Malaysia Air Flight 370. One flight attendants thoughts

From a kindred spirit of the air….. “The tightness of the flight attendant community transcends language barriers. It breaks through lifestyle choices, religions, age, and cultures. It bonds us together”.

itsthatlife

The thoughts in this piece are mine. I can not speak for others.

For all flight attendants, their first and most important duties are safety. Safety first. It’s drilled into our heads from the first day of training and every day at work. We take safety to heart. It keeps us vigilant
It is so ingrained in us that we protect the flight deck with the ferociousness of a lion over their pride. We will put our lives on the line to stop an attempted breach of the flight deck. Every flight attendant, from any airline, that I’ve talked to tells me the same thing. “Over my dead body is anyone getting into the flight deck” This is a relative new way of thinking, sadly brought on by 911.

The tightness of the flight attendant community transcends language barriers. It breaks through lifestyle choices, religions, age, and cultures. It bonds…

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Final hours and the wrap….

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The sunsets were nothing short of miracles…..

I wrote these words while sitting in the tractor on the last day….

The final hour….

Gosh… sitting in the big blue tractor – a New Holland T7040 watching Neil do the last few runs in a barley crop. The paddock is too rough to chase in, so just hanging back and waiting for the hopper of the header to fill and then unloading stationary. The reason for this is that it puts too much strain on the auger of the header to be unloading on the move and in the rough. Not all paddocks are like this, in fact none of the other paddocks are as rough as this one, and it’s all about soil structure. As this is one of their more recent purchases of land, they are still working on the management of this soil. All these things take time and thought with regard to which crop is grown and on what rotation. Farming is not for the feint hearted and to be successful you have to be smart and a little bit crazy. Just say’n! And these guys seem to have a lot of crazy!

The past couple of weeks have been hectic. Days all over 10 hours and over 14, one night after a breakdown. It’s been nerve wracking. It’s been dusty. It’s been amazing. It will stay with me forever and will provide dinner table conversation and many lunches and coffees with girlfriends to exhaust my re-told stories – for anyone who will listen. I must be mindful not to bore the life out of everyone!

It’s a glorious summer morning and it’s 8am – our earliest start since most mornings have been too cool, and we will be finished in an hour or so. Could have “busted a gut” last night but everyone was just too tired. The day is forecast to reach nearly 40 degrees Celsius – but a cool breeze blows now as the tractor fills with more dust, wonderful smells and memories of home and Dad. A little cry might be in order – already leaving rivers in the dust on my face. Sadness and joy, to be observed, in tandem.

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Behold, another miracle!

I’ve learned much about the brothers, though nothing was a surprise. Well, perhaps that after all these years they still work together!

I think it timely to share that Peter Schirmer… the middle brother, says “Thank God” with such reverence, meaning and sincerity, that it would ring in my ears and resonate in my heart, for moments after he’d said it. He is such a gentle-man and it was a pleasure to work with him. He’s the slow and steady one and the job’s done when the job’s done – no sooner and no later. He’s the balance between the chaos, mayhem and urgency that harvest places on everyone. It is the life’s work that is at stake here. The “reaping the benefits” of their toil to bring food to our tables. We don’t thank them often enough. Our farmers are how we exist when it’s all said and done.

 

Another thing that is unrelated to the above but I have observed as I’ve unloaded grain into the various trucks, bins and trailers – is my old office! I see the jet streams crossing the sky and think to myself… what a wonderful world! 😉 Counting my blessings once again for the wonderful life that is mine. Wouldn’t swap this couple of weeks for the old office for anything but loved every minute of that at the time too! My sore feet and smile lines included. Maybe this is my “midlife revelation”! Feeling blessed.

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The sky never ceases to grab my attention…. funny that.

 

The wrap…

The harvest has been an amazingly successful one. From a nervous start with some possible great losses due to a late frost, all seemed pretty pleased that those losses were almost counteracted by high yields and good quality grain in other areas. Since many farmers this season lost nearly all their crops to frost or lack of rain, these guys have done ok. And if it were Peter writing I’m sure he’d say: “Thank God”, and God would be listening.

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The sky was a magnet to my eyes. Sunsets came and went too quickly…..as did the experience. All the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone….gratitude for the technology and the brains behind it.

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Mini-diasters and opportunity…..

How it started….

