Click Go the Shears: Jack Mentha’s exhaustive isolation life on the farm

Up to 22 hours on the job, with no more than four hours sleep per night.

Start work pre-dawn ‘in the bloody cold,’ the temperature often below zero.

Knock off post-dusk, with the day fuelled by a few mere coffees and a homecooked dinner which is often skipped in favour of sleep.

Repeat. For over 70 days.

That encapsulates Horsham farmer and Frankston-listed forward Jack Mentha’s life in isolation.
In the video above, Mentha is crutching a lamb (shearing it’s rear for hygiene purposes)- one of ‘about 600 fattened-up sheep’ on that ‘pretty cruisy’ day.

Pretty cruisy, for reference, means eleven hours.

Working with livestock is Mentha’s desired shift- 2500 lambs and, 400 cattle need tending to.

But as Mentha points out, farmers are jacks-of-all-trades; away from the animals, there’s weeding, woodchopping, property management, fixing water leaks, maintaining fences, paddocks, or machinery, and cropping- 5000 acres this year- the size of Frankston.

Wherever he’s designated, Mentha’s job more closely resembles a night at the gym than a day at the office.

But does he find time to swap the bloodstones for the sneakers and complete his fitness regime?

Not according to white-collared city-slicker teammates.

Jack Mentha has received plenty of backhanders for not properly recording- or completing- his running sessions during isolation, but the born-and-bred livestock and crop farmer duly returned serve.

While he- and admittedly fellow Frankston-listed farmer Tom Hobbs- would typify veteran sheepdogs as they tried to herd lambs and deal with the cattle, all others would be “like a lost puppy.”

‘I’d love to bring a few of the boys out to the sticks and culture them in the country,” Mentha said.

“All the boys give it to me, especially Newy (Josh Newman).

“I cop a fair bit from him- coming from the teacher as well- Bailey Lambert, Nathan Scagliarini; I’d love to bring Scags out, throw him in the deep end, the cattle yards. I’d get a fair old laugh out of that,” Mentha chuckled.

So the verdict?

“I’m computer illiterate, not quite as high-tech as a lot of the boys, they don’t see a lot of sense to what I do on the farm… but I do three definite trainings a week.”

“There’s been a fair few times where I’ve caught the last half-hour of daylight, so I run into the dark and then I go back to work.”

Plus, in Mentha’s defence, our conversation is as interrupted by poor reception as it is punctuated by puzzling farmer’s jargon.

That’s Mentha in a nutshell; a standard farmer.

Warm and chirpy. Effervescent and self-depreciating, with simple vocabulary punctuated by regular Aussie slang and bushman jargon.

“Every day’s a good day if the sun comes up; there’s not much different to me, I’m just a straight-forward Aussie bloke.”

While the main group resumed training last Tuesday, Mentha has been granted permission to stay on his farm until next week given the need to relocate and lingering uncertainty around the season.
-By Jonty Ralphsmith

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