gleneden organic farm stay experience
To many, the idea of spending your vacation working on a farm seems more like a nightmare than a dream come true. Feeding the pigs and milking the goats doesn’t align with R&R and what you’d consider a “conventional holiday.” However, the opportunity to work on and experience a true, authentic Aussie farm was an unforgettable highlight of our trip!
As we left Gayndah, we had a sketchy map that we had downloaded while we still had cell service to help guide us to the farm. Through twists and turns, we left a thick cloud of dust in the review mirror, though the landscape in front of us was breathtaking. Just about when we were certain we were lost, we saw the sign for the farm stay!
As we crept up the driveway, passing by weeds (which we were to pick the following day) and farm animals, we were welcomed by the Morris family to their humble abode. They directed us to a vacant field on which to pitch our tent, and their house cow followed in suite to munch on some grass nearby as well!
Home On the Range
We pitched our tent quickly as we could smell in the air the fresh aroma of farm-made sausage cooked over a bed of coals. While Devin pondered and wondered if he was back in Argentina, Ryann’s mouth watered and they both raced to join the rest of the group for dinner.
Sitting at the picnic table under a Coleman lantern proliferated by rhinoceros beetles (according to their little daughter Eden), was the family and guests. Donning his farming attire, Rohan sat at the head of the table with a smile, happy to share his way of life with others. At his side, was his lovely wife, Fiona. As if being a ranch wife and mother of 2 wasn’t demanding enough, she also is employed by a non-profit organization which aids farmers in obtaining government funds to make repairs to the lands after being affected by inclement weather conditions. Their two lovely children (Eden and Jethro) are as rambunctious as they are cute. It is obvious that they’re having an extraordinary upbringing. Rather than the usual television show or newest toy for self-entertainment, they have learned to host the various international guests and to assist mum and dad on the farm. Also at the table were three other guests hosted by the family: a hard-working, orange picking French couple and a German aspiring dairy-specialist, Julia. That evening we all enjoyed a meal which was produced right from the farm: the pork sausages, eggs, spreads and vegetables were all farm fresh! The night was filled with great conversation of all accents followed with laughter due to the unpredictable torpedo-like attacking beetles under a blanket of stars. Once we were all finished, the kids were off to bed and ourselves too- we had a busy day of work ahead! Once the dishes were done, we headed back to our temporary home in the field to rest up for an early start…
Amateur Farmers at Work
We awoke the next day startled! There she was, ol’ Bessy the cow munching on grass noisily next to our tent. Good morning! Yawning and stretching in our two-person tent, we changed into our working clothes and made our way to the house for breakfast. The French couple had already left to work at a nearby orchard and Fiona was gone to work. Rohan and Julia met us in the kitchen and we set off to feed the animals and get some milk for our cereal! Devin went with Rohan to do the milking, while Ryann went with Julia to do the feeding.
Rohan showed Devin the timeless tips and tricks of properly milking cows and goats. Devin tried it himself, practicing the rhythm and strokes that allowed the cow comfort and for a full pail of milk. Rohan nodded in approval. Devin was a natural milkman!
Meanwhile, Julia and Ryann loaded up the wheelbarrow with feed and hay for the pigs, chooks, and sheep. Julia and Ryann took turns pouring feed for the animals; it was amusing to watch the animals race for the first bites of grain and fight off one another for the last bits. Next they were off to the chook coop. Ryann later learned one of the harder tasks was collecting the eggs from the hens. One specific mother hen was not giving up her egg without a fight! Ryann was pecked on the finger- shouldn’t have hesitated!
After the morning chores, we poured ourselves a couple of bowls of homemade muesli with fresh milk and watched the interactions around us: Julia feeding the wallaby, Eden’s struggle of choosing an outfit for school, Rohan teaching the proper way to slice a mango and Jethro playing with his trains. We enjoyed our cereal, waiting to hear the itinerary for the rest of the day.
Off the Farm
Rohan left to bring Eden to school, while the rest of us cleaned up. Upon his return we learned there was a mobile play group at the school and Jethro was invited to join. Sounds like our long day of labor might be cut short! While Rohan was at school with his kids, we went to the town of Gayndah to buy food to prepare for everyone that night.
Devin had decided he wanted to share his love and all-time favorite meal, the Argentine asado. [read here]
After gathering the groceries, Rohan invited us to visit Eden’s school. Ryann was very excited to see an Australian school up close, even more so with it being a country school! Ryann got the tour while Devin joined in trying to figure out a electrical problem that Rohan was asked to fix.
Back to Work
Once Devin and Rohan restored power to part of the school, we headed back to the farm. We met Julia and the wallaby in the kitchen and ate leftovers from dinner for lunch. Studying the atlas intently, Rohan tested our geography and map skills while he learned about where we were from. We cleaned up the kitchen and listened for our next step, which previously eluded to: pulling weeds! We worked alongside Rohan and Julia while Jethro played in a nearby wheelbarrow under the shade. We picked weeds which could potentially harm the cows. We don’t think we even broke a sweat. We did however, notice that they were everywhere and the weeds grew fast, so we would hate doing this job alone too.
After the bags were full, we went back to the house. The French couple had returned from work. Max, Julia and Ryann fed the animals while Devin started the fire for the asado. The girls helped Ryann with the salad and we waited for Devin, the asado artist, to finish his masterpiece.
Once it was finished, we ate under the same tree as before, taking turns darting out of the rhinoceros beetle’s path. Devin proudly served the delicious portions of meat to everyone at the table. Even the little ones ate an impressive amount! We ate and ate and ate, well past the point of being full. Tired and stuffed, we headed in to clean up and call it a night. We were leaving early the next morning to continue on our trip and had a full morning of driving ahead of us. We said our good byes, showered and went to bed.
We woke early the next morning and packed the car. We walked up to the house to say one last goodbye and thank Rohan and his family for their hospitality. We would miss the green, lush farmland and the simple way of life, but also looked forward to the rest of our trip. All in all, it was a great experience and we were very thankful to have had the opportunity!
To learn more, visit here.
Or, watch a video made by the French couple!