Our Escape to the Country

It’s funny you know, we started the business with idea that we could get the best of both worlds; the city and the farm. Reality is its more city than the farm for the minute (except for Dad who really only leaves the farm when he has to!), but Alison and I did make a trip to the farm a few weeks ago…

We leave early; I like to be on the road before 5am. Tom is staying at home with Granny and Grandpa and not joining us on this trip. We’re out the door quickly and make it into the car in good time. The car’s full of fuel, the windscreen is clean, and we are gone. I don’t like to stop – for anything; toilets and food are out of the question, coffee is a maybe, and really only if I feel like one. I am a terrible passenger, to the point where Alison and my family have handed me the keys for years. It’s just not worth dealing with me from the backseat. As a driver, I don’t speed or drive dangerously, I just don’t like stopping. If, for my best interests, it is stated that we have to stop for breakfast, I eat with two forks and try to get Alison to order take away. Watching those trucks and caravans hurtle past drives me nuts. It’s taken me hours to pass them and I feel they are all laughing at me as they pass.

It’s a six hour trip to the farm from the start of the freeway. Once everybody (mainly me) has moved on from breakfast we are nearly at the top of the Hunter heading towards Scone. The sun is beaming and it is a beautiful Autumn day. The Plane trees are starting to discolour and in the higher, colder pockets they are losing their leaves. The dairies are irrigating and on the hay making farms the lucerne is not far from being cut. The horses that will eat the lucerne are everywhere in the Hunter, and some of the trucks that I pass are full of them too!

We get to the top of the mountain above Murrurundi and I catch up to some of the trucks and caravans. There is a clear difference in the country. Although it’s dry, there is a heap of feed on the ground. Some farmers have put their winter crops in, and others are preparing country hoping for some rain. For us at ‘Blue Hills’ the sowing season is fast closing and I think it will be time, rather than moisture, that will beat us this year.

The country through to Tamworth looks in great shape. It is dry, but again there is a mile of feed. Dry, and no feed, is much worse. I have written before of the need to ‘link’ seasons together. Now, to continue the good work from the big December and follow up rains, it is vital to get wet weather coming into winter to start the winter grasses when the summer varieties die and lose their nutrients.

We come into Barraba and I wave at three of the first five cars. Two of them I know and the third, I thought I did…he didn’t wave back. Within half an hour we are pulling in the front gate of ‘Blue Hills’. We have climbed almost another 500 feet from Barraba to the farm and even during the day the air is cooler. We check water, feed the pigs and let the dogs out for a stretch. Soon we are sitting on the verandah, Happy Hour drinks in hand. By tomorrow it will feel like we have never left.

backseat driver, Barraba, road trip

Ben Clinch

Ben Clinch has a strong background in agriculture and has experience in operations and project management. Before starting The Free Range Butcher he worked as jackaroo, camel handler, barman, security guard, handyman, and tiler. These days he manages the day to day running of The Free Range Butcher business, and you can usually find him out the front of the farmers market stall; often telling bad jokes, or offering samples to vegetarians. He’s also the go to guy for sales, corporate enquiries, events, and silly questions.

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