I first heard the term ‘cricketing widow’ while fielding at second slip (not my preferred or best position) one warm summer’s afternoon at a very well appointed little cricket ground adjoining the Cottesloe golf course. The older and infinitely wiser chap fielding at first slip was explaining to me that this was a description afforded to all wives, girlfriends and significant others who put up with their other halves playing cricket all weekend every weekend during the best weather of the year.While mildly interested in his cricket widow commentary owing mainly to the fact that during this period of my life my bowling spells lasted longer than any relationship I may have been involved in I felt it was unlikely to be something I was ever going to have to contend with.
The recollection of this conversation and the irony behind it became apparent to me recently as I realised that for the first time in a while I had joined the ranks of the ‘seeding widows’ (or widowers in my case) who at this time of year are faced with their respective spouses spending anywhere up to 14 hours at work everyday for an indeterminate number of weeks.
The actual sowing of various seed types is not the only element of seeding which also includes but us not limited to spraying (to reduce weeds that can curtail crop growth), spreading of fertiliser (pretty self explanatory) and for certain areas of some farms the somewhat odd sounding deep ripping.
Unsurprisingly my initial assertion that ‘deep ripping’ was in fact a pre-workout supplement used by this new breed of musclebound lads you see around the place was proved to be completely incorrect which did lead me to wonder exactly what it entailed.
Deep ripping (also known as deep tillage) involves the use of strong deep working tines (a lot bigger than the ones on a fork) that penetrate the compacted soil and mechanically break up and shatter the soil hard pan. In my latest addition to the “Idiot’s Guide to Farming” I would compare deep ripping to sticking a fork into a lemon meringue pie and dragging it along the breadcrumb crust until the fork breaks through and hits the plate.
In terms of the end results while the usual (if not entirely welcome) outcome of lemon meringue pie is an increased waistline the desired outcome for deep ripping is an increase in grain yields.
A conversation that comes up in our household from time to time stems from Wifey’s concern as to whether she is in fact a “real farmer”. What a “real farmer” actually is in this day in age is a point of conjecture and however forward thinking Wifey might be she still believes it means getting your hands dirty everyday and hammering your body by lifting sheep onto the back of utes etc
According to Dictionary.com the top two definitions for ‘farmer’ are:
While I won’t comment on the second one and indeed there was no reason at all for me to include it other than it made me laugh I think the first definition is a very good if not somewhat general one.
Daughter of the soil was a synonym of farmer I unearthed (pardon the pun) and is one that to my mind describes Wifey very well. There is also an interview on the ABC Midwest’s Facebook page with a woman called Sue Middleton who articulates very well the modern role of women in agriculture and breaking through the cleverly named Grass Ceiling.
Whatever your definition might be any doubts around Wifey being a real farmer were well and truly put out to pasture (unpardonable pun) following some 12.30am finishes on the air seeder coupled with busy days ensuring Mulga Springs’s 4200 adult sheep were fed and watered.
Being a ‘seeding widower’ in actual fact isn’t all that bad as it generally means spending a lot of family time together at Mulga Springs. ASH and ZCP love the opportunity to spend some time being farm kids with Nanna and Granna and on occasion this time of year also allows me to demonstrate my slowly evolving practical skills should the need arise…