Landcare EDH Blog: Day 10 – What’s with all the Egg Cartons?

I was going to launch into our events over the past year that I have been thrilled to be part of, but it sounded a bit exhausting for a Saturday and will get back to it…..soon…

Instead, I am going to talk about our move to Parkes back in 1989!

After growing up in Leeton, same people, pretty much mostly the same friends and being used to living at least five hours from family, we moved to Parkes! I make it sound so simple, like a quick pack up and off we went. Any of you who have lived somewhere for more than five years (mum and dad had lived there for 18), know how you can quickly accumulate stuff! That stuff that you might need for another event or stuff that you kept from pre-school that the kids would love to look at one day…..and wool and material…and egg cartons…and plastic containers!? How did we end up with so many egg cartons?!

My dad accepted a job with the Parkes Department of Agriculture and it was an opportunity to live closer to my grandparents at Bathurst…and a few hours closer to Bellangry. It all made perfect sense. It caught me by surprise and whilst the thought of leaving friends and adopted family was quite awful for a shy girl, I found the thought of moving strangely exciting!

I had no recollection of ever being to this place called Parkes. I was unaware of the famous Parkes Radio Telescope or a small event called the Parkes Elvis Festival, but my mother assured me that it was a lovely town and showed me a photo of a cream, fibro house with a pretty fence that would be our new home.

After growing up in a town where the fish and chip shop was the highlight of any takeaway evening and then finding out that Parkes had Pizza Hut! I was ecstatic! Funny thinking about it now that this was the big selling point for me. Looking at our assortment of takeaway options in Parkes now, you would not think that would even be a consideration.

Proof that I did actually study…

When I was halfway through Year 10, we moved to Parkes. My sister and I to Parkes High and my brother to Parkes Public School. There was this other school that everyone referred to as the greeny school, that evidently was out the road, but we were accustomed to public schooling and off we went.

Interestingly, one of the first things that other students asked a new student was what side of the railway you were living on….like that somehow made you a better person or not….it just goes to show how a town can grow and evolve and how we don’t reflect on where a person lives as much as what they are contributing to our society now. Funnily enough, where we were in Grenfell Street was pretty close to the border and that was fine with me.

The house that we moved into was….cosy. Dad set about constructing the obligatory chook pens that were necessary to sustain our requirements and established the veggie patch, significantly smaller than what he had been used to, but a veggie patch.

I can remember an elderly lady, who just recently passed away, telling us that her family grew up in the house and that on hot summer evenings they would sleep on the verandah. Now Parkes is a pretty safe place to live, but sleeping on the verandah….

We were, again, very fortunate to have fabulous neighbours, but I want to finish off with two of my lovely neighbours. On one side was an elderly lady, who had family around town and walked with a walking stick. She had a good sense of humour and kept her home very tidy. Our kitchen window looked out onto her driveway and basically we kept a check on her. My mum would call out and say hi and she would return with “hello noisy neighbour”.

More proof….I may actually have been thinking about my scrunchy collection though…

On the other side was a couple who also had a long connection with Parkes and the house was her family home. She had amazing collections of salt and pepper shakers stored in cabinets (I am talking hundreds and hundreds) that I think were nearly holding up the house…and a corella that was as old as she was. She would spend a lot of time knitting the most amazing things.

If you have read any of my previous posts, you might recall my reference to the smell of a Department of Agriculture Office…not surprisingly, the new office in Parkes had a similar scent. No preserved reptiles though! In those days the office had a Piggery Officer, Sheep Officer, Agronomist, Field Assistant and Secretary. How things have changed.

A lesson from this story….I’ve gotta give you something…stepping out of your comfort zone can be challenging, but helps you to grow. Don’t be afraid to grow. Even if it is painful. Learn from it. Just keep going, even if it seems like you aren’t making any ground. Just keep going and it will get easier.

If you would like to donate to the Landcare NSW EDH Campaign, 
Click here or here to find out more about Landcare NSW. Check out my previous blogs here.

Looking At Landcare (21/12/2018) – Blogging Memories

Hi Landcarer’s

I really can’t believe that we are now staring at the face of Christmas!

If you are travelling or staying put this Christmas, I hope that you enjoy a time filled with love and happiness.

