Day 2039 Sunday 15th May
At the end of the uneventful, yet warmer ride as the temperature had risen by ten degrees, we arrived at the festival and spent the afternoon wandering amongst the colourful, alternative and somewhat bizarre folks.
Finally as the rush got less we were shown to our cabin. An old trailer that had been built into the side of a barn venue called ‘The Western Barn’. Suitable build and decorated in a western bar/barn them.
In the trailer it was a little dark and dingy, however for a place to sleep, it was ok. With beds made we went for a beer and to meet our new employees. Nice sounding, laid back guys so big anticipation on staying three to four months.
The farm had six or more peacocks and hens in residency, and while they are colourful and interesting when the boys fan out, they are a pain in the arse in the early hours when they call out to each other, at best you get woke at four thirty.
Day 2040 Monday 16th May
Begging a vehicle to keep us from the steady rain that had been forecast and now was falling, we went to town to purchase work pants to save my good pants from being trashed. I reckon the work here on the farm will be fairly grubby! We took the Merc Sprinter, like my own, into town. It was very familiar to drive, even on the left hand side of the cab! It felt surprisingly large to drive!
With our clothes bought we headed to Walmart for food, even though the farm provided food we did not want to eat the meat that abounded in the kitchen. The Elk steak that Jess gave us at Hungry Horse in Montana, was a special deal as she raised it and killed it on site, no mass production, just good flesh. Back at the farm I made an egg and fried potato sandwich, while the rain fell steady and constant.
The rest of the day I spent updating my diary.
Day 2041 Tuesday 17th May
First day of work, the guys had a few projects they could not solve, so a day of diagnosis. The first a small band sawmill with a Honda V twin motor that would not run right and stall after half an hour work, only restarting again when cooled for two hours. I checked it through and concluded the carbby was at fault, so a new one was ordered, be here in a week.
A couple of the four by four farm Gators had starting and running issues so my arvo was spent getting them sorted.
Day 2042 Wednesday 18th May
An old nineteen sixty seven fire truck brakes had failed late last year and had stood since, so I had a look at that to.
Day 2043 Thursday 19th May
Cleaned the chicken grill and wired our new house/cabin with air con and heater units.
Day 2044 Friday 20th May
Zach arrived with new battery for a Gator and master cylinder for the fire truck, bled rear brakes fine however the fronts I could not get any fluid out of the bleeding nipples. Banged my head and found no answers.
The first night in the mock log cabin donga we found the water heater was not working.
Day 2045 Saturday 21st May
Had four weddings at the farm. Gonna be a long night.
Spent the day cooking food and setting out the weighing and paying counter for the strawberry sales that start with picking tomorrow.
Being at a loose end late afternoon, the girls were setting out the food at the venues I took a saw and went to cut logs at the boundary of the farm. I mentioned to another helper out that the bar had blued from heat.
It felt strange to being cutting logs while all the smart dressed guests were attending a huge mile stone in the lives of those that were getting hitched.
While cutting some big trunks I noticed that the bar oil had not been used, at all. So I went back and swopped out the saw for another one and continued cutting. A few hours Ed came and said I should get food and beer and take some time out. Feeling and looking fairly grubby I tried to stay out of sight off the guests and drink a beer with new found friends
Not having had a shower for three days I hung around waiting for the old room now being used as a changing room to be vacated. At eleven I managed to get a long hot shower and wash my filthy clothes.
Day 2046 Sunday 22nd May
Waking late after an eleven p.m. finish, we rolled into work and I had an easy day stripping the chainsaw and finding one of the clutch shoes had fractured the locking peg off and while rolling around in the clutch drum had punched a hole in the oil feed tube
By three p.m. we were finished with berry picking and were invited out to the lake side house. I thought we would be gone by four and back by seven. At the lake edge I watched folks pressure washing their decks and speed boats in preparation for the summer. Chores they have been carrying out for years while I have been out in the world, traveling with very few chores to do, our chore was border crossings, and there were mostly easy.
Arriving back at the farm around eight thirty I was worn out and tired, needing my bed.
Day 2047 Monday 23rd May
Not wanting to do much but needing the dollars I went in at eight and first job was to order the new oil pump and clutch.
While knocking out the remainder of the wheel bearings in a trailer, Ed came and asked for my help in rounding up a few cows that had been reported to the sheriff wandering the highway. We five set out on three Gators to round up and bring back the stray bovines. Crossing a golf course and three km down a creek side foot path.
Meeting up with the local sheriff who was not at all surprised with us rolling in on farm trucks not licensed for the road. Myself and two other Mexican workers were mostly ignored thankfully…
On the public highway with the cops behind us with lights flashing. Other road users must have thought they were trying to stop us. The owner eventually arrived with a truck and boxed them. It took three hours.
Rest of the day spent on finishing knocking out the trailer wheel bearings and plumbing in a new heater, a lack of hot water, this time in the kitchen, more urgent.
Day 2048 Tuesday 24th May
Cut an access hole in the side of the cabin to get to the water heater, it had been paneled in. As the temperature was set too low I had to be able to turn up the ‘stat, and also to be able to access the shut off valves if needed in a crises.
Day 2049 Wednesday 25th May
Felled a dying Douglas fir tree and dug out the root took most of the day. Picked up the oil pump for the saw.
Day 2050 Thursday 26th May
Rebuilt the saw and still having no oil feed, on another, strip down found the feed orifice had no ‘O’ ring on it, so called the shop, they still had the old pump, went to pick it up. Rebuilt it again, still no oil. Called the shop for info on priming, as expected the pump is self priming, the owner said bring it in, so I did. The young guy in the repair shop said they do give some priming problems and often the new saws and whippy snippers need assistance to get the oil going. He did this by pressurizing the oil tank with compressed air and it made it flow like the Murray. I felt a little dumb as I had got prime mover in Australia running by doing this method. My three months in the cafe and three more till we left La Hatche had done nothing to improve my thinking capabilities.
Back on the farm I assembled the rest of the saw and then was called to assist Diane in the weighing in shop for strawberry sales, it had been hectic so best with two folks on hand.
When it calmed down due to an electric storm coming in I retreated to the work shop to build a cabinet for the air line and electric cord to be housed in. The idea was to have the units inside and pass the hose and cable through the side of the building, to be available outside. It took until six thirty before my ever changing ‘plan’ was square and level. As I said I need to get more hands on as making pizza, serving alcohol, and traveling send your brain to jelly. Plus I reckon I may have Alzheimers starting as I can’t remember bugger all and find myself going back and forward forgetting things.
While I made myself busy in the shop the storm blew hectic rain through the doorway and filled the sky with lightning, better that than building itself into a tornado.
The hectic rain we have had here made me feel very grateful for getting here in relative dryness.
During the night the storm raged on, talking with Ed the owner of the farm about tornados, he joked that maybe he should bolt the cabins to the foundations. I said not much point in that as the cabins were not tornado rated, it would just leave a steel frame while all above had beed ripped away!
Day 2051 Friday 27th May
Fifty per cent cloud cover with a bright sun lit the damage left behind, our stoup furniture was recovered from the pasture field and the branches removed from the steps.
Day 2052 Saturday 28th May
Three weddings on this day, my morning in the workshop and preparing the back drop of the camera shoots, moving tractors and such into and behind the shop, out of the view finder.
It was hectic! I kept busy on bar and as a gofer.
