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I Wouldn't Farm Out My Country Childhood For Anything

In fact, I think it's the best decision my parents ever made.

08/09/2017 5:17 PM AEST | Updated 09/09/2017 12:57 PM AEST
Rachel Cormack
"My life lessons began when I became caretaker of the chooks."

When I was in Year Two, my parents made the decision to move our family from the city, over the Blue Mountains to a rural town called Bathurst. At the time I didn't really think about the impact this would have on me, but now I think it was one of the best decisions they've ever made.

Sure, growing up in the country has made me a little rough around the edges. It's given me harshness, a low tolerance for bullshit, and an ocker accent I just can't shake. But it also instilled inherent strength, and taught me some extremely valuable lessons.

On a farm you're forced to deal with the big existential issues, they're inescapable. Life and death literally surround you, you're constantly reminded of the impermanence of beings, and you experience the true cyclical nature of the environment. You start to see things for what they truly are, and learn to accept and value the natural order of the world.

My life lessons began when I became caretaker of the chooks. I had to tend to these Chinese Bantam chickens daily -- feed them, give them water, let them out to roam in the paddock and collect their eggs.

I had some really happy moments with my hens, and some absolutely horrendous ones.

One spring my favourite hen Queen Brown bore 11 baby chicks. They were fluffy little balls of joy, but they were all male. When they got to teenagers this became a problem, the roosters were fighting constantly and tearing each other to shreds.

Dad explained I couldn't have 12 roosters in one coop, and I would need to choose only one. I picked my OG rooster Ferdinand, who was really pretty and just a straight-up boss.

Dad then explained we would have to kill the remaining 11 roosters, but we would cook them so they would not have died in vain. I helped my Dad chop 11 roosters' heads off. Yes, they wiggle without their heads, and no unfortunately they don't taste good.

I was all of 12 when forced to partake in this mass slaughter. It was sad and slightly traumatic, but I understood we were saving the roosters from a painful, volatile death.

Now you see why I might get frustrated when a vegan from Sydney tells me to stop eating meat. I've been part of a sustainable farm, and I've seen the animals I eat die first hand.

Another time I intervened when a baby chick was kicked out of their nest. I took it to our house, tried to keep it warm and gave it some water. At the end of the day Dad told me I needed to take it back to the mother hen. I didn't realise my scent was all over the chick and when I put it back into the nest, the mum pecked its head so hard it was scalped right in front of me. My interference had cost the baby chick its life.

I suddenly saw, as heartbreaking as things may be, sometimes you have to let them run their course.

The farm also taught me to be fearless. I remember running up to Cobber our well-mannered horse, grabbing his mane, scrambling up his body, and kicking him into a full-blown canter. I would ride him bareback for hours, and I felt truly free. I was a tiny girl, one kick from him, or a fall from that height could've killed me. Yeah, I don't really know what Mum and Dad were doing...

Now you see why I might get frustrated when a vegan from Sydney tells me to stop eating meat. I've been part of a sustainable farm, and I've seen the animals I eat die first hand.

I also feel kind of weird when I see RM Williams boots worn in the city or a driza-bone donned ironically and I don't understand how jodhpurs became a fashion statement. To me these things are synonymous with the land, with my past and I'm kind of protective of them.

So, for parents out there wondering if a raising kids in the country is a good idea, I say yes. Wholeheartedly.

They might hate you during the teen years when they want nothing more than to be surrounded by a buzzing metropolis. They might curse you every time they have to make their way home from parties, dodging cow pats in the paddocks. And they'll probably be embarrassed to tell their Sydney friends they're from Bathurst for, well, a good while.

But one day, in their late twenties, they'll thank you for helping them to become exactly who they wanted to be.

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