Ode To The Farmerette

When I first started this blog, and listed all the ‘ette’ professions, B & W said “there’s no such thing as a ‘farmerette’! You’ve made that one up!” And, I was very pleased to say, “It is in the dictionary: Farmerette (farm-er-ette) is a word, and a noun to describe a girl or woman working on a farm.”

Farmerettes working in the Women's Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer, 1917

Farmerettes working in the Women’s Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer 1917. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Admittedly, the word was in most common usage in the United States of America circa 1915-1920, which I assume was to do with the women’s Land Army in the First World War, when women took over ploughing the fields, milking the cows, and other farm duties to ensure a plentiful supply of food while men were away at war.

Farmerettes working in the Women's Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer 1917

Farmerettes working in the Women’s Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer 1917. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

You will find references to farmerettes in various states in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, but I am yet to find one in Australia. Undoubtedly, there were Australian women undertaking these tasks during both World Wars, but they were not specifically known as farmerettes.

Farmerettes working in the Women's Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer 1917

Farmerettes working in the Women’s Agricultural Camp, Bedford, New York, summer 1917. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.

Most of us are urbanettes and live our lives far removed from food production. Depending on how much space we have available, we might cultivate a garden – some of us like flowers, others vegetables. And, for those who live in apartments or flats, they might keep herbs in pots to add just the right flavour to their evening meal.

Pretty flowers or healthy vegetables - take your pick!

Pretty flowers or healthy vegetables – take your pick!

Photo courtesy UGArdener via Photopin and Creative Commons
Photo courtesy Ed Yourdon via Photopin and Creative Commons

I love the idea of being a modern-day farmerette, and the emphasis is on the idea, because the reality is a lot of hard work. But isn’t it a grand vision? Your home is set atop a hill and your view is soft green undulating hills. Everything you eat you have grown yourself, and you and your family are clear-skinned, bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked, and brimming with good health.

Urbanettes take note: herbs can be planted in delicate tea cups, if you are short of space

Urbanettes take note: herbs can be planted in delicate tea cups, if you are short of space.

It is possible to achieve the dream… for a mere £6 million – that’s around $11 million Australian dollars, according to the current exchange rate.

Model and actress, Elizabeth Hurley likes to spend time in the countryside

Model and actress, Elizabeth Hurley likes to spend time in the countryside. Photo in public domain.

Model and actress, Liz Hurley, is selling up her Cotswolds property known as Ampney Knowle, which is set in 450 acres of farmland and comes complete with six bedrooms, a guest annexe, and two outbuildings. Liz purchased this country manor house a few months after the birth of her son, Damien, in 2002.

The picturesque Cotswolds property known as "Ampney Knowle" is up for sale

The picturesque Cotswolds property known as “Ampney Knowle” is up for sale.

If the £6 million is within your budget, your famous neighbours will include Kate Moss and Prince Charles – Highgrove, the Prince’s country residence, is nearby, and the ultimate in organic farming.

Prince Charles and Kate Moss both have properties in the Cotswolds

Prince Charles and Kate Moss both have properties in the Cotswolds. Photos in the public domain.

The spectacular garden at Highgrove

The spectacular garden at Highgrove. Prince Charles is a devotee of organic gardening and farming.

But, Liz won’t be hanging up her Wellingtons just yet because she has another country property, originally purchased with former finance, Shane Warne, in Herefordshire. Jane Austen afficinado’s will already know that much of Pride and Prejudice was set Herefordshire.

Wellingtons now come in an array of patterns and colours

Wellingtons now come in an array of patterns and colours. Country folk are spoiled for choice! Photo in public domain.

Whether Liz is looking for her modern day Mr Darcy or not, she is sure to be more than comfortable in her country manor set in 200 acres of rolling hills overlooking the countryside, complete with tennis court, fishing lake, and the all important housekeeper accommodation.

"She is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me." - Darcy's comment upon seeing Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Everyone's favourite Darcy, Colin Firth

“She is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” – Darcy’s comment upon seeing Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Everyone’s favourite Darcy, Colin Firth. Image and photo in public domain.

Back in Australia, Collette Dinnigan has scaled down her fashion empire and, if reports are to be believed, it is not because of financial reasons. Like many of us, she wants more balance in her life – she wants to spend more time with her family.

Fashion designer, Collette Dinnigan is enjoying a slower pace of life in 2014

Fashion designer, Collette Dinnigan is enjoying a slower pace of life in 2014. Photo in public domain.

And who wouldn’t want some downtime at Milton – aka Chateau Dinnigan – the country property is absolutely breathtaking! Collette recently married Bradley Cocks and they had a son in November 2013. This is quite an accomplishment given that Collette was aged 47 at the time of his birth.

Bradley Cock's and Collette Dinnigan's country property "Milton"

Bradley Cock’s and Collette Dinnigan’s country property “Milton”.

The Dinnigan/Cocks/Wilkins clan (her daughter Estella’s father is Today show host, Richard Wilkins) look happily ensconced at Milton. Oh, to be picking apples from your very own orchard and to look casually chic while doing so…

A casually but stylishly attired Collette Dinnigan   makes everyday chores at Milton look idyllic

A casually but stylishly attired Collette Dinnigan makes everyday chores at Milton look idyllic.

Memories of Saddle Club come flashing back when I see Estella on horseback kitted out in the perfect junior equestrian outfit.

Equestrian activities are popular country pursuits

Equestrian activities are popular country pursuits.

Photo courtesy “>fervent-adepte-de-la-mode< via Photopin and Creative Commons

And, when you tire of the rolling hills of the country, you can accompany your husband on a surfing odyssey to a beautiful and remote beach. You get to drive in a really cool authentic 1950s surfer car to get to said beach. You get to wear an exquisite white cotton lace maxi dress. If you get cold, there’s always the Hermes horse blanket you can wrap artfully around yourself to keep warm. Not sure how the horse gets to the beach, but he’s there in case you fancy a gallop.

A vintage Peugeot to take you on a surfing safari

A vintage Peugeot to take you on a surfing safari.

If your reality, like mine, is far removed from these country idylls, why not take some inspiration from the farmerettes, Liz or Collette and bring some country living into your urbanette lifestyle. I am thinking clusters of potted annuals placed strategically to provide colour and cheer, afternoon tea on my deck over looking my very green, albeit postage stamp sized, lawn! After all, dreaming is free.

 

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