Hospital at Goondiwindi

It had been 8 weeks or so since we’d had a full day off from our duties on the farm so we were so looking forward to a the weeks break that would see us once again in Brisbane catching up with precious family and friends.

As usual it was a bit of a whirlwind of activity starting with a very early departure from the farm on the Wednesday morning and a short nap at Barry and Christine’s place in Brisbane before going to take in the opening night of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Lyric Theatre at Southbank.

Neither of us had been to a show for years so this was a real treat and such an amazing contrast to farm life.

We ended up scoring 2 of the last tickets available when we learnt that Emily had won a contest that would see her become part of the show.
She had to make a 30 second YouTube video of a song from the show and what she did was unique and clever.


Part of the prize was 2 free tickets to opening night so Emily and a friend … Joined us for dinner before the show and we had a delightful time catching up.

Opening night of the show was awesome and well worth the money even though we were not to be able to see Emily’s performance. It’s later in the shows season.

By the time we got back to Barry and Christine’s we were wiped out and slept soundlessly till morning.

The hectic pace was to continue with one of the regular Brisbane tasks – Shopping!
This is never without its stark contrast to country shopping at Goondiwindi with its proliferation of coiffured haired male youth, and the unceasing stream of individuals desperate to mark themselves as “different”, “special” and separate from “normal” society.
Even Kerrie seems to exhaust her shopping fixes much quicker nowadays.

Then it was off to a 3 hour hair dressing sitting for Kerrie while I coffee’d at Starbucks and watched shops and booths struggling for a few customers even though the centre itself was quite busy.

After the shopping thing was finally over it was off to see Ashley, Lish and the grandkids, Riley and Charlotte
This is always a delightful part of our trips home.
The changes and transformations that little Riley and Charlotte go through between our visits never cease to delight us.

Unfortunately Lish and the kids had colds and of course, I ended up catching one.
I hadn’t been dosed up with my usual vitamins because one of the reasons we were in Brisbane was for another colonoscopy and I wasn’t allowed to take vitamins.
I had also been on the restricted diet with no food and I must have been more susceptible than normal.
Any way I started to feel crappy on the way back to the farm on the Wednesday and by Monday night I couldn’t breathe, wheezing and struggling for each breath.
It was time for a late night run to Goondiwindi hospital.

Gundy hospital is a great hospital, staffed with wonderfully efficient and friendly people who promptly put me on Ventolin, gave me some pain relief for where the constant coughing had ripped the area around my past surgery sites, and put me on a drip.
I was diagnosed with a chest infection, the result of influenza.
I was the admitted and there I was to stay for the next few days while poor Kerrie was left to go back to the farm and organise the food.

One of the Irish backpackers, Stephanie, was allocated by Toby to help her and as always she rose to the occasion and uncomplainingly ensured no one was disadvantaged.

Three days after leaving hospital I’m still finding breathing heavy going.
It’s a mean bout and I can’t help feeling so sorry for poor little Riley and Charlotte struggling without the luxury of being able to communicate how they felt.

Catching up with the Blog

So much has been happening out on the farm that we’ve let the blog fall behind.

We apologise for this and will try not to let it happen again.

So, where to begin…

Planting:

The planting was completed in September with 8000 acres sown this year..

This is down on last year’s crop of 13,000 acres, but the farmers are constantly trying to second guess the weather to ensure the available water is enough to see the crop through to harvest.

This year has been hot and dry, so dry in fact that we need at least 4 inches of rain just to complete this year’s crop cycle. If we don’t receive rain Toby will stop irrigation early and bring on the cotton ahead of schedule. Modern chemicals are a blessing to the farming industry. They can manipulate the growing cycle of the plant to be able to at least get a crop off.

Years ago if it didn’t rain they lost the lot. But sometimes even bringing on the cotton bulbs early doesn’t help. We’ve heard of a farm that has 700 mega litres of water allocated from the dam 15km away that will not be able to receive it. The rich black soil that can grow anything is also a curse when it is dry, it shrinks  and opens into great crevasses that even 700 mega litres of water will just disappear down the holes and never make it to it’s destination. That farm will have to wait until other farms along the river require water. Unfortunately that farmers crop won’t wait that long.
Our hat goes off to the families who make a living from the land.

From the first ones who came out here and carved out a future that never knew the luxury of certainty, to the tough individuals that carry on the tradition today amidst other challenges that those who preceded them could never have foreseen.

There were enormous risks associated with the changing of ideas from grazing sheep and cattle to spending the money and effort to introduce cotton cropping, all the time not knowing if their effort would pay off.

Remember we told you the story of Murray and his cattle, having to lead his herd along the Stockman’s route to keep them alive, well a lot more farms are having to do this now. It’s a common site to head in to Gundy passing herds along the way.

Harvest:

October came and the Barley was harvested. We had 2 header driver/contractors, both Kiwi’s.

