by Jolyn Low

The past 6 days have been the most exhausting that I’ve had in a good while. Saturday and Sunday were spent on the farm mustering sheep and riding the horse for fun. My seat is terrible after 3 whole years of not riding, and I was quite close to falling off at times. I had to wake at 5 on Monday and drive 220kms back to uni for a workshop cum final interview at 9am, which was terrible because I felt incredibly unengaged and frustrated. It’s exactly the kind of situation I disliked from my time at business school – people discussing things that did not mean anything practically significant or impactful, and speaking up for the sake of brownie points. It felt very insincere and contrived, which is something that I cannot deal with.

I very much value people doing things rather than talk or ruminate about it. I admit that I am unable to view certain things from other’s perspectives and do miss the bigger picture due to personal bias at times. But when I reflected on whether I would prefer a job lamb marking or tutoring I sincerely wanted the former. And I would stand by my stance with regards to the necessary procedures that are conducted on these animals till the end of my days. I don’t think that people get it with regards to livestock handling and husbandry at times. And I completely get the farmer when she said that she chose to farm because she’s tired of people and the way that they behave.

The most amazing thing about my recent pracs was that I’ve found it so easy to get along with these people who lead such different lives from me. I might have just been really happy because they fed me well (“how are we going to fatten you up at this rate, woman?!”) and were very positive. There was none of that social jostling or superficiality. It was simply getting things done and appreciating the little things – like rainbows after a terrible storm whilst drafting the sheep, or having a warm fireplace to go home to after spending a really cold and wet morning caring for the little kids.

I woke at 4am on Tuesday to drive back to the farm to help with drafting and lamb marking. Driving in darkness with high beams on is hella scary yet incredibly relaxing because I felt happy to be one of the only people awake at that time. I got to help hoist the lambs onto the crutching cradle, ear marking them (clipping off pieces of their ears to show who’s sheep they are), tail docking, vaccinating and ear tagging them. I watched as they were tailed, when the bits of skin around their tail removed to prevent faeces from sticking to their wool. If flies lay their eggs in the faeces the maggots can eat into the sheep’s skin and basically eat them alive from outside in, which I find a crueller fate than temporary pain.

Wednesday was the same – except that I helped to do scabies scrapes on the male lambs, sprayed paraffin onto the exposed skin and got to try tailing. I was skeptical of how I’d feel deliberately cutting the skin off the little lambs but it was alright. By the end of it I had blood all over my overalls, jacket, face and neck. I helped to bleed the rams to test for a disease that made them infertile. Then I drove back to Perth for the second part of the dreaded workshop on Thursday. I really didn’t want to leave the house in the morning, and I very much would have preferred to stay at home to sleep or watch my shows. I did end up going and losing my phone in the process, which I then thankfully found at night by driving back to school to get a spare phone and somehow finding out that my phone was with security services.

And then I just felt overwhelmingly drained and sickly. I feel like I’m burning up internally. And I don’t feel like driving back and forth from the farm was worth it for the workshop. I have driven 900+ kms in the span of 6 days but only spent $50+ doing so. I am thankful for many things that I’ve experienced with regards to my time at the farm but I can’t help but feel very put off by my time at the workshop due to sheer incompatibility. I don’t think that I’m a good fit. Times like these simply reinforce my disdain for corporate shenanigans and types. Despite the blood, sweat and tears I count my blessings for escaping business school and being where I am today. Even though sometimes I wished I fit in somewhere and gained acceptance more easily.