By BESSIE BLORE
Editor’s note: This is a post from a Mamamia reader named Bessie Blore. Bessie is a 25-year-old farmer’s wife who lives on a far-western NSW property called Burragan that’s 110km from the nearest town and 200km from the nearest supermarket. Bessie recently sent us a link to her blog and we couldn’t stop reading.
Question: When does 70,000 acres become too small for two people?
Answer: After six weeks of shearing.
It’s about the six week mark, and I guess not just of shearing, but of being at Burragan without a break, when things start to teeter on the edge of homicide and there’s not enough room in this 70,000 acres for the both of us some days. Yet, my husband ST can still go out “to check the sheep” for a couple of hours and I miss him. I think that is the key, that even when you’re ready to start shooting the pellet rifle at the other’s feet to watch them dance like a popcorn kernel, you’re still on the same team. Seventy-thousand acres is too small to hate each other for too long. Though, once the bottom lip is dropped, in a 20 room house with 32 doors, there’s a lot of angry foot stomping and door slamming to be done.
By the six week mark we’ve well and truly run out of chocolate (that usually happens at around week two, unless it’s the month after Easter). Even the cooking chocolate supplies will be disappearing fast. It’s most likely we’ll have also run out of any supermarket-bought vegetables and fruit, including staples like onions, potatoes and garlic. We’ll be nearing the end of the frozen vegetable stash, and will be relying almost totally on tinned or jarred goods to back up anything ready to harvest in the vegie patch.
At the six week mark scotch finger biscuits will diminish completely, making for a grumpy ST. While dwindling supplies of peppermint tea will be making for a grumpy Bess. Margarine and butter, naughty snacks like chips and biscuits, coffee and white sugar may well be on the blink. The freezer will be void of any chicken, bacon, or beef mince, and treats like puff pastry and frozen chips will be long gone. Fortunately, given we grow lamb, there will always be a plentiful supply of beautiful, home grown lamb… but after six weeks of shearing you’re usually left with cuts like neck chops and shoulders which require more effort and inventiveness than you feel like giving after 42 days without an espresso coffee.
By the seven week mark I’ll consider ordering this stuff out in the mail, but then I’m sure we should be heading to Town any day now, so I usually decide that as long as no one calls in and catches us surviving in this state, we can live without these things for at least a little while yet.
By the eight week mark I’m making cakes out of beetroot, ground almonds and honey, because I’ve got beetroot growing in the vegie patch and we’re on serious rations with the sugar and flour. And because I’ve still got more beetroot, and am craving anything remotely junk-foody, I’ll decide that making baked chips out of beetroot would also be an awesome idea. And it is awesome. But really, who wants to painstakingly slice beetroot into bible-page thin slices to bake into delicate homemade crisps after a 12 hour day in the paddock when I’ve still got to water the garden, feed the dogs and chooks, put on/hang out/bring in/fold up the washing, clean the kitchen, mend ST’s jeans, and butcher up a lamb shoulder just to make a stir fry…