One had been in Australia for over 30 years and the other comes over for the harvest season. Both really great guys. John, who had a wheat farm at Copper Creek has since  retired, sold off the farm and bought 120acres at Beenleigh.
He works a couple of months a year with his own combine harvester and was a wealth of knowledge.

Dave , the other one, only comes over to Australia for the harvest and spends the rest of his time hunting and fishing in NewZealand. He owned a programming business which he sold some time ago.

Chris and Dave could talk programming which was something he doesn’t get to do much.

The farm utilises as much of the unused area with Wheat, Barley or such, which keeps the weeds down and hopefully brings in some income. We heard they needed about 100 tons to break even and they ended up with 450 tons so everyone was happy.

Harvesting by moon light

Harvesting by moon light

 

It was a pretty sight at night.

It was a pretty sight at night.

 

The Workshop:

I’ve now finished sorting the Workshop, Hydraulic Shed and Picker Container.

Apart from the dust, cobwebs, grease, oil and wasps I have thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt heaps. I’ve no idea where most of the parts fit on machinery or even what they do, but I know how to read Hydraulic codes on fittings, or if a belt is A, B or C width, Cogged or a V belt. I can even point backpackers to where they can find the part they’re after.

Before

Before

 

After

After

 

Before

Before

 

After

After

Chris has now finished the workshop program and Shannon wants to implement it in to the workshop. It is an on-line program that will track every part, asset, services, maintenance and more.

So our next job is putting everything in.

Here’s a link to the program and if you want to you can log in with the Username of “Guest” and Password “Guest” to see it working.

Christmas 2013:

Christmas again came to Koramba and as usual it was hot.

From left: Tim, Justin, Frank, Lauri, Ingrid, Kristjan and Merlin.

From left: Tim, Justin, Frank, Lauri, Ingrid, Kristjan and Merlin.

From left: Joe, Jonathon, Rainer and Randar

From left: Joe, Jonathon, Rainer and Randar

They managed to get Christmas and Boxing Day off this year between irrigation. The local workers went home, some took off extra days and had the pleasure of family visiting. We ended up with 13 for dinner and the menu was Antipasto Plater,  Prawns, Ham, Turkey, Hassel back potato’s, Roast Pumpkin, Minted Peas, Honey Carrots, Plum Pudding and Pavlova.

Yummm I love Christmas Lunch

Yummm I love Christmas Lunch

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Everyone's favourite Pavlova

Everyone’s favourite Pavlova

Chris and I bought the residents a Christmas stocking that included a water pistol. As expected Kristjan started off the water fight shooting me. That boy loves to tease me but this is what we had hoped for as this lot of backpackers are very quiet. The others quickly stepped in and hearing the laughter was what we had wished for.

The water fight.

The water fight.

The Fordson Major

Remember the tractor (that was suppose to be for my Christmas present) that Shannon got? Well it really is a beauty. Chris has used it to slash the rougher areas around the camp but often Shannon uses it to move the large JD Tractors that are in for maintenance. I really must get a photo of this little tractor towing the bigger tractors while Shannon is talking on his mobile. The technology scenario tickles my funny bone.

Slashing the rougher ground

Slashing the rougher ground

Family Catch ups:

We have, on occasions, been back home to catch up with family.

October took us home for Emily’s 21st. That was a flying visit, no rest for the wicked, but well worth it. Can’t believe she has reached 21 already.

David, Lacey, Elliana, little Chris and Doug dropped by the farm on their way home from their Tassie trip in November.
They loved Tasmania as much as we did and want to go back.

Shannon and Stretch took David and little Chris out pig shooting while Doug, Lacey and I stayed at home and played Cue and Can 500 (card game). This brought back a lot of memories and laughs of our family caravanning trips away when the kids were younger, Doug coming on most of them.

David and Chris had a lot of fun. They have gone pigging before with their own mates but the thing they commented on the most was the wild life.

We’ve often told them of the abundance of kangaroos, emus, foxes and pigs out here but unless you actually see 100’s and I mean 100’s running and jumping before your own eyes you don’t believe it.

Backpackers have often said they have seen more wildlife on the farm in 3 months than all their own wildlife in 20+ years at home.

We went home again in January, this time for Elliana’s 1st Birthday party and Baptism.

She has grown up so fast.

Elliana

Baptism

Here is a video of Elliana, Nanna and Grandpa swinging. I’ll let you guess which one had all boys and which one had a girl growing up. Seriously Grandpa how boring is that?

 

We also caught up with Ashley, Lish and the kids, but I’m afraid they saw Chris at his lowest immune time. He had to have a colonoscopy so he had been off all vitamins for a week and no food for 2 days and Lish and the kids were just getting over the flu, of course Chris caught it and ended up in the Goondiwindi Hospital but I’ll let him tell you that story.