Rachel Hammond gets used to shoe-horning daily life into becoming a new mum onfarm.

As I watched my toddler smear his sticky hands across the fridge door, I heard Hamish say “Can you write that article for Dairy Exporter? It’s due tomorrow, and I need to do the GST”. Just as I was collating my excuses of why I won’t have time to do it, the door shuts and he was gone, off to do the rest of his farm jobs for the day.

Initially, I thought I could write a farmer’s scientific review on “how to stop climate change, while still feeding the world”, however I quickly thought otherwise for a number of reasons:

First, I have what is self-diagnosed as “Mum Brain” – commonly referred to as forgetfulness and brain fog experienced after the birth of a child. And secondly, there appears to be few solutions to climate change that will have enough of an impact except, maybe, getting rid of the humans? That, of course wouldn’t win any votes.

So, here goes: an honest review of being a first-time farm mum, during the busy spring period.

Farm mums can be put into two categories: The “working farm mum”, this is the mum who needs to manage daily childcare and house chores, while working fulltime on the farm (these women are superheroes); and the “farm stay-at-home mum (SAHM)”, which I would describe as the townie version of SAHM, but on crack. I would put myself in the latter category.

Since having a child, I have realised the time required to get ready to do a job usually takes as long as the job itself. For example, when feeding the calves in the morning, I need to:

  1. Prep a nutritious breakfast for the child grizzling at my feet
  2. Let the child self-feed – this can take anywhere between five minutes (to pick each item up individually and throw it on the ground) and 30 minutes (breakfast well enjoyed).
  3. Clean up
  4. Change
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 (any order)

By this stage the chorus from the calf sheds is getting louder, and the pet lamb is pawing at the door and you realise you are not ready yourself.

Once you have made it out the door, you must expect the job to take twice as long as it did before having the child. Or, if you’re fortunate like us, you can call on the grandparents from time to time. If that’s the case, then all the steps outlined above (and more) may be skipped. In addition to the farm SAHM morning routine, you must not forget the cooking, washing, gardening, entertainment, HR management and the “last-minute” farm call ups.

I am not going to lie, it can be tough and it is easy to compare ourselves with families that have every weekend off and 8am – 5pm jobs. I’m very guilty of this, but we must remind ourselves how lucky we are for our children to grow up with endless space, rural experiences, and opportunities to watch their role models at work. I am only fortunate to be a SAHM because of the farming life we live. It allows me to have the flexibility to enjoy farm jobs (with a special helper), attend playgroups and be present. Here’s to those families that do it with four or more in tow!