Farmhand shares quirky videos and spreads mental health message
DEON Richardson is that guy you would never expect to have a mental health issue.
When he was a child he was always making people laugh and is the kind of fella who tells his stories “a little more eccentrically”.
His personal Facebook page has a wealth of humour.
Boredom during long shifts working as a broad-acre farmhand prompted him to share his “tractor thoughts” in short, quirky videos.
With a straight face he will talk through the likes of self-baling hay, trouser snakes and how his tractor, even on cold mornings, feels like a “solarium on wheels”.
You can’t help but have a giggle at his antics.
To him, the act of making others laugh is a method for keeping his own mental health in check.
“If I can make just one person laugh a day, then that’s a pretty good feeling to have inside,” he said.
One of Mr Richardson’s videos recently reached more than 300,000 people, so this week the Rural Weekly caught up with him to learn more about the man behind the musings.
The 35-year-old farmhand works full-time for the McMahon brothers, on a mixed enterprise property about 70km outside of Pinnaroo in South Australia.
He describes his job as a challenge, especially during peak times when 14-hour days become the norm, but extremely rewarding – he likes being outside and seeing a season’s hard work come to an end at harvest.
Four years ago, however, Mr Richardson found himself in the midst of a mental-health crisis.
“I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression,” he said.
“So I spent some time in a mental health facility, I was there for about two or three weeks.”
He described his diagnosis as a shock – he never thought he would be the type of bloke who would be dealing with depression.
“I wasn’t really that self-aware to know it was something I suffered,” Mr Richardson said.
“Obviously, with the type of personality I have, people didn’t see it coming for someone like me.
“It felt like a strange diagnosis for me to get.”
In the process of getting better, Mr Richardson was taught methods to help him cope with his depression.
“Since then, I have found making these silly little videos helps me,” he said.
He talks openly about his mental health and is passionate about sharing his story.
“I am incredibly proud of the journey I have made and, really, my personality hasn’t changed much,” he said.
“Before I was diagnosed with a mental health issue to now, all that has changed is my ability to communicate. I can communicate what I am going through much better.
“It has made me passionate about wanting to talk about it.
“Obviously mental health is a huge issue in Australia but especially in rural areas where farming life can be a fairly loveless and lonely job at times.”
During long stints behind the wheel of a tractor or harvester, Mr Richardson listens to music and podcasts – but he says random thoughts pop into his mind.
Like, for instance, the self-rolling hay bales.
“Well, I have been baling
❝Obviously, with the type of personality I have, people didn’t see it coming for someone like me.
— Deon Richardson
hay for a good couple of weeks now and a strange idea came into my mind that I could make a funny little video about hay bales rolling themselves up,” he said.
A cross between David Attenborough and Russell Coight, Mr Richardson explained how the bales “picked up the fluffy stuff” as they rolled along.
“Once these bales roll themselves, they form this skin over them that holds them together,” he explained in the video.
He said you could tell they were ready to be harvested when you could push them and they moved freely or when you did the “good old lick test”. Mr Richardson started making the videos to make his mates and locals around Pinnaroo laugh. He felt humbled to see the footage shared heavily on social media.
“With a bigger reach, I think I can make more people laugh,” he said.
In the mix of ridiculous and funny videos, Mr Richardson shares posts about mental health and describes his journey through poetry.
“It’s important for me to communicate that you don’t have to be someone who looks sad all the time to be someone who suffers from depression,” he said.
“It can affect anyone and it affects a lot of us.
“I am very passionate about talking about my experience with my friends to try to take the stigma away.”
As someone who has survived the depths of depression, his advice for those wanting to help their own mates was fairly simple: give them a call.
“If you see your friends are struggling with anything, sometimes all they want is someone to talk to but they might not be in the right place to ask for that help,” he said.
“Being aware of how your friends and family are acting and how they behave when they are public versus how they act when they are alone is important.
“I don’t think you should feel afraid to ask someone how they are feeling.”
Mr Richardson said his bosses had a good laugh at his videos and supported his “silliness”, so he was keen to keep the comedy rolling.
FUNNY FARMHAND: Deon Richardson is growing a following on social media by posting humorous videos.
Deon Richardson speaks out on mental health.