You know what he looks like without ever having met, but it still surprises you that the real life version is spot on:
High rise jeans; blue chequered shirt (tucked in); large boots; tall; lanky; rough weathered skin; no teeth to speak of; a straw hat and of course a cigarette puckered between his gums.
The old-time farmer spoke with our host as we witnessed him relieve a crisp tissue from his pocket that I believe has been with him since his first tooth fell. As he opened up the tissue in preparation to blow his nose I heard a loud crack as the tissue forced itself to reshape for duty. Only the other outsider noticed – the other helper with me – as she also wore the expression of “what the f*** is that?”
He soon returned the tissue and we got back to buying one of his more healthy looking calves, the ones you also stereotype with the farming world.
I was told later that it’s rather a sad thing when you meet an old time farmer because despite all the land and animals and machinery they seem to have, there is an undertone of someone that is poor from this lifestyle – more so than others in the area. Although I should have guessed this when I saw the skeleton of the cow being milked; they’re not getting enough water in Australia which is reducing the cattle’s feed. This unravels a shocking site when you’re face to face with the consequences. Unlike the UK, a thunder storm is considered a very good day and you soon discover why; the rain doesn’t just rejuvenate the grass that the cows need to eat or the dams they drink out of, it affects the running water supply of the people living on the farm, too: showers, drinking supply, cooking amenities.
Life out here is very different.
Here is little Norman, the beautiful Jersey cow we collected: