Book Two cover.wattpad

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Chapter 8. The Three of Us

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When she met us at the back door, she was red-faced and deeply distressed. I could see she’d been crying. What could be wrong?

“It’s the bath,” she gasped, and started sobbing. “I’m losing my mind… I really am. Look!” and she pointed a shaking finger towards our bathroom. Great clouds of steam poured out the door as I opened it wide. It took a moment for the ‘fog’ of steam to lift and our confusion to clear. What confronted us was our bath, almost overflowing with extremely hot water. It was a deep and long old-fashioned iron bath on legs. No-one knew its capacity—but it was a lot… and it was all rainwater!

Poor Mum. I’ll run them a nice hot bath, she’d thought. It’ll save them time when they come in from milking. And time is all-important today. Wonderful thought, but…

An even earlier than usual start to our day had seen me getting the milkers in even before first light. Without our trusty torch I would have missed many a girl lurking behind the tall swamp grasses. This was the day of our long-awaited appointment with the Loans Manager of our Bank’s city branch to try to coerce him into granting us a large mortgage.  Dear Mum thought to save us time by having the bath all ready. In her typically organised fashion, she was already packed and ready for her trip home so there would not be the tiniest hold-up. So what could possibly have gone wrong?

 

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 7. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Christmas

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“There was never really a choice, was there?”

“Not once the power went off… and stayed off.” I pull a long face and roll my eyes. How clear is the vision of that day?

This was the year we were invited to join our family at my brother’s home for Christmas lunch. The planning had begun well in advance of this most special day of the year.

“Well in advance was right,” I mutter. It’s no mean feat to change your routine milking to try to accommodate something as special as Christmas… either home or away.

“Our usual early-morning start was delayed by what? A couple of hours?”

“Mm-m-m,” Kanute answers. He folds his arms—still in denial about the way our most careful dreams and schemes fell apart at the seams. “We were so damned sure we had it ALL worked out.”

Plan A was to begin with a normally timed milking on Christmas Eve before the cows faced a lengthy stretch between milkings on Christmas day, when a later morning start, maybe as late as 8.30 am was planned, followed by the usual chores in double-quick order. (Some, like the feeding out of the hay for their daytime distraction was done the night before. Then, wonder of wonders, spruce up time and off to our festive lunch. Our only regret was that we needed to be home before dark to successfully bring the cows home for the latest ever milking.

The first part of Plan A began to unravel with a power break—at our all-electric dairy! No-o-o! Not today… please, please NO! This is impossible. It can’t be happening. We looked at each other in deepest despair. When would the power come back on?

 

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 6. To all the ‘Girls’ we’ve Loved Before

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“Remember 54?” Kanute asks. His lips tighten in sadness.

“The operation on the dairy yard?” My eyes blink furiously as tears unexpectedly well up and threaten to overflow. Could we ever forget the cow whose stomach became twisted and totally blocked for some obscure reason? Our Vet attempted the near-impossible as the only solution to maybe save her – an operation on the concrete yard outside the dairy. We were his assistants in unusually mild conditions. Maybe not exactly the sterile operating room any of us would have ideally desired, but sometimes you simply must take what you can get. The Vet anaesthetised her, opened her up, untwisted her stomach with his hands plunged deep inside her belly, then proceeded to sew her up.

“SO many layers,” I shake my head, still incredulous of what I witnessed. “Firstly inside, and then more and more layers of muscle and flesh until he reached the outside.” It was a massive job, with her breathing deeply and all that flesh moving under his hands. As he made the last stitch, she took one last breath, gave a huge sigh… and that strong and regular breathing stopped. We stood there in disbelief, but it was true. She was gone.

 

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 5. City Visitors – a Word of Advice

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Congratulations! You’ve done it. Moved out of the rat-race, out of the smog. Peace and clean air embrace you. Bird calls are sweet music to your exhausted ears. Your dream of farm-life has come true. But wait… is that a convoy of cars coming along the road and turning into your driveway? Oh no. Weren’t you warned? City visitors are the name of the species, and to this breed belong such exotic delights as weekends, public holidays, and a strange phenomenon known variously as RDO’s or flex-off days.

A short list of never-ending requirements includes extra rubber boots; clothes of all descriptions; old face-washers and towels (for clean-ups after falling into, or being christened by the unmentionable). You will need scrapers at the back door for cleaning all types of nasties from the cavernous craters in the soles of sneakers… and a heap of firewood for the obligatory roaring fire.

Don’t forget the food. Tons and tons of food. All fresh, organic, home-grown and home-cooked simple fare. Appetites become ravenous in the fresh clean air of the country. In fact, appetites arrive ravenous simply making the trip to the farm—and hot scones with jam and cream, or cake fresh from the oven are an essential welcome. “Oh yes please,” will be the answer to anything and everything you offer.

