By Kate Serrurier
I didn’t expect to be a farmer. I always wanted to be one, I just didn’t think it was within my reach.
So when we were both nearly sixty, we bought a cheap farm at Mount Bolton. Not very good ground (granite sand, not red spud dirt) and since we have been here, just about EVERYTHING that could go wrong has gone wrong. My husband now has Stage 4 cancer, I’ve had 7 surgeries and permanently torn ligaments and biceps. We’ve had two huge fires – totally lost a newly built barn and a bushfire destroyed all our boundary fences. Then the orchard flooded. I could go on about drought or cool rooms breaking down when we had just killed, or freezers blowing up or losing my seedbank in the fire: but that would sound gloomy.
But we are happier here than we have ever been. The landscape is forever beautiful. Eating food you grow is so much more interesting than going to a supermarket. Watching the miracle of birth regularly and pulling a lamb or goat or calf or saving a cold lamb against all odds are extremely heart lifting activities.
But the most important thing is that I get to hang out with farmers and can be part of a farming community. These are people who talk about REAL practical things, like how to fix the hydraulics on the tractor or what lick prevents sheep prolapse, or what biochar does to soil, what is the combination of species best for shelter belts, or how to train a working dog. We share and swap excess fruit and vegetables, their generosity is overwhelming (neighbours have given us hay, graded our drive, saved our farm from the bushfire, trimmed goat feet, milked for us, ploughed a market garden, loaned us tools). These are people who know how to have a laugh and enjoy community events like sausage sizzles and film nights and church dinners or just sitting around a bonfire.
I love the way you can wear whatever you bloody well like as long as you’re warm when it’s lambing time and cool in the heat of summer. You can go to the local supermarket in those clothes and no one cares. I love the way farm kids are so adventurous and that my three-year-old grandson can differentiate between a potato and grain harvester, he has bottle fed lambs since he could walk, he knows why we have a farm pit and he takes off his boots at the door.
I am grateful every single day that I have had this chance in my life and we don’t care that we will never be rich.
When city folk come here they assume it might be boring or that not much happens. Wrong! It’s all action here and farmers grow all the food you eat. Being a farmer is one of the noblest things you can do. And it gets into your blood.