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Tree Change - City to Farm.

Updated on February 4, 2016
Goats and Sheep Graze peacefully.
Goats and Sheep Graze peacefully. | Source

In Brief.

I spent most of my life living the rat-race of city living. I had no option but to retire early, and when the opportunity came to live on a farm, away from it all, I took the challenge. I spent many years there, three of them full time, and many a time I was left on my own, to manage as best as I can. The experience has enriched my life more than I could ever have imagined.

Tragedy on My Watch.

I sat on the grass and cried, and cried, and cried. I stroked her brow and she looked at me, pleading with her eyes. "Make it go away, please. . ." I wiped her tearless face and her eyes spoke of the pain, deep, deep within her. When I could cry no more, I prayed.

Farmer came back to his home and he knew what to do. She was now in good hands. My prayers were answered. I went inside, washed my face and calmed myself down.

Maggie gave out one or two loud cries and it tugged at my heart. After all, one female understands another! Then I heard the thin cry of a newborn kid, a cry of the hope of a new life. When I went back outside, the kid was already standing on its four legs and Maggie was washing him down.

City Born and Bred.
City Born and Bred. | Source

How Did I Get to be On A Farm?

Until a few years back, I had not even come close enough to a chicken to touch. I could tell you where the restaurants were or what exhibition was on at the gallery, but now here I was, on many hundreds of acres, holding the fore-hoof of a goat having a hell of a time birthing. The first year had taught me much; but not how to play midwife to a goat.

When I first arrived on this farm it seemed to me that it was in the middle of nowhere. In truth it was a mere 30 ks out-of-town. Then, I could barely tell the difference between a goat and a sheep, and I was the butt of many a joke when I asked which one was the bull, let alone knowing that a steer is a castrated bull that is reared for beef.

I was enjoying the most deliciously fresh country air, with goats, sheep and cows , dogs and cats, geese, chooks and colorful birds. I got to know many of them just by their faces. I knew others by the way they used their voices and their body-language. It was to me as clear as day. They, too, knew me. Some of them still recognize me now, years later, when I go visit.

I learned that what I used to refer to as a ‘white goat’ is called a Saanen goat and that it is a good milker. The Saanen, a fine boned in [mainly] all white, seems to have no problem in keeping the coat pristine. It has erect ears forward bent, and some may have fine looking horns. They lock horns mostly in play, but the young bucks can do each other quite a bit of damage if they are vying for supremacy.

Saanen Goat with Kid.
Saanen Goat with Kid. | Source

The brown ones with floppy ears are the Boers and they are produced mainly for meat. They are better suited to harsher conditions, shorter in leg and need less maintenance than the more delicate Saanen, but the extra care is well worth it as the Saanen is one of the best milkers. Maybe I imagine this, but I feel the Saanens are the most intelligent goat I have come in contact with.

I learnt how to bottle-feed [goat] kids two at a time, and I wished I could have doubled that at times!

A sheep will take her lamb with her everywhere and I have always marveled at the way a lamb seemed to be able to keep pace with the mother, perfectly synchronized!

The goats on the other hand, seemed to lead their kids to a hollow in a rock, and leave them there, often in the company of other kids. The kids would play together, climbing whatever they can find to climb; sometimes it was my car that was their slip-and-slide frame for the game. I soon learnt to park it outside the fenced yard!

When the kids got tired of playing they would huddle together and sleep till their mothers came back to feed them.

Goats are intelligent creatures, and they behave similar to a dog. They get to know you and they like coming close even if it is only for a scratch on the head.

Juno at her Post
Juno at her Post | Source

It was all very interesting, and I got involved in keeping records of the breeding and cross breeding of these herds, and had much fun choosing names for new ones. Each year the names would start with the next letter in the alphabet. That way it is easy to know how old each one is!

So one year we have Faith, Freda, Felix, Falcon, next we had Greta, Gaby, Grunt and Garth. Then we go on to H names and the year after all names started with J, which was a wee bit more difficult!

I learnt how to handle a farm animal, or a mob of them, how to protect myself from them and how to protect them from the dangers around them, which are many.

The electric wiring works on an on/off pulse pattern, so it is not dangerous, but it does have a sharp bite. Most young ones soon learnt not to get too close to it, but from time to time you’d hear a yelp, and it was not only the four-footeds that did the yelping. I too learnt what it felt like, from personal experience!

Sam in his Winter Coat
Sam in his Winter Coat | Source

Would You Take the Challenge?

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Dogs with Real Personality.

The Maremma dogs lived with the goats or with the chooks, or wherever they were placed and guarded the animals with a fierce protectiveness from dingos, snakes and whatever else might have managed to sneak into the paddock despite the electric wiring. Sometimes eagles came down to grab a chook or a small goose.

