Newdegate Brenton See
The main titles I identify with at the moment are Mum and wife. It’s taken me a little while to work out where I am in that spectrum. I’m not a farmer, I’m not a farmer’s wife; I’m a farming wife. This is where I’m currently sitting at the moment. I help out on the farm, I do bookwork, meals, bits and pieces in between. I have an active role in the farm, but I’m not a farmer, because in my role as a Mum I do quite a few committee roles, helping at the school, sporting clubs and community groups. Not being tied to being that “farm-er” work, as such, I’ve got time to do the other things. I grew up in Hyden, which is eighty kilometres north of Newdegate, went to high school in Narrogin, and then moved to Perth for university. I studied psychology and later worked out of Katanning in early intervention. My original intention was criminal psychology, I like to understand why people do things. But along came my husband Pete, and criminal psychology in a small town was never going to work. I met him at nineteen. So that, quite early on, changed the path of where I was going. It’s amazing what love can do to you. Blows your plans well out of the water. Pete and I met through my high school best friend; we all holidayed together on the coast, It all began one balmy summer evening in Hopetoun, with a bit of help from the local pub, and I moved down there in 2003, following my then boyfriend, now-husband. His family have farmed here since 1926, so being in a relationship with him meant being here, not anywhere else. We’ve got crops: wheat, barley, oats, canola, and sheep. We run a Merino flock for wool, and we have two studs which produce terminal sires for crossbred lambs. Farming is a challenge, but you choose to take on the challenge and you get to do it with people you love and do what you enjoy.
I love the people here. All small towns have a different group, a different psyche, a different kind of connect; Newdegate’s got an awesome one, I think. There are all sorts of people, all across the spectrum: on their own, old, young. Everyone says hello to everyone walking down the street. I think you’re accepted for who you are,not who someone wants you to be. The people are what makes this place. When I first moved to Newdegate I lived in town, and our neighbour was an older lady. Her name was Pearl, and every night he put on her light to say she’d had a good day, made it through the day, life was okay. And then when she’d go to bed, she’d turn off the light. So you could see in the morning that she’d also been okay. It’s just one of those ones, I think, to me that epitomises a bit of Newdegate. You can keep an eye out for your neighbour. I think it’s a drive to make where you are better. Everyone wants to feel like they’ve contributed something, given something, or left things in a better way than they’ve found them. You can have a lot of fun doing that with other people. We have our Field Day that runs every year, and it’s a lot of work in the lead up to the event to make it happen, but it’s a lot of fun. You get in, and you do the work together, but you laugh, you tell jokes. It’s just fun doing it, and so you don’t notice the hard work that happens while you’re doing it. I think we’re into our seventy fifth year of the Newdegate Field Day. It started off as a one day agricultural event. It’s meant to showcase machinery but then there’s some livestock, sheep, cows, there are family interests, clothing stores, bookstores, jewellery stores, wineries, all kinds of things. Usually ten to twelve thousand people come through over those two days. We usually make money out of it, and that money goes back into supporting projects in the town.
I have four children: two daughters and two sons. Elise, Sylvie, she would be eight; we lost her just prior to her turning four months old. Then Ben and Sam. We lost our daughter just before the Field Day, at the end of August. How our town managed to get through putting on a big event like the Field Day, as well as supporting us and each other… You’d never wish to see that again, but it’s something awesome to have seen and been through. It’s a pretty awesome town. My husband is the youngest of three, and he’s got two older sisters. We’re working towards taking over the farm. With us, we left it open for all three of our kids to say, “do you want to be a farmer?”, and sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say “ah, not today!” But all of them get to experience life being on the farm, and there’s no pressure for any of them to be on, but there’s an openness for all of them to be there. By and large, I suppose, if that’s the life you grow up with and the life you know, as a general rule, that’s what you would follow. I suppose you never know though, it depends on what each individual kid’s dream is.