We work hectares, not hours
Coming from an array of different lifestyles from small country town living to the hustle and bustle of the city, I have never felt more at home and more content with my life than how it has been for the last three years. I came out to the farm not knowing much about anything – “What was this word “yield”? What on earth is CTF? Oh that’s what you need to make beer and flour”.
I was in a world of the unknown but it didn’t scare me at all and for the first time in my life, this change I had found was the start of one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I grew up in a small Riverina town 54km’s north of Albury in New South Wales, Australia. From a very young age, I found that animals were something I adored and had plenty of. My family had a house in a very small town, my father being an ex Viet Vet and a truck driver, my mother was an ace at everything a stay-at-home mother could be. I grew up with three sisters, the oldest being twelve years older and the closest to me six years older. Sometimes it was a struggle to find company or a friend so I always turned to my animals or got into mischief. I have an immense love for horses and for the majority of my child life, I spent riding. As time goes by, things change, people grow and move on and I was eventually left as an adult in the world without knowing what it was I wanted to do. I had many jobs in hospitality, retail, maritime and nursing but where I wanted to be was on the land. I loved Agriculture throughout my schooling years and I had always hoped to find my place on the land, little did I know that it would find me when I least expected it.
Some call it the middle of nowhere, I call it the centre of my world
At the age of 28, two young boys at my side and coming out of a very broken relationship, I was surviving because I had to, because I needed to and because my two young children needed me. I was introduced to a fella named Ben. A friend who I have known since I was a child and reconnected with years later, was working for Ben over harvest 2014. What started out as bits of mates developed into a more serious nature and we shifted out to the farm with Ben. From that moment I have never looked back.
Here comes Mother Chook with dinners
As I approached my first harvest, I was offered the important job to cook for our A Team Harvest crew of eight operators all working long hours everyday for up to six weeks. I had my work cut out for me…that’s what I thought in 2015. We decided to also count in, for dinners every night, our truck drivers that carry our grain for us. Living in a very small rural area, it is hard for those guys to find food late at night or early hours in the morning when they knock off too.
Feeding our guys dinner, baking up a cake or banging together some treats for them helps to manage their fatigue, keeps them nourished and they all look forward to the time of the evening they see my white ute roll over.
I took upon the “Mother Chook” role and found it immensely challenging the first year. Dylan was in his first year of school and Declyn only in pre-school two days a week. It was long hours for me at first, very draining with taking the boys along with me every night and trying to see Ben. I felt very alone and struggled at times but looking back to that first year, I worried about things I shouldn’t have. I learned how to cater for a large group of people – not just feeding them all but running around collecting them bits and pieces too. I became the parts collector, I learned how to do a few things in the office to help Ben out (as he couldn’t be in the office and run the crew) and I was the ears that listened to him when he came home at night and needed to get things off his chest. I pushed myself and sometimes I wanted to quit but I couldn’t. I pushed myself and Ben encouraged me. I had made friends with some of our harvest crew and between those key things, I made it. I survived my first harvest!
Now in my third year, I have a good handle on “paddock dinners”. To add in another challenge, the boss decided this year to go above to ensure our troops were very well looked after and decided to supply breakfast, lunch and dinner. No dramas. I also work three days a week at two pharmacies (my “pharm away from farm”) which my role at both is very diverse and can be, at times, also challenging. I enjoy my pharmacy jobs and so this year, I work three days at the pharmacies and the rest all dedicated to our farm. Those three days, I make the crew lunches before I leave for work and drop it into our Grain Van. The other days, they normally get fresh-baked Sausage Rolls, Sausage & Coleslaw Rolls or Mexican Bowls. The cuisine they indulge in is homely and wholesome but variety is the spice of life so I mix it up for them.
Other then being in the kitchen slaving away through harvest, my favourite thing to do is to drive one of our two Chaser Bins (GrainCarts). It is where I would be if I could for the whole of harvest. Nothing makes me more proud than to sit in one of our John Deere 8370 RT’s, collecting our grain from the Headers (Combines) and trotting back to the MotherBin with a full load. I love driving the gear and sometimes I feel very sad that I cannot have that job all season. I can’t be a mum, cook for the crew, run my household (inside and out) and a few other things if I had that job. So learning to accept that at first was a bit hard; however, I am pretty content with all the things I do here on our farm.
Harvest time for a wife/partner of a farmer can be a very trying time if you let it. Each year I reflect on the year before and I think, “What can I do better?” How can I support Ben and the boys more? How can I manage my time? How can I deal with having “no one” to talk to unless it’s through a phone call, message or social media? How can I make this place a buzzing frenzy of magic?? I always want to do the impossible and make it possible.
Our two boys – Dylan & Declyn swimming in the dam and having mud fights whilst watching out for the stubble burn off in 2015.
I fell in love with our farm after all the time I would spend with Ben checking crops, investigating soil types, finding efficiency in our spraying programs, building relationships with other farm workers, workers from our main office in town and other farm manager’s wives. I developed immense passion for our growing company and felt so proud to be a part of one of Australia’s largest grain growers. I became very attached to our machines all of which are John Deere and I became so enthusiastic about my life and my experiences that I wanted to share it all. Farming has changed my life. I have become a much more independent woman, a more caring person and being out on the farm has changed my perspectives on so much that I once took for granted.
Here on the farm, I’ve seen rain drown out our beautiful crop. I’ve seen hardly any rain water our crops. I’ve seen hail smash our Barley and wind throw our Canola to smithereens. I’ve seen machines break or get so bogged we can’t harvest. I have blown up my washing machine and ran over my dog. But, I have also made lifetime friends, let go of people who have used me, developed into a strong-willed, determined woman in Australian Agriculture. I’ve fixed machines after I broke them, have proven so so many people wrong and also proven to myself that I matter and I make a difference!
I am Lyn Fox. I am a Mum. I am an operator. I am an office administrator. I am a dispense technician. I am a face of my community. I am a farmer’s wife. I am a part of Lawson Grains. I am a proud Australian.
I am “Living the Dream”!