Brides mother said how beautiful she looked in her dress, bride, huge, said “I’m just relived I got into it”! The next morning Diane said she had seen the bride in the toilet struggling to pull on a body stocking that allegedly would smooth out the rolls…
Day 2053 Sunday 29th May
Six hours on the strawberry desk.
Day 2054 Monday 30th May
Went shopping for pizza ingredients, kind of rushed around Walmart, both of us in a fluster, not being able to find any produce we needed on our own. Always asking the store guys and feeling dumb and helpless. Really strange, very not able to be able to deal with simple tasks in ‘real’ life.
Back on the farm I made dough and a sixteen inch half chicken man and half Hawaiian. And a loaded, Diane made a Greek, my loaded went into the cooler for another day as all that were working on this Memorial day were full stomached on the other two, we fed all with the best pizza they had ever had. And strawberry cookies to finish off with.
Day 2055 Tuesday 31st May
I showed Dane how to drive the two trailer tractor to enable us to give Ed a break from the driving.
Fencing with Tyson and Mark to keep the horses and cows out of the camp fire field.
Mowed the children’s play park lawn in the arvo with a push mower that was going for scrap, it just needed a little love, works perfect now.
In a tree just next to the cabin a bird had hanged itself with plastic string she was using to tie her nest to the tree, one of the most if the most macabre things I have every seen.
Day 2056 Wednesday 1st June
Took the sump pan off a tractor with lots of what I though was diesel and copper in the oil, later the assumption that it was hydraulic oil. A friend of the farm came out to carry on with the repair as the tools here are limited and my knowledge of John Deere tractors is limited even more so! Although these ones are old and simple, the lack of facilities and tools put me off. Surprisingly this guy declined my offer of helping to refit the oil pan, I thought due to the dust blowing across the yard it would be a good idea. Brake cleaner he said would sort it on the rebuild…
Zach said two cultivators were scrap, and eight grand would by a new one, a day and a half later I had swapped out the springs and shoes from them both, making one good one, out of two rooted ones. It was a rush job as Zach had sprayed the pumpkins with pesticide that was killing them in the ground.
Finished at five and drank beer with Tyson and looked at the crops of asparagus and raspberries.
Day 2057 Thursday 2nd June
Started at seven thirty to try and finish off the cultivator project, got it all done by two pm.
Mowed the lawns till six with a meter cut ride on, with tiller controls, very unusual to operate.
Made a slow dance with the biggest peacock while he had his fan out, while enduring my attention he was not too pleased with the whole ordeal. It was my childish way at getting back to him for waking me in many nights pleasant sleep.
Day 2058 Friday 3rd Jun
We went out to pick peas and strawberries for an hour, got caught with Ed and talked about the Great Pumpkin Disaster. He though that maybe if he could get the blades lower on the cultivator it might help to disperse the herbicide. So we spent half an hour freeing off the screw adjustments and lowering the frame to the wheels. As we worked he told my about his mum who had Alzheimers in the last few years of her life. One time she asked him where her cigarettes were, he explained that she did not smoke, “Oh” she said, and added “I thought I smoked all my life”. Ed replied “no never, not even one”. Which was a complete lie, he hated her smoking and was pleased now she, at last was off it. So easy when you don’t remember.
In the late afternoon he got out to the field, re-cultivated it and sowed a row before hectic rain and thunder set in for the night.
As there was a wedding at five pm I was done with working, and a ten hour day, was a good one, so I got a beer and sat on the stoap and watched the guests arriving.
Day 2059 Saturday 4th June
We picked peas for an hour and a half then went to the shop to set up, a few customers had wondered in and I set in to drive the wagon for a while, turned out to be all day, till two p.m.
On one pass of the route a Japanese lady sat in the middle of the haul track, while she did not block my access she was kind of in the way, so I steered around her and dropped off my passengers, she did not move. On my second pass she had got up and hitched a ride back to the check out.
Two ladies with small boys went out picking, on their return I asked if the boys wanted to sit in the tractor and have a picture taken one did and one did not. The more personable one was stoked, the other much less so. Mom was delighted!
On pass of the route the cows and calf were hanging out by the fence, on approaching the children were exited by the cows and horses that were by the haul track unfortunately as we arrived there the bull was standing with his penis hanging out, the children were asking what it was, the parents decided to ignore the questions and tried to encourage them to look at the horses…
At two O’clock the picking was done and I busied my self for two hours.
After drinking beer and chilling out I cut logs for an hour and a half, Diane lost interest after thirty minuets and left for destinations unknown. Sawed and stacked till I was too drunk to carry on without maybe causing bloodshed. Went back to the bar to assist for a while, then lit a fire and gave my aching back a chance to recover.
Day 2060 Sunday 5th June
Picked peas for an hour then opened the counter for strawberry sales, we told the folks that the season was coming to a close, however they continued to bring back buckets full of fruit and children with smiling, red juice stained faces. Gotta be good!
While the day was busy it was not hectic, although by two pm close we were tired. A sixty five hour week was common to me in Australia, but dealing with the public was tiring beyond imagination. So much talking, giving out the same instructions, and being nice!
Ed invited us to go into town to see the food fair of Omaha, so we went with, the promise of an early return, maybe five? We got back at half six and although we wanted to do our own stuff it was great to see the downtown and walk the Missouri river side for a while. Although the heat got to Diane and made her uncomfortable, shame as it is only going to get warmer…
Day 2061 Monday 6th June
Spent my day on the Strawberry desk and tractor.
Sandy who works here part time said to the oldest of the five golden retrievers that live here, “You gotta leave us Yogie and go and see Jesus”. The dog probably weighed close to a hundred kilos and was struggling with the heat. He stank of old dog, however I would still let them into the farm house barn to cool off in the air con. However when one them dumped a turd in the barn venue next door they were barred for a couple of weeks…
At the close of day the self employed John Deer mechanic came by to check out the unit we had pulled the sump on, he found the crank thrust bearing had worn itself into the flywheel.
Had a beer with Tyson, he said how pleased they all were with us. Makes for coming back looking good, either together or on my own.
Day 2062 Tuesday 7th June
Now that the weather is getting more summer like the mornings are glorious, the cabin doors face east and with the double door open the sun fills the room with yellow/gold light as it rises above the trees. The bird song, while not like the song birds in England, it is still very nice to wake to it. Although the Peacocks still need shooting!
After two hours on the hay ride tractor taking folks to and from the Strawberry field I went to find out why the water boiler was not working properly, on dismantling it I found that it too had been down the Missouri River. So Ed went out and bought a new one, it took a few hours to fit.
Diane was angry that she had to drive the five hours in the afternoon on the tractor. However it did mean we can shower in the cabin now and not intrude on Carlos in the bunkhouse where we used to live.
Day 2063 Wednesday 8th June
As usual picked peas for an hour and a half then after a quick brekkie went to join with Sandy at the shop.
Later, I checked out the Cat skid steer for a water leak from the pump, ordered new, be here in the morning.
To keep the peace I drove all day, as it was not busy I could get off and relive my aching neck.
Sat on the stoup with Tyson with a pleasant small fire.
Diane was in her room.
Day 2064 Thursday 9th June
I told a few folks that it was our dads birthday, and from afar we wished him the best greetings of the day.
I spent my day getting lights working on the Gators and farm vehicles and swopping out a water pump on the Cat skid steer.
