I know I have joked before about being a Harvest Widow, about solo-parenting over the big harvest season. Five and a half weeks on and we’re still not quite finished, just under 500acres of Lupins to go and they’re not liking the heat!
We gets snippets of time with Muddy Hubby here and there, a quick lie down next to him while he drops in for a sleep for an hour, a quick trip in the truck as Muddy Hubby pulled onto our road just as the bus pulled up after school, a brief chat while he loads or unloads the truck or we help shift gear.
Then on Sunday we had a few uninterrupted hours with Muddy Hubby, we made the most of it, heading into the local pool and playing in the park, getting takeaway Chinese and eating as a family for the first time in weeks. It was lovely, quality time to soak up Muddy Hubby before he headed out to slip in some sheep work.
There’s this thing I have about sheep, sometimes I love them and sometimes they drive me insane, especially when I waste over an hour chasing them round and round a paddock. Today was one of those days, a simple task shifting sheep from one paddock to another to ensure they have feed to eat turned into a frustrating, hair pulling task. The neighbour’s lambs had got into our paddock a few weeks ago and he was supposed to come and shift them out, unfortunately he hadn’t done it, which left me chasing cheeky rogue lambs round and round trying to get them in the yards. I’d get them altogether and they turn off and split into different groups and all head in different directions. So we’d start again and almost get them there and they’d take off again. I managed to exhaust a few of them and when they lay down I picked them up and put them on the back of the ute.
The others however remained elusive and we will need to go back with reinforcements to get them all in and sorted out with the neighbour. One little fellow though decided he was more human than lamb, and when I cornered him against the fence and jumped out of the ute to catch him, he circled round the ute and jumped in the open driver’s door. The Muddy Girls were in hysterics, they didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. I laughed and took a photo, because otherwise I think I would have cried and nobody would have believed me! I pulled him out and popped him on the back of the ute with strict instructions for him not to jump off and the Muddy Girls were beside themselves with excitement to tell everyone the story of the lamb that jumped in the ute, not to be forgotten any time soon.
|Muddy Pixie is starting to open and shut gates and takes it very seriously.
|Cheeky Rogue Lamb wanting a driving lesson.
It’s that time of year again when Muddy Hubby heads off in his Road Train to strip our crop up North and I fly solo in the parenting department until he returns. It’s not easy, we just take it each day at a time. Some days are easier than others, and some days just suck and I count the minutes until Muddy Hubby is at least returning close to home to strip the crop, and we get intermittent time with him when he comes home to shower, eat and nap.
It’s still one of my favourite times of year despite the solo parenting caper, I think it’s the machinery. The size, the noise, the power, I just love watching it all work together, this is what we work toward and wait for each year, and it only lasts a matter of weeks and it’s over. We have done bits and pieces of our crop at home and now we work on the couple of thousand acres up north to try and get it done before more rain.
Every year I say the same thing though, I absolutely take my hat off to single parents and parents that solo parent for long periods of time while their hubbies are away with work. Me, I know he will return and I just run a tight ship with routine and discipline to make sure we make it through relatively unscathed, but for those that do it on a permanent or semi-permanent basis I remain in awe. They are made of stronger stuff than me I think. I am pleased that I am a Harvest Widow only once a year.
Things in our neck of the woods have been pretty busy and are only getting busier. So this is a very brief post to express my gratitude at this wonderful time of the year.
I am extremely Grateful that we are at the moment actually getting a good harvest, free of rain and floods, free of water damaged crop.
I am Grateful for the joy and excitement it brings to my kids when they see the Header or hop on for a ride.
I am Grateful to be a part of something so exciting each year.
I am Grateful that (touch wood) we haven’t had any major breakdowns so far…..
It’s the simple things at this time of year that can bring such happiness.
In between Header stops and starts, when the Barley has been too green or all our storage is full up Muddy Hubby threw some Yabby Nets in one of our Dams. Lo and Behold we caught some yabbies! It’s been a few years since I’ve been yabbying. The Muddy Kids and I helped our British worker (Hello Laura) pull them up and we managed to catch 23 big ones! We put the babies and the teenagers back in the Dam and bought the rest back to the house.
We found a Mummy Yabby who had hundreds of Eggs she was holding in her tail, so we put her back in the Dam to ensure we’ll get some yabbies in the coming years! We have always cooked yabbies by just boiling them in water. This time though we tried something different, Thanks to my lovely neighbour.
We put them in a pot in the freezer to sedate them (there will be some escapees in the freezer, but they’re easy to collect once sedated), we then pulled them out and chopped off their heads before we pulled off their their tails and claws. We rinsed the claws and tails, then popped them in a garlic, butter and parsley marinade before cooking them on the BBQ. YUMMO! They are just like crabs, so when they turn orange they’re cooked. It was a heap of fun and something different for someone from the UK to experience.
The Canola has been windrowed, it is lying in rows in the paddocks, just waiting to be picked up with the Header and the Canola seed thrashed out and carted to the Grain Silos. Canola is windrowed 1-2 weeks before it is ripe and this allows the seed to finish ripening. Although opinion is starting to be divided as to whether it’s just as worthwhile to harvest it straight from the plant or windrow it and then harvest it.
For us this year we went with windrowing. The Canola plants lay ready and waiting, the weather conditions need to be just right and then along comes the Header and collects them.
