I see myself as a farm girl living in the city. I like farm life. For many years I lived on a couple of acres with all the possibilities farm life offers, at least on a small scale. My mind travels to another place where there are wide open spaces, paddocks they never end, fresh air (shared with the occassional fly) and quietness. Even with the noise of nature and farm animals I find comfort in farm life. I love the opportunity to see the radiance of the sky at night, uninterrupted by the lights of city living.
Even though I live in the city I am not enticed by its tentacles. It does not draw me in to find a place for dinner at 8pm or drinking at a bar until late in the night. Now that I am older I do the sensible thing, stay at home where it is comfortable and cook our evening meal. Just like what happens on the farm.
Yes, even while living in the city once I go outside for chicken duties I am living the farm life. Looking after our fruit trees and veggies, with help from the farmer I live with, I am a farm girl. My chores are the same as those on the farm, but on a smaller scale. A very small scale. I do not have the challenges of life on the land. I do not have to work long days in bad weather conditions. I do not have to muster cattle or search for sheep. I do not have to pay exorbitant prices for grain or fodder. I do not have to buy and truck in water. My farm girl life is on easy street.
Right now, the drought is affecting most of Australia. In Queensland almost two-thirds are drought declared. It is no fun being a farm girl without water. If you live in country Queensland the four-letter word is spoken of often. It starts with ‘R’ for rain. Everyone is talking about the lack of rain, praying for rain, looking at the sky, looking for a sign and hoping that if they believe enough it will happen. Like me and many other Queenslanders our hearts go out to the farmers, those living on the land. It is a tough enough existence but when the rain does not come, when the grassed paddocks cause a windstorm of dust, the plants wither and die, the heart of the farmer must go on beating.
As much as I like to see myself as a farm girl, it is as though I am a child playing a game of pretence. I am not really living the life of a farm girl, my life is glorified in the city, by the city. I turn on the tap and I have water. Yet, my One & Only (O&O) and I are aware of the value of water. We fill a bucket with cold water in the kitchen while we wait for the hot water to arrive. Not that it is that hot, there are regulations and it is lukewarm! Just like a farm girl, to get hot water, I have to boil the kettle. At least I did not have to light a fire first. Not that I would mind. I enjoy collecting wood, setting and lighting a fire. But then I am spoilt. Mostly it is my O&O who collects kindling wood fallen from our huge gum tree in our backyard. We are blessed to have one gum tree. When we were on our few acres in Maleny we had dozens of gum trees, planted as tubers, all grown up when we left (I could not hug the complete surrounds of the tree) to hand over to another custodian.
One gum tree is enough. It reminds me of the bush, the country and how I am happy with my city life as a farm girl. I can dream, I can pretend, but as I am older I enjoy the proximity and facilities the city offers. Toowoomba might be a city, but it is a country town that grew up and still connects to its past. When living in my corner of the city a.k.a. my country I love to light the fire pit on a cold winter’s night, to look up at the stars and realise that life is good as a ‘farm girl’ living in the city.
The drought was no more evident to me when my O&O and I travelled from the Sunshine Coast back home to Toowoomba last week. We went via Somerset Dam a.k.a. Lake Somerset. We have travelled this road many times over the last 10 years or more. One of our favourite stop off spots is O’Shea’s Crossing.
What we saw shocked us. We could not believe the state of the river. Usually, the river is full and flowing but it had little water. We could have walked across the riverbed of the Brisbane River to the other side. No one needs to tell us how bad the drought is, all we had to do was look at the river.
It is no fun being a farm girl when there is no water. It is heartbreaking for everyone on the land. Water is the lifeblood of life on the farm. I hope and pray that rain comes soon for every farm girl and farm boy in Queensland, in Australia.
There is a great book called Cattlemen in pearls: Celebrating women in agriculture by Ian and Anne Galloway. The book is a tribute to women in agriculture, specifically Australia’s beef industry. It tells the story of 28 remarkable Australian women – the real farm girls! Read more about the book here.