Day 2065 Friday 10th June
After work we took a two hour drive to Norfolk to pick up a welder that Zach had found on Flea bay, leaving late and struggling to find the guy as the cell phone had no service meant we got back to the farm at ten thirty.
Day 2066 Saturday 11th June
There were two weddings in the evening and an afternoon party. As per usual the day was very busy with the kitchen staff flat out busy.
I left Diane sprucing up our cabin as it had been let as a dressing room, months before they knew of our existence. I went to check on the sawmill as it was not cold starting at all. I saw that it was not closing the choke flap completely, taking it off and not finding anything wrong I re-assembled it and it worked fine. Odd!
Day 2067 Sunday 12th June
Picked peas early morning and opened the shop at eight, sold both boxes that we picked. It was too hot for people to be bothered to go out in the heat to easy pick for peas. Strange however as they were willing to go out and scavenge for the small diminishing strawberries, though they still looked and smelt wonderful. Glad to close at two pm we went shopping and later moved the bikes into a smaller shop to carry out maintenance. Diane misunderstood where we heading for and went to the main repair shop. The next ten minutes were spent bickering over who should move the bike over to the welding shop.
While the laundry churned around and around I watched the rabbits and peacocks, respectively darting amongst the peas and strutting on the grass picking at insects. Reflecting on the last five plus years and our plans for the future, with or without, probably without. It’s a shame, however with the interaction of the last couple of months has been worse than normal. So I have a solo travel plan in mind for the years to come. Feeling very unable to integrate with ‘normal society’ and the eight to five work routine. I have thoughts on how to fund my lifestyle and still be house and debt free. While stilling enjoying more opportunity and freedom to wild camp that moto camping offers. I reckon these thoughts were inspired by moving the bikes to what I call the welding shop. A small building with two roller doors and an inspection pit. It is used as a store during the bigger festivals that are held on the farm. I took a ride to the service road and around the farm for ten minuets or so, it felt great as usual to be riding after four weeks. I washed mine as the dust had settled, hopefully the new parking will be cleaner as it is not used by others on the farm and it does not have the wind blowing through like the large main shop does.
Day 2068 Monday 13th June
Once again picked peas at sun up.
Then worked on the fire truck which we wanted to use to water pumpkins. Strange but the thought of welding a shovel head to the high pressure water fill point which we had re-plumbed to take it to the centre of the truck. And run water out under gravity, over the shovel head to fan out the water, worked well. Weird or not? A few folks have asked what is the strangest thing you have done on the road, I said “today, welding a shovel head onto an American fifteen hundred gallon water truck”. They shock their heads and laughed.
Day 2069 Tuesday 14th June
Took the truck out for a trial worked ok but needs more flow
Day 2070 Wednesday 15th June
Woke at sun up and made tea for one as no one else was stirring. Picked peas for two hours then got on the fire truck to water pumpkins.
The makeshift sprinkler that was made from a creek water intake filter was awful. The shovel head worked as a quick fix but was a little too narrow. So on a water refill that takes an hour I made the fan out of an old steel table top which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
It worked a treat although it took one and half hours to complete, not an hour!
Later back on the Strawberry tractor, I watched occasionally as young children boarded the first trailer, as they came onto landing deck, banging their heads on the landing gear handle as they got on the trailer to pick fruit. Most just rubbed the sore bit and carried on, not many wailed. Poor buggers!
Day 2071 Thursday 16th June
Made shelves for the main part of the shop which serves as a dumping ground for all manner of stuff, from chemicals to Halloween horror manikins. These shelves were to keep the chemicals in some kind of order. Ed would come in here tomorrow to refill the small spray tractor and I would find the bottle left on the floor where he set it down. As I may have said, Tyson says his dad is the untidiest man in Nebraska. In the wood working shop I made a set of four shelves to store the thousands of dollars worth of saws and blowers, to keep them off the floor where they had lived. Being kicked around…
Day 2072 Friday 17th
Picked peas for an hour, as often I do!
Finished the chainsaw shelves and set them on it and swept the shop floor.
Later I saw Pedro and Felix on a Gator, both holding their respective straw hats on their heads with their left hand, as I followed them I wished I had a camera as it made a great picture. Brown arms and pale hats!
Helped set the bar for a military retirement party, the guy was forty two…
Some time during the night, I think I had not been sleeping for very long, even with ear plugs I heard the loud crash of thunder. While in my dopey state I wanted to watch the storm, half of me needed to sleep and the other half pondered on wether the storm was real or a dream.
Later in the early hours Big Pappio Creek had risen by five meters due to rain further up stream and submerged the irrigation pump by a meter. It was fresh out of the repair shop, and now had drowned. I thought it was a relief that it was not salt water. While Ed was less sure I was confident that it would be ok.
Day 2073 Saturday 18th June
Waking at the usual time I opened the door to cloudy skies and a wet stoap. So the storm was real. Yesterday Ed and Tyson were deep in conversation on whether the pumpkin crop would make it through the three week heat wave. This rain should help things out I hope.
Made pizza for staff as is becoming a regular event on the weeks end.
During the day the brides mum asked me for a hammer fix a sign up. She joked and said it was going to be a wild affair that night.
Later in the evening as I put some laundry in she asked me if I was there to streak!!, then she broke down and hung on me weeping big tears as her daughters wedding was going to be a horrendous affair.
In the early afternoon Ed and I went to the irrigation pump and dragged it out of the wet creek silt. As we got closer we were up to our shins in sludge. Managing to drag it out with a Gator on a long chain to firmer ground where loaded it and washed it off.
Later, after the wedding ceremony had taken place I went to the shop and stripped it, cleaned and washed more dirt out.
At ten O’clock the fight kicked back into action.
Later, around even while I watched a movie with ear phones Diane crashed through the door and said “you gotta get out there and help Ed”. I opened the cabin door to fifty cops, two ambulance and a semi fire truck! It was like a war zone, guys were jumping off the balcony six meters up, one broke his leg. Fights and larger brawls were all around. I got Ed out of the way of three guys fighting and noticed a guest trying to start one of the farm Gators. I took the keys and walked away. After an hour of the cops quelling the chaos I went back to my movie, locking the door!
Day 2074 Sunday 19th June
Finished cleaning the irrigation motor and it fired first pull and ran sweet, still more mud slowly ran from behind the flywheel. Taking it to the washing area I could run water from the stand pipe through the pump to keep it cool and use the fire truck to wash the mud away.
On the farm in the past they had used a quad to run out the flexi plastic line to irrigate the plants. As I could not see how they held the roll on the machine I would make a detachable frame to hold the roll. I quit at two pm as Tyson and Tatianna had arrived and invited me to drink beer with them. By three thirty we had to get to the store to buy supplies for the water pump project and Dianes sign painting project.
At six I was a little beery and went back to do some more on the quad, and went back to the cabin at eight tired and grumpy.
Day 2075 Monday 20th June
Day 2076 Tuesday 21st June
The day was full with irrigation setting of the feed lines
As the creek water level dropped the intake line became exposed and also being in shallow water was pulling in wet mud and fouling up the draw line. Tyson came out with a good idea sitting the suction cup in a bucket to stop the ingress of silt.
For the last few days I have noticed the abundance of fire flies slowly making their away around the cabin.
