Friday, December 19, 2014

Raining In The Bush

This was this week's instalment in the QCL. I actually wrote parts of it three years ago when we had a surplus of rain. Sadly, we missed all the rain in Queensland this week, but I submitted this piece as many people across the state DID actually see some good falls. Also, the roads around our house have been fixed up well enough that I no longer fear the inevitable 4WD adventure after heavy rain! But this is the story anyway.

This week we had some rain. I know this because The Farmer woke up and announced loudly that it was raining. And then I was annoyed. Not at the rain, only at The Farmer for waking me up. He then proceeded to tell me every five minutes that it was still raining, or (if it was no longer raining) then he would speculate on how much rain we had already had, or how much he was still expecting. As it turns out, the storm was all bark and no bite, and sadly, we only ended up with about 1/8th of an inch.

If you live on the east coast of Australia (or in the tropics, or in fact any place where rain is common place) this means bugger all. 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 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 truly not complaining. 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, unwilling recipients in my father's quest for excitement. It was actually fun, I think. But now that I am all grown up and in the driver's seat, it's very different.

The Farmer would be rolling his eyes and snickering at my apparent ineptness in the world of driving in the wet. I consider myself to be a good driver. I should be, my father is a driving instructor. In fact, The Farmer 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 breathe properly, and the mere whisper from a passenger is enough to send me off the deep end.

 I know some of you reading this actually might even get off on 4WD-ing, but it's not my thing. Not with three children in the back and not on my own. Even though I am very grateful for the rain, I prefer it on days when I am staying home. And although I am always happy for good seasons, as a mother of three small children, I am just as grateful for a good night sleep. Rain and sleep in equal measure.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Impressions

This was another post featured in The Country Life. For those of you who have read my online book, this post will be a bit familiar. For new readers, who might like to check out my book, you can find it on the tab above. It's the story of how I met and married The Farmer.
Three weeks into my teaching position a colleague invited me out for drinks. Apparently the local rugby team were in town for training. Apparently that was exciting. I didn’t want to go. I had been out all day and was hot and tired. But it was just going to be one drink. One drink.

They say that first impressions count, and as I slunk into the Sports Bar dressed in tight, sweaty jeans, and a green and white baseball shirt, I clearly wasn’t worried about that. I managed to brush my hair, however the sweat still permeated my brow and face. I had only planned on staying out west for six months. I was saving money, teaching, and country boys held little to no interest for me at all. Thankfully, the bar was packed with a sea of red and white sweaty rugby shirt wearers, oblivious to my aversion to the heat. Apparently the post-training drink was something of a ritual for them.

I had mastered the art of entering a room without making eye contact with anyone, and thankfully I located my colleague fairly quickly. I sat and made pleasant chit chat with my colleague and some other teachers, sipping on a cold drink. One drink.

I scanned the room quickly; the anxious behaviour of someone in a place where they feel uncomfortable. I saw my colleague had moved and was sitting at a tall, circular table with four of the rugby players. I didn't pay any attention, and hurriedly sipped down the remainder of my drink. I reached for my purse, said a few goodbyes, and stood, as if to make my quick getaway from the bar. My colleague friend met me before I could move anywhere.

"Jess, come and meet these guys. They are all keen to meet the new school teacher." Her eyes were sparkling. I was like a shiny new toy.

"I'm sure they are. Just tell them I'm tired. I want to go home. Goodnight!” I tried to side step her and escape before this got even harder.

"Please. Last time I'll ask. Promise." So I put on my best polite smile and followed her to the circular table.

The four males were watching every step. It had gone desperately quiet at their table. I was sure that all four of them were very decent guys, but I was just so desperately tired.

"Hi!" I smiled again. I offered an extended hand to shake as she introduced all four by name.

 I smiled and shook the first one’s hand. And then another smile, and another shake.  And another…

"And this is The Farmer."

And suddenly I realised I wasn't going anywhere.

Thirteen years later I am still here, and to think that that night it was only supposed to be one drink. Perhaps there’s something to be said about first impressions after all.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Long Drive

As I have started submitting a column in the Queensland Country Life, I thought I would start posting the articles that are published on here, with the addition of pictures, so that you can see what and where I am talking about.
. . .

I had been dating The Farmer for about a week when he invited me out to the farm to see shearing in action. They were winding up the following week and so I had to decide quickly.

I explained to my boss about how shearing was finishing up that week and how I may never have the opportunity to see it again. The Principal agreed that it was a worthwhile occasion, and I completed all the relevant paperwork to take Friday afternoon off work.

The Farmer gave me the easiest directions to the shearing shed. They weren't necessarily the quickest directions, but they were by far the least complicated ones, and as this was to be my first foray into the world that was 'country driving', we agreed that this was for the best. The Farmer told me to pack my 'work clothes' for the trip.

Friday came around faster than I expected. I had put aside a pair of jeans (new) and a check shirt I had borrowed. Neither were what I would classify as 'work clothes', but as my 'work clothes' mostly consisted of dress skirts and pants and blouses, this was foreign ground for me. It would have to do. I left work at 1pm, and tried to recall the directions as I drove.

I was busy concentrating on counting the grids (was it six or seven I was supposed to cross?). I couldn't believe that I was driving on a 'road' with grids! Soon I had been driving for over an hour and I was starting to fret about the definite possibility that I was lost. In the very likely event of that happening I would either be forced to drink my own urine or eat a kangaroo carcass in order to survive before anybody would EVER find my fully dehydrated and emaciated body on this road to nowhere. For all I knew, I was already a goner. The road was less than ordinary. It was too far from anywhere, and I was really starting to wonder if The Farmer was even worth all this effort. Surely this couldn't be the road he lived on? It was rough. Pot holes were scattered haphazardly from one side to the other. The corrugation left me sore and tingly. I couldn't imagine myself driving on this road on a permanent basis. This would probably be my first and last visit to the farm.
Example of a corrugated road.

Just as I was about to give up and turn around, there it was in front of me. Across the roof of the shearing shed, clearly visible from the road, was The Farm. I visibly relaxed. I had survived, and was then able to see shearing in all of its magnificence, all explained to me by The Farmer.  It’s something I still love to see all these years later, I just don’t have to take time off work to do it anymore.
The Farmer doing his thing. Worth the drive!

I’ve also come to realise that it’s not the journey (all corrugated and long), but the destination that matters anyway.