Stephen and I met Neil and Marg Schirmer when our oldest son Daniel, went to boarding school with their daughter, Sophie. We didn’t meet Peter and his wife Irene until much later but their daughter Beth was also a boarder at Scotts. The kids all knew each other beforehand.

Soph and Daniel ended up partnering each other for Sophies deb ball. I went to the ball with Daniels girlfriend at the time (who was a friend of Sophies) and her mother as Stephen wasn’t home. We were running a bit late and entrée had been served. I happened to be seated next to Neil. No sooner had I sat down I knocked the fork off my creamy pasta entrée and it landed right in the lap of Neil, wearing his best clobber. Me? Embarrassed? Yep! Didn’t matter in the end. Neil spent a fair time dancing that night since there were 3 women at the table without their men. A few wines, lots of laughs and a friendship forged that will stay with us till the end of our days. He was a good sport and so was Marg. I now realise that Neil kind of attracts mini-disasters and this was just the beginning.

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Sophie with Marg in a fabulous canola crop, with Neil on the back of the ute. Sophie is a professional photographer now… and the best photographer I know!

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Daniel and I in the same canola crop…. I was feeling short!

Many shared dinners and bottles of wine later – both at ours and on the farm, feel pretty blessed to have met them. Whenever it’s been the farm there’s always been a bed. Have had some great weekends where Marg has fed us like royalty and Neil is always ready and willing to show visitors around the farm. I’ve had a blast being exposed to farming again and when Neil had sheep, even did a bit of sheep work when I had Holly and Jamie living with. (Another blog, me thinks!)  We all headed out to the farm one day to help draft sheep so that Neil could take them to the sale yards. (Sheep are still stupid Dad!) He no longer has sheep but Peter does. No holiday like a holiday on a farm! 

Neil has also embraced our boys as the sons he didn’t have. Marg and Neil have three gorgeous daughters – Ilona, Sophie and Lucy. They all get on famously and there are stories of farm visits when Stephen and I have been in Singapore that have a sub-heading…. “what happens on the farm, stays on the farm”… poor Marg picks up the bodies the next day and feeds them well and sends them home when they are able! God bless her!

Both Daniel and John along with a kiwi friend of the Church family, Holly O’Brien, cycled across Canada and the US in 2010 to raise money for research into Cystic Fybrosis and Diabetes. Dave Deiness is a paramedic with the Canadian Paramedic Association and he was their support driver. Neil and Marg were a great support of this venture and showed up at all the fund raisers we had in Wagga. Neil came on board with advertising and “air seeded” the website into one of his paddocks! Amazingly… I was wearing my Velocure t-shirt the day we harvested this paddock this year!

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A thought, GPS and a large paddock … each letter stroke is 9m wide, 80m tall and the whole thing is 650m long! It created lots of talk at the time!

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Checking the load out of the chaser and into Peter’s truck. Velocure Paddock! AKA “The School Paddock”.

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If you look at the arial picture above, I’m standing about where Neil started the first “w” and then reprogrammed the GPS….

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Night & Day…..

My Lord, my Lord! Baptism of fire! I arrived back in Wagga from Singapore at 1pm on Monday 4 November, 2013. Neil met me at the airport, not the plan and alarm bells went off momentarily wondering where my son, Daniel, was.

Neil: “We need you out there now, Bernadette”.

Yours truly: “Ahhhh, nope, can’t do”. This goes down like a lead balloon.

Neil: “Can you be out there by 7pm”? It was 1pm.

Yours truly: “Ahhhh? Yeahhhp, I think I might be able to do that”. Silent question bubbles swimming in my head. 

I think I arrived in Neil’s canola paddock at 7.30pm after some manic “little jobs” in Wagga, having landed in Sydney from Singapore at 6.30am that morning and 1pm in Wagga. Had to throw some clothes in my suitcase for working in a paddock, not city living in Singapore. “Hopefield”, Neil’s property, is 35 minutes from Wagga if you break a few road rules, which of course, I did, 45 minutes if you don’t.

Neil was a great teacher – few instructions and a lot of trust and not a single swear word – from him! Me, on the other hand, had some very colourful vocabulary that would not have made my father proud. Sorry Dad. Sorry Neil. Saying “bother” just doesn’t cut it. It was dark and I was learning how to drive a tractor, chase a header that looked like a beast and not drop my bundle, let alone any grain! It wasn’t easy. 

