I was a bit nervous when about 30 people from the South East Farmer’s Group arrived at the front gate. Despite them being polite and orderly and lovely to meet, I suddenly realised that what I’d agreed to do in February for a handful of land carers was suddenly a very real, very engaged and very large audience at my door. People who may actually expect something of interest. In my shock I started to gabble, raving about how bulbs just magically sprout flowers in the garden come spring, and pointing to the pot near the door and explaining how it breaks into bloom each October. “Like magic,” I hesitate, trying to remember what kind of flower it is; you know it, I think to myself, it’s that Dutch one that they plant millions of in my home town, Canberra, each year. “Like magic, poppies just appear in that pot near the garden path.”
Oh dear. I know I’ve buggered it up, but when a dear woman sidles up to me (as we wander off to find something I might know more about, the pigs) and tells me, just quietly between you and me, that they’re tulips, I feel the right knob.
No choice but to go on. I show them sows and piglets. I show them the last five porkers that have eaten every last bit of green in their pen. I show them my embarrassing paddocks and tiny orchard and my thankfully gorgeous old breed chooks. And then I find out the group’s vice president is an ex pig farmer and these are people who I wish were showing me around their farms…
It was a good week to feel like an idiot. Managed to get up an extra hour early, by mistake, for the Sunday market, on a day when I already lost an hour’s sleep thanks to daylight savings. Blame technology. It was the equivalent of 4.30am as I staggered around in the dark trying to find clothes. Woke up with a crook leg, too, perhaps from so much crouching over the last couple of weeks at the base of fences, a fact not helped by a big day setting up our Salamanca stall the day before.
Took several goes to get those last five pigs into the trailer on Monday. Didn’t help when the bigger porkers learnt how to unlatch the trailer door and leapt to freedom. Four trips (after successfully loading three times, don’t ask) to two locations to drop them off. Started moving them at 9.30am, finished at the abattoir at 5.30pm. I wish I could blame the dodgy knee. Took a young male lamb to Hans’s place to get a lesson in ‘marking’, castrating them with a rubber band, only to learn he was too young to mark. Then moved a one-year-old ram. Who also managed an escape from the trailer before being safely moved to a neighbour’s. And brought back a new ewe, which left two deep scrapes and a dark bruise on my ribs from a deft kick she planted, proving – yet again - who’s really in charge around here. Or at least who’s not.
Moved another ram to his new abode across the valley and brought Maggie back home. Her calf is due soon, and I’m excited that Maggie, with her caramel coloured coat and her enormous belly, again graces the farm. I did miss her so. And her milk. Bossy as she is, the presence of a house cow is a deep, warm feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling that’s hard to describe.
Spent last night waiting for a tow truck. If I did one sensible thing in the last few months, it was to join the RACT. A bloke who looked too young to be driving, let alone rescuing stranded motorists in his Road Service uniform, told me within seconds that the ute’s clutch had gone and organised a tow truck. A few hours later, finally, I’m back home and up for a quick bowl of pasta. It’s 9pm and I didn’t get a lot done besides moving livestock and being moved by a tow truck. I follow the meal with a peaty drop of whisky to help me sleep off three days I’d rather forget.
Oh, and just in case anybody cares, the doctor said my bung knee wasn’t serious. And maybe I’m hard of hearing but I’m sure he prescribed whisky in the cure.