“Come up to the homestead anytime,” the farmer wife told us when we checked in to camp for two nights at this 78,000 acre cattle station in outback Queensland.
So we did.
The old man we met (her father) was no longer able to do a lot on the farm due to failing eyesight, but his former strength and vitality was still evident in his large rugged frame. His weather worn features were evidence of his time on the land. He had the job of talking to interested campers about the property, so he was up for a good old yarn as he shared a cuppa with us on the verandah.
He started by telling us about The Tech Guy who camped here for a month.
“He was a bloody genius ya know,” said old man farmer. “Installed us a solar powered trough monitoring system.”
Now all old man farmer had to do was go to the app on his iPad, and he could read the trough water levels remotely. “That bloke saved me a fortune in diesel, he did,” continued old man farmer.
Conversation rolled on. My husband grew up on a 3,000 acre wheat and sheep station, just a smidgeon compared to the size of this property, but he was able to form a genuine and instant connect with this old cattle farmer.
Now old man farmer was telling us about how his dad bought the place in 1965, and how his dad had been on his horse in the middle of the back paddock when he had a heart attack and dropped dead at the age of 65.
“He could still be hanging around, you know,” says the old farmer. “When the kids were young tykes they were playing just over there, and my missus noticed they were talking to someone, but she couldn’t see nobody.” So my missus says to them, “Who you talking to?”
“The man on the horse,” the kids say.
“There’s no man on a horse,” my wife replied. “Well, those kids insisted there was a man there on a white horse in a white cowboy hat. I reckon it was my Dad come back to say hi, but only the kids could see him.”
“The spiritual is certainly very real,” my husband responded.
“Sure is,” agreed old farmer and he begins telling us about his trips to India, where he visited a spiritual healer whose hands were like hot irons, and how he thinks God is in everything, and people can reincarnate, but if everyone just obeys “them ten laws” we all get to go “up there,” (he points)…”to a better place.”
While I’m sitting there mutely trying to muster my thoughts on how to reply to this old farmer’s menagerie of mixed beliefs, my husband graciously and almost effortlessly (it seems to me), steers the conversation toward the gospel.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Col 4:6
The old man farmer listened and then began telling us another yarn, this time about something else. But that was alright. Seed had been sown, and who knows what God will do with it.
My husband goes off in the ute with old man farmer. He’s spending a few hours helping him inspect and repair some of those troughs which that app showed need some manual intervention today.
I smile. My managerial, office working husband is still a farm boy at heart, and he’ll be loving doing some hands on “farm stuff.”
I go back to camp to do a short blog, and this is it. Not my usual style, but there’s nothing usual about road-trips through central outback Queensland.