As a Working Holiday Visa holder, you are entitled to a second year in Australia if you complete 88 days of farm work. (There are a few other job options, such as Au Pair work, mining, construction and fishing, but the majority of backpackers tend to opt for the farm work!)
With only 132 days left to complete my 88 days work, it was about time I got my ass into gear. Tim, from the Jillaroo School which I completed last week, was kind enough to help me find a job on a farm in the local area, and so as of last week, I am now officially (for the time being at least,) a farmer. (As opposed to constantly being asked if I'm a farmer, just because my Bristol accent makes me sound like one...)
I live on the farm with Bob, Anna and Baby Robert. We live in the middle of nowhere, and to be honest it's a miracle sent from above that there's even phone signal out here, let alone 3G. The fact that we live so far from anything, is reflected in the news headlines in the closest town. (Which is still nearly half an hour away.)
As far as life on the farm goes, it's pretty good. Bob and I start work very early in the morning, but seeing as we live where we work, it's pretty acceptable for me to roll out of bed five minutes before we start. I'm in charge of the two dogs and FIVE puppies, which is fantastic news as I love dogs and I love puppies. They're actually working dogs, so I'm not really allowed to play with them. I've obviously been playing with them a tiny bit on the sly, (I honestly can't help myself) but I'm really going to have to put a stop to it, because they've all started getting super excited when they see me, and have started following me everywhere, which is 100% going to give me away sooner or later. (My guess is sooner...) The other day, one of them came bounding along with a sweet potato in his mouth, which I thought was hilarious, but I'm guessing wasn't supposed to be part of his working day.
I'm not the world's biggest fan of working with the cattle. I feel a bit sorry for Bob when we have to, as I'm absolutely TERRIBLE at it. I've only worked on the farm for six days, and I've already made an endless list of cock ups. We'll spend half an hour herding cows into separate pens, and then I'll accidentally let the wrong one into the wrong pen and we have to let them all out and start again. At the start of the week, Bob told me to chase the cows off into a certain direction - he also told me, after a few seconds, to stop, but the cows were really excitable by that point and I didn't hear him over the mooing. They were so excitable in fact, that they decided to try and jump straight over a fence... They failed miserably and the fence is no more.
Despite all my cattle disasters, Bob has been extremely trusting when it comes to tractors. Which is nice, because as it turns out, tractors are a lot of fun. My old driving instructor would probably have heart failure if he knew that someone has allowed me to drive such huge pieces of machinery, but I'm obviously a natural as they get bigger each day. I must admit, I'm slightly concerned about the little red one though. It's one of four tractors that was sent over to Australia from the US in the 1940's which means it's quite possibly the only one left in Australia, and there's also a chance that there are minimal numbers left in the world. It would be just my luck that the thing managed to survive a war, but ends up breaking whilst it's in my care.
My favourite job on the farm is securing bales of hay to the lorry, which involves being lifted on top of hay, by a tractor, and then securing all the straps. Securing the straps isn't anything special, but the tractor ride and the fact I get to stand on top of a lorry is pretty good.
I actually really enjoy all the work here. It's admittedly a little tough having no other backpackers with me to keep me entertained on the evenings, (or to back me up when I send cows bulldozing through fences!) but considering I've heard endless amounts of horror stories from other backpackers about their farm work, I guess I've done alright! I'm confident that I'd much rather be here than picking fruit, that's for sure!
As I write this, I sit in my bedroom listening to the rain. This entire area is (or at least was) in drought, as it hadn't rained for over three months. Of course, we've got the entire three months worth of rain on my one day off.
Six days down - eighty two to go....