The farm has closed:

The last of the residents left on Sunday 25th May. It’s so quite here now but it hasn’t sunk in yet as there is still much to do. For the next 3 days Chris and I cleaned, scrubbed, wrapped and packed away the entire kitchen and closed it not knowing WHEN the camp will open again.

Empty kitchen

Empty kitchen

Packed up everything into plastic boxes or wrapped up.

Packed up everything into plastic boxes or wrapped up.

Empty fridges and freezer's that use to hold so much food.

Empty fridges and freezer’s that use to hold so much food.

Martyn came out and took the remaining food back to his place. There wasn’t that much as we had been shopping for small quantities of stock at Goondiwindi for the last few weeks, not sure when the last of the residents would finish or just pack up and leave as they found other positions.

Everything locked away for future camp residents.

Everything locked away for future camp residents.

Packing away the gym equipment was a laugh. Two of us struggling to lift some of the weights into the back of the ute. Seriously we think they just put all those weights on the bars to make it look good, no one could lift that amount of weight. Then we cleaned out the remaining rooms. Some back packer are collectors (don’t ask why?) but when they go home they can only take 30kg. So sheets, doona’s, pillow’s, towel’s, work boots, all their work clothes and an amazing array of bits and pieces are left behind. Normally I leave a departing residents room “Open” to the vultures and most of the stuff gets removed, but not this time. So we had a few trips to the dump and a collection for St Vinnie’s.

 

Empty car park for the first time in 2 years. A lot of the back packers cars never made it off Koramba and are living their lasts days at Siberia or over at Shannon's.

Empty car park for the first time in 2 years. A lot of the back packers cars never made it off Koramba and are living their lasts days at Siberia or over at Shannon’s.

 

We then packed up our caravan, sorted out the greenhouse and finally left Thursday to head back to Brisbane for a few weeks.

Chris and Natalie’s Engagement Party Friday 23rd May 2014:

Unfortunately Big Chris couldn’t make this wonderful event as there were still a few residents left on the camp.

I drove back on the Thursday by myself and stayed at David and Lacey’s. Now, since I knew the event was coming I bought myself a new outfit (like every women does). I believed, due to the fact it was an outside evening event and at the end of May it would be cold. WRONG! Heat wave!

So of course I spent Friday out shopping for something ELSE to wear. I know, any excuse to go shopping.

Eaton Hills Hotel Rooftop function area.

Eaton Hills Hotel Rooftop function area.

It was great to catch up with so many people and I had an absolute ball. It was held at the Eatons Hill Hotel on the Rooftop, a great event area. Natalie looked stunning and Chris couldn’t keep the smile off his face every time he looked at her.

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Chris and Natalie so much in love.

Noel and Margaret, Natalie's parents giving their speech to the happy couple.

Noel and Margaret, Natalie’s parents giving their speech to the happy couple.

 

I enjoy writing speeches for the special moments in the boy’s lives, such as the 18th birthday when you honestly, never thought they would make it to this age. Growing up, defying death as they found out they couldn’t fly off the roof. Skateboards and mountain bikes rearranging their faces or teeth. Broken bones and learning to drive. Then there’s only being able to fall asleep when you hear the sound of their cars arrive back safely.

The wonderful "Red Velvet" Engagement cake.

The wonderful “Red Velvet” Engagement cake.

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Another speech for their 21st’s when they are already men but in your eyes they are still that little 5 year old who wants to tell you about how he caught tadpoles in the creek. And then the big ones, their engagement and weddings. You’ve already lost your sons to their fiancé’s and wives and it still shocks me that they are grown men as you hear them talk about insurances and making their wills. Writing their speeches brings back so many wonderful memories that you ask yourself “Where does the time go?”

As this engagement speech says, Chris and I wish for them a wonderful life, a great engagement and a marriage of great potential. Love Mum xxx

Chris and Natalie’s Engagement Speech 23rdMay 2014

We would like to thank everyone for coming to celebrate this special time in the lives of our son Chris and of his beautiful fiancé Natalie.   For the last couple of years my husband Chris and I have been travelling, so getting to know Natalie has been spasmodic at times. During the birth of Elliana I had the pleasure of staying with Natalie and Chris for a few days and this is where you see people in their true form.

