This week I’ve been thinking…

11 Apr


…rather a lot about working on a farm. Everyone I’ve told this to so far has furrowed their brow and dipped their chin in the same disparaging fashion, but their cynicism is only making me want to do it more. Screw them all; I think I’d be a great farmer! Of course… I wouldn’t want to muck shit or milk cows, or wake up at 4.30am to harvest crops, or lug a hoe about. If anyone’s gonna lug a hoe about, it’ll be the hot farm boy who takes a shine to me and my well-disguised lust for rugged country men in checked shirts, dungarees and tattoos of roosters on their upper arms. Cock-a-doodle? Yes I do. I’d play it cool for a while, obviously, but he’d charm me eventually with a moonlit horse-ride, the squishing of a deadly spider and the words: “Care for a spin on my combine?” Imagine how romantic it would be!! Like Brokeback Mountain… only… not.

I’ve looked into various options, but the one I like the sound of the most is one called WWOOF. Sounds a bit like a dog with a stutter, but it actually stands for ‘World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms’. The concept is that you pay $60 for a book which lists all the organic farms in your chosen country. This automatically makes you a member, and you’re free to pack your rucksack (or in my case, bright pink wheely bag, darling), find a nice piece of hay to chew on and hitch a ride on out to whichever participating farm sounds most appealing.

I’ve heard there’s one lady out in the bush in Victoria, who needs help looking after injured baby kangaroos. There’s another which encourages daily yoga practice and one that helps the women learn to cook with all the organic stuff they produce! I think this last one sounds most appealing. I can barely open a can of ravioli, so cooking up a treat around a giant wooden table, wearing a gingham apron, having flour flights with the cowboys before feeding them my warm, apple pie sounds right up my alley. (And no, that wasn’t a metaphor. Filth-wizards!!)

I’m aware I may be romanticising farm life just a little, but in all honesty, I romanticise everything, so I’m used to dealing with regular reality checks by now. I think I can handle it. Farm life sounds like fun. I stayed on a sheep farm once, in New Zealand. It was run by this zany woman from Alaska who wrote books about herbs and grew marijuana in a plot behind the parsley. Her husband was a Kiwi who built airplanes in his shed – just little ones mind – but he had dreams of flying that stayed with him, even when he wasn’t high. I remember looking at that couple as we all sat round the dining table at night, thinking, one day, I want to live like you do. And why should I wait until I’m 60?

Oh feet, how you itch!! How you shuffle under that desk, and oh head, how you dream. These voices, they’ll be the death of me. But then, maybe Sydney will. Or… maybe Sydney guys will. They’re all a little self-centred in my experience. If I work on a farm, I will get to spend lots of time with Australia’s “real” people, who are not, as I’m quickly beginning to realise, ego-crazed radio presenters and pretentious fashionista posers, hanging out in overpriced bars. Real Australians work on the land and drink beer from the can, and wear hats with those funny corks hanging off the rims, to ward off flies. Real Australians hunt crocodiles and dive with stingrays and call each other Sheila. They live in tribes, in towns of three or four people, with only one satellite dish between them. They make pies from road-kill. They murder big, scary bush-beasts with their bare hands… even the girls.

Can a city girl survive in the outback? Can a spoilt princess, changed immeasurably by Dubai’s glitz and glamour swap it all for some rubber gloves and a cow’s ass? Probably not… but something’s making me really want to see. You don’t actually have to pay for anything on the WWOOF scheme, except the journey there, so there’s really very little risk if I do it… aside from the fact that if I do give up my glamorous media job in the city and wind up sunburnt, knee deep in possum shit and organising the nightly hoe-down for a bunch of middle-aged gay farmers with beer-guts and gumboots every day, I might not be allowed to get it back. But that’s a small risk, isn’t it? I mean… there will always be other jobs…. won’t there?

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