Diary of a farmer's wife

Life in a tiny West Australian inland country town. What it's like to gamble your life on the vagaries of the weather. Where one day is never the same as the next. Living in a place where everybody knows your name. A safe place where you don't have to lock your house or car. A place where you spend a lot of time in your car travelling to shops or the bank or to sport or just to visit your friends. My place.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Rain, rain, don't go away!

It's finally rained!! We had 11mm here yesterday. Just in the nick of time too, the crops were very parched. I thanked my guardian angels profusely! Here's hoping for some more in a few days.

Spent the day at home yesterday catching up on a bit of washing, housework and paperwork. Also got a bit of homework done. Just love those macros in Excel! Especially the message boxes, so professional looking.

Went into the hospital and did the bedside vigil this afternoon. L doesn't like MIL to be left alone at all, so we take it in turns. FIL had to come out and bale hay and L was working. I took my text book in a did a bit of study. MIL isn't responding to much at all, not eating or drinking much, so it won't be long...

S and C (eldest son) didn't get home until 7pm after getting sheep in to shear tomorrow. The buggers wouldn't budge. They've had to go back out again after a bite to eat to get the shed ready and shift the sheep around in the yards.

J, (DD) rang from NZ yesterday and emailed today. She's having a great time, but looking forward to coming home. I'm looking forward to having her home. Now that MIL has hung on this long, J will be home in time either to see her or farewell her at least. We were so worried that MIL would go before J was home and J would miss the funeral. She would have been devastated.

Time to do some more study now...

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Another hot day with no rain

It hasn't rained for weeks now and our crops are starting to look a bit thirsty. I don't know how much longer they'll hang on. The season seemed to be so promising in July when it rained almost every day. Now, we'll be lucky to harvest much at all.

Just the very year we really needed a good season. S and I have just put everything on the line and bought some land, plus we've taken on his father's farm and the enormous debt that came with it. S is pretty sure we'll be able to redcue it substantially given a couple of good seasons.

The stress has really got to me. I've taken three months off all volunteer work. That means no meetings whatsoever! I can't believe the extra time I have now. No Council meetings - I'm a Local Govt. Councillor, no committee meetings or anything.

Of course, all this extra time is quickly absorbed with my studies. I'm studying Certificate III in I.T. and have a few assignements due in the next couple of weeks. I'm stuck on the databse assignement at the moment. The lecturer set the task, but hasn't actually done it with MS Access, and I think it's too complex. I've been doing database in my sleep, it's bothering me so much. I hate leaving things unfinished, especially problems. I'm like a dog with a bone, I keep gnawing away at it...
Our lecturer is going to try to set up the database himself over the holidays after I complained that it was way too hard. I've spent hours and hours and hours trying to set the database up so it will answer all the queries he wants. I've given up and am going on to the other tasks.

I've been learning about Macros and I love them! What nifty things they are! I even created one with Visual Basic Code and understood what I was doing. I'm very impressed.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The World Revolves Around a Hospital Bed

Or so it seems lately. I've spent a bit of time sitting with my MIL in her hospital room. Her daughter (L) is there all day every day as is my FIL. Her daughter's daughter (N) is also there most times. They live in the same town as the hospital so have taken time off work to be with their Mum and Nanna.

We sit and chat to each other over the tiny (once very large) frame of my MIL in her hospital bed. She's comfortable due to the amazing moving mattress under her and the machine which blows warm air into a ducted bubble blanket made of light plastic.
We hover and watch her and respond to any movement, sound, anything she does to see if she wants something.

L is amazing, a very capable person who feeds her mum, turns her over, helps her to the toilet and sits with her all day. I'm not good at that sort of thing, though I am getting better. I guess its practice. Although my own mum spent her last days battling cancer in a nursing home in Perth, I was too far away to be there as much as I would have liked. Mum's cancer moved to her brain, so she wasn't lucid in her final days.
I'm there when I can, but I still have the two boys (C) and (M) and DH (S) at home. The boys are both working on the farm, and S is out doing contracting work, so they all need clothes washed and tea cooked. My house looks like a bomb hit it, but it's not important at the moment.

(I asked my BF (K) to help me clean my FIL's house. She went in and cleaned it while I was at the hospital, plus she cooked soup and lasagne for our tea, took my washing off the line and folded it up. What a sweetie, I hope I can do the same for her when she needs help.)

MIL is quite with it and listens and responds to our chatter. She told L to stop putting words in her mouth. She's interested in what's happening on the farm, what the boys are doing and where abouts my DD (J) is on her trip to New Zealand.

I took photos of J's Deb Ball in yesterday and she loved looking at them. It's handy to have things like photos there so that when people who come in find conversation awkward, she'll ask L to get the photos out.

We also have a visitors book, an idea MIL got from her stay in RPH when the lady in the next bed had one. We started with a pad, but L bought a proper book which we transferred all the names to. Even people who've phoned or simply passed on messages are included.

I'm disappointed there aren't as many names in there as should be. MIL has been the most kind-hearted and generous woman over the years in this town. Countless people have benefited from her generosity. People say that they don't want to see her like that, but I say "Stop thinking about yourself and your feelings and think of hers and FIL's."
Of course it's hard, but that's life...and death.

I took a lemon cake I'd made in to the hospital yesterday and MIL even had some. It was mainly for FIL as the hospital only hands out packet bickies with cups of tea and he loves his cake.

I'm taking the wool estimates in today to show FIL. Our wool is to be auctioned next week and the tests revealed an excellent sample, so she'll be really pleased about that. We'll have to read it out to her. Since we're so desperate for rain for our crops and harvest isn't looking promsing, at least there's something positive happening on the farm...

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A sad start to my web log

My DH's mum is battling cancer in hospital in a town 60kms to the east. I spent the day there yesterday, helping her daughter feed her, talking to her and keeping her company.
She is 73, and a great grandmother, but not your typical little old white-haired lady.

She's a feisty, straight-talking woman, her generosity stemming from her Italian heritage and a childhood spent in an orphanage. Her father, unable to look after his three daughters when his wife died had no choice but to place them in care. We don't hear very much about her childhood, only snippets here and there from relatives. It's impact on her made her become the type of person she is; one who is extremely generous, and a champion of the young, the aged and particularly the down-trodden.

Never afraid to show her temper or state her point of view, many people have been on the receiving end of a "good telling off", myself included. Her sharp tongue made her a few short term enemies in her time. Many were shocked at her use of profanity, you don't exept a 70 year old to swear like a shearer!

The temper never lasted long, once she got whatever it was that was bothering her off her chest, normality was restored and she'd make a cup of tea, offering bickies, cake etc.