We were always going to move somewhere warmer. We were never going to buy a boat, never even gave it a thought until I came back from that Vanuatu trip. We were going to buy a nice place in Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Shelley was going to practice her Chinese Medicine and I was going to find a new hobby.
While I was away I had organized painters to give the house a bit of a face lift, unknown tradesmen without supervision is a recipe for disaster, and it was. After some text messaging to Shelley from Vanuatu, new painters were found and the job was done.
It was spring and the grass was going mad, Shelley was working so the jobs I would normally do were farmed out, to varying degrees of success.
I arrived home to a complete mess…you can refer to the ‘about Shelley’ page and ASD and it may give you an inkling of NT/ASD issues or just Google it, suffice to say, a lot is lost in translation even though we are both speaking English!
I decided to sell the place myself which turned out to be a rather fine idea and saved us a heap of money that could be spent very quickly on the boat, but more on that later.
A Vietnamese photographer who moonlighted as my daughters sometimes cleaner was paid to do the photos. He was excellent.
There were three open houses, four people actually looking and four having a bit of a sticky-beak.
Depending on what produce I had on hand each went away with eggs, rhubarb or apple jelly. I met some lovely people, caught up with neighbours and sold the house!
I had bought 3 Dexters when it seemed like a really great idea to make cheese. I built a milking shed, bought a milking machine and promptly ran out of motivation. I locked up one of the calves so I could milk the mother in the morning but at 2 am listening, to the plaintive mooing of the poor little calf I stumbled through the paddock and let it out. I went back to bed and Shelley asked me if I had I milked the cow, I think I just said no as it was way too hard to go into the amount of detail and recrimination and the waste and how she likes the cream….
One of the Dexters, Bridie, dropped dead one day, I’m sure she had a sub-chronic bloat condition which would account for her always looking strangely blown up.
She was lying on her back with all four legs in the air right beside the feed ring. (That’s a metal ring you put a large round bale in so it doesn’t go everywhere and get trampled and wasted.) She had been dead for at least 12 hours and the other cows were just walking around her to get at the hay. From my B and B cottage you could just see her legs protruding over the ring, I had no guests but some were coming in that afternoon. Yes we all know animals die but it would be a little confronting for those city folk. Yoga, yes the cow is doing yoga, she is very good at it, and she can hold a pose for hours!
It was a mid morning on a Friday so the knackery was still open and I was able to plead with the pick up man to come and get poor Bridie before my guests checked in.
Every year we would hire a bull to do his thing with the cows. Merlin, the Dexter was my favourite. He would be led off his trailer and hot foot it over to one of the girls and get right into it. He really didn’t need to stay the 8 weeks, it was usually all over in a couple of days after which he would stand way up the paddock bellowing at the neighbours cows.
Nine months passed and the excitement would begin, who would calve first? The Dexters would go way up the paddock but Diana would always come close to the house so I could mop her brow when she was in labour! If you believe the bit about mopping her brow I’ve got a really cheap boat to sell you! It didn’t really matter what sex they were because they would all be going into the freezer when they ran out of cuties.
Another nine or ten months would pass and the butcher would be booked. It all sounds very harsh and it is if you want to continue eating meat. I refused to let any of my cows leave the property for slaughter. There is no nice ways of saying you are going to kill them but killing them on the property is the most humane way of doing it. One minute they would be eating and next minute they were dead, 2 hours later they were hanging in the mobile cool room where in a week they would be cut up and frozen. My meat was only hung for a week because the animals were never stressed, there was no adrenaline in their system and the meat was as tender as any aged beef you would pay big dollars for.
2015 was a huge year, we did 3 steers, 200 kgs of prime beef including about 30kg of mince, and I didn’t eat any of it for months. I just can’t face it after dividing, packing and labeling so much meat.
That was a part of life on the small farm. I have digressed somewhat so I’ll get back to the leaving part now!
There was quite a bit of negotiating and fiddling around and a long settlement with a clause about them selling their place in Brisbane but we got there and we then paid the deposit for the boat.
We drove out of the place I had called home for 19 years, I still get a bit teary thinking about how my little farm would put its arms around me when I returned after being away, it had comforted and nourished me for all those years. All the fences I fixed, the holes I dug, the animals I buried, the animals birthed and hatched, the ones that the foxes got and the gorse, scotch thistles and blackberries that I dug out!