June 14th 2011, as Eugene drove onto a dirt road (not our favourite pass time, I might tell you, due to Eugene’s fragility and previous encounters with wobbly, dodgy, sandy roads…) I wondered if we were even going to make it to this new experience. Anyway, we got the job so off we gooooo…
The job, my dearest friends, is on a dairy farm. Yes in one of the remotest areas of the country, I find myself, Eugene and Tom surrounded by cows. Big cows, little cows, Friesingers, Jerseys and crossbreds. Cows that break out of their paddock, cows that are loud, cows that are quiet, cows that don’t like people, and cows that are very friendly and love pets and cuddles. Yes, cuddles. What are we doing here? Well… For three months, we’re working, helping on the farm with all sorts of jobs, but mostly:
Herding the cows to the milking shed sounds easy, as does herding them back to their paddock and even two different herds are fine and easy to keep seperate. It’s been easy so far -the exception being the odd stubborn cow that doesn’t want to move-, but after a decrease in cows on the farm (they get a holiday, so to speak, a few weeks before their calf is due, and calving season is on it’s way!), we will now be getting more and more cows to the farm, up to 1200! They’ll be split in several herds, over several paddocks and they will all need to be milked in the same milk shed and not mixed together. Although the party hasn’t arrived as of yet, I’m very curious as how we’re all going to manage that.
Other than that, the job consists of… Milking cows! They walk onto a platform, we put the cups on, and when they’re done milking, they come off and on the other side of the platform we spray them with antiseptics so they don’t get sick. Best times to be doing this: 4:45 am – 9:30 am, and then again in the afternoon 1:30 pm – 16:30 pm. Yes, I’ve been getting up at 4 in the morning.
The season is not quite here yet. Which is good, because our calf shed is far from finished, but the springer cows (cows that are ready to pop their babies out) have been arriving and so far we have about 100 calfs frollicking about that are anywhere between three weeks and a few hours old. Although it sounds nice and easy, often the cow needs help with delivery, doesn’t understand what’s going on (if she’s a first timer), the calf doesn’t want to be fed (which is important for the obvious reasons) and surprisingly it takes a lot more than I expected before we got here. We’re getting weaned into it slowly, so who knows what is going to happen in the next weeks, months???
Yes of course there’s free time. There’s more free time than I wished for. Although full time work will be here soon, we’re still jobsharing, meaning that usually one or the other works, or we’re both off as there’s not enough work. Yet. And seeing how we really are in the middle of nowhere, it’s not like on my free days I can go to a town to do stuff.
Lucky, I bought a ukulele in Perth, which I’ve been practising and getting better at it!
Also, in all the op shops we’ve been to (second/third hand shops), to find clothes and rain gear for on the farm, we ended up with a small library of books. Oh how I found the geek in me. Classics, new books, books I’ve heard about but never read. I’m getting it all in!
Last but not least, we actually are in an amazing area. Lots of bushes, plains, all in all: bushwalking is great here. Lots of kangaroos and kookaburras, I can’t wait for the rainy season to be over, so I can find a tree to have a nap under. Also: cookies, I’m baking lots and lots of cookies, cakes and other yummy stuff
So. This is life, as it is for now and will be for a few more months. I’ll try and post regular (picture)updates of exciting farmlife…