The Farmer’s Wife – First Farm Visit
Nothing like a long drive on a hot summer day; with the windows down and the wind in your hair. The excitement was building as the old valiant AP6, with its spotted paint job and touched up rust, no seat belts, low bucket seats and wide mag rims rattled its way down the very rough track. Who would have known corrugations could be so deep? The Tarr family farm came into view and George smiled from the drivers seat as we turned off the dusty ‘main road’ through the wire farm gateway onto the bouncy track which wound its way to the house on the hill. The sign on the gate boasted a hand painted jersey cow complete with horns, surrounded by the words ‘Glen Eden Jersey Stud’. What was a stud anyway I thought to myself as we drove past the bright green paddock bordered by dry grass and barren dirt.
When we arrived at the farm I couldn’t believe the surroundings. The old farm house was rugged, the garden was overgrown and the sheds were full of years of accumulated machinery. George took me into the dairy to see where the cows were milked and proudly showed me around. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe I hadn’t really thought about it much at all. The dairy wasn’t pretty with its cow shit splattered once white painted walls, besser block construction and rusty old gates. The milk vat however was stainless steel and shiny, and as I scooped out a glass of fresh milk I couldn’t believe how rich it was and how thick and creamy the froth on top of the milk vat looked. Drinking warm milk, straight from the cow was a new sensation, but one I have never forgotten. The froth on top of the vat became a source of meditation and comfort for years to come. Slowly stirring the top of the vat to blend the thick cream with the rest of the milk was a mesmerising process.
I was never really an animal person, so when I met the jersey stud cows I was surprised at how beautiful they were with their big brown eyes and smaller frames. The cows were all hand reared which made them extremely friendly and curious. As we walked amongst the herd, they followed behind with their raspy tongues grabbing at my clothing. Every time I turned around to confront them, they would scampered back like mice.
You know, I don’t recall that first day on the farm as anything like the shock you might have expected from a sixteen year old girl from the outer suburbs of Adelaide. My family were former country folk themselves and had always craved the quieter life. I was no prima donna either, opting for very little makeup in my bathroom draw and not a fancy dress to my name. I didn’t have much of a reputation for glamour, preferring jeans, swimmers or a basic tank top and shorts. I don’t even recall being put off by the pungent smell of the dairy or the effluent run off which trickled down the hill. I remember my sister asking me once how I coped with the smell, but really I had never noticed it. It must have been love. This day held only the slightest embarrassment as I met George’s mum and took on my label as “the older woman” which would stick with me forever.