There’s about 6000 acres of wheat planted at Koramba Cotton Farm.
It’s now ready for harvesting and everywhere on the farm there’s these blankets of gold adding yet another colour contrast to this place.
The wheat is planted on virtually every available acre that is not in cotton. Wheat is never planted in the cotton fields.
The wheat belongs to the farm but all the work associated with the wheat is contracted out. This includes preparing, sowing and harvesting.
The only exception is that Shannon (The Mechanic) and Dave (The Supervisor) are driving the two Kenworth trucks transporting the wheat from the headers in the fields to the silos.
One truck belongs to a local contractor and is registered, enabling it to be driven on public roads, while the farm’s one is unregistered and only used on the property.
Pigs are in abundance on the property
As the wheat is harvested the many feral pigs that inhabit the property become easily seen and Kerrie and Lauren are very excited about this as Shannon is taking them both out to the paddocks to shoot some this week.
Neither of them has been shooting before and I don’t think Lauren has even seen a pig yet.
Fire breaks out
With the soaring temperatures and the hot, dry winds of the last few weeks the 10 acres or so of cotton trash down behind the gin ignited.
Fire is a constant risk when dealing with all phases of cotton production from field to completed bales.
During the past few months of processing the gin has been closed numerous times due to cotton self-igniting, requiring the many fire prevention measures to be initiated. One measure is the complete closure of the gin while the risk is prevalent.
This time the fire was huge.
Flames and sparks where leaping hundreds of metres and there was a real risk of the dry grass around the area catching alight and eventually getting into the wheat fields, or even worse into neighbouring properties.
It took three days to quell the fire with some of the blokes working round the clock.
Shannon jumped on the grader and although he couldn’t see the front wheels of the grader through the smoke, managed to cut extra fire breaks around the worst of the fire.
He put a tree branch through the front window of the grader and drove over fences and gates but was able to contain the fire within the cotton dump.
The whole farm seemed to be wrapped in grey, misty smoke and the awful stench of burning cotton for days.
Topdressing planes droned overhead constantly as they took off and landed at the airstrip to load fire retardant and drop it over the fire.
Fire crews were also on hand from Moree.
The fire is no big deal
Of course they take these things in their stride out here and what would have been a major incident in any city or town was just another challenge to be sorted without whinge or whine.
Although the fire was big it made no news bulletins.
Unfortunately we have no photos of the fire as we didn’t want to go down there and get in the way of the many men and machines in the area.
Dry grass is a threat to the caravan
It did however make us think about the tall, dry grass and other tinder dry vegetation growing up to the camp fenceline and only a metre from the caravans.
On suggesting that it might be a good idea to get rid of some of this vegetation I was given the Caterpillar backhoe to, “Have a play and do whatever I wanted.”
More earthmoving with the backhoe
So, after familiarising myself with the backhoe’s controls again I starting knocking over trees and scraping out a swathe of vegetation about 10 metres from the camp fenceline.
I couldn’t help wrecking the fence itself as it was partially fallen down and tangled in the scrubby trees.
At one stage poor Kerrie came to help and was pulling a piece of barbed wire from the backhoe. Unbeknownst to me the wire was close to her legs and as the backhoe moved it pulled a piece of barbed wire around her legs cutting her quite fiercely.
At the end of the 5 hour earthmoving activity the area was cleared, the backhoe was severely overheating and was missing a radio antenna, an orange flashing roof light and had a flat tyre.
None of this bought even a slight negative reaction from the farm people who just shrugged and said, “No worries we’ll have that fixed shortly.”
I’ve offered to repair and redo the fenceline round the camp and they’re going to give me a couple of boys to help when the work eases off.
The ride on mower blows up
The day after the earthmoving we decided to mow the camp grounds with the John Deere ride on that is looking very much the worst for wear at the moment.
I managed to get about ¼ of the grounds done before a huge pall of black smoke blasted from the engine and it stopped, never to restart again.
Shannon had told me to expect this as it was on its last legs but it means we have no mower at present to mow the camp or the weighbridge/office area.
The new cook arrives
Monday saw the arrival of the potential new cook/manager for a week’s trial.
He’s an amiable Kiwi named Gary, just two months over from Dunedin although he and his wife have lived in Australia before.
The first thing I liked about him was that he’s a listener. He intently listened to everything and only rarely added in bits and pieces of his own experience.
He’s obviously a very competent cook and we’re hoping he likes the place enough to stay and that Martyn likes him.
It was so good to be able to get up this morning and go straight to the office to begin chipping away at the work I have mounted up.