We've just returned from our local community Christmas party at the Joanna Hall. Excitement levels were high as the siren announced the arrival of Father Christmas, driving in on the back of our local fire truck.
Bats and balls from backyard cricket were abandoned as the children ran to receive their small gift: a lovely reminder that we are fortunate to live in an area with so many young families. Stories are often told of migration from farming communities to the city, but amongst those remaining the friendships forged despite distance and busy farming calendars are deep and often inter-generational.
It is common for children from farming families to move to the city for secondary education, or to pursue careers. Often, though, the pull of the farm life is strong enough to encourage these same young adults to return after a few years. Weekends spent riding motorbikes around the farm to herd sheep and cattle; training working dogs to respond to your commands with a simple whistle or arm movement; trundling up and down rows planting corn under a pivot. All of these experiences seem to provide a sense of agency and independence that can be hard to replicate elsewhere.
I've just worked with some wonderful farming friends to plant the last of my corn seeds in the magnificently named Kalangadoo region, around 40 minutes' drive from our farm. We benefited greatly from the help of their daughters who had returned to their family's farm for an exeat weekend: these young teenagers enthusiastically drove the ute across the pivot site and marked the rows for our corn seeds.
Once planted, we sprinkled the soil with a light covering of seaweed mulch collected by my nephews from the beach at Kingston earlier this year. We hope that it will boost the mineral content of the soil and encourage the seedlings to flourish.
My 27 varieties from the Grains Genebank on our own farm have struggled to compete with the voracious Couch grass that seems to spring from nowhere with rain and irrigation through the summer. I am attempting to out-manoeuvre it with my cover crops, but my precious seedlings are in a life-or-death struggle. My experienced farming neighbours assure me the problem is common, but I would be so disappointed to lose a year of experimenting with different varieties in my recipes if the plants are too fragile to survive.
Thank you to those who have subscribed to my blog. I must apologise: my settings weren't correct and I realised this week I haven't emailed my earlier posts. These can be found on my website at www.farmaus.com.au