First Hand Experience Harvesting Wheat

The harvesting of the 6000 or so acres of wheat planted at Koramba Cotton Farm is almost over.

The Header in action

The Header in action

It’s taken 2 weeks and some of the hands have been working 20 hour days, especially Shannon (The Mechanic) and Dave (The Supervisor).

They’ve been driving the trucks from the paddocks as they’re filled by the Header back down to the wheat silos down behind the camp.

A couple of days ago we had to catch up with Dave to sort out some business on the camp.

We found him on the Corinda property way out on the western boundary. This was where the last few acres of wheat harvesting was underway and we got to experience it first-hand.

Dave organised for Kerrie to jump up in the cab of the header and see how the whole thing worked.

We’re told that the wheat harvested this year is of exceptionally high quality and as such should bring an excellent price.

A Beautiful Machine

The header was quiet, cool and comfortable as it chomped its way through the acres of wheat, cutting the plants off at just above ground level and funnelling it all into a central opening from where the wheat seed would be separated from the chaff.

Klaus, the operator is a Dane who is a helicopter and light plane pilot. His Danish licences don’t allow him to fly out here and it’ll cost him many thousands of dollars to change them so in the meantime he operates headers.

A flashing light on the roof of the Header lets the chaser bins or the trucks know it’s almost full. This is a sign for the Chaser Bins or the trucks to meet up with the Header so it can discharge the separated wheat from its bin.

Today the farms old Kenworth is being used instead of chaser bins.

Pigs and Roos have eaten swathes of wheat

As the header munched its way through the acres of wheat Kerrie could see the large areas that have been eaten right down to the ground by kangaroos and feral pigs.

Until we saw these large bare areas we had no idea of the scale of destruction these animals can cause and the cost in lost production.

The wheat sucks all moisture from the ground

Huge cracks have formed in the black soil paddocks that have given the harvest of wheat.

These cracks are caused by the wheat sucking every drop of moisture from the soil during its brief lifespan.

Dave told us that the farms moisture probes, which can descend 1 metre into the ground, will show absolutely no moisture left in the soil at all.

The Old Kenworth

The truck that’s used to carry the wheat from the paddocks to the grain silos is the farm’s old Kenworth.

Although old and unregistered this is the favourite truck of the drivers at Koramba.

She’s a faithful old workhorse that has really been through the mill.

It’s had the cab replaced due to a farm worker setting fire to it once and almost completely destroying it. It’s also been tipped over into one of the giant water reservoirs from where it had to be dragged out before almost disappearing forever, and it’s had numerous changes made to chassis and trailers.

This truck drags thousands of bales of cotton 24 hours a day from the paddocks at harvest time stopping only to refuel, transports numerous bits of machinery around the farm, transports wheat and fertiliser and never seems to break down.

Within a few hours of finishing dragging wheat it was transporting a huge excavator and other machinery to the workshop.

Within hours of completeing the wheat harvest the trusty old Kenworth is hauling machinery

Within hours of completing the wheat harvest the trusty old Kenworth is hauling machinery

The Buggy – another interesting machine

Shannon, the Mechanic, has acquired another machine which was built by his younger brother.

It’s a 4WD buggy for pig shooting and it can often be seen travelling at high speed down the farm roads with the trusty old black dog, Bing, sitting in the passenger seat on its way to shoot pigs.

Shannon stopped outside the kitchen the other day and loaded Kerrie and Lauren in to take them for a drive. They both ended up having a drive themselves and, although at a much slower pace than if Shannon were driving, they had a ball.

Of course trusty old Bing the pig dog ran nonstop behind them for fear he might miss the opportunity to hunt pig. Junior, the “Bing lookalike” puppy followed as well, afraid he might miss something.

 Machinery everywhere

The farm workshop currently has machinery for repair everywhere and it just seems to keep on arriving.

The big International tractor which tows the farm’s Laser Bucket awaits repair as it has numerous problems after Toby tried to shave 8 inches of virgin soil off a piece of land. Normally 4 inches would be more than enough. Among the multiple problems this caused was the shearing off of 8 x 1 inch bolts from a steel housing, displaying the tremendous forces at play during this operation.

Around the yard at the moment and awaiting repair are two International tractors, two John Deere tractors, a John Deere front end loader, the Excavator, our ride on mower, four Land cruiser utes and a few pumps and various bits of farm machinery.

The workshop yard is littered with machinery awaiting repair

The workshop yard is littered with machinery awaiting repair

The Laser Leveller has been torn apart by the rough land

The Laser Leveller has been torn apart by the rough land

Pumping begins soon

On the 15th of December the five huge diesel pumps down by the river will be fired up.

They’ll pump the farm’s water allocation from the McIntyre River into the reservoirs.

Pumping will go on 24 hours per day for 20 days during which massive volumes of water will fill the reservoirs ready for the next 12 months cotton growing and irrigation cycle.

Shannon won’t be able to leave the farm as it’s critical that these pumps don’t stop.

The new cook arrives

Gary, the cook we gave a trial to last week was offered the Cook/Manager’s job permanently and has accepted it.

He went home to the Gold Coast on Friday and returned to officially start work today, Wednesday.

I’m very confident he’ll work out great and he seems very enthusiastic about the job. His wife, Helen, is coming out next week to see where he works.

Lauren is still doing well

Lauren is still doing really well at the camp. She’s done a great job of painting the newly renovated rooms and has fitted in extremely well.

She even learned how to use slices of bread to get the horses back to Dave’s place when they escape and come over to the camp to eat the rare green grass.

Junior, the puppy still dotes on her and she obviously loves him as well.

She went out shooting with some of the backpackers the other night with George, the Pommie backpacker’s newly purchased bow and arrows. George, in his wisdom, told them they needed to roll around in the dirt to get the smell off them.

Well, Lauren, (newly dyed hair, painted nails and all), proceeds to make “snow angles” only in the dirt, much to George’s consternation, who insisted she “get serious about it all”.

I think possibly the pigs had a bit of a laugh at the site of this group of 5 young backpackers from the UK on a sortie to hunt in a Ford Falcon sedan with bow and arrows and rolling in the dirt to mask their scent.

Lauren learns how to lead the miniture ponies with a slice of bread

Lauren learns how to lead the miniture ponies with a slice of bread

An awful stench

Junior the puppy made his way into the caravan annex a couple of days ago for a sleep accompanied by the most putrid smell imaginable.

I made the mistake of patting him and the smell lingered on me for hours. No matter what I did I couldn’t completely remove it.

The next day we discovered the cause.

A snake had bitten one of Dave’s horses a few days earlier and Dave had to shoot the poor thing.

The job of burying it was given to young Nick from the workshop.

As the rotting corpse expanded Junior discovered this treasure trove and we found him proudly trotting around the camp with one of the horse’s legs, hoof and all!

It took two days after its removal for the stench to dissipate and a number of baths with the fire hose to get the smell out of Junior.

Junior - Very proud of his lovely new stench of dead horse and keen to sow it off to everyone

Junior – Very proud of his lovely new stench of dead horse and keen to show it off to everyone

A Full Camp

The camp is jamb packed full!

Today two couples arrive. They’re friends of Lawrie and Ingrid, who were the young Estonian couple that were here last time we were at Koramba.

Another couple, Paul and Jennifer, who left the farm a few weeks ago, are returning.

Also one of our very favourite workers is returning, Michael Duggan.

So by this week we’ll have four couples living on camp, 5 counting us, and a full camp of single men.

Back To Brisbane

We’re so excited about tomorrow!

We’ll clean the camp by 9:00am and will once again drive to Brisbane to catch up with as many friends and family as we can.