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Harvested canola being loaded from the field bin. Photo courtesy Neil Schirmer Facebook!

Since beginning this entry to my blog, I’ve done a fair amount of travelling between the brother’s farms and paddocks. Interestingly, on the last day we moved machinery into a paddock of lupins so that Peter could get started the next day when it was forecast to be cooler and I wasn’t required to chase. (This is a legume crop and the “pea-like” seed will split if the weather is too hot or dry, which reduces its value). Anyway, I could have sworn this lupin crop of Peter’s was right next door to the crop of canola I started in on that Monday night nearly 3 weeks prior.

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The “dam paddock” referred to…. where I apparently started, is on the other side of the dam in this pic. It was canola and we were harvesting in wheat when I took this pic back to Galore Hill. At this time I still didn’t know that I had started in that paddock. I’m still gobsmacked I can’t remember. It’s been carefully filed in a box in my mind… somewhere!

So – the conversation goes….

Neil: “No, we started in my dam paddock”.

Me: “No, we started here. I distinctly remember starting here”. This paddock is probably about 5km from the dam paddock… on a different property, requiring all machinery to be moved.

Neil: “No. It was definitely the dam paddock.”

Me: “Really? You have to be kidding me…. I remember driving through the dam paddock when we started on the wheat and thought, ‘they must have done this canola crop before I got here’.”

Neil: (With incredulous look) “No. That’s where you started. Not here”.

Me: “Well, I must have been traumatised in those early hours with nerves. I have no recollection of being in that paddock at all, except moving machinery to get to the wheat”!

What can I say? Wow. I have searched my brain many times since and still can’t find the memory of that first paddock! Though I do now remember the move to Peter’s canola which must have been the next afternoon. Whatever, it’s scary when there are blanks!

Three hours worth of lessons, in the dark, in a paddock I don’t recall chasing in, and you’re on your own, it seems. The next morning, on board the blue New Holland, luxurious and filled with lots of gizzmo’s, I await another lesson. Feeling agitated and terrified. Hmmm. Lesson 2, in daylight, not forthcoming. Everyone is busy.

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In the dark… so many times! Photo courtesy Neil Schirmer Facebook page. (I think it’s safe to say you are now famous Neil… just what you always wanted!)

Neil: Over the radio. “Looks like Bernadette’s on her own then”? With a hint of a smile.

Never mind Bernadette peeing her pants in the tractor!

Me: “Nooooooo wayyyyyyyy!!! Nooooooo wayyyyyy! I’m not ready for this! Shit. Shit. Shit. Shhhhhhhhit!”

Me: Thought bubble. Not comfortable with this, not comfortable at all. All care and no responsibility… I begin to chant.” I can do this. I can do this. I can do this”.

Meanwhile, in my guts, was a stampede that would rival Calgary. I’m telling you, not sure I’ve ever been more churned up over anything quite like this in my life. I reckon I lost 3kg that day! The fright I got when Dad shot the snake at the back door, paled into insignificance.

I wouldn’t say I aced that first chase on my own but there was no grain on the ground at the end of it, and subsequent chases got easier. So long as I had the beast looming in one of my two reference points I knew the grain was falling in the chaser bin. The other reference point was keeping the tractor the same distance from the header at all times, not so easy in canola.

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The 36 foot comb on the Case Header becomes a reference point from the tractor when chasing…. or at least one end of it does. Then you have to find another reference point to stay parallel to the crop line. In canola it’s different and more difficult as the lines aren’t straight. Pic stolen from Neil’s Facebook page.

Having said all that, the tractor is not easy to drive. Both Peter and Neil admitted this to me a few days into the harvest. It’s very comfortable and very nice when you have the speed consistent. Maintaining a consistent speed while chasing is almost impossible. The tractor would surge sometimes, other times nothing, when I was willing it to go. Keeping an eye on the header’s speed going from light patches in the crop where it had been frosted to heavier patches where the yield was good, required the operator to slow down or speed up accordingly so the beast didn’t choke. Keeping all this alignment certainly wasn’t easy to start with.

Chasing wheat….

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A stationery unload of the header. Did this when we either ran out of paddock or it was too rough for one reason or another. Most chases varied between about 6.5km – 10.5km ph depending on the crop yield etc.

