From one farmer to the next

I have no idea whether Zoe and Alex will be farmers but I’m quite sure my father was surprised when I fought to keep the farm in the family after he became gravely ill.

I’d been given a great education and had built a thriving two-person little business that fitted in perfectly with a new baby. He’d decided I was better off not farming and told the lawyer drafting his will that he was going to sell the farm. The thing is, rationally, he was right: I was much better off financially than I am now or am likely to be as a farmer. What Dad had forgotten to factor in was the call of the land.

Life on the land gets in your blood and I’d always wanted – no, expected – to come back to the farm when there was room for me.

Now that I am here and have children of my own growing up on the farm, I sometimes wonder whether they will feel the same pull. Maybe they’ll simply look back happily on a wonderfully free, healthy childhood and move on. Maybe they’ll want to farm. I hope they have the choice.

I tuck little bits of money into share portfolios for Zoe and Alex here and there to build an understanding of the way money works and nest eggs that will free them to hatch their dreams one day. That’s the big picture. Then there’s the little things, like creating digital farm maps and records.

The importance of maps was hammered home just the other day, when I got a call from Wayne, our sowing contractor, just as I was feeding Alex his dinner and while Zoe and my Wayne were out at a piano lesson. The plough had located (chewed up, that is) a water pipe I didn’t even know existed.

Ploughed up pipe

Agricultural archaeology


The water started off as a trickle but soon became a spectacular three-foot-high in-paddock fountain. The break was at the furthermost end of the paddock from the pump and I knew that more ploughing would only mean endless fountains unless I could find the start of the pipe. A hopeless situation, especially at 5.30pm.

In the end, I decided to pretend I was Dad. I stood at the break and looked north in the direction of the river pump. Decided an old blackwood tree on the bank of a gully would be a natural spot for Dad to have a joiner and went for a walk.

Pipe in the Gully

Thank you, Dad!

Dad was a little eccentric but I knew him well. Went to work with a garden saw to get to the joiner and voila, one end cap and some mumbled swearing later, all fixed!

Not a moment too soon

Not a moment too soon

Got back to the house just as the sun was setting and Alex was totally over it but the troughs filled, a quagmire was averted and I smiled a little smile for Dad.

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