Probably it was my own fault.
Maybe I had over hyped my passion for rural Australia.
The question came from an obviously clever school student.
"How can I get a job in the country, on a farm?" he asked.
I was short for an answer.
I couldn't tell his class to travel into the country and look at the pieces of paper stuck on cafe windows in the small towns.
That's what I was thinking.
I had been invited to speak to a Year Nine class at a big school near Werribee, just a stone's thrown from Melbourne, regional population bigger than the Northern Territory and growing at an astronomical rate.
They had been looking into environmentally sustainable food and fibres.
When I went to school the only studying I wanted to do on food was when it passed my lips.
Still, I'd written some stories on fast fashion and knew a bit about the global moves to restrict sales of some fibres.
Rivals cotton and wool have even teamed up in Europe to push their sustainable credentials in the face of some nasty campaigning from manufacturers of polyester and acrylics.
And food, well I was born on a farm and had been writing about it most of my adult life, so I felt I knew the subject well enough.
Plus my better half works at the school, enough said.
For my part, I was curious to learn more about how much these city kids knew about the country.
For years I have been a fed a diet of horror stories (for country folk that is) that they knew little if anything at all about the country with next to no knowledge of what happens there.
And that is mostly true.
From what I learned, recognising these are mostly children of migrants, they have no connection to the country. None.
No uncles or aunts living out in the bush to visit, stuff like that.
They don't have chickens in the backyard.
In this city sprawl, they would be lucky to have much of a backyard anyway.
Cultural and religious edicts control their diets (for these students at least) which are largely vegetarian.
To say their only experience with farming is the popular TV show "Farmer Wants a Wife" is to sell them short, they wouldn't be watching.
But they were smart.
Whether they ate it at home or not, they were interested in where food comes from.
Is it grown in Australia? What do we grow here? How much do we grow?
Stuff like that.
I enjoyed their questions, like I said, they were smart.
I remember back in the pre-COVID past there used to be schemes from time to time where city and country kids would swap schools for a few days - expose each other an alien world.
Every now and then you see government funding for these sort of programs.
Country people like city folk knowing what they do.
Because they do it pretty well.
So there I was fielding some pretty good questions when the job thing came out of nowhere.
Replying with "good question" gives you a few handy seconds pause to think of an answer.
It was not the outback station sort of job you might find on a Facebook page but a run of the mill farm helper.
It wasn't a career this young fellow was looking for, but more a country experience.
It could be short term which could evolve into long term.
Country supermarkets are also a good place for community noticeboards where you find scraps of paper from people looking for casual labour.
Not much good if you live in Werribee.
Job first, then we'll consider how to get there.
To be honest, I'm still not sure, anyone have thoughts on it? Let me know.
These kids are already well versed in their tertiary options.
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