Last week I committed to the Campaign initiated by Landcare NSW, Every Day Heros. As a thank you for donations, I committed to writing a daily blog up until Christmas. I have been overwhelmed by the response on our website and hope that you enjoy the next week of blogs as well.

As I mentioned last week, the Campaign is an opportunity to bring a focus to Landcare Coordinators…..and I put my hand up for the Central West!

My personal blog is mostly stories about things that influenced me as a child and encouraged my passion for the environment and agriculture and in turn, my love of Landcare….and I hope that it is a little bit humorous.

I will eventually get to some of the projects and partnerships, but at the moment, I am enjoying recalling things from the past and appreciate the feedback from those who have been reading.

As I mentioned last week, whilst there is ‘hero’ in the title, that, of course, isn’t the way that I picture myself, it is just the platform that it is shared on. If you appreciate what we are doing and enjoy my blog, please feel free to support my campaign, but I really just want you to enjoy my blog more than anything!

I have had the opportunity over the past 12 months to be more heavily involved with Landcare at the State level and appreciate the fantastic work that is being done to ensure the future of the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative as we move forward into the next phase of the program, with continuing efforts to secure funding for the next four years, which helps to employ over 70 part time Landcare Coordinators across the State of NSW.

Last week I went back to the 1970’s (yep, I am seriously a Gen-X and proud of it), I introduced my sidekick, explained how I had a real living doll growing up and talked about my love of the Murrumbidgee River and how my grandfather could build a bed from hessian and sticks. This week I have been talking about my love of my grandparent’s dairy farm on. If you see the pictures (the few that I have), of the area you would understand why. Find out why Christmas carols were in style on the Massey Ferguson and how our baling twine reins came in handy on the carry-all. At the time of writing this weeks article, my most recent blog was about my paternal grandmother and or feeding the chooks with my grandmother and her chook feeding fashion sense.

It has been strange to recollect moments from my childhood. It has been lovely to have the positive feedback on the blog and I hope that I have brought some joy to readers who might have had similar memories or involvement in their lives.

Our office will be closed between Christmas and New Year. I look forward to gearing up for the Elvis Festival, which for the Central West (not just Parkes) is a fantastic week of celebration and an opportunity to welcome people to our area and show the hospitality that the country is best known for.

For more information on any of these events, go to our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org, facebook, twitter or Instagram @cwllandcare or contact our office on 02 6862 4914 or cwllpo@hotmail.com.

 Until next week, happy Landcaring!

LANDCARE NSW EDH – DAY 7 BLOG….CANINE COMPANIONS

Marg - Campaign photoToday, I’m staying at my grandparents farm on the Mid North Coast of NSW.…I am sure that many of you have fond memories of dogs from your childhood, or even one that you currently have.

I recently read a post from a friend, who I think you would describe as burly, tough and someone that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (if you didn’t know who he was), who had to make that heartbreaking decision to put down a beloved pet dog who had obviously been an amazing companion and to hear him speak of his dog the way he did, it brought me to tears.

I have lots of fond memories of dogs from throughout my childhood. My grandparents had what could only be described as an odd bunch. It was always a thrill to see them and, the majority of them, enjoyed having young, fun companions.

Busting the brown flannie and perm….oh yeah!

My earliest memory is of an old black scragedy dog named Tim, who was my grandmother’s companion. He was the dog that you did not mess with. If you were with my grandmother and wanted to give him a pat…that was fine. He had the most silky hair on his face that was so soft to touch, but over the years the rest of him wasn’t so pretty.

The most famous story about Tim, involves a baker, who used to deliver bread all the way out to their house once a week. Now…Tim (apart from his beautiful soft face) wasn’t known for his good looks, or his mild manner. He was known for being my grandmother’s protector. When your menfolk are away from the house for the day (and remember, no mobile phone, no radio), he was a handy dog to have around.

The baker was doing his normal delivery when my grandmother enquired whether he had any fruit loaf (I don’t blame her). The baker, who Tim knew only came to the door once each visit, dutifully went back to the van for more supplies and returned to the house with the fruit loaf…and Tim dutifully lunged in to take care of the imposter and ripped his pants. I’m sure at the time it was an extremely serious offense and my grandmother did organise for the purchase of a replacement pair of pants, but over the years the story received much laughter from recipients and from my grandmother who would tell the story with such joyfulness.

