On the farm

I took the following photograph on my parents’ farm, Olivigne, near the South Australian town of Maitland.

This particular dam is located in a paddock called Shearers. Paddock in Australian English is what most readers would probably call a field, and our paddocks are all named (not officially, of course: it’s only a farm). Some names are descriptive, such as Red Hill, while others are named after the families who once owned them.

The region has world-class soil fertility, but is currently in drought. Sheep (merino) and cattle (hereford) are both herded on the farm, and crops such as wheat, barley and beans are grown (the beans are for animal feed only, btw). The farm covers about 450 hectares (1100 acres) of land.

The farm has belonged to my mother’s family for some generations, but it has never been the primary source of income for my parents. That role belongs to Dad’s geology business, or to be more specific, palynology (basically, looking at microscopic fossils of pollen and algae and so on obtained from deep below the earth’s surface, as a consultancy service to the oil industry. The interpretation of the fossils helps to establish the age and deposition environment of the rocks and to determine how deep to drill for oil.)

Dad set up as a consultant after we returned from Scotland. Back in Scotland, he worked for BNOC, the British National Oil Company, which later became Britoil, and later still was swallowed up by BP. My parents always used to claim that BNOC meant Be Nice to Our Children.

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2 Responses to “On the farm”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    The OED duly lists the sense ‘enclosed field of any size’ as particular to AU and NZ; elsewhere the word refers only to a small enclosure in grass used to pasture horses. It’s a variant of the now-dialectal word parrock, a close relative of park, all originally meaning ‘enclosed place’.

  2. Elsha Says:

    That’s an awesome picture! It’s also great to learn about your parents and childhood. Yeah I’m used to paddock meaning a horse pasture, so I’m glad you clarified. On my farm we grow corn and soybeans. I try to garden every year, but no one wants to weed it.. I live beside a coal mine and they tested for natural gas, but decided it was richer several miles away and set up further north.


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