Category Archives: regional work

In which the human lizard ends her career in farming

At 5pm last Thursday I finished my last day of ‘regional work’. I celebrated with a fist pump followed by a triumphant three-hour drive home from Gippsland. I feel like I should be sharing some reflections on the whole experience but really it can be summed up by saying that some of it was fun… and a lot of it wasn’t. Instead, I will share some selfies from my last farm. 

Human lizard and Triple B the ram

Human lizard and Triple B the ram

Human lizard and Hereford cows

Human lizard and Hereford cows

Human lizard and Baboss the Maremma, my best friend in Gippsland

Human lizard and Baboss the Maremma, my best friend in Gippsland

Thanks for reading about my adventures in regional Australia, I do hope you’ve enjoyed the cute animal photos if nothing else. We now return to regularly scheduled programming, whatever that is.

Regional work part 3: Gippsland

First things first, if you missed it on Facebook, do take a look at this little video I put together as my time on Bruny Island was coming to an end. Video production is not a natural talent of mine but this film does have piglets, ducklings, goats and, more importantly, my face. Enjoy.

My accommodation: basically a garage

But what of my new farm? Well, I’m now in Gippsland, about a two and half hour drive from Melbourne. I’ve traded pigs for sheep and have swapped damp caravan with no power for cold garage with no power.

The farm is incredibly picturesque with rolling fields for the sheep to frolic on and mountains off in the distance. Unfortunately my ability to appreciate it has been somewhat dampened because I am super tired from being woken up every night by various loud and annoying noises. When the rain stops hammering on the tin roof, the dogs that protect the sheep start barking at something they’ve seen. When the dogs stop, the rooster starts up. Dude, it’s 3am, pipe down.

Selfie of the human lizard on the new farm

The exciting part, however, is that the end is sight and I have just nine more days of regional work to plough through before I can go home and get back to real life.*

* The other exciting part is that the first job for tomorrow is to feed the eagles. That’s just not something you often get asked to do when you work in an office. 

In which the human lizard tells you about Bruny Island (because you were itching to know, right?)

It didn’t take living on an island to make me realise that I never want to live on an island. Despite growing up in the countryside – or perhaps because of it – I’m a city girl through and through. Nevertheless, Bruny Island is stunning and my time here is giving me an interesting glimpse into island life.

The human lizard with Bruny Island Neck behind

Bruny Island is about 100km from top to bottom. It’s made up of North Bruny and South Bruny, which are connected by a thin strip called ‘The Neck’. Bruny is a real island, ie there are none of those newfangled bridges connecting it to civilisation. Oh no, getting there means taking a good old fashioned ferry. The novelty of this wears off really quickly and it’s often quite the pain in the arse.* Also, a lot of the roads, including stretches of ‘Main Road’, are unsealed and a bit of nightmare to drive without a 4×4.

The human lizard and other WWOOFers walking out to see at low tide at Great Bay, Bruny Island

The tourists, most of them Tasmanians, come for the walking tracks, the beaches and the wildlife. Being an island, Bruny obviously has a lot of beaches and they are quite lovely. Some are all about the surfing, others involve a 2km walk to get the water above your knees at low tide.

Bruny has only 600-ish residents, meaning that everyone knows everyone else, and their business. There’s one policeman, one pub, one off-licence, one place to get petrol. It’s the kind of place where everybody helps each other out. So, a local might travel back to Bruny as a foot passenger, knowing that they’ll find someone they know on the ferry who can give them a lift home. And the guy from the nearby cafe leaves loaves of bread in our letterbox at the end of the day.

Island life. It’s different.

* Especially when you miss the ferry by about two minutes and have to wait over an hour for the next one. And the cafe has closed** so you have to wait outside in the rain. Yep, it’s raining at this point. Of course.

** Why does everything in Tasmania close at 4pm? Not cool Tassie, not cool.

In which the human lizard posts photos of tiny, tiny piglets

Jessie and 10 of her 11 newborn piglets

So the big news from the farm is that Jessie, pictured with me in my last post, has had her piglets. Here are 10 of the 11 piglets, just a few hours after they were born.* They are, of course, incredibly cute and we have considered, in some detail, the practicalities involved in keeping one as a pet. Sadly, I have had to accept that I am entirely too lazy to bottle feed a piglet every couple of hours so, for now at least, they can all stay where they are.

