When growing up I knew where eggs, meat and produce came from, my parents gave us a very rounded education. I knew hens laid eggs, lamb, beef, chicken were producers of the meat that we eat and farmers grew crop so that we could have food. My grandfather on my mothers side was a fisherman and we use to travel into the ocean in South Australia and fish with him, fillet them and cook them to eat.
Until I married a farmer I never knew how much they had to know to bring this food to the supermarket shelves and to our tables. They have to consider animals first and foremost if they produce meat for human consumption, their care and welfare are never far from farmers minds. In producing crop to sell and people to eat they need to know soil types, rainfall and what will and won’t grow to a saleable quantity. They also need to know how to drive really big tractors, trailers and trucks so that they are safe and they can and do use these as tools of trade.
The first time I was bogged (by the farmer) on the property I asked to be taught how to drive a tractor so that if one day I was needed to rescue someone, him or pull equipment I could do it safely and thus have gone on to learn most of the tractors on the farm. I have also been taught how to mix formula for baby lambs and calves so that I can feed them and raise them when they are orphaned. Nothing scientific but like humans too much bring stomach issues and too little brings starvation.
The farmer tells me most days and did before I moved here what he’s up to, not because I am interested (which I am) but for work health and safety and also if I ever feel like driving out to him I know where to look, find him and or bring him a coffee if I feel like being nice. I have taken him, coffee, morning and afternoon tea and sandwiches for the days he is out for hours at a time.
This year he got the crop in when we had good rain, the last 3 have been below average rainfall and things have been difficult. The paddocks have been dry and we have had to purchase feed stuff for the cattle and sheep. But the farmer likes to grow our own feed stuffs for the animals and at one stage last year when it was very dry (it was a drought actually) all he wanted to do was get out on the tractor and plough the soil, plant seed and watch it grow to reap it, bale it and feed it out.
We have had good rains this year and I went out to film him raking, I knew raking was not about your garden style rake but something bigger even before I did see one as he told me it needed the tractor to pull the rake. But one could be forgiven for thinking there were tools made like the garden variety rake that were attached to a big stick and then pulled along by a tractor , but alas, no here it is.
Why do we rake hay? I ask these questions even though I think I’m supposed to know but it is to take any moisture out of hay, especially as it has rained since it was cut. When baling hay they work on moisture content, if too high they stop. packing approx 600kilos of hay into a bale when wet or too green is a recipe for disaster. They can cook from the inside out and combust. I fed last year while the farmer had a break off the farm, when hay is baled it is done in brick sections in the baler and I pushed my bare arm through the brick and it was burned. I then realised the bales were too hot. After feeding out I took the tractor and took the bales one by one and placed them on the ground away from each other so that if they did catch fire we wouldn’t lose much and it wouldn’t spread very far.
It’s a great day in the Upper South east, firstly I have internet proper been about 8 weeks and the farmer is out working hard whilst I do book work. Have a great season.