 

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 4. The Mean Machine

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It was the last day of our silage-making season. I sat on our tractor, holding the engine heater switch, waiting for the motor to warm up, and looking at one lonely longer nail. They certainly weren’t the hands of a secretary anymore. It’s a strange transition indeed to operate huge machinery (like a tractor), when you have been accustomed to (and most comfortable with) a typewriter and telephone. Fresh air instead of air-conditioning, and extremely short, often broken and grubby fingernails instead of the well-manicured and nail-polished beauties of those long-gone pampered days.

And the interminable lessons—how to milk cows, breed up a solid dairy herd, recognise when you need the vet, and when you can cope yourself with the countless remedies you have on hand. Feeding and fencing, building and breeding… the list goes on. And once a year, making silage. “What is that?” I hear you ask. Wikipedia says – Silage is fermented, high-moisture stored fodder which can be fed to ruminants (cud-chewing animals such as cattle and sheep) or used as a bio-fuel feedstock for anaerobic digesters’. Elsewhere is the suggestion that – ‘Silage may be stored in pits, bunkers, stacks or as large round or large rectangular bales’. Our choice was the wedge-shaped stack, and this is how ‘the Missus’ felt to be the silage harvester.

 

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 3. Trash… or Treasure?

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“I reckon he did a bunk.” Kanute smiles, but tightly, and only with his mouth. His eyes and voice are flat. ‘Doing a bunk’ means to have left suddenly, usually in somewhat suspicious circumstances.

I nod. “It surely looked that way.”

The reason we reached the conclusion of a hasty retreat was the pitiful lack of anything useful or even usable left behind. This farm ‘boasted’ a barely adequate house and dairy; a couple of sheds in a dubious state; a hammer mill for pulverising the grain (obviously left because it was old and huge—and it was bolted securely to a concrete slab). Other than these, we inherited an ancient forage harvester and bin for cutting silage, and one small, lonely spanner that had been dropped in the dirt and obviously forgotten… once upon a time, long ago by the look of it.

The ‘caretaker’ sheep farmer milking the cows until we began share-farming had been urgently and unwillingly enlisted from another large beef and sheep property he managed for the same owner of this dairy we were destined to buy. His life experience until recent years had been in the far north of our State on sheep stations. He saw milking cows as a necessary evil, counting the days until he could return to the land and work he loved.

“How bloody tough was it?” Kanute’s mouth tightens. A long moment stretches out as I nod slowly, deep in my own memories of those frustrating days. So much repair and replacement we needed to get going on, but no machines or tools or equipment to do it with. Lost in those thoughts, I don’t even sense the minutes that pass until at last he continues. “Wonder how many clearing sales we went to in those years?”

Now different thoughts make me smile again. We haunted every clearing sale—near and far—to start building our stash of tools and fencing materials and the like. We could be relied upon to bid on (and most often win) the cheapest boxes of what was undoubtedly ‘junk’ in other people’s eyes. Not in ours. The numerous nuts and bolts, UFO’s (or Unidentifiable Fittings and Odds-and-ends), and all the bits and pieces other farmers took for granted were precious gems to we who had nothing.

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 2. The Milky Bar Kids – In the Beginning

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The blaring air-horn of the milk tanker resounded through the dairy, all but drowning out the chugging and hissing milking machine. Seconds later, a sickening thump and a series of piteous yelps sent us racing out to the road, hearts pumping and filled with dread. Surely not one of our dogs? Mother and daughter were safely tied up back at the house… weren’t they?

-o0o-

Earlier we had approached our first morning milking with our usual naive enthusiasm, and a large quota of bravado. Added to the mix this day was a determination that none should witness our woeful lack of knowledge and experience. We approached our ‘maiden milking’ with a ferocious mindset, trying to convince ourselves our shortcomings would be balanced by the degree of caring we brought to the job. After all, these poor creatures had been milked by a sheep farmer for weeks whilst the owner, Mrs. Lowe, searched for a share-farmer. So what’s wrong with a sheep farmer milking cows? Well-ll…

For starters, this reluctant milker rounded up the cows twice a day with the help of his trusty working dogs, and his equally trusty old utility. Hard to tell which ‘moved’ the cows faster—the incessant yapping at their heels, or the combined roar of the vehicle’s motor and beeping of its horn as it simultaneously belched out great clouds of stinking smoke. This rowdy, smelly combination ensured great success… for him. Presumably his goal was to get the herd into the dairy in the shortest time known to Man or beast.

... even more Spilled Milk!

… even more Spilled Milk!

dairy photos_0002

… a cowgirl?

***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

Purchasing details for Book One are at the bottom of this page.

 

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Chapter 1. Dairy Farmers? Really?

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“A whole year, marking time in the city.” Kanute frowns as he remembers. He curls his lip at the thought. “Guess I was luckier than you. At least a Building Supervisor spends some part of his day outdoors. On the building site, mostly. Heaps of driving too… suppliers, meetings—and SO much time at Councils, trying to get approval for all kinds of jobs.”