I’d been assured that chasing wheat was much easier than canola as the header was on auto-steer via satellite and it was all “straight lines”. However, I insisted someone was in the tractor with me for the first chase in wheat. Fair enough, I thought. So Ian, the oldest of the brothers was delegated as my teacher, as Neil was in the header with Peter investigating warning lights… yeah right! Whatever.

Me: Concentrating and chasing.

Ian: “Have you got your reference point”?

Me: “Yep”. Concentrating furiously.

Ian: Have you got your reference point”?

Me: “Yes”.

Ian:  “Have you got your reference point”?

Me: Thought bubble….for God’s sake shutup and let me think. “Yes. I have my reference point”. Calmly.

Ian: “Have you got your reference point”?

Me: “YES. I have my reference point”! Not so calmly.

Ian: “Have you got your reference point”?

Me: “For God’s sake, YES, I have my reference point – shooosh will you”!

No less than 5 times he asked me about the bloody reference point. Needless to say I banned him from the tractor because it was also the worst chase I’d done with him talking in my ear and a few well-meant messages from Peter over the radio. Sometimes in teaching, it’s best to be quiet and just let the student get on with it. I grabbed Ian by the shoulders at the end of the chase, looked him in the eye and told him it would be best if he stayed off the tractor. Things went smoothly for me from then, for the most part.

About the tractor….

It has an Infinite Variable Transmission. All new to me. Nothing like the old days. It can be programmed to not go over a certain speed with 3 choices of maximum speed both forwards and backwards and a scroll wheel if the programmed speed isn’t fast or slow enough. All operated by pushing or pulling a joystick with thumb controls on the variable speed choices. Confused? Yep. Me too. The first few days of driving it had me bamboozled. Why doesn’t this thing just “go”… smoothly? My first few “chases” were living on the edge experiences for me. Nearly a million dollars worth of machinery and if there’s a mess up:

  1. I don’t want it to be on my watch.
  2. Delays cost money.
  3. The embarrassment.
  4. See point 1 and read again.
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    Neil (back) and Peter (facing) dealing with a relatively small breakdown – it was a case of “a stitch in time saves nine”.

Questions and check lists – night 1

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Unloading canola as the sun sets. As the night wore on it was “black on black”. Fortunate for the lights!

We sit to eat dinner at 10pm or something ridiculous, after my initiation chasing canola in the dark. Marg was in hospital having had a foot operation that afternoon! So it was just Neil and I and I have no idea what we ate for dinner. Probably something delicious that Marg had left for us. What I do know is, that I was so nervous and pumped with adrenaline that relaxing just wasn’t happening! The tractor, it’s operation and the reference points were leaving me perplexed and way out of my depth!

Me: “OK, I think I need a check list”?

Neil: “OK, I’ll write one for you”.

Me: “How do I start the tractor”?

Neil: Blank look. Silence.

Me: “Does it scare you a little that I’m asking how to start the tractor”?

Neil: “Ahhh, a little”.

Me: “Well, I need you to write that down too”.

Neil: “OK”. Then silence for a bit longer than was comfortable.

Would have loved a penny for his thoughts. Perhaps they were going something like this:

“Holy crap. She doesn’t even know how to start the bloody tractor! WTF”?

Hmmm…. He will read this and I think I may be on the money!

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The Check List. Thank you Neil.

I did let Neil know that a few lessons on driving the tractor might have been in order before being thrown in the deep end and chasing straight up. He agreed, with a shrug of the shoulders. He jumped in the tractor a few times throughout harvest, while waiting for one of the trucks to be filled and came on the chase with me. On the last occasion, and perhaps the reason it was the last occasion, I asked him to drive for me so I could see a pro in action. By this stage I had about 150 hours of chaser bin driving under my belt. And, to be fair, Neil would have thousands of hours of header driving under his.

Me: “Here, swap seats. Show me how it’s done”.

Neil: “No. You can do it”. (hint of trepidation)

Me: “Go’orn, have a go. Let me watch you do this”.

Neil: “No. You can do it”. (more trepidation)

Me: “Haahaaaa! You can’t do it! Or at least not as well as me”! (roaring with laughter)

Neil: “Nope. Possibly not”. Gotta give him credit for actually saying this!

Me: “Seriously?

Neil: “I can do it, I can”.

Me: “Ahhh, just not as good as me”! (feeling satisfied!)

Me: Big smile! Ammunition for the future!

Sometimes you just have to let that ego out of its bag! I was feeling smug.

To auto-steer or not to auto-steer….