Day 2077 Wednesday 22nd June
I started my day making the soaker line attachment more attractive on the quad. Tyson rolled in early than usual so set to fixing a split in the three and a half inch pipe. Later we were laying the soaker lines for pumpkins.
Mark noticed and commented on the frosty relationship between between Diane and myself, and I said “Yeah, it’s been king of chilly for the last two months”. No further remarks or comments were made.
Day 2078 Thursday 23rd June
Getting out there at seven a.m. as Zach was in a flap over irrigation. As he had been on vacation for six days I thought that he had no right to say what work had been done in his absence. He bitched over what had been done the work and I felt very over it all, however I stuck in there and together we finished the job.
The delivery pump was stalling and stopping for a reason to soon be discovered. Zach said he was going to buy a new pump, maybe seven hundred or a thousand bucks. I said to hold back, after ten minuets I found that the fuel cap was full of silt and mud, a thirty buck cap saved a larger invoice from a new pump and motor assembly.
Day 2079 Friday 24th June
After checking on the irrigation pump I set to buying the supplies for the nine pizza meal for tomorrow what with going to Walmart and converting the measurements from metric to imperial it took many more hours than was needed.
I set the dough in the warm outside to rise and it doubled in volume in an hour. So cutting it into sixteen inch pizza size balls made fifteen and not the ten I had planed. By four pm the dough was bagged and in the cooler
At nine pm we hauled the leftover food from the Western Barn back to the kitchen coolers.
Day 2080 Saturday 25th June
Today we made ten pizzas for an Indian guy, not native American. It was his twin boys forth birthday. They came last year and had a good evening, however this year they said the pizza was fantastic and they loved the fact we were traveling, and pestered us for stories on the trip, which was nice.
Lots of them took our cards with our website and email on. At the end of a sixteen hour day it was nice to stop, write this, and sleep.
Day 2081 Sunday 26th June
Worked for two hours cleaning the Pirate bar after the party last night.
We went with Ed and Fabie to a craft and junk sale at a farm.
Later I changed my oil and fitted Diane’s new headlight sub frame. Nice to spend time with the bikes, although I often work in that shop and chat with them as I work. I reckon I’m losing the plot!
Day 2082 Monday 27th June
Renewed house insurance via Skype fried my brain with the hassle of to all done now though.
Still managed to get nine hours
Day 2083 Tuesday 28th June
Ed had mentioned in passing that it would make his life easier if the Sprinter van had a step on the tow hitch, making it less of a step up. So afterwork I started to make one for him out of the scrap farm implement pile.
Day 2084 Wednesday 29th June
I got the fire truck pump working this morning, well not that I repaired it, just plumbed it with Zach and pulled the lever. The hose did not fit as it was a little too large, however for watering the flowers it would be ok to run it out under gravity.
Day 2085 Thursday 30th June
Sat out drinking tea at day break, listening to the birds singing. Ed came running around the cabin shouting, Andrew! Andrew! Are you awake? He had gotten the skid steer stuck in the burning pit. Even with all the rain the fire set for burning the waste wood had gone virile over night. He had gone in to push dirt over it and got bogged. I took the fire truck and doused the blaze as best I could with the run off pipe we had used for watering. Ed got one of the tractors and pulled me out as I reversed the Cat out. When I got in the cab, it was as hot as, I was surprised that the plastic had not started to melt.
My evening project on Ed’s present was finished and painted in my usual black. I asked Tyson when his birthday was, July ninth, perfect. I could wrap it and give it to him that way. Or maybe just fit it and tell him, as weighed twenty kilos it was not that friendly to carry about. I had made the angles and centers a little off to remind him of the Brit who welded when a little (or more) drunk, who was then a little off the mark.
Day 2086 Friday 1st July
Spent half the day repairing and setting a few new lines on the purple raspberry irrigation. The heat and sunshine was intense, it was lovely to be out in the fields on my own, the wild life of ground squirrels, birds and hated rabbits running around me. I came across a Praying Mantis eating an equally green worm. He shuffled off slowly when I disturbed him, taking his worm with him.
Day 2087 Saturday 2nd July
Woke at three a.m. with rain falling, ironic as most of my yesterday was on irrigation. By days end seventy five mil had fallen. So dry for so long, then so much water. Hope it does not drown the crops.
By mid afternoon the creek had risen by four meters, again flooding the area we had set the concrete blocks to stand the irrigation pump on.
Another wedding which had the cops called, not the groom, but a high up guest was punching the windows out of his aunties vehicle. So the cops were called by his family, not us, and the guy took them on and got tazered. Not good for the farm, two call outs in three weeks. Probably the liquor license will be more of a problem to renew.
Day 2088 Sunday 3rd July
My latest start to date, after a sixteen hour day yesterday laundry need to be done as I have no clean clothes! Meeting Eds wife and sister walking to the wash tub with me wearing a towel made them laugh.
A lady, Sandy, who works on the shop front selling the berries said her husband Kurt would pick up the lock tabs for the trailer wheel bearings that I had fitted a while back. She bought them in today so I finished that job and fitted the new rear lights a box truck. As Diane had said she was leaving on Tuesday if this offer of work came through I was not feeling very enthusiastic on the work front, I sat in the farm house ‘talking’ to Patrick on the internet which was very nice.
Eds step daughter was getting married today so a huge party took place in The Western Barn, I sat with Sandy and Kurt for an hour then went down to the welding shop where my bike is. I sat on it and ran it for a while, after, sitting on it and lay my head on the tank bag with the warmth rising up from the engine. I slept for half an hour or so. Strange but sadly familiar feeling for me.
Day 2089 Monday 4th July
Independence day, not really party time on the farm as they were all tired from the Colombian / U.S.A Wedding. I saw a few party goers stumbling around in bedraggled clothing, looking tired at six a.m.
Well I started my day with making one more direction sign and then, with Diane fixing trellis below the stoep, I thought it would take a couple of hours, however it took us five.
We tried to have a conversation but it all went to shite, no real surprise.
Day 2090 Tuesday 5th July
Failing to get out of the cabin before the conversation got unpleasant I went out to grease and check fluid levels on all of the farm vehicles.
Ed wanted gates swopping out to make available a pair of gates in a twenty foot entrance, took the rest of my day to make hinges from scrap metal, paint the hinges and cut a mesh to keep the goats in. Utilizing old gates instead of buying new. On a cheap labour he probably saved more than a few bucks.
Day 2091 Wednesday 6th July
Being woke at three thirty, it felt stuffy and hot so I opened both doors and went back to bed cooler. The cabin was soon filled with white lightning and my going back to sleep more difficult by rumbling thunder. Although it rained it was not enough to make the rain gauge rise at all.
Waking agin at six I felt tired, but the cooler rain damped the morning and made getting out to start work easier.
Starting the day at seven with touching up the paint on the goat gate and making a personal gate out of wood, and later removing a random post to open the access to enable the skid steer to get in and muck out the yard.
When that was complete I set to making hinges and fixing the bent gate and later, the better, lighter galvanized gate. The more bent one I set on the left, hoping the long grass and wild plants would hide the bends. I tried to hang both gates so that they may swing closed against to each other, so maybe they could be used as a bump gate. However with bulls and cows having access to the gates it was likely that they would need chaining closed to keep the bovines from getting out. The heat was nice at noon however but mid afternoon I was feeling fairly cooked. A few guys said I looked red and hot, so I put my head under the hose and cooled down a little. The next best thing was to sit in the bar with the air con and drink Bud light, shite fizzy, yet cold free liquid. Talking with a few fellow workers and Colombians that were still here after the wedding.
