Tag Archives: farmwork

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.