Three Minute Squiz with… Skye Manson

Skye Manson is a podcaster, writer and farmer. After years with ABC Rural as a Country Hour presenter and reporter working across the country, Skye, her husband and three tin lids live on a sheep farm near Yass in NSW. Because working in one challenged industry clearly wasn’t enough… Her new podcast Company – which is about “bringing together clever women from the bush, the city and all over the world” – is one we enjoy. Without further ado, please welcome Skye to the Three Minute Squiz.

How to do you Squiz?
I listen while buzzing around the kitchen in the morning or in the car taking the kids to school/daycare.The Squiz Kids Quiz is a firm favourite with the Mansons.

You’re a farming podcaster/writer, which is a bit unique. But the internet has made all sorts of work-life combos possible. How important is it to you to have the opportunity to do both?
For the sake of my sanity and our bank balance – the ability to work remotely is crucial – and is something I follow closely. I have so many friends and family who have had to give up careers because they wanted to move rurally for family reasons or love (not just females) and so I strongly believe there is no reason an employer can’t consider remote working for any role these days. COVID-19 is going to revolutionise this space, it’s one of the silver linings I guess.

What is it about living in the country that you love?
So many things. Most of all I love the freshness of the mornings and sun down, when the landscape takes a big sigh and the animals sing away. These sounds are something I try to weave through my podcast. I love that life on the land allows our kids to lean in to nature every day in our big backyard of a farm – to discover lizards, wombat poo, pig diggings, different kinds of gum leaves, to see creeks flooding and to love their pet lambs and sheep dogs. When I was growing up both of my homes (mum and dad divorced) were open houses where anyone was welcome to drop in at any time – this is what I want to cultivate in our country life too – a revolving door where people come to relax and share good times. Country people are such legends, with legendary stories.

You live near Yass, which is where Squiz founder Claire Kimball lived until high school age. Yassss queen… Great town.
Yes I grew up at Bookham, 30 mins further down the Hume Highway towards Melbourne. I attended Brownies, Girl Guides in Yass (I was a Lalagullis)  on a Tuesday night with my cousin/best bud, the highlight was the hot chips from the servo for dinner afterwards. There is a fair chance Claire and I would have brushed shoulders at the Yass netball courts on a Saturday afternoon too, again the hot chips were the highlight.

You’ve had a bit of rain this year – are things looking up?
Yes as I write there is a green pick of grass in most of our paddocks and our dams are full. The last rain we had was about 7 days ago – and we need good falls of rain every month to get things back on an even keel. Here at Blakney Creek – my husband and myself, our 3 kids and my mum, who also lives on the farm – run a sheep grazing operation and our main focus now is trying to rebuild the number of animals we run. The rain gives us confidence to plan, strategise, take risks and hopefully make some good money. As for the garden – it’s totally sprung back to life in the most surprising way!

Tell us about Company.
After year of telling stories for other organisations and businesses, I’ve created an avenue to shine a light stories that really speak to me. I want Company to be a vehicle for amazing stories, particularly from rural women to reach the ears of the wider world. I know how to get the most from people in an interview and I love the art of creating podcasts. Most of all I hope for Company to be a place where people come to meet inspiring women, who they in turn talk about around their kitchen tables, or at coffee with the girls or on their WhatsApp chat. I love interviewing people – it’s such a privilege – I am a stranger but people invite me into their home and give me a cup of tea and their full attention while I ask them questions about the deepest parts of their life. This is not lost on me!

Also because I am such a podcast tragic, I have a fortnightly Podcast Playlist on Spotify – it kills me that I can’t share the goodness that I am listening too with more people.

Who would your dream interview be?
The Queen.

Favourite story from your ABC days? (Note: our favourite ABC Rural story was about Knickers the enormous steer… )
OMG like asking to pick my favourite child. I have done endless 6:40am morning rural reports from kitchen tables on farms all over Australia and reported during bushfires, one of which devastated my home community of Bookham. I’ve reported while whale watching, with indigenous people from the Stolen Generation on Sorry Day, in terrible drought ravaged pastoral stations in remote WA and while drinking pints at the bar in Yuna, WA (and many other places for that matter). The woman in this Elbow Knitting inspires me still and I think Percy the Pig needs to make headlines again.

Without a doubt the best stories come the day after it rains!

What was the first concert you ever went to/album you ever owned?
I’ve been to lots of concerts and festivals including Glastonbury, UK but my first concert was Dixie Chicks. #forever

Favourite recipe OR Favourite meal at your favourite restaurant?
These Italian Meatballs are a labour of love but something I’ll cook to add to a goodie pack for family or friends.

Name four people – living or dead – you would love to have at your next dinner party.
Tom Hanks. Tom Gleeson. Coco Chanel. Nigella Lawson. And then I would interview them all for Company.

What’s your favourite book?
My go-slow bible is Adagio by Trisha Dixon*, it sits on my bedside table and I dip in and out of it. Especially relevant in periods of self-isolation.

Got a podcast recommendation?
I have a squillion but as you asked for just one…… Ruts and Routines by Madeleine Dore.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I know we are all exercising frugality at the moment but sometimes I really just want that jumper that I don’t need.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
Everyone needs to meet this 11 year old auctioneer from The Rock, NSW.

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