Flea and tic eradication methods were much more complex and labour intensive then..

After growing up with Tim as the house dog and him passing on to dog heaven at a very old age, he was replaced with Butch. Oh Butch…if any of you have ever loved a Labrador, you will know why we had such an affection for him. He was the total opposite of Tim…accept for his devotion to my grandmother. Butch meant fun times and lots of cuddles and excitement!

Amongst our other tractor companions was the mother dog of all mother dogs, Biddie. She was just about entirely black apart from a lovely white marking on her chest. She was always carrying a few extra kilos, plodded along behind everyone and had teats, that due to many years of motherly duties, were…umm…generous. She seemed like she was around forever.

The most beautiful dog that they ever owned, was a dog called Dingo. She was caramel and brown and she ran like the wind. We believed that due to her striking looks that she was a cross with a dingo. Dingoes were very common on the Mid North Coast back then. She had the loveliest manner and just had a natural instinct when it came to handling the cattle. She died as a result of a white tick.

More brown flannie….and Butch!

Tick’s were common place on the coast back then, and….brace yourselves non-rural readers…we would perform eradication measures on any unlucky invaders that dared to face the hot-blooded beasts on the farm, which concluded with a big splat with our gum-boot, destroying the invader and impressing fellow on-lookers.

Our last addition was a collie named…affectionately….Maggie. She was beautiful, looked extremely intelligent, was great fun and not much of a cattle dog. She had also been a transportation job in the car from, at that stage, Parkes, where we have moved to.

The bails were used for everything….milking, births, AI and a bath

Having a farm that had a system of creeks and dams running throughout, there were plenty of opportunities for the dogs to have a quick freshen up and the obligatory shake off, which usually occurred once they had returned to the carry-all with their human friends. Nothing like that smell of wet dog hair to freshen up your day!

Thank you everyone for your messages and kind words regarding my blog. It really means a lot. If you would like to donate to our Campaign, please click the link below. Please like on our social media pages if you are enjoying the blog.

LANDCARE NSW EDH – DAY 6 BLOG….SKIRTS AND GUMBOOTS

If you missed the milking, you got breakfast ready with Nan and then fed the chooks. Now when I say chooks….I mean about four pens of chooks. These chooks were a special blend of breeding that had been achieved over a generation of strategic management and usually involved some roosters with a strong game line for just an extra challenge for an unsuspecting young person who was helping collect the eggs.

The bruiser carted us, the van and the chooks on the 12 hour trip to Bellangry

We had many 12 hour drives with a selection of breeding stock in the back of the Landcruiser (the bruiser), strategically packed in their cage with an assortment of luggage packed around them.

Nan was short, as was my maternal grandmother. But they had extremely different figures. It is surprising that in all of their offspring, none of us are particularly challenged with height. Of course, as each child grew, being taller than your grandmother, was a particular achievement! One very visit there would be the obligatory back to back and measuring.

Dresses were essential for the Friday trip to town for shopping and egg distribution to the rellies and fundraising stalls

My Nan would always wear a skirt or dress….light in summer and heavy woolen in winter….even with her gum boots. I NEVER saw her in pants. I actually think that would have looked quite funny!

Now for those of you who have never had chooks or for some bizarre reason, don’t like chooks, you will find this extremely boring, look away now! There is chook feed (the mix that you get from the produce store) and there is chook feed……Nan would mix her own. It was all a carefully managed process of percentages,which was simply managed with tin cans and buckets.

The feed storage shed was originally the washroom on the house on the dairy side of the road where my dad and his siblings had grown up. Of course, back in the 70s and 80s, no phones for taking cutesy Instagram posts of my rustic surrounds. The storage area still had remnants of a life lived in the house, including a copper, all of which would make for fantastic posts!


The dairy herd were moved on and off irrigated feed during the day

After mixing and processing and adding just the right amount of water from the tank to make a fabulous ‘mash’, we were ready for distribution to a noisy, excited bunch of clucking, squabbling birds, who, after completing a night’s roost without the interruption of any ginger intruders with bad intentions, were ready for their brekkie.

