Travel helps Master12 milk career options
PART of the joy for me with this slow lap of ours around this country are the experiences we're managing to clock up for the kids, and I keep wondering if maybe they'll find a passion for something on our travels.
They've already seen a turtle laying eggs on a beach, held snakes and crocodiles, fished for barramundi, trekked into forests, fossicked for gems and experienced real Australian history by sitting in the cave hideout of one of our infamous bushrangers. They're riding their bikes more and meeting new friends and learning to shower with less water than I boil for a cuppa.
It's all part of why we've given up the idea of a bigger home for this journey.
So when the opportunity presented itself to stay on a working farm which is set up for tourists like us, we jumped at it.
It might have helped the conversation included the phrases, "there's a cottage for you all to stay in” and "it has a washing machine”.
Which is how we ended up at Cheyenne Wilderness Retreat, half-an-hour or so from Walcha.
After a wonderful night playing with a wood fire and the kids all enjoying being able to not see each other for minutes at a time, we woke up and headed down to the homestead where all the farm action happens. The kids were all mad keen - right up until they had to get their hands dirty.
"Do I have to touch the teats?” Master12 asked as he sat down on the stool.
"Well, I guess you can try milking its nose,” he was told.
He sort of jabbed an unwilling finger at the udder.
"Does it hurt?”
"Only if you get kicked.”
The lovely auntie of Nick and Alex running the farm had grown up milking cows in this very shed, and she proved to be as adept at wisecracks as she was at showing us lovers of supermarkets how to milk maiden.
"I just don't want to offend Mr Cow,” Master12 pressed.
Yep, he said Mr Cow.
"I can see you on your own farm one day,” I said to him. "You've a gift.”
That earned me a nudge in the ribs from Tracey, followed by a, "Says the man standing in cow mature”.
"We're in the milking area,” I said. "I guarantee we're all standing in poo.”
"Just don't touch its head,” our lovely instructor told him. "Cows aren't like horses. They don't like their faces patted.”
That was not going to be a problem as Master12 had no interest in putting his hands anywhere but under a tap.
After a full minute there was a real risk of Mr Cow developing mastitis, so the other kids each took a turn at appreciating living in a country with a vibrant dairy industry- or rather, living in the city with a vibrant dairy industry thankfully somewhere beyond the supermarket fridges.
But at the end of a near embarrassing amount of ewwing and squealing I'm rather chuffed to say we ended up with a good few litres of the creamy stuff which was so frothy you'd think a barista had been involved.
Not that I expect any of my kids will be running out and buying a jersey cow when they're older to cut down on their grocery bill. In fact, I suspect the story of Jack and the Beanstalk makes a lot more sense to them now. Jack sold the cow for three beans? Master12 would have swapped it for a used toothbrush if it meant getting out of touching cow teats.
"It's disgusting,” he told me later with a shudder, so he can probably cross farming off his list of future career choices.
And maybe, given his next comment, anything involving diet advice? "I'm pretty sure I'm lactose intolerant now.”
We've 20,000 plus kilometres to go. I'm sure we'll find him something.
Learn more about Bruce's efforts to raise his family on little more than laughs at bigfamilylittleincome.com