“Tell me about it,” I say, and can’t help wrinkling my nose in disgust. “Stockings and high heels, and make-up every day. Hairdressers and new hairdos and spiffy clothes. It was hard to take,, being in an office all day again, after the freedom of the farm.”

How reluctantly we had returned to city jobs. Our hearts stayed in the country—far from the acrid smells of traffic and hot bitumen and pollution straying around every crowded corner. The night sky we now looked at competed hopelessly with the arched glow of city lights. Whenever we couldn’t physically escape to the country, we found solace at the beach, looking out to sea. The atmosphere there bore the strongest resemblance to the clarity and space of all we had left behind—with an added bonus of clean, salty air.

Twelve long months of increasingly desperate searching… it was sadly but surely becoming clear to us that buying any kind of productive farm, let alone the farm of our dreams, was financially impossible.

“How depressing was that?” I sigh. “Weekend after weekend, we’d set off with hopes so high that this would be the one… ” I am interrupted by an unexpected grin spreading across Kanute’s face. A loud laugh rolls out as he says, “What about that farm in the Adelaide hills? The one tucked away at the end of that winding, leafy lane?”

I start laughing too. “The one we rejected, thank God. Our guardian angel sure had us firmly in her sights that day.” Some years later we revisited that pretty, shady corner of the woods. The property now had a name on the rusting and precariously leaning gate, in lieu of the ‘For Sale’ sign—’Poverty Point’. Hmm…

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***That’s all for revealing here, but if you would really love more – all the chapters of this book so far are FREE to read on the writing platforms – Tablo  and  Wattpad with the added bonus of memes I’ve created to enhance the chapters.

My first  Old McLarsen Had Some Farms – Brave Beginnings’  is at both of these places also for FREE reading – but if you prefer to own your copy, it’s for sale at –

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Scribd

I would love to hear your opinions – please consider leaving me a review at any of these places. And feel free to comment on how you feel Book Two is developing and any likes/dislikes/advice/suggestions? Always open to ideas… always learning.

Christine

Categories: The Milky Way - Book Two | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The first book in my memoir series was –

BRAVE BEGINNINGS

tales from our ‘apprenticeship’ on a wheat/sheep farm in Western Australia.

Front cover Book 1.620wx1000h

For my second book in this series, I first thought I’d post a chapter a month for most of this year and then self-publish it in time for Christmas 2015, but I’ve received quite a few opinions advising against it.  So for now, I’m posting perhaps 20% or so of each chapter, and see how that feels. Just please keep in mind these are early drafts and still may change – a little or maybe substantially. In either case, they are an entertaining read – not always so enchanting to live through, but definitely never boring. Here we go –

The Milky Way

 

Chapter 1. Dairy Farmers? Really?

 

“A whole year, marking time in the city.” Kanute frowns as he remembers. He curls his lip at the thought. “Guess I was luckier than you. At least a Building Supervisor spends some part of his day outdoors. On the building site, mostly. Heaps of driving too… suppliers, meetings—and SO much time at Councils, trying to get approval for all kinds of jobs.”

“Tell me about it,” I say, and can’t help wrinkling my nose in disgust. “Stockings and high heels, and make-up every day. Hairdressers and new hairdos and spiffy clothes. It was hard to take,, being in an office all day again, after the freedom of the farm.”

How reluctantly we had returned to city jobs. Our hearts stayed in the country—far from the acrid smells of traffic and hot bitumen and pollution straying around every crowded corner. The night sky we now looked at competed hopelessly with the arched glow of city lights. Whenever we couldn’t physically escape to the country, we found solace at the beach, looking out to sea. The atmosphere there bore the strongest resemblance to the clarity and space of all we had left behind—with an added bonus of clean, salty air.

... unforgettable sea air... mmm!

… unforgettable sea air. Mmm… !

 

Twelve long months of increasingly desperate searching… it was sadly but surely becoming clear to us that buying any kind of productive farm, let alone the farm of our dreams, was financially impossible.

“How depressing was that?” I sigh. “Weekend after weekend, we’d set off with hopes so high that this would be the one… ” I am interrupted by an unexpected grin spreading across Kanute’s face. A loud laugh rolls out as he says, “What about that farm in the Adelaide hills? The one tucked away at the end of that winding, leafy lane?”

I start laughing too. “The one we rejected, thank God. Our guardian angel sure had us firmly in her sights that day.” Some years later we revisited that pretty, shady corner of the woods. The property now had a name on the rusting and precariously leaning gate, in lieu of the ‘For Sale’ sign—’Poverty Point’. Yes, well…

a picture tells a thousand words

a picture tells a thousand words

Reluctantly, we accepted the inevitable, our thoughts turning to the possibility of share-farming—the dairy kind. Not only were we woefully ignorant of how this worked, we seriously doubted any farm proprietor would share his precious herd and property with two novices like us. We had no idea where to look for a solution. We only knew we desperately wanted to be farmers.

Continue reading

Categories: The Milky Way - Book Two | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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