The Barley is getting riper by the second, it will be the next crop to harvest. I love a windy day when the heads all blow in unison in the wind, all in their neat rows, and the golden light of sunset on the golden heads of wheat and barley, never ceases to make me stop and admire it.
Yes, Harvest is only just beginning, and it’s such a great time.
Thursday night was the end of my working week and I was feeling exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I decided to take matters into my own hands and sent a call out to my close friends for them to join me the next afternoon for Friday afternoon drinks after the school bus pick up. It gave me an excuse to get in and clean my house, to catch up and recharge with my friends and have a few nice glasses of wine.
What I was not expecting was the 3 unwelcome visitors, that chose that inopportune time to come visiting. 3 brown snakes in varying size and shades of brown, but equally scary and all had me shaking in my boots, let alone worried for the safety of the 12 kids, 2 babies and 5 adults who’d responded to my drinks call! The Muddy Organiser had eagle eyes and spotted the first one, this one we dispatched out of the house yard with Oranges (they were the closest weapon), it took off for a pile of sticks, and even had a gnaw on one of the Oranges on the way.
Out next visitor was a little bit bigger, and came sliding across the veggie patch, under the swings and headed for the outdoor setting, we herded the kids inside and we sent this one on it’s way with an empty wine bottle, some bricks and a vehicle attempt to scare it. Just as we thought the scare was over, the final visitor popped into the house yard, he must have been the Daddy one because he was the biggest, he got the message and headed off to find a hole to camp up in.
I am by no means a snake wrangler, in fact I am as far from it as you can possibly get. They strike fear into my heart and almost make me wet my pants. I am continually reminded though that they are part and parcel of living where we live.
I have accepted them as part and parcel, I can generally cope with one snake visiting the house yard at a time, but 3 in a very short space of time scares the crap out of me and makes me on edge. You need eagle eyes and the Muddy Kids aren’t let out of my sight at the moment. Muddy Hubby has always said ‘They’re the most active in October’ as they’re coming out of hibernation and looking for some loving. I sure hope they’re satisfied soon and don’t feel the need to use my house yard as their meeting place for much longer!
For the last couple of months each Sunday afternoon we’ve been ‘sheepworking’ as the Muddy Kids call it, but now with the last of the lambs being sent to the Saleyards we’re getting back some family time on weekends.
At least for a few weeks anyway, before harvest starts, and then early next year we’ll be back weighing lambs on Sunday afternoons. It’s great family time on the farm, drafting them, then bringing them around and weighing them. The Muddy Kids love it and so do I. I’ll miss it, until it comes around again, but will definitely be making the most of some extra time with the family.
The best bit about now is watching the baby lambs frolic in the paddock, they’ll be the one’s we weigh next year! They are so cute when they’re little and running around at their Mum’s feet. They’re still keeping us busy though with lamb marking and tailing and checking for flies. The Muddy Kids are having a ball at present and falling into bed exhausted – perfect really!
Having not been raised on a farm I can remember the first time Muddy Hubby asked me to jump the fence with him. I just looked at him and said ‘Are you serious?’. Yes indeed he was, as he nimbly jumped over the fence to go and check a crop, with his long legs he was over in seconds. All I saw was the top strain of barbed wire and a fence that was three quarters my height and I had images of cuts and bruises as I got myself stuck. I am no lightweight that’s for sure, so for me to jump over that fence would have been a miracle in line with pigs flying.
I have since learnt that where there’s a will there’s a way and while I do sometimes stand there and put my arms up to Muddy Hubby and ask him to lift me over the fence like he does the girls (I think he’s only attempted this once!), he has learnt to hold the wires apart so that I can climb through. It is still not very graceful and almost always I stumble through and stop just short of falling flat on my face, but at least I get to adventure through the crops too and see what’s happening, rather than just watching from the ute.
The Muddy Kids on the other hand are starting to be old hands, if Muddy Hubby doesn’t whisk them over in his strong arms, they start to climb over themselves or try to climb through with a little help. They definitely put their Mum to shame with their fence jumping skills!
|Checking Canola, Not long now…
|Muddy Puzzler checking Lupins
The temperature’s rising, the sunshiney days are getting longer, the ground is warming up and our crops are starting to turn, as the days move closer to harvest time. Our Canola has pretty much dropped all of it’s flowers, it’s gone from the brilliant yellow to green as they drop their flowers and now as it’s warming they turning less green. Canola has skinny pods full of tiny canola seeds, at the moment these seeds are still green, we picked a few off yesterday and opened them and there’s a few black/browns seeds starting to appear. This means we’re still a little way away from harvesting the canola.
The lupins are filling up their pods. They have brilliant white flowers, and as it warms up they have dropped their flowers and are concentrating on filling their pods. At the moment though when you open the pods the lupins are still green. They need to be white seeds to be ready to harvest. The Muddy Kids love checking the crops, chewing on the seeds to tell Muddy Hubby whether they think it’s ready to harvest or checking for grubs. The grubs love the canola and lupins so it’s important to keep an eye on them.
Muddy Hubby has also been keeping busy with some hay work. He’s cut and raked some Oats and has started to bale it today. The raking uses a big rake pulled behind the tractor that turns the hay to help it dry, at the same time as bringing two rows into one to make it ready for baling.
This is keeping us busy in our house, what’s happening in yours?