In other piglet news, the little ones in the pen next to Jessie continue to be cute. Tikka, the Kelpie, is quite fascinated by them and it’s really rather lovely.

Tikka the Kelpie with three piglets

Hmm, what else? I’ve been on the pig farm for three weeks and, to be perfectly honest, I’m kind of over it. The problem is, the animals expect to be fed EVERY morning. Selfish bastards. I’m powering through my 88 days though, and am well over halfway there. Yay me.

* It’s quite hard to get good photos of the piglets as Jessie does not like us getting near and she is so big that you really don’t want to piss her off. While not great, this one is much better than my first photo, which I later realised had four dead piglets in the foreground. Nice.

Regional work part 2: Tasmania

After the ridiculous heat of Taggerty, I thought I would make Tasmania my next stop as it is generally cooler than Victoria where I have been melting. My new farm is on Bruny Island, an island off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, not too far from Hobart. It’s not just cooler, it’s actively cold at times, but it’s really rather beautiful so I shall forgive it.

My caravan

My accommodation is a caravan about 100 metres from the farmhouse. While it’s great to have my own space, that 100 metres feels like a bloody long way in the middle of the night. It’s also too far away to get help if you encounter your first huntsman spider late at night. Given my history with spider invasions, I was surprised and impressed with how calmly I dealt with the situation and killed that scary bastard.

Me and Jessie

The farm is mostly about pigs and our main job is feeding them all in the morning and evening. Pictured here is Jessie, a heavily pregnant piggie. The photo doesn’t quite convey it but she’s actually the size of an elephant. We’re expecting up to 19 piglets from her at any moment and have been taking our cameras with us every time we feed, so watch this space. Or something.

As well as the pigs there are also goats, sheep, chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, peacocks and emus. More about them another time.

I’m feeling pretty positive about Bruny Island after the first week and expect to be here another three, by which time I will be quite the expert on rearing free range pigs. And eating them.

Regional work days update: 42 down, 46 to go.

In which the human lizard is too lazy to write much

I’m now in my last week working on the olive grove and find myself too tired to write a proper post. Instead, here are a few decidedly average photos from my adventures in Taggerty and the surrounding area.

Millie the maremma sheepdog

Millie the maremma sheepdog

Lake Eildon, Victoria

Lake Eildon

Stevenson Falls, Marysville, Victoria

Stevenson Falls, Marysville

Selovers lookout, on the road between Healesville and the Black Spur

Selovers lookout, between Healesville and the Black Spur

Cool clouds over the olive grove

Cool clouds over the olive grove

Goats and snakes and mozzies. Oh my!

olive groveI’ve been at the farm for nearly two weeks now and it’s all going pretty well. I’ve only had one day that almost broke me – the morning was spent digging holes around fruit trees. For five hours straight. In the sun. The evening was spent in much the same way.

In other news, last week the farmer’s friend brought five goats to the farm. By 8 o’clock the next morning there was only one goat still bleating and we had goat offal for lunch. I did not enjoy the offal.

I asked the farmer what would become of the remaining goat, hoping (somewhat optimistically) that he might be intended as a pet. Turns out the farmer simply ran out of time to kill him and so he is basically now on death row. Waiting.

On Monday morning I saw my first snake, a brown snake. The farmer sent me back to the farm to get a shovel but the bastard had slithered away by the time I got back. I was surprised and pleased to find that I was relatively unfazed by the experience and was happy to keep working in the same area. Well done me.

In less interesting news, I got bitten to shit by mosquitoes while watering the vegetable plot one evening. Note to self: always use bug spray.

First impressions, kangas and aching everything

human lizard on the farm

My normal line of work is less about weeding and more about sitting in front of a computer and occasionally getting up to make a cup of tea. My first couple of days of farm work have therefore left me with a lot of aches and pains and a strong desire for my 88 days to pass  quickly.

It’s not all bad though: the farmer and his wife are lovely and the surroundings are absolutely beautiful. Yesterday I walked around part of the 100 acre property and the landscape took my breath away.

kangaroo bouncing along near the lake

Every evening a family of kangaroos come into the olive grove and you can see them from the kitchen window. A family of kangaroos. That you can see from the kitchen window. Amazing.

This evening the farmer told me that, “The real work starts tomorrow.” He wants to get an early start so my alarm is set for 6.15am. Hopefully this means we can finish working before the temperature hits the predicted 31°C.

84 days to go.