There's nothing like a good dose of farm life to get your children off their technology-laden high horses.

I recently took my kids up north to an old family friend's farm. I use the word old meaning my parents' friends from back in the day.

As kids, we would spend most school holidays up there, making huts in the hay barn with their boys, tearing round on the motorbikes, eeling …

But, like us, those kids have long flown the nest, now with kids themselves. Today only the farmer remains, as old-school as ever about eating a dinner of home-kill meat with potato and veges (''none of this pasta bulls*it'') bang on 6 o'clock.


And while we're on that topic, I copped a fair amount of grief for the light blue top milk (''water'') I took. Silly me – farmers are dark-blue, full cream, all day.

Nothing like a dose of country life to bring things down to earth.
Nothing like a dose of country life to bring things down to earth.

There was no wi-fi and no TV on during daytime and, realising the kids hadn't packed any activities to do during downtime, I began to despair. But they were fine. Actually, they were happy-as.

You see, the farmer had their respect and, where usually they'd be bickering or giving me a bit of attitude, they sat there listening to our adult conversation like quiet little mice as he regaled us with tales from his childhood growing up on a farm with about 11 siblings.

My fussy eaters also ate nearly everything on their plates. And then they were put to work.

First up, after a hearty breakfast, bang on 7am I might add (which I also copped a bit of flak for being late for), was moving the cows via the farm vehicle.

This is steep terrain, through streams and over rocks, and taking us to the tops of hills with breath-taking views, and to the bottom of a magnificent waterfall. But it was tough going (as in sitting there, holding on tight!) in the early morning heat.

The 12-year-old couldn't believe it when he was offered the task of driving some of the flatter land as we went from paddock to paddock, the farmer calling to the cows, who chased after us keen for greener pastures.

But it wasn't just one herd we had to move. Oh no, there were another four herds to shift before we knocked off for smoko.


We returned with blistered hands from holding on tight and covered in a thick layer of dust with the odd smattering of mud and cow pat, before tucking into some baking for morning tea.

To check the letterbox is a hike in itself – half a mile down the dusty road but, off my three set, without even needing a bribe for the hop, skip and a jump task.

Then it was on to some target practise ready for the possum hunting that night for the boys, which later revealed which of the two was the keener hunter and which had the weaker stomach.

After a couple of nights on the farm it was time to return to the "big smoke" and, surprisingly, the kids weren't itching to jump in the car, having adapted quickly to the slower pace of farm life.

They were different - humbled - kids on the way home, asking me, and listening intently for once, about my childhood adventures on the farm.

Back in familiar territory it didn't take them long to slip back into old ways. However, while they didn't adopt a taste for meat and veg, dark blue top milk is now a regular request for the grocery list.