If you had told me, three years ago, that I would one day be standing in a paddock, a metre and a half of black poly pipe in my hand herding a 600kg Jersey bull by the name of Nugget; I would have called you crazy. I would have said ‘No way! You wouldn’t see me doing that!’
But I did. I herded that bull called Nugget into a new paddock. The fact that I was even in the same paddock as a bull would have surprised the old me;
but now, having been here three years, it’s all in a day’s work.
In 2014 I took a leap of faith and moved from my hometown in mid north coast NSW to join my partner (now my husband) on his Pemberton Farm Stay accommodation property, Diamond Forest Farm Stay, in the beautiful Southern Forests of Western Australia. I had always wanted to be on a farm, loved animals, was into growing my own food and had spent most of my life working with people in either hospitality or retail so a tourism farm stay property certainly appealed.
While I didn’t exactly feel eminently qualified, I was not a city girl, I wasn’t afraid of a bit of hard work or getting dirty and my partner had started the farm with little or no experience in certain farming areas…..so how hard could it be? Anyone who has ever worked on a farm will tell you that I was in for a seriously steep learning curve.
For starters there were four cottages to be cleaned and maintained and guests to greet. But the biggest hurdle was all of the friendly farm animals. The sheer number and variety of animals should have been a hint but I was in love, not only with my partner but also the farm. It is a beautiful 50 acre property with a large 3 acre dam, nestled in amongst the Karri forest with four rustic western red cedar chalets and a matching three bedroom home for us. It also has 2 Kangaroos, 3 pigs, 2 ponies, 1 peacock, 1 peahen, 3 turkeys, 46 ducks, 13 Cochin bantam chickens, 3 Cochin bantam roosters, 17 Plymouth Rock hens, 2 Plymouth Rock roosters, 2 donkeys, 3 Angora x Saanen goats, 1 Saanen Buck, 5 alpacas, 1 Ram, 11 ewes (3 Dorpers, , 3 Merino and 1 Damara), 1 Thoroughbred horse, 2 Galahs, an ever multiplying number of cockatiels, 6 quails, 1 Japanese quail, 2 rabbits (at present only 2 but we all know rabbits like to multiply) 3 Jersey cows, 2 Jersey steers, 1 Jersey bull calf, Nugget the Jersey bull, 2 dogs and 3 cats.
And learn I did. I knew how to serve customers and I’d been cleaning my own house for years so that side was easy to pick up. The animals…well I can honestly say I’m still learning. And so is my husband and he has been here for eleven years! I now know what bloat in cows is, and milk fever too. I’ve trimmed sheep and goat hooves, administered or helped administer more worming paste or drench than I care to remember. I’ve bred ducks, chickens, peafowl and turkeys in an incubator: not always successfully. I’ve spent hours in the hot sun shovelling horse manure to clear up paddocks, I’ve bottle fed quite a few lambs and 1 calf, I watched more than one favourite animal die in my arms but I’ve also held numerous newborns in their first twenty four hours, I’ve been on the Daily Animal Feed almost every single day and I’ve herded animals back and forth across the farm for the last three years.
And I love. Every single minute of it. Some days are fantastic; you have great guests, the weather is beautiful and three ducklings hatch all in one day. Some days it’s pouring rain and you still need to go out and feed the animals; and when you do you discover that a fox has snuck in overnight and left a path of destruction through your chicken pen and your chickens.
But I wouldn’t change it for the anything. I meet so many interesting people from all over the world and I get to share our farm and our friendly farm animals with so many families every year. I’ve been here for three years now and I plan to be here for a very long time yet.