Taking an hour out we went to Walmart for a few supplies. On my return I finished setting the gates and got two liters of better beer while washing and cooling down.
Day 2092 Thursday 7th July
Day 2093 Friday 8th July
Dragged a feed trailer out of the cow field, it had lain there for at least six years. Ed wanted it fixed up so it could be used to move the mowers around more safely than the trailer they currently use. To have a full width ramp and not two separate ones would be better.
Day 2094 Saturday 9th July
Working at six am on the trailer project till four pm when I had to wash up and go and serve beer at a wedding, till midnight. Thankfully no fights on the site tonight.
Day 2095 Sunday 10th July
Talked of the shooting in Dallas, and staying out of society.
Started late at nine and spent four hours wiring the compressor in the welding shop and setting the direction signs.
Went to lake house in the afternoon and took jet ski out for ten minutes, very much like the ski doo at Ten-ee-ah Lodge after a short time I’m done with it. Probably going faster, sober would be more fun.
When we got back after a frosty drive back I went to work on the trailer project for a couple of hours.
Day 2096 Monday 11th July
Ed came by at half six to ask if I would go with and get the Merc Sprinter R.V. running as it had died last night at a gas station with nine Latinos on board. Spending three hours swopping out fuel filters and pulling plugs Zach found the problem and got the Merc running. I was amazed that pulling plugs made it run and did not throw it into limp mode. Though it did smoke a lot on the way back.
Back on the ranch I dropped the oil and took out the filter, then set to working on the trailer project.
Late afternoon I was asked to help loading the hogs that were going to die in the morning. I did not want to be part of this as I had often gone to give the hogs a half dozen apples as a treat. Now I was helping them to get aboard the death cart. When loaded and left under a tree for sun cover I sprayed them with cool water two or three times. They looked at me with big brown eyes and asked why are we here and not in our muddy hole eating feed? I struggled to make eye contact, and later Ed fed them. Much later I went to the highway where the apple trees grew and collected thirty or so kilos of wind fall apples to take to the hogs as a last supper. They chomped down and looked to enjoy the fruit a lot. Most of them looked at me with half closed eyes, like they appreciated the feed.
After parking most of the gators under shelter I shed more than one tear for the hogs, I know its natural food chain, however it still racked me.
Day 2097 Tuesday 12th July
After Diane leaving the cabin without a word I drained the pot of morning tea and left. Walking down the hill to my welding / fabrication shop the trailer of mi amigos had gone. Later I heard that they had to be in Plattsmouth at six thirty, so now an hour later they had already passed, hopefully to a more understanding place.
My day was occupied with the trailer project and a gator I was using burning out a fuse and part of the wiring loom.
A mobile barbecue that had been set on an old cart was in need of major rescue. Tyson and myself went to check out the project. The outcome was to trash the top part, keep the cart and make a new grill top box and new grill racks
Day 2098 Wednesday 13th July
Spent my day welding the flat bed trailer, every time I thought I had finished I saw something else or had another idea to add another part, such as an old winch I had found in the shop.
Day 2099 Thursday 14th July
Worked best part of day on trailer, with a few other jobs thrown in.
Day 2100 Friday 15th July
Worked on the flat trailer, could not paint as a light rain hit in.
So I set to recovering a small old trailer that once the axle, off a Crosby racing car was Ed’s motorcycle mover. In its later life it was towed behind the Gators on the farm, now its sits in a dark corner of the shop filled with junk and lots of tangled wiring. Tired and weary I finished early at five pm
Day 2101 Saturday 16th July
Tried to work a little on the small trailer but got distracted a Zach called in sick so I had to work the drinks counter with Diane. The evening went ok, however the atmosphere was uneasy to say the least. The party however was great and everyone had a great time dancing and drinking a fair bit.
We got finished and back to the cabin just gone midnight, so made for a seventeen hour day….
Day 2102 Sunday 17th July
Got woke at five thirty by a very noisy thunder storm that only dropped six mil of rain. It was intense, must have been over the farm. Of all the mornings to get woke this one was not ideal! I managed to sleep some more, but gave up a seven thirty to do laundry.
Feeling tired for last nights party I got to working on the small trailer at nine am. Interrupted by the cat skid steer and Diane fixing up her bike I did not get far with the trailer. Looking at the cat I found the negative cable had shed its lug. Ed once again lucky that the bucket was down, if it is up by only half a meter you cant open the door to get out.
Going to the Union Pacific museum I though would gel our relationship a little. On our return, also working on her bike would make life better, but no, so I reckon I’m done with it.
Day 2103 Monday 18th July
Needing to have some metal to work with I cut the old cultivator into useable manageable pieces, thus clearing one more piece of unsightly junk from the farm and me gaining some material.
On the front of the trailer I fitted an old boat winch I found in the small trailer, covered in cobwebs and slightly seized. With a little time it soon was back into service.
As is the norm these days I drank beer with Mark and Tyson when they stop work at four, after which I usually do another hour or so.
Day 2104 Tuesday 19th July
With dark skies threatening rain I took a chance and spray painted the trailer John Deere green, to mach the rest of the fleet. I was fortunate as the rain did not come in until early afternoon when the paint had just about lost its tackiness. As usual the rain was heavy and accompanied by a hectic lightning storm. Ed had gone to buy the wood for the deck and by six pm I had fitted the floor and sides. The two inch wood was pressure treated pine. The green of the treatment, white wood and light brown streaks contrasted with the darker sides and complemented the green paint. Every one who came by said how good it looked.
I got paid for last week as I packed away the tools and Ed commented on the amount of hours, eighty! So I may have to cut back a bit. However he also said it was great as so much work was getting done and as Mark had said a while back, they have never had a metal fabricator here before. Shame if it happens because I like the work, and probably wont work till next spring, so will need the cash.
Day 2105 Wednesday 20th July
Tried to finish the big trailer today, however the lack of parts delayed my progress, hopefully tomorrow will see it done. When I decided to line the sides with wood I did not consider clear coating the planks. Looking at the sun bleach grey picnic benches by my shop I thought coat them and make then look nice, more time!
Day 2106 Thursday 21st July
Almost managed to get a full day on the large trailer, I hope to finish it however with a couple of hours out I came close to moving it out. At seven pm I had fitted the wheels I had painted the rims yellow, and as I walked back to the cabin looking back at it did look really smart with its satin clear coated wood and green and yellow paint.
Day 2107 Friday 22nd July
By ten am I was finally done with the large trailer. After a few other small jobs I hauled it out to the parking lot to sit and wait for attention.
Tyson, Mark and Zach took an early knock at three pm due to the heat. It was only thirty two celsius, however the humidity made it feel closer to forty. Earlier I had felt a little cooked by ten thirty, as I had been hanging my head upside down in the skid steer sorting out a throttle linkage problem. Running my head under the water for five minuets made it a little better.
It felt good to finally pull the trailer out, I was proud of the way it looked, I only wished I had taken pictures of it when it lay out in the pasture as a cow feed station, filled with rotting straw tall grass and all kinds of insect nests which sadly I had to destroy. The ant colony that had made home in the hitch I poked out the dirt and blew with compressed air the looser stuff. I felt bad doing it but they had to go, maybe for their own good. Today taking the support blocks from under the frame I found the ants had made another nest under the cement blocks, in the dirt. Poor buggers once again I had made them homeless and they rushed around gathering the eggs and seeking shelter.
