes. Master 9 even offered to help my hubby to mend the grid whenever that time came. Bush kid.
I am not a bush
 kid. But I am raising 3 of my own. It never ceases to amaze me how different they are to what I know of growing up myself. I watch them and I learn from them. They make me laugh and they make me cry. But I love them. And I wouldn't have my bush kids any other way!


  1. Oh Jessie, I love that piece. You capture the essence of bush kids so well. Although we use different terminology here, my kids were bush kids, too. Can you believe that Justine was the epitome of a bush kid?

  2. I have heard stories Pauline... I bet she was a bush kid!!! She would have been like my 'Darcy'... ask J about that one! xx


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