When the header is unloading and you are inches from the header comb, and the grain is pouring into the chaser bin there’s not much room for error. The target has to stay steady. Otherwise, grain can go over the back or the front of the chaser bin. I think on one occasion, when the auto-steer on the header lost it’s satellite signal we may have even lost some over the side! I thought the beast was going to come straight through the back window of the tractor and spit me out with the straw and dust at the back! Peter was driving at the time and had one of their farming advisors onboard, Amy.

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Me standing by the beast while Peter filled it with oil.

Me: In tractor swearing again because I had no idea what just happened.

Peter: “Sorry about that Bernadette. Looks like the header wanted to eat you”.

Me: Still shaking. “What happened”?

Peter: “Auto-steer went walk-about”?

Me: “Shit. I thought I’d screwed up my point of reference”!

Peter: “Nah, nah. You did well. You did well. Bit scary when that happens though isn’t it”?

Me: “Yep, yep indeed. Hope that doesn’t happen again”! Nearly needed to go home and change my pants… again!

Peter: “Yeah. Me either, happens from time to time when we lose the signal”.

Me: Not on radio. *%#*@!!! “I hope it behaves itself for the rest of harvest”!

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The New Holland and chaser bin.

Hmmmm. Well, it didn’t. It’s a machine after all. However, it was never as scary the subsequent times except in the dark one night and my rear tyre, which is nearly twice the size of me, clipped the header comb guard and left me a bit shaken for the next run. There were periods of time when the satellite signal was lost in a valley or on the wrong side of a hill. All in all it probably happened about ten times. Every time, it left me a bit edgy. Understandable I reckon.

 

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Cutting to the chase….

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My office for 16 days with a rain break of 5 days, 3 days in. New Holland tractor and chaser bin.

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Unloading lupins from the chaser bin to a truck.

Lets face it. It’s not every day that a woman, in her fifties, gets asked to drive a chaser bin – especially since my experience was in an era that would barely recognise a harvest today. Many farmer’s wives are hands on at harvest time – but not in this paddock for one reason or another. Neil’s wife, Marg, works full time so is off farm for the most part. The offspring of the Schirmer clan all have full time jobs away from the farm but have in the past been available to do the job I’m doing now. At the 11th hour Neil was left with out a chaser bin driver. So, a desperate call, and it was desperate, had me packing my bag and organising a flight home from Singapore having only arrived 5 days before! And though I was a last resort, I also feel very honoured that there was just enough trust that I could do the job that warranted that call from Neil. As I write – just 4 days before the expected end of harvest – and sitting in a paddock fast becoming not full of lupins, I feel I’ve earned my stripes. I may not be able to do the brute strength stuff but I give it my best shot! And, just quietly, am getting some great tips on how to use a hammer as a “gentle persuader”, thanks to some rather brutish demonstrations from Neil!

So, that’s it. Just when I think I’ve added that one last thing to my bucket list, along comes a curve ball and this amazing opportunity to do something I never really expected I would ever do again. Feeling blessed – in so many ways.

If you’re wondering… a chaser bin driver collects the crop as it’s harvested in short sharp spurts of chasing. The idea behind this, is that the header doesn’t have to stop. Therefore maximising it’s efficiency. Enjoy the photos. 

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Having a rest in canola stubble yarning with Neil.

 

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Ignoring gender and other dad stuff….

Ignoring gender….

I’ve said before that Dad didn’t think about gender when he delegated jobs. One year I helped him crutch sheep. I was strong as an ox back then – wish I had some of that now! He told me to go steady on the sheep. I’d dragged one out of the holding pen that didn’t want to be there, quite understandable really! I slammed the poor thing onto the floor, stunning it for a bit so I could get the right hold and clean up the wool from it’s face and rear end. This is called “crutching” and is done to minimise them being fly blown – another disgusting job to deal with – maggoty sheep bums! Dad was crutching the rams at the same time – now they were feisty! The first time Dad ever heard me swear was when he visited me at boarding school, where I learned to swear, amongst other things. He walked up the pathway at school with an enormous dressing over a wound on his chin – worse than a nasty shaving accident! A ram had kicked the shearing piece into his face and in the split second that the shear took to stop it managed to rearrange his chin somewhat. I said “shit” and his expression was that of a father who was clearly wasting his money on a private education. Sorry Dad. Normally he would have contracted shearers to do this job but some years he did it himself to save the money for something for the family. One year it was a colour television for Christmas.