With ‘beer’ (light weak fizzy, but free!) drunk I headed back to shop as Ed had lined a few more projects for me. One was a cooking grill that sat on an old cart frame, probable a hundred years old. I had spoken to Tyson about it and I said it would be cool to have a grill that you could raise to enable one to refill the fire with wood or charcoal. Also if you cooked on wood alone you could raise it when the fire was too high and lower when less hectic. I loved the idea as I had seen it in Central and South America.
Drawing the cart down to shop I tried to expand its length, at first by hanging it from the tines on the skid steer, then trying to shake it longer, it did not work. So I tied one end to a fir tree and with a four ton cable puller failed to make it move. So being a little drunk I tried to pull it with the skid steer, only managing to snap the four ton wire rope, bugger. Not to be defeated I got a logging chain and hoped that the Cat and trailer would be pulled apart, no, only to be defeated! So filling my cup I headed to the three hundred gallon tank that had been decreed to be the fire pit when cut in two, length ways. So with wobbly hands I set to bisecting the bee filled vessel in half. The black bees came out grumpy and buzzy me, however stayed a good distance away. When halved the can contained a few cubic feet of rotting grass, bought in by whom? Dirty from grinding, hot and sweaty with the humid yet low temperatures I headed back to an empty cabin to listen to music, not television, and write this ramble.
Day 2108 Saturday 23rd July
Managed to get almost twelve hour on the bbq.
Drank beer with Zack and Tyson in the later hours
Day 2109 Sunday 24th July
Worked till midday on the bbq and setting painted signs.
Went shopping and did another hour before sleeping while watching a bad movie.
Day 2110 Monday 25th July
Woke at six after twelve hours sleep. Still feeling tired.
Spent the day on the briaa cooking grill.
Around midday Ed came by and asked for my help with settling in the new hogs that were about to arrive. Setting a gate I had rebuilt into an area that once had no access into the hog pen. Soon after the pigs arrived and did not appear to sociable. So we fed them and left them be.
While having a usual beer with Tyson Diane walked into the barn and asked did I know Elizabeth was pregnant, when I answered of course she was taken aback and said “well when did you know”, I said “six months back when we were not talking so you did not know”. Grumpy she left. But not before raising a cup to Alfie Henry Wilcocks’s health and long life. Strange end to an ordinary day. “Hey, Gran Pa” Tyson called out from across the path while I gathered laundry in. I raised a finger in response and went to bed with my head in a whirl.
Day 2111 Tuesday 26th July
Getting to work on the briaa at seven I was disturbed by Ed, asking me to wire a tow bar socket on the Sprinter. It was a rush job as most of the crew were heading two hours north to dismantle a play ground at an old school. An hour later they had left and I was back at work on the grill. By six thirty I was tired and had had got as far as I wanted to get. The guys were back and drinking in the barn, I was too tired to be social so went straight to the cabin.
Day 2112 Wednesday 27th July
A mixed day, what with a tractor having clutch problems, Diane needing help with wasp nest removal and plant protection for the ones we had bought to make the cabin more attractive.
Taking a couple of hours to set an old Gator jumbuck onto an old trailer made from an English racing car from the early nineteen hundreds saw my strange day pass with many thoughts of Alfie Wilcock, somebody I need to meet soon.
Day 2113 Thursday 28th July
Spent half the afternoon on the briaa trailer and the forenoon cutting a trailer deck off to give me mesh to make coal grates and cooking grills for the cooking grill.
Day 2114 Friday 29th July
Taking an hour out to email Elizabeth and other family before starting work made me feel a little homesick and maybe I should grow up a little and head back to be more responsible, yeah right, me!
Spent the whole day making cooking pans out of plough discs, by welding on a handle and gas blowing a hole to hang them by. Such a small project, however seven of them took almost two hours.
Unbolted the cooker from the carriage to spray it. Realized that it would roll on the forks and mash the new tin roof so I decided to hand paint and spray It carefully on the carriage frame. I did not want to paint the old carriage, it looked authentic, its slightly rusty red/brown. The new cooking part though looked a mess, some rusty, some red, white and orange! Painted black would unify it all. I know it will get burnt off in some places and the poles the raisable grill slides on will get scratched but it will all be one colour.
My evening spent on the internet catching up with the U.K.
Day 2115 Saturday 30th July
Woke early, like five fifteen, thought about getting out at six to paint, however when adding up my hours I thought maybe better to write my
My morning was helping to spray the cabin with wood preservative, by midday I was able to put a mist coat of black stove paint on the cooking grill. In the mid afternoon I made a sign to hang on rear of the grill out of a stainless steel plate. I wrote on the plate with the welder, the letters will corrode and turn red, but the plate will stay clean, emphasizing the letters, well thats the plan anyhow.
Day 2116 Sunday 31st July
While Diane was busy with treating the cabin I got roped in with getting the paint sprayer primed and working, with the temperamental operation of the machine I stayed and helped out.
Day 2117 Monday 1st August
Spent my morning helping with the painting of the cabin and the afternoon helping with the washing of three buildings that need a preservative adding to them
Day 2118 Tuesday 2nd August
Cutting down from the trees a couple of satellite dishes that had been wired together to resemble a flying saucer. While giving the impression of a space vessel it was not convincing enough. So when dumped out side the shop I set to cutting off old Christmas tree lights and making a template to make triangle shaped pieces to clad the ship. The plan later is to set LED lights around the diameter, cut windows and set lights into the body and another under to give the effect of a power blast from rocket boosters. Think I need to ride home, getting too involved with the fantasy stuff!
Day 2119 Wednesday 3rd August
My day was occupied with the cladding of the flying saucer. I did not get it finished as I hoped, but got over half way.
Diane had a major bust up with Ed’s wife over her showing her mother around our cabin. While I agreed it is a major invasion of privacy I could not think that it was worth saying that we are leaving in the morning. Later when I spoke to Ed he said its all done with, stay if you want or leave if you need to. I have appreciated your help. While I was not present at the home invasion I resented Diane making my design to leave the next day. As we are not together anymore why should she make my plans for the future. After sitting out on the stoup for an hour or more I tried to tell her she was being stubborn and as they had not said yeah you gotta leave, so stay till the end of the month and ride south, nope, she’s said she’s packing.
Day 2120 Thursday 4th August
As I made the usual tea Diane packed a few things, I got her bike out of the garage and inflated the tyres. When I got back she packed the bags on, ate an egg sandwich and walked out of the door saying “See you around”, I replied “If you are off to Australia, I doubt it”. It was surreal watching her ride out. However while feeling bad about staying and letting her go out alone it was her choice.
My day was filled with cladding the flying saucer, working alone as normal, nothing felt different apart from not seeing her about on the farm. Getting back to the cabin at six thirty it did feel empty and silent. I switched on the television her favorite murder mystery doc came on, I left on as a familiar backdrop. I spent half an hour turning my bike around and refitting the sump guard and fitting the water proof clothing roll bag to above the front fender, also deciding where the bags, water and fuel containers will now live.
