The Farmer’s Wife – How it all began
When I was preparing to leave school, if you had told me I would marry a dairy farmer and live on a farm, surrounded by cows, hay, cow shit and wearing Driza-Bone jackets and Wellington rubber boots, I would have thought you were crazy. Yet, a year later I met a guy at a youth group social night and as they say, the rest is history. What follows are some of the most challenging and often embarrassing moments I have ever experienced (some might say survived), as I became ‘The Farmers Wife’.
First, let me introduce the farmer, since none of these stories would have eventuated without him. It is a romantic little story, set in the late 80’s when big hair was in and shoulder pads were compulsory. When guys wore eyeliner and mow hawks or grew mullets, whichever represented their individual personalities.
George (who wore neither a mullet or mow hawk but had friends who did), like myself had left school and was obviously very used to chatting up girls who were still at school (not worldly like myself); we were both sixteen at the time. We met at McNally’s gym where my local youth group had previously visited. We were there to take time out for a swim in the heated pool and basically hang out. As it turned out, the owner’s son was a good friend of George and it was pretty much common practice for him (as the only licensed driver), to pick up his closest friends and check out the visiting ‘talent’; this night was one of those occasions.
George approached me with all the bravado of a veteran in the art of the ‘chat up’. His opening line, as he pulled out his ‘little black book’ was something along the lines of, ‘I haven’t seen you here before.’ To which I graciously replied that I had been out with my boyfriend the last time the youth group had visited the gym. He was cute so I didn’t want to permanently deflate his ego, or shut him down entirely, so I quickly agreed to give him my contact details to add to his collection. We spent the evening doing what teenagers do to attract each other’s attention, including the nearly fully clothed swimming pool toss. You know, where you pretend to not want to be thrown in and they pretend to try really hard, but you both know they aren’t really going to throw you in. As I think about it now I have to laugh and with a teenager and young adult son still at home, it is so easy to see things really haven’t changed much at all.
Anyway, back to our little romantic beginnings. With the evening drawing to and end, we left the gym and headed out for food; George followed the group to the pizza bar. It was at this meeting when he discovered I was no longer at school, had a full time job and was six months older than him. This surprise never seemed to put him off, but it did slow his stride ever so slightly and necessitated a change in his approach. We often joke about some of the assumptions we drew about each other that night but there was no doubting the attraction. As George left, he unlocked the passenger’s side of his old Valiant AP6 (because the drivers side door didn’t open) and turned on the ignition, which was accompanied by a very loud and base filled ZZ Top’s Sleeping bag and gunned the engine, through sweet sounding extractors as he pulled away. ‘Stay on task Fiona.’
To cut the long story short, we dated after a rocky start; he had a girlfriend, then I had a boyfriend and eventually we connected. We married at the age of nineteen to the confusion of some and the warnings from many; our parents fortunately not amongst them. These stories are being written more than twenty-five years later, so we can safely say we are pleased we did not listen to the naysayers. We have two lovely sons, a long history of adventure and no regrets.
Farming is still a tough life, even in the modern age and these stories are about my farming days, but they are also a tribute to the many farmers who still struggle through drought, natural disasters, powerful multi-national companies, changing community sentiment, debt and so much more. Australia was founded on farming and these memoirs are a reminder that the resilient Aussie spirit should never be lost.