The colour telly….

Dad set it all up on Christmas morning – probably around 1975 given I was old enough to be in the shed helping crutch. Well, you wouldn’t believe it! We all sat down to watch the midday movie, in black and white! Didn’t often see Dad get mad but he was furious! Stamping around saying “why put a black and white movie on, on Christmas Day! They have to know people have bought colour telly’s for Christmas”! In hindsight, it was very comical. Actually, it was funny at the time!

Foundation burial….

Dad built the shearing shed himself. Master welder and fixer-of-anything-that was-broken. Farmers tend to be fixing things a lot – that part hasn’t changed much either. I had a teddy at the time who I bathed, often, in the concrete mix and used as a trowel (apparently). I blame Mum for the grief of losing him, I expect in one of the foundation footings for the shed. I think she was at her wits end trying to keep him and us clean! Anne would have been 3 and I’m sure we made fine little “forewomen”!

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We girls were always out “helping” dad! I think this puppies name was “Gyp”… might have to confirm that. 

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This and that…..

“Te Whare”… Maori for “the home”.

We all grew up on a mixed farm in Central NSW, Australia, not too far from a little town called Bethungra. By mixed, I mean: sheep, cattle and crops and plenty of unwelcome rabbits. Blessed to have a father who didn’t let gender get in the way of job delegating! Dad taught me very valuable lessons, none of which included milking a cow. Mum insisted I refuse to learn. I’m pleased about that. She was a good egg. I was also never asked to kill an animal – though I did kill a couple of snakes from the safety of a vehicle in my time.

Unlucky snake…..

Dad shot a snake at the back door once, narrowly missing me as I stepped across the garden armed with a shovel. The shotgun blast nearly gave me a heart attack (or was it the snake?). The storage fridge at the back door was smattered with shot gun pellets, holes in the flyscreen door just beside it and half a snake on the foot path! The dangerous end had managed to slither under the house. I put myself to bed for a couple of hours to get over the shock of not shitting myself!  We saved what was left of the snake for my boyfriend at the time, so he could take it home and put it in the freezer – apparently it tastes like chicken. To this day, even in China, I’ve not eaten snake! Rog had no fear when it came to snakes. I’m more like my brother-in-law, Jeff. Reckon I’m more likely to die from heart failure at seeing a snake than being bitten by one.

The Holden HR and my first drive….

Dad patiently taught me to operate all the machinery on the property, the old Dodge ute, which I learnt to drive in, and the tractors and truck. I got my truck drivers license when I turned 16 and became a wheat carter during harvest, which was always at the beginning of our summer school holidays, and a hay carter while the sun shone, along with my older sister, Anne. We made a good team – both on the farm and in later years, the social circuit! My first memory behind the wheel was when I was about 4 though. I was entrusted with the family car. A pale blue Holden HR station wagon, license plate DPF-910 – why oh why can’t I remember important stuff?!! Dad planted my feet firmly on the drivers seat and my hands firmly on the wheel, put the car in gear and told me to head for the shed! Running beside me momentarily to tell me to switch it off, when I got close to the shed – I had a death grip on the wheel and then on the key! How close is close, in a 4 year olds head? The car came to a coughing, jumping, noisy stop when I turned it off some distance away. It’s still a vivid memory – which isn’t bad given my age. Come to think of it, then or now! Saved Dad a long walk to retrieve the second vehicle, I think the tractor.

Sisterly love…..

In recollecting that thought I think its more than a little bit special that I was with him in the first place! Anne must have been at school and I guess Helen was home challenging my mother. She was good like that. Remember, she’s the one I wanted to kill. I must add here that we have made our peace and enjoy each others company – most of the time. We steer clear of subjects that we know we have a difference of opinion on – most of the time. Helen’s done it pretty tough over the years and I respect and admire her enormously for her strength – all of the time! Helen and I were known to have “fisty-cuffs” on the odd occasion and I remember Dad just letting us go at it once. We drew blood on each other and I think it was the last time we ever got physical. Good decision Dad! Image

Apparently I was the placid one… clearly the look on my face was the beginnings of “how do we get rid of this noise” and clearly the look on Helen’s is well, self explanatory! She didn’t want to be there either! Pity we don’t have early photos of our brothers – I think we must have broken the camera! 

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