With good management, you could slop that beautiful blend in the container that it was intended for or you could do the grab and scatter method,that was more fun when you are a kid, because the chooks would be flying around like crazed machines to grab a piece of that grainy goodness. The chooks were left to digest quietly and released later in the day.

Once it was established that the chooks were adequately equipped with grain to get them on the right start for a day of roaming the farmyard, capturing bugs and avoiding any brave fox that might brave the light of day, we headed home to finish getting breakfast.

View down to the ‘Night Paddock’ at the front of the farmhouse.

Breakfast came in the form of two rounds, commencing with cereal (porridge in winter) and then a combination of hot, delicious, goodness with the base ingredients being fat sausages (manufactured with their own meat) and toast(a beautiful rye high top loaf) which had been toasted over the flames of the fire in the wood oven with a long handled fork that had to be strategically pronged into the bread to allow for even flame distribution and the assurance that you could bring that baby back out of the oven safely. The toast was then left to sit on top of the stove to stay warm along with the black tea that was poured early to allow it to cool to just the right temperature before ‘the men’came back from milking. For those of you who have never hand toasted anything over a fire I must explain that this has the potential to end very badly! This morning feast also included poached eggs and tomatoes….and butter that had to be strategically sliced and layered on your bread….and yes, we had milk….and lots of it!

Once everyone was fed and watered, the wash up began in earnest so that we could move on to the next task for the day…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am writing a blog a day to say thank you to those who donate to the Landcare NSW Campaign. Click the link above to find out more.

LANDCARE NSW EDH – DAY 5 BLOG….BALING TWINE REINS

As I mentioned in Blog 1, we lived a long way from our paternal grandparents. In the old Landcruiser and van, it would take us a good 12 hours to get to Bellangry, a rural area on the mid north coast, approximately 25km of winding road from Wauchope.

Nan and pop’s dairy was one of the last properties before you really hit the depths of the beautiful Bellangry State Forest. Log trucks were just about the most regular form of transport that passed my grandparents property for the early part of my life with ‘The Mill’ fully operational for until probably 20 years ago (just a guess…and my friend Google was not helpful).

The Carry-All was put on for our visits

Being dairy farmers, it was early starts for my grand father and uncle. My grandfather would stoke the fuel stove and stock it ready for my grandmother when she rose. They then commenced the morning prayers and gave thanks for their provisions and set off to gather the herd from the night paddock that was situated next to the farm house, which was across the road from the dairy (which they referred to as ‘the bales’ – six stalls with feeders in between in stall that fed the cows as they were milked).

We could go anywhere on the Massey. Through creek beds and up hills….

In winter, it was very early, very dark and very cold! Once we loaded on our gumboots (which were strategically placed one inside the other under the house), we strutted off with excitement to the Massey Ferguson for an adventure down the hill. Most of the girls had already commenced the casual stroll up the hill to the gate in anticipation of the mornings milking and a feed of chaff. Our excited friends would be tugging on their chains, bursting to say good morning and do their round up duties, apart from the house dog, who sat outside the side door over night.

When we were visiting, the carry-all would be attached to the hydraulics so that we could travel around with our pop and assist with gate duties. When it was a full house on the carry-all, there was a battle for the best twine or rope attachment to allow you to swing (carefully) at the back of the carry-all. Regardless of whether we were there at Christmas or not, we always ended up singing ‘Jingle Bells’….something about the baling twine brought on thoughts of dashing through the snow…..?

Nan and Pop had dairy and beef cattle

Once we had checked that every cow was accounted for, spotted the odd fox and moved the girls across the road, down the hill and back up to wait for milking. When we reached our destination, my grandfather’s tanned, bent nose would always have a leak, which he attended to after dismount. Pop’s nose had been hit by a wayward cow during milking a long time ago. When you are up close and personal with flighty cows with a wayward back leg, anything could happen…..I used to always think how painful that would have been.

Even though it was lush most of the time, we spent a lot of time distributing hay in the dry periods. The dairy cattle would be put on and off the irrigated ‘feed’.

In our younger years we would literally just hang out at the bar gate dividing the bales from the washing/storage room and then the vat room that contained two massive vats that would be filled with fabulous, creamy, white milk!  If we were lucky, one of the dogs would sit with us and we could just hang and pat.

