Having grown up on a farm, I am conscious of providing Poppy and James all the fantastic elements of farm life.
Growing up, we were no strangers to hard work – demanding days far beyond our young years. It was not uncommon for us to be shifting irrigators, carting hay, tailing lambs, feeding calves, riding with Dad on the Harvester or coming home from school and heading out to cultivate a paddock on our own until well after dark! In hindsight, it was the best form of homework … hard work and independence.
When I was 17, I worked for Dad for the summer as he had paid to get the engine of my 1970 orange VW Beetle reconditioned and so we had a deal. As a Harvesting Contractor, he required someone to escort him from job-to-job which entailed driving his truck and header front from one farm to another as he drove in the Header (maximum speed 40 K’s)! Never displaying my ‘P’ plates for obvious reasons, as I was at the helm of an old International truck with no power steering, complete with grain bin on the back whilst towing a 25 foot header front! I was often required to reverse this rig through narrow gates as the Farmer was standing there watching me! Dad is still proud that all of his daughters can reverse a trailer.
These jobs certainly gave us the practical skills that I have drawn upon in many aspects of my adult life.
My sister and her husband live on a beautiful property at Bracknell with the Great Western Tiers forming a comforting, yet familiar backdrop. I took James and Poppy up to stay this weekend, as Nick was busy working on the boat. We fell into a comfortable rhythm that is so easily done when staying with family. On Saturday night Janelley cooked up a Pork Roast, complete with crackling and then all the cousins bunkered down for a movie and a sleepover, after some Loom Band action!
The next morning was a glorious day and after French Toast for breakfast, we went to collect the eggs, feed the pigs and cruised around the sheds.
My nieces took James and Poppy for a ride in their ‘Gator’, a 4WD buggy, and as they drove away my neurotic ‘Helicopter Parent’/’Adventure Tour Guide Teacher’ brain flashed random Risk Management Plans before my eyes! I then realised that these girls are country girls, practical lasses that have learnt to drive tractors before their 10th birthday’s. Girls that are like my sisters and I – a generation before.
Poppy and James were ecstatic – our little city slickers had dirt under their nails, mud on their boots and smiles a mile wide … with requests to come back to stay with their cousins during the harvesting season next summer!