Wanting to spend as much time with our friends as we could, we convinced Alex and Mel to join us for at least one day at Green-Acres. In many ways this is like returning to the womb for us. A place of comfort and security where we can de-stress and properly relax. Farm life ranges from doing absolutely nothing to frenetic busyness when things really need to be done. Because time with Alex and Mel and their girls was short, Kris’s uncle Robert asked Alex and myself to help with the suitably manly job of relocating a 12 foot long fence post removed by flood waters in Oberne Creek. Once the hard stuff was over, we went to the top of ‘Ellis Hill’, the highest point on the 705 Ha farm for sweeping views of this section of the lower Riverena. Next morning, true to his word, Robert saddled up ‘Bridie’ for pony rides for Tullie, Ella, Sam and James. All too soon the Blanches said ‘farewell’ and were off, leaving us with another 12 days of wonderful farm life.
Each morning, Sam (followed eventually by James), would wake early, sneak out of the van to let the dogs off and the chooks out. We also suggested strongly that they not stand at the end of Robert and Jenny’s bed each morning waiting for them to wake up! Over the next week, jobs around the farm included checking electric fences, a bit of mowing and gardening and roo shooting for dog meat.
It wasn’t all work though. Each morning we checked to see if ‘Ruby’, one of six farm dogs, had had her pups. Robert also took us down to the creek in search of carp to spear. I also taught Sam how to shoot a 22 rifle and Robert showed Sam how to reload ammunition. Whilst completely useless skills for a city kid, I was letting Sam revel in a place that is magical when you’re eleven! Robert also made a beautiful knife for Sam (from an old lawnmower blade), razor sharp and complete with leather scabbard, hand tanned of course! A highlight was watching Robert slaughter and skin a hogget (a slightly older lamb). Whilst a little grizzly, it is where our meat comes from, and Kris and Robert were able to explain all relevant parts of the ‘engine and gearbox’ to Sam and James (and me too).
The next morning, once over his understandable squeamishness, James decided he wanted a hogget tooth. Down to the gully we went to where the entrails and head had been left for the worms and birds. Now who’s squeamish? After the hogget had been bled overnight on the 50 year old hand made gallows, the two sides were put in the ute, taken to the kitchen bench and sawn up into relevant cuts. I asked ‘if the sheep was feeling a little saw?’ – Dad joke, zen level.
We were also lucky enough to be joined by Kris’s parents Geoff and Sue, who had driven down from Sydney for the week. This inspired a Klimpsch family gathering on Saturday afternoon, 9th January. There were 18 of us in all and it was great to catch up with everyone. The evening was rounded off with Ruby finally having her pups. Six cute little black and white balls of mewling fur.
After being growled at by Ruby, Splinter, the 13 year old father, was unceremoniously taken to the vet at the next opportunity to prevent any further such occurrences. Green Acres has now given the boys the trifecta of spectacles, births, deaths and Robert and Jenny’s marriage 3 years ago. The next day, Robert saddled up ‘Socks’ to muster cattle in his front paddock. The intent was to separate and then load three bulls onto his truck for the market in Wagga. The heaviest bull was 1062 kg and understandably, they were all a tad grumpy at being separated, tagged and then prodded from pen to crush to truck. The combination of agitation and extreme strength made this very stressful all round. Sam also learnt some new and colourful farm language that I look forward to hearing again in his teenage years.
In many ways, this felt like the real end to the trip. We had a lovely week here in Jan 2015 to repack our van after the berserk final week of packing up at home, so it was fitting to be here at the end as well. After sad farewells, and with David Bowie playing respectfully on the stereo, we headed to Canberra to catchup with friends, old and new.