A meander from Montana to Meander

And just like that it’s Friday again. The days of this week have indistinctly blended into each other, signalling a constant struggle and grind.  A grind to get farm work done without a full contingent of staff. How can this be happening at what is the busiest time of the year?

Farming is cyclical – seasonal. The workload varies with each flip of a calendar page.  We started the calving season fully staffed and we limp to the end minus two full-time workers and a casual. For one longer term unemployed person who we took on without dairying experience, it got too hard and he quit. A fine young man who is an asset to the farm hurt his knee and has had several weeks off – he’ll be back in a couple of weeks though (Yay). And another older teenage worker is finding it hard to man up and be an adult.  Unemployment in the Meander Valley is high so the media says.  Really?  There is work here!

A very exhausted Pauly after a particularly tough day this week.
A very exhausted Pauly after a particularly tough day this week.

The consequences of all this is that for Paul and his right hand man the workload has gone from huge to crippling. It’s also meant that the farmer’s wife has had her gumboots on too. Racing home each day to feed a full calf shed of calves? I’ve been doing that.

A brief patch of sun on a stormy day - tough times don't last but tough people do.
A brief patch of sun on a stormy day – tough times don’t last but tough people do.

Today my beautiful catch-up Friday will be spent helping out on the farm. Who needs bootcamp! But it’s what you do. And I don’t mind because as I look out the window it looks like it’s going to be a magic spring day.  There’s always something to be happy about!

But let’s talk running. Sunday, at Janette’s suggestion, I brought my last long run before the Melbourne Half Marathon forward a week. It wasn’t the ideal situation to run a long run a week out but I felt that I hadn’t built up the distance sensibly. Having the bronchitis for so long was playing havoc with running distances.  I decided to take her advice and I’m glad I did.


I wasn’t feeling like a long run. Before a half marathon, for my mental preparation as much as for my running fitness, I like to do 16 to 17kms. Sunday was the day. The last day of a weekend filled with zooming around and working on the farm. I wasn’t feeling like it at all.

Pauly suggested a different start to usual. Rather than starting the run at the farm, he suggested driving the first 4.5kms and starting from there, then doing a loop taking in the little town of Meander and then back to the car for him (he only wanted to do 14kms) but I could keep running and he would pick me up.  Hence the meander from Montana were we live to Meander.

Cute Jersey Calves
Cute Jersey Calves

I hadn’t factored in how interesting it was to vary the starting position! Just call me simple! But my goodness it felt new and refreshed. The weather was slightly breezy and a little rain was threatening. We had a really good run. Can’t say I felt great the whole time. I’ve ramped up the training and the muscles are a little achy and letting me know that they are working hard.  And as for feeling like I hadn’t sensibly increased the distance?  I’ve got to a place with distance and fitness where I am half-marathon ready – I need to stop doubting myself and to trust the training I’ve put in.




Coming into the little town of Meander.  On the way out we ran down Sandy Lane and guess what I saw?  Some black lambs?  Guess what I continued to sing in my head all the way home?  Yes, Baa Baa Black Sheep living down Sandy Lane!
Coming into the little town of Meander. On the way out we ran down Sandy Lane and guess what I saw? Some black lambs! Guess what I continued to sing in my head all the way home? Yes, Baa Baa Black Sheep living down Sandy Lane! I would’ve taken a photo but the farmer was in the paddock and already giving us funny looks like we’d just got out of a space ship or something.  Was it because we were running or because of the sheer white brilliance of a farmer’s legs that never get out of gumboots? I must get the fake tan onto Paul’s legs!

In the end I ran 18kms and Pauly 16kms – Pauly did a bit of back tracking and I kept running home. This run was a huge encouragement. Yes my muscles were sore and stiff but I finished with a knowing that I will be able to train for the marathon. That at this point in time compared to last year I am so much fitter – off the scale in fact to how I was last year. Running confidence and experience has grown and grown.

As I ran last Sunday I thought of my beautiful friend Janette and her sore knee. I sent her lots and lots of positive energy! When I finally got home I sent Janette a text to tell her I hoped her knee was getting better from all the good vibes I was sending her. And guess what? She was off for a little run to test the knee out because it was feeling so much better! This is most likely a coincidence but regardless I am so pleased the knee is better! That little run went really well! Melbourne Half Marathon here we come! (Melbourne Direct Factory Outlets had better brace themselves too).

For Pauly and I we got a full dose of the positive vibes from our Sunday run too. Running out in the country, listening to the rhythm of our feet, the breeze and odd moo and baa – bliss. The stresses of this farming life were forgotten. No matter what’s going on in life running provides an outlet. Running is a much needed focus that takes attention away from troubles. Over the last few years running has truly been my time out, my happy place. I know some people think Paul and I are crazy to travel the distances that we travel to running events; for Paul particularly to work so hard all day and then put his running shoes on for hill repeats in the evening, it can look like he’s nuts. Even crazier, though, to put a few hours in on the farm then zoom off to a race, zoom back only to put in more hours on the farm. Running is our shot in the arm that helps to make life sweet. Running is as much for our mental health as it is for our physical health.  And it’s not just with farming, any job has its stresses and troubles – running does this for all of us!

Happy running 🙂

6 thoughts on “A meander from Montana to Meander

  1. Annie in all honesty I feel guilty commenting on your blog while here in Italy. I admire you and Pauly so very much. Having grown up on a farm I have a sense of the unbelievable effort it takes. I am so happy that the run gave you both a break from the work and left you feeling positive and confident. Hugs from here and sending positive energy.

    1. Please don’t feel guilty! I am loving your posts! And all the lovely photos. The good thing about calving is that it is coming to an end. The seasonal nature of life on a dairy farm means that while times can get tough things will settle and slow down eventually. I’m taking a nice slow Sunday afternoon today and in fact seriously thinking about an afternoon snooze 🙂

  2. Your post makes me feel flat out lazy – and that I wish I could come give a hand – even if to supply some cooked dinners so you didn’t have that chore!
    Your photos have made me want to come for a drive that way in November.
    Huge well done and you will do awesome Melbourne half!

    1. Oh gosh, a young mum with a pre-schooler? So not lazy, that’s a tough job all by itself. We’re not going too badly, just resetting the sails to cope. And last week (whispers) we went to the pub for dinner three times!!! Thanks for your encouragement, very much appreciated. Hope your training is going well x

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