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Norma Jeffries   28th July 2013

The 1994 Bronze Swagman Award for Bush Verse was won with Gwyder Ball, written by Sherry Clarke. Another poet with work published in the book that year was Norma Jeffries.

I caught up with Norma, who now lives just outside of Toowoomba. Norma had a series of poems published in the Bronze Swagman books, and here is her 1994 offering, with her permission. Saw Norma at the 2013 Highfields Pioneer Village Poets Breakfast as well.

THIS FARMING LIFE'S A BREEZE      (c) Norma Jeffries

I bought this little farm, with it's quiet, distinctive charm
And a stack of books on things that farmers do
With the land I went to battle, bought a herd of dairy cattle
And a pair of blue Alpacas for a touch of something new.

With all this stock to feed, much fodder I would need
So I ploughed and scarified till the land looked like a mat
But in my quest for food explosion, I discounted soil erosion
And half my bloody paddock was washed across the flat.

A resourceful sort of girl, I gave Ostriches a burl
I bought an incubator and one hundred fertile eggs
I aspired those chicks with pride, then the mongrels up and died
So I swapped the incubator for a horse with four white legs.

Now you all know what's been said, about a horse that's not well bred
White footed ones are best off left alone
A stock horse he was not, and he couldn't race or trot
So I gave him to a Drover who was heading out to Scone.

At last we're coming out, of a wretched three year drought
With promise I awake to each new morn
The land is turing green, once again I'm feeling keen
To arise each day in time to greet the dawn.

But, when the drought was finally over, five cows got bloat from clover
And the Vet was duly sent for for the rest were lookin' crook
He suspected Brucellosis, the Bull Tuberculosis
And that mutt from Campbell's Gully ate my last Rhode Island chook.

The windmill fell apart, the tractor's hard to start
There's collar rot in all my citrus trees
The Bank declined a loan, Telecom cut off the phone
But aside from these slight hiccups this farming life's a breeze.