A balancing act

Host: Blina Station
Written by Constance Wood – Manager, Blina Station.

Being on a station isn’t just a job. It is a lifestyle choice. I often joke that Matt manages the stations, and I manage the manager.

Our life revolves around the station, sometimes it is hard when you have plans to attend a party or are out at an event and have to rush home, or can’t attend at all because plans have changed on the property. Cattle boats shift, trucking dates change, bushfires start up, staff quit, and waters go down . . . the list goes on. Matt’s job is to deal with it all and my job is to support him.

A lot of people don’t understand Matt’s drive and love for Blina and Meda, because we don’t own it and we work for a company. As a manager, Matt is fierce in his loyalty to the company he works for and his determination to get the best of out of any situation and this is a truly admirable (if not exhausting) characteristic. The thing is, when you work out here, it really is all or nothing. Our #1 priority, above all else is that the animals on the station are looked after. It is our job to manage the welfare of the land and the livestock.

3-1-copyConnie and Matt Wood.

Matt and I are relatively young. I am 28 now but when I first came to Blina, I was not very much older than the crew. As much I have wanted to make BBF’s with the station crew, it is difficult to let myself go and speak freely or have a gripe after a bad day as I do not want to be seen to be undermining my husband or the head stockman. I feel I am expected to be strong in the camp, muster all day, work in the yards, and then come home and cook dinner for the pilots and crew back at the station, keep a perfect house and a homestead ticking along.

Sound familiar to any of you farmer’s wives out there?

I am a perfectionist, and I want to be as helpful as I can on the station, and I thought I could do it all. Hold an outside job, work on the station, and keep a homestead ticking along. Unfortunately, I am not superwoman and all of this got the better of me last year.

Which is why Matt and I now make a conscious effort to make time for us. Whether it be beers in the pool, or do a bore run together, sit on the lawn and watch the sunset with some nibbles, work our horses together after work. Sometimes it is hard when you work together, to keep the romance alive when you have such a momentous task day in day out.

Matt is really trying. He will bring me home wildflowers on Valentine’s Day (wrapped in a grease rag and wilted . . . but hey, when can a girl knock back flowers?). He tries to help with the washing and buys me stupid things in town to make me smile. Another manager’s wife once told me that you will have bad times and good times, sometimes they last a week, sometimes they last months, but if you truly love one another you can make it through.

The life of a manager’s partner or wife, is a busy and fulfilling life. Sometimes it is incredibly lonely.
Balancing work and life is very important and I think so many of us on stations throw ourselves in wholeheartedly and do not give ourselves enough down time. So many people out in the bush struggle with mental health issues and are too embarrassed to say anything for fear of being branded ‘weak’ or ‘lazy’.

My message is this: everyone is fighting their own battles and the people who sometimes seem the happiest or strongest need support too. It’s ok to ask for help or to reach out and say “Hey, I’m not coping”. I am so lucky to have a wonderful support network and I have also changed my behaviour to make time for myself on the station and to discount my own negative self-talk. Whether you are running your own property or business, supporting your loved ones in their careers, raising children remotely, working in a stock camp or driving a grader or road train for a living, please remember to look after your health, mental and physical, and make time to sit back and appreciate what a wonderful life we live. Love your family, friends, husband, partner and children and particularly yourself. We only have one life, and those of us lucky enough to be out here in a beautiful remote part of Australia should take the time to sit back once and a while and count our blessings.

3-2-copyConnie and Matt Wood (Photo credit Emma Moss).