Cotton picking has started and cotton picking has stopped!
For so long there’s been no rain here at Koramba Farm and as we watched the 4 large Reservoir’s slowly drain dry we thought of the potential affect both on the yield and the quality of this year’s cotton harvest.
But we must wait before the final result is known because after a year of almost no rain the farm has been subjected to a torrential downpour that lasted about three days.
Before coming to the farm we had a “city dweller’s” view of rain and farmers. To our uneducated minds they seemed to complain when there was no rain and complain when there was rain.
Now we get it!
The huge commitment in finances, planning and manpower that’s required to grow a cotton crop is almost completely sustained or destroyed by the weather!
The all important harvest of cotton, the part of the operation that determines the success or failure of a year’s work, has been severely disrupted.
Irrigation was stopped early on some of the fields as the water disappeared requiring the plants to be defoliated earlier than normal, meaning that picking was started early – on the 15th March About 3-4 weeks earlier than last year. Defoliation is carried out by aircraft spraying the fields in order that the leaves of the plants drop off exposing the cotton so that the cotton pickers can remove it from the stalks.
All four pickers, that have run so well for the last 2 years, decided to play up.
Shannon was working around the clock with the help of Stanley and Stretch to make good repairs in time to begin picking.
One of the jobs was a wiring problem and this required someone underneath and someone over the top attaching 72 electrical wires in the tightest of places. It still didn’t work and specialised people had to be called out. One of the seventy two wires was faulty!
Finally, just as everything was working well and picking was underway with everyone beginning to fall into a good routine, the heavens opened up.
One hundred and thirty milimetres of rain on Black soil.
It’s even difficult to WALK on the ground let alone operate these massive pickers and tractors.
It rained for 2 days solid and now, a week later, it still looks like no work for another couple of days.
The rain has been good for the grass, it’s now a lovely shade of iridescent green and Topsy and T-Bone are happily munching away. The water tank is also full of the sweet clear water we have grown to love.
But is has not been favourable for the crop.
When the cotton gets wet it droops and falls off. It also gets stained which reduces the quality. The whole plant can start growing again and needs to be defoliated again and if the cotton stays wet too long gets a mold that requires yet another spray and a another 3 week wait before picking.
Seriously, our hat goes off to any farmer/farm manager who does this. These people can only do so much, they say it’s 20% human skill and 80% luck with nature.
So with no one working we ended up going home for a few days while Merlin our trusty Estonian backpacker was still here. Kristjan and Merlin leave to go back home in 3 weeks after being here for 2 years.
We are going to miss these two young people a lot.
It was good to see the grand kids. They grow up so fast. Riley is now 2, Charlotte is standing (9 months) and Elliana is walking.
While we were away we put Topsy over in the paddock with T-Bone so Merlin didn’t have to look after her.
I Felt guilty doing it and Shannon said the first day she walked up and down the fence bellowing. She quickly got used to the paddock though and followed T-Bone around refusing to let him alone.
Even though we’re back she is content staying in the paddock. She did look up when we called her but happily went back to her first love…eating. It’s probable a good thing as she was starting to think she was a dog or human.
Chris has a catch on his office door to hold it open and Topsy would get her tongue around this and pull the office door open.
Another favourite spot for Topsy was to lie in the sun right outside the kitchen door, you would have to step around or over her to get in.
She figured out that unlike the office door that opens OUT, the mess room door opens IN, so she would gently push the door open with her head if we were inside.
So even though I miss her coming over for a cuddle (she would put her head in my lap if I was sitting down) the paddock is probably a more sensible place for her.