The Rod Blog

26 March 2006

Bushhats and Blundstones

It’s a big day at the farm, and I’m out of uniform. The cockies are all here, with bush-hats and blunnie’s to-boot, and hopefully something in-between.

In case you’re not up to date with Aussie lingo (language), blunnies are Blundstone boots. These are standard attire for a ‘cocky’, also known as a farmer. Their sun-cragged faces and worn hands contrast with my office tan and keyboard-calloused fingers.

But the day is not mine, and I try to meld into the background. The day belongs to Anne’s Dad as he hopes to sell everything on the farm. Thirty-odd years of toil, turning soil for broccoli and cauli. Time to pay the diddler. It’s auction day, and everything must go. Muddied tractors, combine-harvesters, bolts and pins; the old bent vice from the workshop.

I watch the knowing cockies, who flocked from miles around. They sniff a sale, and travel far for that special farm device. The fifteen-disk bed former and the weeder-spray. They scratch their chins, and look thoughtfully at each opportunity. A few mutter in amazement at the old Catepillar dozer parked in the ferns. It’s a sorry sight alright, but the amazement is, that soon somebody will buy it.

Nearby, disappearing into the growth is a Series-One Landrover. The bracken grows right through the floor. Around the corner is a Vanguard car, almost completely collapsed into rust. It has sat there some thirty years under a growing cloud of blackberries. I prod a dangling body panel with a stick daring it to drop, but like a determined old man it hangs on.

I wander through the weeds followed by shades and memories. The old dog kennel lies on its side. The dogs are long gone. Here is where we stood, watching the cow being born; its legs protruded for a while, then it dropped in an untidy heap on the ground.

The rattle-gun auctioneer is in full flight. He’s pumping the crowd, working up their enthusiasm for a bargain. I can’t believe anybody can talk that fast. The words fly out like a shooting train. I’ve recorded a segment of his spiel, and even playing it back I can barely keep up with him. The cockies are still scratching their chins. Now it is the tension of a good deal; whether it’s time to go for that next bid. Some of my pictures capture their arms-folded consternation.

I enjoy the atmosphere for a while, but soon it’s time for a break. Up to the house for a cuppa. We say everybody has at least one skeleton in their closet. Well guess what – we do too, and if you think I’m joking, have a look at the picture. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not great-aunt Maude, but a relic of medical student days. And now it’s ours, and we have to do something with it. Any suggestions? The bin may be a bad idea. Can you image trying to explain that one away?....”police investigate human remains”….

It’s a long day for Anne and her Dad. But it’s been a good one, and nearly everything of significance has been sold. Dad’s walking off the farm to tour the nation in a big, comfortable bus.

20 March 2006

Friday 24th March: Note the Date

Catch it while it's live: the RodBlog goes to air on ABC Radio National Perspective program, on Friday 24th March.
Details below.

06 March 2006

Coins for the ABC

A few days after the previous story, I read a column about how our poor ABC is...poor.
Of course I was obviously joking about the limousine thing, but it is a bit cruel when the organisation has been so starved of funds in recent years.

I would be more than happy to pay a few more tax dollars to keep it alive.

Now today (the 7th), I went into the studio to do the recording. They usher me into... a broom closet! But soon I discover there's a microphone and headphones (behind the mop).

ABC-ers call this the "Tardis", and reassure me that it usually returns visitors to the correct spatial/temporal coordinates.

But all is good, and I am ably assisted by Sue, operating remotely in Sydney, keeping me calm. Remember to take a breath. It doesn't sound good to forget this, and keel over in the middle.

I don't yet know the date, but the recording will first be aired at 4:55am, and repeated at 5:55pm on a weekday. It will then go out on Radio Australia, in Asia, Europe, and the constellation of Plaedes. It will also be available in text and podcast from