As we grew, we were taught to clean teats and whack on the suction caps that would deliver all of that fabulous goodness to Australia! This is where I learnt about mastitis, birth, death, bulls, sex and separation. Of course, separation has to happen to have this beautiful milk that we drink on a large scale. Have you have never thought about that? I’m still drinking milk,cows still look happy in their clover and the word keeps turning.

After milking, the clean up began. Of course, there was only tank water to clean the bales…which sometimes we may have forgotten. When you have a job to do…..and those cows could make some pretty impressive mess!

We learnt about most of the basics on the farm….mastitis, birth, death, sex and bulls!

Once the clean up was complete, it was off to feed the calves. Of course, if you have 100 dairy cows to milk in the morning, there are going to be calves with buckets of milk mix. Calvies (as they were called) sucking our hands was the most fun part of the morning. I think that the thought that we were acting as replacement mothers and giving them some love was also an appealing part of the experience.

Then…once it seemed like half of the day was over and it was only 8am….we strutted back across the road for a hearty breakfast….yes, I mean HEARTY!

If you missed the milking, you prepared breakfast with Nan and fed the chooks. More about that in the next blog.

So…I have got to the end and not told you why I love cows! They have the most beautiful big eyes, wish amazing lashes…and, most of the time, they are graceful. I would say elegant! They produce one of the most amazing products that can ever be consumed! We are so fortunate to have access to this fresh, wonderful product.

If you would like to donate to the Landcare NSW EDH Campaign, 
Click here or here to find out more about Landcare NSW. Check out my previous blogs here.

Looking At Landcare (14/12/2018) – Looking To The Future for Landcare in the Parkes and Forbes Shires

Hi Landcarer’s

This week I have undertaken to be part of the Landcare NSW Every Day Heros Campaign.

The Campaign is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic things that are happening across the State under the banner of Landcare, are particularly brings a focus to Landcare Coordinators across the State.

Because I never to things by halves, I have also undertaken to share a daily blog in addition to our weekly article, but this is a blog with a difference…the blog will draw attention to the things that influenced me as a child and encouraged my passion for the environment and agriculture.

I will also be focusing on some of the projects that I have been passionate about because I have seen outcomes and benefits that are not always evident when you are in the midst of the project, but on reflection, you see the benefits, particularly benefits for people in our communities and our environment that often can’t be measured in statistical terms in reporting for funding that has been received. I know personally the impact of several undertakings that still impact decisions that I make in my role as a coordinator.

So whilst it has ‘hero’ in the title, that, of course, isn’t the way that I picture myself, it is just the platform that it is shared on. There is not expectation that people from our area should donate, but if you feel compelled to support my campaign, the go for your life! I will keep blogging and I hope you enjoy!

I have had the opportunity over the past 12 months to be more heavily involved with Landcare at the State level and appreciate the fantastic work that is being done to ensure the future of the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative as we move forward into the next phase of the program, with continuing efforts to secure funding for the next four years, which helps to employ over 70 part time Landcare Coordinators across the State of NSW.

That is why I am happy to lend my skills, stories and a few pictures to the efforts and will be busy typing away to share my story over the next couple of weeks.

The Campaign started on 12 December and I will be distributing daily blogs up until Christmas. The links are on all of the normal social media platforms and blogs will only be available for a few weeks, so get in while you can.

If you would like to donate to the Landcare NSW EDH Campaign,

Click here or here to find out more about Landcare NSW.

We were fortunate to hold our Strategic Planning Workshop on Monday, which was a fantastic opportunity to come together with a fantastic group of people and have a good hard look at where we, as an organisation would like to be focussing our efforts over the next three years.

This was also a good opportunity to look at how the priorities fit into my work plan and how everything will align to achieve our goals over the next three years.

We will continue to work on the finer details of the plan and hope to be able to finalise it ready for use in the new year.

It is hard to believe that we are now less than two weeks away from Christmas! I will still be contributing Landcare stories over the break and might have the opportunity to share some of the blog each week for those of you who might not be on the interwebs!

For more information on any of these events, go to our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org, facebook, twitter or Instagram @cwllandcare or contact our office on 02 6862 4914 or cwllpo@hotmail.com.

Until next week, happy Landcaring!