09/21/2010 06:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Farm Life: Living off the land

I am most definitely a city boy, always have been and (probably) always will
be. I live in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles via London, Boston and
Dallas. Up until a few weeks ago I had no experience of farm life. None.
All that changed when I spent part of my summer in Cairns, Australia, experiencing
two separate farms, each with their own unique flavor. For someone who has
never lived off the land it was certainly going to be an interesting few
days. This city boy was about to find himself miles and miles from his
beloved comfort zone.


Adjusting to a new pace of life was my main challenge. You see, I am way too
enamored with all my city dwelling luxuries -- from the local Starbucks to
fifteen screen movie theaters, cell phone reception and late night dining,
there are many luxuries I would rather not part company with. But
when it came time to pack my bags I departed with a smile, as I realized
that every new experience brings with it a lesson or two. Lessons really are
what make the world go round.

The first farm was called Black Mountain Hideaway. It was run by a wonderful
couple, Suzie and Saxon. Suzie was a champion horse rider and had created a
little oasis up in the picturesque Port Douglas hinterlands. I spent a fair
amount of my time bonding with the kids who embraced farm life and enjoyed
the horse riding courses. Black Mountain Hideaway was a working ranch where
Suzie and Saxon mentored kids and helped them to reach their fullest
potential in a setting as far away from city life as possible.

The farm was also home to an abundance of animals. The animals were not just
your usual garden variety farm animals -- unbelievably, these animals were
actually considered pets by both Suzie and the kids. They had a pet cow
called Jackie. A pet rooster who went by the name 'Agent Pickles' who for
some reason decided I was his least favorite Englishman -- he initiated
numerous unprovoked attacks against me. I later found out I was not his only
victim. They also had eight wild parrots who would eat bacon off my plate in the
morning. To top it all off they had a pet donkey called Jemima.

The second farm was called Echo Creek and centered on more traditional farm
life. I found myself herding cattle the modern way -- with a quad bike. This
was great fun and it was here I realized the connection with the land and
those that work it. I truly felt a bond with the land and the animals as I
rode on my quad herding cows in the open field. It was a spiritual
experience and created a sense of connection to 'mother earth'. A connection
that living in the city has never afforded me.

I also learned how to lasso a baby cow and then did the unthinkable. I 'preg
tested' a cow. For those who don't have a vivid imagination 'preg testing' a
cow is where you put your arm somewhere most people would rather not. I am
still not entirely sure why I chose to go to the 'dark side' but I guess I
can now say I experienced something unique which I'm not entirely sure is a
very good claim to fame.

My experiences on both farms taught me that being a city boy does not
preclude experiencing nature in its purest form and all of the great gifts
that making connections with nature can afford us. I actually enjoyed my
time outside my comfort zone and learned valuable lessons along the way. The
most important one being that in many ways technology and city life have
taken us away from our connection to the land and nature in general. The
land sustains us and gives us life. It's a shame to let this connection fall
by the wayside.