A friend of mine who I had met traveling invited me to come and stay on his farm last weekend in Australia. I had no idea what to expect, four hours later I arrived at a small country town called Horsham. We then drove for an hour past swamps and fields to get to his farm. When we got there, I was amazed at how much land his family had, full of cattle and crops and this was only a small percentage of it.
After dinner, Tom suggested that we go and kills some pest, meaning Kangaroos and Emus. I wasn’t overly keen on the idea of killing any animals but I was on his turf so I just went along with it. We got in his ute and drove around the Paddocks hunting for these animals. I spotted a group of Kangaroo’s and Tom quickly put the pedal to the metal and the chase was on. We were going about 80 kph racing after these poor souls that were well and truly running for their lives. There was a point where we were so close to hitting one but thankfully with one almighty leap the roo escaped over the fence. Luckily there was no more in sight so we drove around through swamps and forests.
In the evening we headed into the Local town which was probably about the same size of Olney. Their was one club / pub and it was packed with the locals, a mix of farmer guys and fairly hot farmer girls. Tom and I slammed a few vodka’s down us and again the chase was on, only this time is was for sheilas and not kangaroo’s. To our disappointment, the only thing we woke up with the next day was a hangover, the sheilas managed to jump fence too!
The next day we had a phone call from Tom’s Dad Bill, asking if we could come back to the farm and help draft the sheep. Drafting is basically where you separate the Lambs from their mothers, doc the small lambs tails and balls, make sure none have infections and then separate the different breeds. It was a intense task as all together there was about 9 thousand sheep which we drafted over the course of two days. In the process a few lambs got killed and generally, they were all very nervous.
One of the hardest jobs had to be when a few lambs or yews got into the wrong pen, we would have to go into the middle of them, grab them by their wool or shoulders, pick them up and throw them over into the right section. It was pretty much like sumo wrestling with a sheep.
After all the lambs and sheep had been drafted we then helped gather the lambs to be sheared. There was a lot of pressure on the shearers as a small group would have to shear around 1000 lambs in one day. Its an incredibly hard job as they would have to restrain the lambs down while shearing all their wool. We helped to pack the wool into the sacks and made friends with one of the Kiwi girls. She told us that her family come to Australia each year during sheering season as the pay is a lot more than in New Zealand.
At night we would sleep in a house that was originally owned by Tom’s Grandparents. It was a little run down and primarily used for when they had a lot of work on and did not have the time to travel back to their main farm house. There was some huge huntsman spiders crawling around. Most nights we had microwave meals which was kind of odd considering we were on a farm with all these opportunities to have fresh food. When it came to sleeping, I was so exhausted but my mind was full of adrenalin from the experience I had during the day and it proved a real difficulty to sleep. Each day my energy levels reduced dramatically and made me realise how hard a farmer’s job is.
On other days we helped out in the workshop fixing trucks. One big job was to change the tyres on this truck and another was to change the suspension on a trailer. I had never really done any mechanics before so it was an entirely new experience yet again.
After the sheep work had finished we then got onto the harvest. I drove Toms ute out into the fields while he drove a huge tractor. I got to sit inside a combine harvester and collect all the canola seeds. The scale of these machines are enormous and its a bit like driving a dinosaur. We worked into the night and when finished we were faced with a clear view of the most amazing star constellation.
You never really realise how much work goes into the food that we all consume every day without experiencing life on a farm. I can truly say that being a farmer is possibly one of the hardest jobs in Australia, they have to have so much knowledge in everything from live stock, business, harvest, machines and much more. There is also a lot of pressure on them with stock prices forever changing and the price of land and machinery getting higher.
It was a great experience and I would definitely say I would like to do it again.
Thanks to all the Bourchier family!
To see some photos click here