When I was a kid Sony made Walkman’s not PlayStation’s, phones were fixed to the wall, and the best TV going around was ‘The Afternoon Show’ with James Valentine on the ABC.
So I spent most of my time outside.
I had plenty of jobs after school: eggs and vegies to collect, firewood to chop, feed the dogs, cats, bird, kangaroo at times, chooks, a few turkeys and the odd pig with Christmas written all over it. I was forever looking for a fox, rabbit or wild pig. Wandering the paddocks I’d sit and watch. The more time you spend in one place the more you see. Hours spent on hilltops looking for the enemy found me bored and I’d spend more time watching the ants under my feet than the valley floor below me for a greedy wild pig with lamb on the menu. Without realising it my upbringing gave me a firm understanding of the cycle of life, from a very early age. Take for instance, the worker ants at my feet: some were on the job, going direct to the food source, some went the long way and others were doing circles, doing no job at all. The numbers of ants that pass over a period of time is incredible. The lower the food chain the more needed for survival. The lizard having lunch up the path is testament to that, as is the pair of eagles that may be soaring above him. The paddocks were alive; you just had to open your eyes!
These days I love talking to the farmer who has spent decades in the one place. He can tell you so much about it. The different trees and when they flower, and why they are early or late this year. He can tell me about most of the animals on his place, show me the calves from different bulls and the cows that are the best mothers, or tell me why his pigs are grazing that particular patch of grass at this time of year. These are the farmers that we seek out; their knowledge of their environment is in volumes and they work with the land. These are the farmers that produce the best food, grown in an environment that is understood and nurtured naturally. Essentially these are animals raised with respect, but grown with a purpose. To these farmers their farm is as busy as George Street at lunchtime. There is so much going on, you just have to stop and see it.