These dogs were originally bred on the Italian Alps to guard the flocks on the icy mountain tops, and are geared to living outside with thick fleecy double coats which protect them from the cold and also from dingo attacks. The Australian summer can be pretty hot and they tend to dig deep holes to lay in. They are in search of damp earth to keep them cool. They can be affectionate and playful towards anyone walking into the paddock with Farmer or me, but no one I know would dare put a foot inside the fence if we are not present. Yet, they never touched a chook or a lamb except to sniff and give it a lick.

Juno & Sam had 13 bubs.
Juno & Sam had 13 bubs. | Source

These beautiful creatures are so intelligent that they seem to know instinctively what they are to do. Sam, the Godfather of them all, was of course in charge. He would perch himself on a high rock where he could survey his mob of goats, sheep etc. . . If any of them wandered off too far, he only had to let out his long, deep, Wooof, and you could see their heads coming up and soon they turned tail to walk back from whence they came.

Where he marched, they followed. So all I had to do was to call S-A-A-M, or whistle to him, and in due course I’d see his bobbing white tail moving towards me, with the sheep and the goats following dutifully. If they dawdled, he’d give them his warning Woof, and they got going again.

I had so much fun tending to the 13 pups born to Sam and Juno. They were absolutely gorgeous and at one point in their young life, they were gaining 1kg per day. Pity that we could only keep 3 of them, so now there were 5 dogs on the farm. Juno and Sam and Kimmie in one big paddock – they are most effective when in a pack – and Boof and Prancer in the smaller paddock.

A couple of Dingoes can wreak havoc in a mob of sheep, especially if lambs are present. It is a heartbreaking sight to find a lamb or a small goat ripped apart and still breathing.

If dingoes are hungry enough they will brave the momentary discomfort of the electric wiring to gain access to a good feed. But with 2 or 3 Maremmas there, they haven’t got a hope. The Maremmas will make their presence known, and that is enough for most dingoes to give that paddock a miss.

Gunyah - The Gentle Giant.
Gunyah - The Gentle Giant. | Source

Gunyah, the Gentle Giant.

We also had a few cows and a big, big, bull.

I could stand in front of this bull much, much higher than I am tall, and wave my arms and say 'Back, Gunyah, back!'

He would eye me, sullenly at times, probably thinking to himself "I can crush you with just a little push you foolish woman!" ; which he could have, easily. But he never did; in fact, he would back up, slowly, slowly but surely. His mother had probably taught him to look up to the hand that feeds him, and he followed her teaching faithfully which is more than can be said for the way our human race behaves!

Boer Kid
Boer Kid | Source

And Now?

Here I was in this magical place, out in the open, loving the way each animal responded to me. Animals do not lie, and they do not give mixed messages.

Do I miss being behind a large desk, facing daily challenges?

You gotta be kidding!


Image A- Lic CC0_2 Flickr

Image B- Pixabay - License: CC0 Public Domain / No att required

Image C- Lic CC0_2 Flickr

Image D – Lic CC0_2 Flickr

Image E – Lic CC0_2 Flickr

Image F - Private Collection

Image G –

Image H - Private Collection

Thank you for reading my story. Have you also done something out of character in your life?

I'd love to hear about it.

© 2015 MarieLB


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    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      So glad you enjoyed reading it Kevin. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Kevin 2 years ago

      Aah. . .brings back fond memories. Beaut.. . .

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hi Todd,

      Thanks for reading my article and leaving your comments. Better still it seems that you have enjoyed it.

      Hint: If you like wide, open spaces, the fresh smell of country air, a soft nose nuzzling your hand, and magic dawn scenes, spend time on a farm.

    • profile image

      Todd 2 years ago

      Great account. Nearly makes me want to live on a farm.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      RTalloni, thank you for stopping by and for your thoughts about it.

      I wish I could have spoken of it as eloquently as you write, but I did my best mainly because it was a great time of my life. I don't know whether I could have stayed on a farm forever, but I do know that I feel enriched by it.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Neat read--thanks for sharing some of what you experienced and learned due to this big change of lifestyle!

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      @V.M. Yes, it was amazing, and a very instructive and interesting time. I feel richer for having had that experience. Thanks for stopping by V.M.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting story of your farm life. It is amazing to be among so many animals. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      @jonnycomelately, What an interesting tale. Brought back many lovely memories of how I learnt about feeding baby goats etc. . . Watching animals is very educational and interesting . The more one learns about them, the more captivating they seem.

      I agree that we would do well to observe and learn how nature handles some situations, but I have to admit that I cannot often comply.

