I have often swanned about backpackers telling everyone on their working holiday visas NOT to work at the fruit farms (despite never working there myself.) The horror stories are unreal. One strawberry farm in particular in Mooloolaba had people working 10 hours a day for about $70 (a waitress normally earns about $20 an hour.) You are bent over all day in order to pick the strawberries and you get 70c a kilo plus you have to pick mould for 10c a kilo. If you miss mould however you have to start the row again. You have to get up at 6 leave at 6:30am and you are back about 4:30pm. Most people quit after one day. It was all too much. One of my roommates used to pick barefoot after she couldn’t afford the shoes (apparantly it was a real shoe destroying job.) People put on bets on how long people will last and often if you are doing it for money and not for the visa the answer is not long.

In Tasmania one of my hosts had chickens which she kept for the eggs for her catering. When I was there I cleaned out her chickens collected her eggs and helped in the kitchen and if I had stayed there the prescribed 88 days I could have got the stamp for my visa.

Why doesn’t everyone work at the animal farms?

Admittedly I wasn’t getting paid for any of this but with free food and accom it works out at about $40-$50 a day I’m saving AND I only work 4-5 hours. Animals are the easy option surely.

In my last post I explained the lack of responsibility of picking poos. I think that is why the gods tortured me today. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Meet Beethoven and Corinna. They are large 3 yr olds 15-16 hands each who live together in their paddock. At 3 they are still very playful and while they are by no means wild they are no Grace or Kismet and we have already learnt how little control I can have over Grace.

So it was really raining. This is only the second time it has rained since I’ve been on Oz and it of course comes at a really bad time. I only have the one pair of appropriate shoes and I only have them because my host in Sydney’s sister very kindly gave them to me (they have been a god send many many thanks) and while they are waterproof it is only to a point. I was soaked. I was trying to move from one paddock to another on the quad bike meaning I had to open 2 gates at the same time. USUALLY the horses have no desire to leave the paddocks they have all the food and water in their paddocks there is nothing for them if they leave. ……. you can see where this post is going.

As soon as I got back on the quad the two horses ran out of the paddock. I quickly tried to shoo them back in but they were having none of it. Luckily Beethoven ran into the other paddock and I locked him in. Unluckily for Beethoven this paddock contained 2 heavily pregnant horses that were about to give birth in a few weeks. They were big they were bad and they were thoroughly annoyed to have some dweeb invading their paddock. Beethoven is smarter than he looks however and ran to the other end of the paddock. The girls had no desire to chase him (probably the swollen ankles) Corinna was another matter.

I managed to block her down a pathway that had a dead end. However she was still charging up and down towards me at great speed. I’ll admit it I was scared, she could charge through me if she very well wanted and crush me. I considered my options: A. I go get help and risk the horse running wild B. I tackle this myself and hope someone comes along. I had no choice really. I grabbed a harness and advanced on her.

She was still galloping up and down the pathway but after about 5 minutes I had cornered her down the end. All I kept thinking is “Oh boy I am in deep poop now” even if I managed to get the harness on I had never handled this horse before, I had no idea how to deal with such a young horse. I was worried she might try and jump the fence and then we’d be in real trouble. At that point my hosts son was coming out with one of the other horses I heard an audiable

“Oh shit!”

and he called his mum.

I had made myself as big as possible to block her path and shouting at her to try and get her into line. I approached her a few times but she just shook me off. When she raises her head I can’t reach it and that’s it. She was scared probably more scared than me I was really worried she might try and do something stupid. As Caspar was running up to help me I somehow managed to get the harness on and she walked surprisingly pleasantly back to her paddock. He then went into the other paddock to save Beethoven who kindly responded by biting his arm.

My host came over after everything had settled down. “Maybe next time do that paddock first.” I was scared at how she would react but seeing as noone had been hurt (not even the horses) and everything was back in order she wasn’t mad. It was after all an accident, I had opened and drove through those 2 paddocks many times before, who could have known that this one time the horses would decide that they wanted to escape.

Never work with animals or children. To be honest I think I would still rather work with the animals.

So what do you think?

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