Maybe Chris and I have been so indoctrenated with Health and hygiene procedures over the years that we automatically look at kitchens and see what’s wrong with them. This one sent us in to over drive.
We had to get this kitchen and mess area to at least a basic standard of cleanliness for our own sanity.
As we have told you in a previous blog we had started in the coldroom, this was now workable. The oven and stove top was still on top of the “to do list”
We asked Dave (the farm supervisor) if they had a gurney. “Yep I’ll bring one over” was the answer. Thinking we would get a normal gurney, you know the ones you buy from Bunning’s, nope… what were we thinking? Nothing on this farm is small. The gurney is delivered on a trailer. A massive beast of a thing with a deisel engine that could haul a coal train, backed up to the kitchen door.
Well there goes my idea of cleaning around the donger’s.
He gives us a quick lesson on how to turn it on. “This is the old one”, we were told, “but it can still cut your toes off, so don’t wash your feet”.
“Oh s%*t” I think, I was hoping to wash the windows and could envision the fly screens being ripped to shreds.
We were told the key ignition didn’t work so just to pull start the generator. OK I can do that I thought. It wasn’t the first time we had used an industrial high pressure hose.
We had borrowed Barry’s industrial cleaner when Chris did David and Lacey’s roof and concrete at Wurtulla. I also remember Chris broke some ribs using it, hmmmm. Well we won’t be hauling it over a corrugated roof on a 45deg angle.
So we gathered all the stove trivets, grill plates, filters and anything else we thought we could clean. Lined everything up ready to go. Chris, my sweetie, said he would start the generator so I wouldn’t hurt my back awwwww.
So he pulled, and pulled and pulled. Nothing…So another looked at the piece of machinery, yes it was turned on like we were told. So he pulled again and again and again. Nothing.
Eventually he got a cloth because his hand was starting to hurt and he pulled some more. Nothing…not even the slightest bit of a kick over.
The language had started by now and I’m not that stupid (anymore) to offer any suggestions. I went to clean something else, you should never be anywhere near a man who is killing himself over a piece of machinery. If he doesn’t die, he wants to kill something or someone so LEAVE NOW.
Now it probably didn’t help that Chris had been up since 4am to cook breakfast as well as trying to reorganise the Catering Program so he could email through the stock count. We had said we would do the stock count as neither company knew anything about doing one. This had to be done for the change over to be finalised. Added to that, today we had the stock delivery coming in which had to be put away. And I had to start my part of the job cleaning the toilets and showers as well as cleaning around the donger’s.
What a day!
Chris eventually gave away trying to get the gurney working, he would speak to Dave about it. It was then a matter of putting the uncleaned stove back together again so Chris could start cooking dinner.
After dinner one of the full timers was in and I asked if he had used the gurney before. “Yea it’s a bit temperamental, I’ll have a look”. He went outside and started it on the first pull. “Doesn’t that just rot your socks” he showed me the fuel switch. “Make sure that’s all the way up”. he said.
Of course Chris wasn’t around at the time as he had already gone back to the caravan. But I happily told him when I got back home. ‘I did that”, was all he said. “Well he started it on the first pull”, was my answer.
And that basically was how the day ended.
And the cleaning continues day 2:
Chris is now refreshed after a good nights sleep and he knows the gurney works, so here we go again.
The fuel switch is definitely up, ready pull…nothing, pull again…nothing. “Oh stuff this for a joke”, I think. “I’m not too proud to ask for help. I ’m going over to get Shannon”, I said.
Shannon is the farm mechanic. He lives in the house across from the kitchen. He’s in his early 20’s, over 6 feet tall and from what everyone has said, can fix anything that goes on the farm.
“I’ll come right over”, he said. Well he walks up to the gurney braces his size 13 boot on the trailer grabs hold of the pull handle and literally throws himself away from the trailer pulling at the same time. The gurney kicks in to life with a cloud of smoke. Chris and I are gobbed smacked. “Yea, she can be a bit temperamental”.
We thank him as he leaves and then look at each other and burst out laughing.
“Oh my goodness, did you see how he pulled that thing” I laughed. Chris’s next comment sent me into another fit of giggles.
“I’m glad no one saw me pull on it. I was like a poofter pulling a victor mower”.
So the cleaning started, months of built up grease came off the filters. The stove tops still proved difficult and will have to be Mr Muscled. The old pots were getting a new lease on life and if I stood back far enough the cobwebs on the window’s were getting fewer.
And then it happened, I ran out of water and had to turn “The Beast” off. We filled it up again and now Chris knew how to pull he even got it started, Yah!. But even though it was running there was no water pressure, noooooo!
Another visit over to Shannon at the workshop but alas he was out on another job, so another farm hand called had a look and Chris was happy to see Dave (61) take a couple of pulls to start the gurney but even he couldn’t get the water pressure to work.
Shannon was called and with the usual “What did you do to it”, he pulled off hoses, cleaned out nozzles and had it going in about 10min. Times like this we feel useless city folk. But are learning all the time.
With the gurney work finished (Thank goodness) we started on the hood and had the revolting task of getting the thick oozing yellow fat out of the troughs in the exhaust hood. Then it was the walls and benches. Two of the girls had come looking for work as there was nothing at the gin to do. We set them to work on the mess hall. Remove the cobwebs, clean the windows. By the end of the day we were exhausted but happy the worst of the cleaning was over.
As is now our usual ritual when we finish in the kitchen, we come home, have a shower and go straight to bed to watch a movie and fall asleep. So when we heard a knock on the annex it was hard not to sigh.
I got up, grabbed Chris’s dressing gown and went out to find 4 of the kids standing outside with a box of chocolates. “We want to say thank you for all you have done around here, we really appreciate it.”
It blew us away, we are only doing our job. Our feet, arms and back don’t seem as sore anymore. We can do this and we are making a small difference, even if it’s only to these adults so far from their homes.