Farming Out The Kids

You never know where life’s going to take you.

I fell into a writing career with this blog quite by accident. It wasn’t something even hinted at in discussions with my school guidance counsellor – although to be fair, the internet didn’t even exist back then, let alone blogs, so I’m prepared to cut the bloke some slack. I went into the blog for the joy of writing and the experience itself, and now I own a bus full of beds and the people I love most in the world.

Part of the joy for me with this slow lap of ours around this country are the experiences we’re managing to clock up for the kids, and I keep wondering if maybe they’ll find a passion for something on our travels. They’ve already seen a turtle laying eggs on a beach, held snakes and crocodiles, fished for barramundi, trekked into forests, fossicked for gems and experienced real Australian history by sitting in the cave hideout of one of our infamous bushrangers. They’re riding their bikes more and meeting new friends and learning to shower with less water than I boil for a cuppa. Going forward, we’ve plans to see The Dish, discover Canberra, go whale spotting and experience the dinosaur trail up north.

It’s all part of why we’ve given up the idea of a bigger home for this journey.

So when the opportunity presented itself to stay on a working farm which is set up for tourists like us, we jumped at it.

It might have helped the conversation included the phrases, ‘there’s a cottage for you all to stay in’ and ‘it has a washing machine’.

Which is how we ended up at Cheyenne Wilderness Retreat, half an hour or so from Walcha.

After a wonderful night playing with a wood fire and the kids all enjoying being able to not see each other for minutes at a time, we woke up and headed down to the homestead where all the farm action happens. The kids were all mad keen….right up until they had to get their hands dirty.

“Do I have to touch the teats?” Master12 asked as he sat down on the stool.

“Well, I guess you can try milk it’s nose…,” he was told.

He sort of jabbed an unwilling finger at the udder.

“Does it hurt?”

“Only if you get kicked.”

The lovely auntie of Nick and Alex running the farm had grown up milking cows in this very shed, and she proved to be as adept at wisecracks as she was at showing us lovers of supermarkets how to milk maiden.

“I just don’t want to offend Mr Cow,” Master12 pressed.

Yep, he said Mr Cow.

“I can see you on your own farm one day,” I said to him. “You’ve a gift.”

That earned me a nudge in the ribs from Tracey, followed by a, “Says the man standing in cow mature.”

“We’re in the milking area,” I said. “I guarantee we’re all standing in poo.”

“Just don’t touch it’s head,” our lovely instructor told him. “Cows aren’t like horses. They don’t like their faces patted.”

That was not going to be a problem as Master12 had no interest in putting his hands anywhere but under a tap.

After a full minute there was a real risk of Mr Cow developing mastitis, so the other kids each took a turn at appreciating living in a country with a vibrant dairy industry – or rather, living in the city with a vibrant dairy industry thankfully somewhere beyond the supermarket fridges.

But at the end of a near embarrassing amount of ewwing and squealing I’m rather chuffed to say we ended up with a good few litres of the creamy stuff which was so frothy you’d think a barista had been involved.

Not that I expect any of my kids will be running out and buying a jersey cow when they’re older to cut down on their grocery bill. In fact, I suspect the story of Jack and the Beanstalk makes a lot more sense to them now. Jack sold the cow for three beans? Master12 would have swapped it for a used toothbrush if it meant getting out of touching cow tits.

“It’s disgusting,” he told me later with a shudder, so he can probably cross farming off his list of future career choices.  And maybe, given his next comment, anything involving diet advice? “I’m pretty sure I’m lactose intolerant now.”

We’ve 20,000+kms to go. I’m sure we’ll find him something.

Miss5 was a natural.

Cheyenne was wonderful. It’s gorgeous country and lovely people and no surprise to me to learn some of the people who enjoy the experience there have been staying in the cottages annually for some 20 years. I’m already looking forward to one day heading back. 

I couldn’t get Babe out of my head. Baa-ram-ewe!

Don’t help guys.
Cheyenne even has it’s own ‘museum’ of farm equipment and curios from the 150 years of family history since their great, great, great (?) grandfather took ownership of this magnificent bit of mountain. The fifth generation is now growing up on Cheyenne and learning the family business. 
Someone baked. That’s a win for the whole family.
The swing in the tree behind our cottage got a work out.

Tracey arrived late in the car (flat tyre in Glen Innes) so I took a couple of photos with my iPhone at dusk to tease her with.
Unfortunately, rain made the next morning no good for mountain ‘climbing’ or photos, so we were stuck with just these two. Take it from me, they do not do it justice. at all. My god, it was beautiful up there.
Back of the buggy. Front had a Toyota Hilux hidden under the bespoke fabricated body.
Two of our fabulous hosts. Thanks guys.
I remember the good old days, pre-bus life, when a cottage with a fireplace might have demanded a bottle of red and a nice shag…carpet. Not anymore. Now it’s a chance to catch up on washing and maybe dry it by morning. Still very exciting.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

This post isn’t sponsored, although Destination NSW organised for us to stay at Cheyenne. The fuel to get there, the food, the flat tyres (yep, two) were all on us. 

DID YOU KNOW: Locals and visitors to NSW are encouraged to upload their inspirational holiday videos at visitnsw.com/ilovensw. Holiday snaps can also be shared on Instagram and Twitter using #ILoveNSW. The best video and photo submissions, showcasing the unique regions and experiences in NSW, will be heroed in a series of eight curated short films produced by Destination NSW that demonstrate how rich and diverse the State is. #ILoveNSW runs until 18 May 2017 with the eight finalists announced on 05 June 2017. The best video contributions will win a Canon prize pack, which includes a Canon EOS M3 Single Lens Kit and a photography tutorial – the details for that are available on their site visitnsw.com/ilovensw.

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