Monday, April 22, 2024

FROM THE RIDGE: Business as usual on-farm

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“There are decades when nothing happens and weeks where decades happen.” Vladimir Lenin might have written that while in exile before the 1917 Russian Revolution, but it fits these turbulent days over one hundred years later.
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“There are decades when nothing happens and weeks where decades happen.”

Vladimir Lenin might have written that while in exile before the 1917 Russian Revolution, but it fits these turbulent days over one hundred years later.

Mind you, it’s not that turbulent here on the farm. Busy and frantic but little difference to what it would have been if it wasn’t Level 4 lockdown.

I’ve been flat out doing lambing beats, tagging stud lambs, which came with a hiss and a roar and moving several mobs of bulls on crops each day.

The main change is that the tennis coach is confined to barracks.

Jane would normally be off coaching tennis and running women through their cardio-tennis routines as she played upbeat music through her big boombox, encouraging them through her headset mic to keep moving their feet.

She is also in mourning as she has spent the past 35 years filling a paddock with daffodil bulbs and their flowers she sells through several outlets at this time of the year. She was right into her flower business when it came to a sudden halt, but the paddock for a change is covered in blooms and has never looked more stunning.

When I told her that my biggest problem with the lockdown was not being able to recruit a few young fellows, townies or misfits so that I could do a big couple of days docking and get most of it done, she actually offered to come off the bench and give me a hand.

She had been my docking mainstay back in the day but once the boys were old enough to step up, she said, “I’ve bred you three sons and am now retiring from docking” and she did.

So, Jane, Lochy the Growing Future Farmer student and I have quietly worked our way through a few mobs each day this week, while working around our other tasks. The weather has been glorious for the undertaking, with frosty starts and breathless sunny days to follow.

Because I usually have a temporary team in the yards, I’m flat out mustering, ensuring nothing gets mixed up, taking away and trying to keep that docking iron working flat out.

By contrast, this docking has been slow and steady, almost serene, and much more enjoyable even if it’s not nearly as efficient.

I usually only ever go into town a couple of times a week to do my rural radio show out of Central FM and as broadcasting is still deemed an essential industry, that has continued.

Given Jane has stepped up, I thought the least I could do was go to the supermarket to save her having to do it. Besides, we were out of beer and I figured it was the only place I could buy lunch as I was stopping at the bottom farm for the afternoon on the way home.

I got the things on her list and the beer of course, but also all the things that are really useful in lockdown times that she doesn’t get, like baked beans, creamed rice, yoghurt, and packets of chippies.

We were all wearing our masks and it was quite a subdued and distanced shopping experience. We were in there to get what we wanted with the least amount of time and fuss and then to get out.

It wasn’t until I got to the farm that I realised that of my two priorities – beer and lunch – I had completely forgotten the latter. So, I ate a big bag of salt and vinegar chips and regretted it for the rest of the afternoon.

Those who are stuck at home with little to do would probably envy our busyness and purpose.

However, just once I’d love to have the luxury of nothing to do on the farm for a couple of weeks and clean and declutter the office, workshop and various sheds. Tasks I have intended to do for decades but it just never happens.

I did read once that we all need these desired but never completed chores as a mechanism that keeps us going.

But I’d be much more content if I did get around to it, I’m sure.

Maybe next year.

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