Living on a farm in an isolated area of the Coromandel in the 1950s was an idyllic way to grow up. After my older brothers went away to high school and my sister started at the local primary school, my days were mainly spent trailing around the farm after my father picking up the tools or implements he had left behind while mending fences. He would often find me birds eggs, especially Skylarks eggs. They nested on the ground, an oddity to me. I thought Skylarks should nest in the sky.
I was only allowed one egg from a nest and would put it in the pocket of my homemade, cotton frock and then forget about it and crawl under the bottom wire of the fence. Back home, egg all down the front of my dress, I would have to face my exasperated mother.
Another job was steering the tractor while my father stood on the trailer feeding out hay to the cows in winter. One day, not being tall enough to see over the front of the tractor, I almost drove us into the creek. I got fired after that.
Haymaking was a special time of the year when the community pulled together to get the grass mowed, baled and stored in the hay sheds. The equipment was shared by a group of farmers who assisted each other, moving from farm to farm, working long days until the job was done. I remember helping Mum take the morning and afternoon tea to the hay paddock for the men. It was always hot weather and I would get a sip of Dad’s beer at the end of the day.