Ed came down to the shop at half five to tell me of a Tornado that had formed over fifteen clicks east of Omaha. It was thin, steel blue and had a kink two thirds up the spout, to the south east. I Australia I watched tropical cyclone Christine, feeling safe as every building was built to withstand the winds. Here, looking at my bike I felt very exposed to nature As we watched the spout slowly thin out and pull back into the cloud. As it did the cloud dumped a huge quantity of rain. It was a sight to behold. Shame I watched with a relative stranger and not some one closer to me.
Day 2121 Friday 5th August
Got as far as I could with the flying saucer so concentrated on the third trailer resurrection. It used to carry a rotating cooker fired by wood and charcoal. That was cut off and now set under a roof with a smoker and gas fired grill. I needed the heavy E.M.L. for cooking and coal mesh, so cleaning up some trash to be recycled. The holes filled in with aluminum checker plate from previous trailer tear downs and rebuilds in wood.
Day 2122 Saturday 6th August
Finally finished the covered wagon cooking grill which everybody says is fantastic which made me feel very proud that my workmanship was appreciated. And the many hours were justified…
Spent the afternoon on the old smoker trailer fixing the checker plate in place. Sadly one piece came from a fourth on coming trailer resurrection. More work, yea! More hours.
Day 2123 Sunday 7th August
I had a late start and set the flying saucer on the smoker trailer on a large tyre so I could fit a sheet metal cone to the underside as well as the top. I moved the lashing hook to the now topside where the windows are. The ideas for the lights are in agreement, now just gonna find the small alien to sit inside and drive, or fly. By half two I was done and went to Menards to have my large one hundred dollar bills checked, all was good so went back and packed a bit more on the bike and put Slime in the tubes and rode around the farm to spread it out. The bike felt very top heavy, as the tyre pressures were way to high maybe that was why. Maybe it was because I had drank a lot of beer. Maybe that the bike top loaded and was top heavy, maybe all four, anyhow got to the gate and back, garaged the bike and had another beer.
Day 2124 Monday 8th August
Came close to finishing the smoker trailer, however Ed had a couple more mowers to salvage from Zach’s scrap metal hands. While he is away on vacation I think Ed is on major plant resurrection.
Day 2125 Tuesday 9th August
Getting back into the ex smoker trailer I was soon pulled up by Ed wanting to get the rooted, very old single blade flail mower ready. Yea sure it needed more T.L.C. and not just hard sex. Two hours later, after field trails Ed came back and said it cut the corn stems great. To me the only problem was it was only cutting on the dull side of the blade as the mower was designed for a counter roatating P.T.O. shaft. So I set to with the grinder to form some kind of cutting edge on the other side of the blade, sat on a wooden chair under the mover, although propped with a piece of hundred by hundred mil square wood still un-nerved me. However with job done, ‘ok’, I carried on with the smoker trailer. Later Ed said it cut much better so all good.
So half a day on ex smoker trailer and half on the flail mower.
Day 2126 Wednesday 10th August
Today managed to get mostly a fat eleven hour day on the trailer, my only off time was repairing the compressor and welding some plates on a ladder so it could be used in the new play ground area. Still did not get the trailer finished!
Day 2127 Thursday 11th August
While having my brekkie I thought that the week was dragging a little, probably a sign that I should be moving on. I had said to Ed and Tyson that due to Alfie arriving and my parents sixtieth wedding anniversary I would head south after the pirates festival. They understood of course but still looked, I don’t know, sad? Remorseful? I hope to come back here in a year or so, part of the reason I did not pack and leave with Diane.
Had a good day on the trailer, STILL not finished though. Had a couple of hours off to weld some anchors for the play ground climbing net and sussing out the swing boat re-weld project. By eight pm I had a fat coat of clear on the trailer wood work, putting the chooks to bed I headed backing cook some beans and wash.
While getting to the end of the painting the sky had darkened, while the temperature had not dropped the wind had gathered from the north, unusual. Hoping that the rain would hold off till the clear coat had gelled at least I sat and wrote this while the sky was filled with lightning, and the trees bowed and rocked with nature. Opening the door, no such luck, it was raining, not hectic but maybe enough to mess my wood work!
Checking on the farm house to see that it was locked as the daughter that should have slept over was not going to. The rain was firm and the sky lit with lightning, I used to love storms like this, but now it intimidates me with the ferocity of it. I hope I manage to wild camp and use the revamped tent while traveling south, or east, or just away.
Day 2128 Friday 12th August
Weird day for me, I rewired the two forty volt trailing read into three wall mounted sockets, repaired a flat tyre on a Gator and swept most of the shop floor. None of it felt like work but it all was! Last thing I pulled in a hay ride trailer from which I had taken a piece of checker plate for another trailer floor. Tearing out the rotten wooden floor before having beers with Tyson, Mark had left mid arvo.
Day 2129 Saturday 13th August
Got a good ten hours on the hay ride trailer, beat with a big hammer and welded the damaged parts, cleaned off the flaky paint and gave it two coats of paint. Stopping for beers mid arvo, sat out by the farm house looking at the berry pickers and the land shimmering slightly in the heat. By half seven I was done got the last coat on and clear coated the old wood work, the old green paint showing through in places, it looked good.
Day 2130 Sunday 14th August
Sunday, no alarm day. Woke at half seven, and stumbled down to let the chooks out and talk to the pigs and ducks.
Beautiful morning. I got another clear coat on the woodwork and the floor planks cut and fitted by noon. Some of the guys were spending the week end at the lake house so with my mud map I drove out there. Marks’ brother Dan was there with his boat he took us all around the lakes shore. We looked at the large houses, some of them very sized for probably two people, a lot empty as they are a vacation house. A few were small log built which looked much in keeping with a water front property in my head.
Back home alone on the farm I fed the dogs
Day 2131 Monday 15th August
I made a towing bracket for the rear of the smoker trailer so I could hook up the first hay ride trailer I remodeled. When paired up they did look good, even though I say so myself!
Got an eleven hour day in, and a lot of beer, getting back to the cabin I felt worn out and dirty, it was too late for laundry. So cooked some tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers, was nice and just a cupful.
Day 2132 Tuesday 16th August
Waking at just gone six I made a pot of tea, then stumbled down to let the chooks out and say hi to the hogs.
With the trailers gone I set to checking why a four meter high animated Grim Reaper that refuses to reap. The gearbox was worn out. It could be repaired but not with the plant that is on the farm, need a lathe. So probably back on the welder and patch up the flail mover that I got going last week.
Day 2133 Wednesday 17th August
Ed stopped by at my shop Wednesday morning and he spoke of the disagreement over Diane and his wife and how sorry he was at what had occurred. He asked when I was gonna head out, I told him my date and the reasons, he looked a little sad and said “well you always welcome back here any time, I’ve enjoyed your company and your work here has been fantastic, so much old crap has been turned into useful usable old crap”! I said “if I could get back in a year or so then I would, I like it here. You guys say what you would like done and then leave me alone”.
Day 2134 Thursday 18th August
While drinking beer this arvo Tyson asked if I would hang around for another month or so, I had come to terms, and look forward to heading out, I had thought at months end I would head east. I said I maybe could hang on for a week or two. But I would like to go back to the UK to see family and friends, And beat the cold. I said I would come back in a year or so.
Day 2135 Friday 19th August
Under a burning hot sun I fitted the rope lights around the perimeter of the flying saucer and a red and green lamp inside, the red shining out the window far side of the track, the green to glow behind the rubber alien. Hot and sweaty I went inside for lunch and a cold beer. Heading back out half an our later the clouds had rolled in. By my work days end the sky was lead blue and thunder rumbled all around.
