Get by with a little help from my friend


When city boys get it into their head that a tree change is the next step, they need help. Some would say help of the psychiatric kind as nothing in their soft-hand city life can truly prepare them. I was lucky enough to find help in the form of Farmer Jeff.
We met in the local bar about a month after buying the property. He and his lovely bride were just sitting out on the verandah on a balmy summer night enjoying a drink after a hard day on his farm and we were fresh from tramping the land. Both Anna and I were full of emotion, delighted that we had made the purchase, stunned at the beautiful view and slightly dazed by the sheer size and scale of it all.

We got chatting with this other couple and they had recently purchased their second farm, about twenty minutes down the road. My answer to his first question pretty much set up the relationship. He asked “and what are you going to run on it, cattle?” and I replied “I don’t think so, moo-ers scare me.”
“What did you say? Moo-moos?
“Moo-ers” I replied, you know cattle, they moo!
Farmer Jeff just laughed and shook his head at me.
We’ve been solid friends ever since.

Every time I came to Dungog we would meet for a meal and pretty soon we learned enough about each other to talk about more than just my inability. Although that is still fertile ground for conversation. I ask him a lot of pretty dumb questions, and never makes me feel dumb for asking. That’s pretty special and the significance of that cannot be underestimated.

My lack of handyman skills has been documented at length in earlier posts, so to have someone happy to share some information without sneering or laughing is just such a find. Because they were relatively new to the area too, but this being their second farm, they had a bundle of relevant information just cherry ripe for a city boy to tap into to.

I had some questions about fencing, what sort to put up, where to buy the material, what should I look out for, all the beginner stuff. I needed to put up some fences to keep the roos out of my new garden (being slowly built up with each trip) and a fence to keep my dogs in when eventually they are ready to make the trip.

Farmer Jeff talked me through a few options and then kindly offered to come up and show me how to put it up. This was way beyond my expectations and an offer I was super keen to take up. We synchronised diaries and organised a day. Knowing absolutely nothing, I was all about how to get to the finished product as quickly as possibly. Farmer Jeff was all about establishing the infrastructure that the wire would rest on or be attached to. I “helped” as best I could, and he was very patient showing me how to tie wire knots and how strainers worked, how to hang a gate and so much more.

My hands have never been so sore as a result. Bashed and bruised by the punishing fencing wire which showed no mercy to my guitar player’s hands. My head was swimming from so much amazing first hand information and live experience that even though my body was tired, getting to sleep that night was a bit of a challenge.

I cannot even begin to imagine the sort of fence I would have constructed if I had been left to my own devices. Bless you farmer Jeff.

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