      One time I found a little kid crumpled near the house. The two farmers assured me [speaking from their many years of experience] that he wont live. He had "no back wheels" - meaning his back legs could not support him. I could not bear to let it die.

      I took it in, set it up on the laundry, went searching for info on the net, watched it like a hawk day and night. . . .

      It became the leader of the pack, carrying the biggest set of horns I'd ever seen on a goat!

      Those three years opened up a whole new world for me. Obviously you relate to what I wrote, which is great.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Loved the goats, Marie. In the Philippines last Christmas I was "nanny" to a little runt of a kid. He was the first born of 4. His next sibling died within a couple of days. The next thrived well right from the start and the last of the 4 became a strong, dark coloured lively youngster.

      The runt (Junior) soon got to know my voice (English, so he must have been bi-lingual, lol, only kidding) and I loved feeding him the bottle. Alas, natures way is to let a weakling like that die pretty quickly in the normal course of events. It gets taken by a roaming predator or it starves because its mother simply abandons it and won't allow it to feed.

      My attention was my love itching to get out and show itself. The feeding routine did me a lot of good inside.

      But Junior died at about 3 weeks old, I think because his inner anatomy was probably not quite right. Anyway, at least he had a few weeks of life.

      I did observe the way a kid normally gets to know what is ok for eating. The kid comes up very close to the mothers mouth when she is selecting a leaf or a blade of grass. The kid gets to smell this also and within the first week will be sampling the tenderest bits, while also hardening its mouth parts on tougher stems without actually eating them.

      By three weeks the two survivors were taking quite a lot of solid food although still needing the nutrients of mother's milk.

      Junior never got to learn this part. The mother rejected him right from the start. I wonder if we humans can learn anything from this.....

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 2 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hi Trent, Thank you for stopping by and reading my article. I am glad you liked it and also gave us your story.

      I am not surprised that you are missing the quiet serenity of Wellington. Strathfield is a very, very busy place.

      I am not sure why you made the switch, but I'd urge you to hang in there for a while longer. It takes quite a while to get used to such a different lifestyle.

    • profile image

      Trent 2 years ago

      Hi, I did the opposite. Went from Wellington to Strathfield in Sydney. Loved some things there of course, but ah. . .I yearn for the green paddocks, for the peace of country life. Maybe I get used to it. Its only been six months. Good story, loved it.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hi Alexadry, Thanks for stopping by. I think that Maremma dogs are as near human in intelligence, as any dog can be. They are just beautiful creatures. Goats as also warm and loving. They thrive in warm to hot, country and make beautiful milk. Have you ever thought of keeping a few?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Good to hear about your lifestyle change and all the great experiences you are enjoying. Maremma dogs are awesome! When I lived in Italy, we would stumble on them guarding their livestock and were barking as we walked by. They were always a wonderful sight. My parents-in law had Saneen goats and they made this wonderful cheese I would love to eat again.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hi again f.m., Thank you for reading my article and glad you liked it. I'll let you in on a little secret! Sssshhh! The reason it seems real is because it is - a true story!! LOL!!

    • profile image

      F.m. 3 years ago

      i have never been on a farm but the way you put it here,it all seems so real. That was a very enjoyable story, thanks.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hi Lee,

      I am so glad you enjoyed reading the story about the Farm. I can tell you, I enjoyed writing it as well.

      Do come back and look us up. There may be something else to your liking, whether it is written by me, or someone else in HubPages.

    • profile image

      Lee 3 years ago

      Hi there, it took me a while to find your article, but here I am now. I so enjoyed reading this lovely story. I've often thought about it, and who knows... I read your story about Purrfect pets last time, but it would not let me comment. I hope you write more good stories like these.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Thanks Tania,

      So glad you enjoyed the article. Writing is my passion now. I do enjoy it.

    • profile image

      Tania Carslake 3 years ago

      Dear Marie read your article brought me back memories when I was with you at you know whos farm. Are you going to write more. Keep it up cuz well done.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Thank you Violet,

      So glad you enjoyed my article. Come back soon. There are many good writers on many topics here.

    • profile image

      Violet....very enjoyable.... thank you.... 3 years ago

      Very enjoyable.....


    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Hello Tracey,

      Thank you for reading this article. I guess if you are from the country you would - I imagine - have found it interesting. Country living is a very well-kept secret. When you're in the City you think nothing happens there. Ha!Ha!!, you and I know better. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Tracey 3 years ago

      That sounds awesome. I am country born and bred and some of my friends went to work in the city but I dont think I could do that. I would be too lonely I think. I enjoyed your story, thanks.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 3 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Thank you DrMark1961. So glad you agree. In my view, Maremma dogs are just as good as it gets with dogs.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      You sound like you have made a good change. I enjoyed reading about the livestock guard dogs too.