It was easy to see the love between Chris and Natalie and the fact that each brought out the best in the other. When these two met at Amart All Sports, Natalie was Chris’s boss. And around that time Chris probably wouldn’t have made the  “Suitable candidates” list that Noel and Margaret wanted for their eldest daughter.

So when David, Chris’s brother, offered Chris another pathway with the words “Clean yourself up I can put your name down with ODG” Chris had enough brains to do it.  I look at my son now and see the man he has become and I look forward to watching him grow even more now he has the love of his life beside him. They say “Behind every great man, there is a great woman” but I believe more is achieved when you are beside each other, a “Team” working towards the same dreams and goals.

Being Married can be the most rewarding time in your life. How often do you hear of people who have near death experiences suddenly realise that the only things they thought about was their partner and family. The material objects in life that most people seem to spend more time on become unimportant.

So make the most of this special bond, make it the most important thing in your life because if you do the rest of life becomes so much easier.

I would like to pass on a couple of things I have learnt a long the way: Think about the other person before yourself.  What would they like to do, see, and feel? A marriage is not about ME ME ME Forgive them…. repeatedly. We’re only human and we make mistakes every day. TALK to each other. Talk and forgive……. Talk and compromise.

Never take this gift, the gift of finding your soul mate with complacency.  Natalie I’m so glad you found our son Chris, for making him your life partner. Together you can do great things, together you can conquer the world. So Chris and I, and everyone else wish for you a wonderful life, a great engagement and a marriage of great potential

Our Garden:-

Just an update on our garden.

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Everything is growing really well. We also have added the CapPlus Table (Capillary Watering) as a seed raising table. With the wind and heat out here seedling would dry out quite quickly, so with this system even the seedlings are doing well.

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We added another shade area to hold the seedling table as the greenhouse has filled up with the plants. Star pickets, old irrigation pipe from down the back put over the top and some shade cloth we had all tied on with cable ties. Again quick, easy and totally removable. Add a bit more 4mm tubing to the rest of the system and “Bobs your Uncle.”

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Again quick, easy and totally removable.

The idea is to get everything working properly so when we go away for a few weeks at a time, it will look after itself.

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We added larger nutrient containers and implemented a timer. This is working out quite good and we can extend the time to refill everything to approx. 4 weeks.

After the farm closed down we had a three week stint away and the thing worked so well we didn’t lose a thing.

 

Goondiwindi Show:-

The 2nd and 3rd of May bought the show to town again and this time we were prepared.
Last year we didn’t know we could park the car inside the show grounds and therefore we didn’t take chairs or the camera but this year everything was packed.

The only difference this year was the weather…it was freezing.
We’d been in shorts the day before the show and a week later we were back into shorts again – but on that day it didn’t get over 16 deg and if we’d been in Melbourne they would have quoted a wind chill factor on top of that!
I had on my jeans, a long sleeve T shirt, a vest and a jumper. If we sat watching the events I had Chris sitting on the wind side. Even with my usual “Hot flushes” I didn’t get my jumper off all day.

None of that spoiled the day, however.
We watched the sheep dog trials, which we love. Every dog had his or her own personality.
One dog saw it’s owner’s little daughter outside the fence and didn’t know whether to round her up or the sheep. The father quickly picked up the little girl and moved her back from the sight of the dog so it could concentrate.

The dogs are nimble and quick and love doing their jobs.

The dogs are nimble and quick and love doing their jobs.

The fruit and flower display was just as creative this year. There was no second guessing what this creature was and this is from the under 13s.

People are so creative, I would never have thought of this.

People are so creative, I would never have thought of this.

Gundy is never short of talented gardeners and we often just drive around town and admire people’s gardens. As you can see the roses are out. This town definitely has a much higher percentage of people who look after their homes than most other towns or cities.

The flowers are always a lovely display.

The flowers are always a lovely display.

It was off to the “Camp Draft” next to see cattle being round up in great a display of skill and horsemanship . This year I asked a lady what the rules were.

First the rider had to break two steers out from a herd of 8-10, then separate one of those two out.
This in itself requires a high degree of horsemanship.
The gates would then be opened and the selected animal, horse and rider would be let out the gates where the job is to maneuver the cattle around posts placed in the arena.
This was a left hand course I was told, that meant they had to maneuver the animal left around the first pole, right around the second and then left around the third.
If at any time the animal went off course it was over and the judge would crack his whip to signal this.
It was wonderful to see these amazing horses being put through their paces.

