This farm was by far the most beautiful farm I have ever been to. It was on top of hills and it didn’t really feel like I was in the middle of nowhere because there were people surrounding me. There was life on this farm! My farmer rented out some space to the others and everyone had their own car, except, of course for me.
The farm consisted of several paddocks. One was at the very top of a hill, where the pigs mainly stayed. I think there were around 60 pigs. Then there were these other two paddocks where we grew vegetables. Different types of vegetables, such as cabbage, lettuce, beet roots, coriander, cauliflower, some sunflowers and of course, green beans. Green beans were the main vegetables. We also had my favourite – watermelons! They were the best watermelons I have ever had! We had them almost every day.
What my typical day looked like
On a typical day, we would get up early and make breakfast or as Aussies call it – brekky. Then have some tea. I discovered this tea (lemon myrtle tea) while in Byron, that was so refreshing. It’s basically like this – you boil water and you pick lemon myrtle leaves from the tree and put them in the kettle and let it brew. This smells and tastes amazing! After our breakfast, we would usually head out to feed the pigs and then to our main paddock to pick beans. Sometimes picking would take hours. It really depended on how many helping hands were there at the time. Picking beans is fun but sometimes tricky. Sometimes you have to watch out for those caterpillars because they look just like green beans!
Once we were done picking beans, we would take our buckets back to the shed where we would measure the beans and place them in boxes. These boxes would then be taken to the stores where we would sell them off to. This entire process would pretty much take half the day. Once this was done we would have lunch. Guess what’s for lunch? Green beans! What a surprise! Since there were like 10 of us living and working together, we were a big family. However, I used to be stuck doing most of the dishes. At first I didn’t mind then but then I really got sick of it. We would always take turns in making lunch. This was difficult to cook for so many people almost every day. At first I never knew how to get the portions right because I’ve never cooked for so many people before. Usually I cook for 4 people, because we are a family of 4. However, this experience has taught me to cook for a lot of people and in a way I am thankful for it.
Some days when we didn’t pick beans, we did weeding and shoveling. On other days, we did planting. There was never shortage of work. I even did wire fencing with my bare hands on an entire hill once. I never enjoyed doing that because I was the only person doing this alone. It was on a hill where the pigs lived and those pigs are huge and crazy so I’ve always been a little anxious working around them. There were also many snakes! Oh and let’s not forget how hot it was. Some days it would feel like 40 deg C. Although I have dark skin, I would peel. There were days where I felt dehydrated and weak, and as if I was about to have a heat stroke. Farming is hard work.
Farming is rewarding.
When you prepare the soil for planting, you take the weed out. The weed is meant to be harmful for the plants so you have to get rid of them from the soil. Next, you plant the seeds. They have to be planted an inch to two deep. You have to ensure that there’s proper measurement in planting the seeds otherwise they won’t grow properly. They have to be apart from the other seeds, about an arm’s length for the vegetable plants respectively. Then you monitor the growth of your plants. Finally when you see them growing for weeks and birthing those green beans, it’s an eccentric feeling, like you created it. We also had a vegetable garden that we took care of. Whenever I would cook, I’d run to the garden and get all my ingredients from there. Fresh vegetables are just on another level.
The dogs, Kemba and Balladore – were my sweethearts. I love them so much. I would feed them so that’s another reason why they also loved me. They would follow me everywhere. Sometimes I would walk up the hill and go to the viewpoint across the street (which is the highway). Luckily our farm was just across this place called Coolamon’s scenic viewpoint. You would get a bird’s eye view of the entire Byron. The dogs would follow me up the hill and then leave because they’d be too scared to cross the highway. I would often go there for sunsets, just for some peace and quiet and of course, a gorgeous view.
What I didn’t like on this farm were the snakes! They were just everywhere!!! The pythons were not too bad; they would just sit and chill there. One python had a very specific chill spot so it was easy to locate. The brown snakes are the second most venomous in the world. The red belly black snakes are also quite venomous. These were everywhere, including around the house. I used to wear my gum boots at all times because stomping is required from time to time when you walk, just to keep the snakes away. There were many times I spotted snakes and was completely freaked out by them as they were so close to me. My farmer had given my bandage to carry with me. He gave me instructions on how to tie it around if a snake does bite. Especially if a brown snake bit me, I would have 15 minutes to live. He advised that I’m better of sitting somewhere than running, as the blood would rush through my body, fast with the poison.
What I’ve learnt
Living on this farm has definitely taught me to appreciate farmers, plants and just life in general. I realized that living in nature and with nature, I didn’t feel the need to go shopping. I didn’t miss the big malls or the branded purses or shoes. Those things are unnecessary and irrelevant when you live a life like we did on the farm. All you care about is the earth and your plants and you work hard to bring food to the table. Then at the end of the day you cook for your family and enjoy a meal together. From time to time we went to the beaches or to the bars on the weekends, and listened to live band music.
I did farm work for 3 months just so I could get a second year visa in Australia. However, I never ended up using that visa. I probably used 3 months of that visa and flew back home to Canada. I always regret coming back but I think everything happens for a reason. I’m sure there are some good reasons behind this. Although, I didn’t take advantage of the visa and people often say “you did your farming for nothing”, I completely disagree. I think farming gave me a chance to learn and appreciate life even more. I survived the pigs, the kangaroos, and most importantly – the snakes! I created wire fences and did things I would have never in my life imagined.