Separating two from the herd first. The people lined up are the next contestants.

Separating two from the herd first. The people lined up are the next contestants.

The judges and the gate openers.

The judges and the gate openers.

Then it's off after the steer to direct them around the first post.

Then it’s off after the steer to direct them around the first post.

All ages compete to run these animals down.

All ages compete to run these animals down.

You have to be right on their tails to get them where you want them to go.

You have to be right on their tails to get them where you want them to go.

Most of the time the animals obviously forgot to read the rule book and didn’t want to help out.
Then a group of riders would round up the offender and send them back to the rest of the herd. They are obviously of a group mentality, if they proved hard to round up a few more cattle would be released from the yard making it easier to round them all up instead of one rebel.

We then watched the wool handlers comp. This job would keep you on your toes. Sorting the wool into baskets, keeping the shearers area clean and then rolling the fleece after picking and the skirt of the fleece so as not to take too much off or leave dirty bits on. This all while being watched closely by by judges.

Wool handlers job is too hard for me.

Wool handlers job is too hard for me.

By late afternoon we had decided not to stay for the evening events as the temperature was dropping further. It’s also a precarious game of dodgems with the kangaroos driving back to the farm after dark and the heater in the car was a welcome comfort the way home.
All in all it was a great day out as we love the Goondiwindi show.

Picking:-

Well, so much has been happening again at Koramba.

The picking has finished.

This time the rain held off after disrupting the early part of the harvest for nearly three weeks.
Nineteen days after restarting again and the 2013 – 2014 cotton picking is finished!
All that remains now is the gathering in of the thousands of bales from the fields and transporting them to the Gin for processing and the preparation of the ground in readiness for the next planting – whenever that will be.

Everyone was tired after working 18-20 hr days.
It was an amazing effort and really only possible with the degree of commitment to the job that is constantly displayed here, especially by the supervisors.
What we lost in cotton through this long dry spell ( many of the fields had to have irrigation stopped far too early to save the remainder of the crop) we will hopefully make up for with the winter crops of barley and Faba beans.

Faba beans (sometimes known as Fava beans) and Broad beans are a good source of carbohydrate and protein while containing a low amount of fats and are an increasingly important crop for China and many Mediterranean and African countries. They also pump nitrogen back into the soil and provide great ground cover for the soil.

The rain that was so disruptive during harvest will now hopefully do some good as thousands of acres of these crops are now in the ground. There’s always a bright side if you look for it.

Cotton picking in full swing.

Cotton picking in full swing.

3 tons of cotton ready to go to the gin.

3 tons of cotton ready to go to the gin.

Shannon’s brother, Zac and his partner Morgan had both come to the farm to work during picking.
Zac was one of the picker drivers and Morgan was driving one of the tractors.

They pick the most conscientious people to drive the pickers because…well they’re a million dollar piece of machinery and the last thing you want to hear is “Whoops my bad”.

This might seem silly but I’m amazed at how many items and pieces of machinery break down on the farm due to sheer negligence.

I wonder how people treat their own belongings when they have to pay for repairs themselves.
We often remark on the frustration the farm management must go through when they encounter this constant stream of negligence.

The trucks are again lined up at the weigh bridge. A very busy time on the farm.

The trucks are again lined up at the weigh bridge. A very busy time on the farm.

Anyway that’s my rant for the day. Moving on…

Shannon’s Mum Sharon, Dad Ern and sister Georgie came for a visit over Easter. It was great to catch up with them. Georgie, Shannon’s sister was just as down to earth as her two brothers.

Georgie, Shannon's sister out visiting.

Georgie, Shannon’s sister out visiting.

We are now experiencing the dwindling numbers of backpackers in the camp as the time draws ever nearer for the farms closure due to lack of water.
As we will be staying on as caretakers we are in mixed minds about everyone leaving.
On the one hand it’s exciting to be able to take off on the road again regularly and be able to come back here and on the other hand it’s sad that such a productive enterprise as the farm will cease providing employment and the high quality product it is renowned for.

For the first time in 2 years the car park is empty of back packers cars broken down or working.

For the first time in 2 years the car park is empty of back packers cars broken down or working.