There was a large party on tonight, while I was taking a tractor with steady rain now falling, to pull in two ‘train’ ride carts a lady who was driving in stopped me and asked me why the trees in a paddock were fenced in. I said to stop them wandering. She said “you guys from New Zealand are so weird”. The trees ware fenced in to stop the cows and horses eating them.
Day 2136 Saturday 20th August
The swinging boat welding had broken where the mast is attached to the cross over support. So today I made a ridiculously heavy bracket to brace the two together. In the arvo made a new roof and supports for the rear ‘train’ ride carts, stood in with Mark for an hour or so then headed to bed. Tomorrow is my favorite day as I set no alarm, often wake late and have a fired egg in a bread roll for breakie.
Day 2137 Sunday 21st August
Typical! Woke at four thirty and got out of bed at five,what a strange day had a few emails from Diane to which I responded she wanted a couple of items from the cabin but did not want to come back to the farm which I understood big time, so while applying wood preservative to the ‘train’ ride cart when a heavy coat had been applied I borrowed a vehicle and took the hard drive, however forgot the hand bag she made in Lac La Hatche. We talked for an hour or more of the day she left and reached some understanding of what occurred, as I may have wrote, the whole situation was a farce and badly managed by all those involved.
As I left I gave her a hug but received none back. As I drove back with a lump in my throat I was disappointed we could not work it through. Again
back at the farm I thought, take the bag and some more grog, so I did. I think she was please having the bag and more beer. We sat on the stoup and while she repaired the bag I drank my grog and felt very weird, the swan song of eight years was going to end in a few minutes. Jenna arrived back from work and said, “gonna shower then lets go, the band started at five”, so I departed back to the farm to fit the roof sheets on the ‘train’ ride cart. At seven I was giddy with no feed and the sheets were in place so I went to cook my scoff.
Some of the pirate fest actors were rehearsing on the pirate ship, from a distance it sounded very funny, to hear them shouting at each other, some of them sounded very English. Maybe they were putting it on anyway it was strange to hear the accent.
Sat out late with a fire I noticed the fire flies are not around any more, maybe, are they only on fire for the rooting season I wonder. They were great to have around at night, they gave an unearthly feel to the evening as dozens of them lit up and faded out all around the grass outside the cabin and around one’s head, but never buzzing you like a blowfly does.
Day 2138 Monday 22nd August
I woke in the dark to heavy drops of rain hitting the tin roof by five a.m. I gave up trying to get back to sleep. I opened the cabin door to a great looking morning, the mist lay in the hollows, back lite with a bright orange glow. It developed into a beautiful day, twenty seven degrees and clear skies. Ed stopped by and said “great day for riding out”, I replied “don’t tempt me!”
My day was spent finishing the train ride car roof remake and tidying the shop for the pirate fest. Transforming it from grubby metal shop to food serving outlet, talk about chalk and cheese.
Day 2139 Tuesday 23rd August
Having spent a stupid amount of time trying to make the gear box and motor line up for the Grime Reaper. Having welded the old gear shaft onto a new motor I failed to get it straight and true. Much cheaper to buy a whole new assembly.
At half seven PM on the radio there was issued a tornado warning for Washington County, fifty clicks north of here, make one think hard about what if the wind changed direction? The north western sky is filled with lightning as the light fades. The clouds were lit by the hectic lighting within them and hot wires of electricity shot in random arcs from one cloud to another. While the wind continued to blow from the south it made me wonder what the jet stream was planning. As the skies got darker the more dramatic it looked and felt. At nine p.m. on the dot the rain started. None forecast, hope the willie willie stays north.
Day 2140 Wednesday 24th August
Took an hour to make clamps for the motor, it worked and ran for a while, then the soft weld gave out. Thankful that was the end of the job. I started to clean the shop and move the big tools the rear. Packing the paint, hand tools and anything else I had taken from the main shop. I was like moving home, or leaving, which is what it was, after the pirate fest there is couple of welding jobs, however after that I finish here. Putting the tools away felt like I was out today!
Within two hours! I had dragged the welder and plasma cutter back to sharpen the mower blades. Zach wanted an edge on them, I said it’s a flail mower they don’t have a sharp blade. Oh well is your mower.
To finish the day I set to resurrecting a plastic barrel that had been made to look like a locomotive, which sat on the mini tractor that pulls the two cars I had worked on earlier.
Day 2141 Thursday 25th August
Wandering down to the shop in early morning gloom it felt odd to open the doors and all my failure welder, plasma cutter, tools and clutter all gone. The floor swept and work benches clean. I had been left well alone down there, now with the festival so close other guys are cutting back over hanging branches and offering to help clean up! Help, I’m being invaded! After moving out the fizzy drink bottles, I set to getting the flail mower reassembled when Ed returned with the parts. Zach came and helped after a few hours, we commented on the whole job had fought us all the way on the rebuild. However by four thirty he pulled it out mounted on a tractor to mow some grass. As I left to buy my iPad mini to help me navigate my eastern journey when I leave he was making grass scatter on the drive.
I got to the Apple store in one and a quarter hours, shabby as it was only twenty clicks! On the freeway the traffic was three lanes down to two as six hogs lay in a bloody mess of guts and blood on the tar. Looks like a tail gate fell open and the hogs ran or fell to the road. Wonder what the driver thought when he got to his destination and saw no hogs. Well by quarter to eight I was back in the peace and tranquility of farm life. Far from highways, dead hogs and bright lights. As I went for a beer Tyson came out and readily headed back in to chew the phat and drink beer, which we both enjoy! Nice end to a good day.
Day 2142 Friday 26th August
Wandering into the farm house and finding no people, only dogs I filled the two fridges with water and fizzy drink to cool. For the first time on the farm I felt at a loose end and had to ask what needed to be done. As well as the festival to prepare for there was a wedding party to night and two more tomorrow. So I checked and stocked the alcohol and made the Margaritas. Sounds like a not much job but it filled three hours, the day also with a couple of small metal working jobs.
Day 2143 Saturday 27th August
Woke at two thirty! After not really sleeping much I gave up and was relieved to see it was half four. I went to check on the download of maps, all that I needed were done so I picked out some other countries for the future. I was very dark outside, no moon heavy cloud cover, walking back to the cabin I kicked a dead racoon that the dogs probably killed although later when I saw it in day light it looked un-mauled
Just getting light gone have my wheaties and brew a tea to go. It’s festival day, gonna be interesting.
The farm house was locked so busied my self till it was time to light the grills and start cooking.
Mid morning while I was in the farm house some one said “a girl needs your help in the bar” I walk in and a pretty girl in a mermaid tail (!?) was sat on the floor, she said “could you carry me to the pool” I smiled and said “me? yeah right” her buddy said “no, truly she needs you to carry her” with no more bidding I swept this tiny girl into my arms with a fifteen kilo tail and took her to the ‘pond’. She said “should she hug me and hang onto my neck to stop her slipping and heading for the mud”? “yeah sounds awesome I replied”. At the algae covered duck pond I asked her if this was her pool, she shrieked and said NO!, then she pulled herself even closer and said “no, please sir it’s not good for my tail”. Wishing I had started drinking sooner(!) I thought that this girl was totally wrapped into being a mermaid. Later she found me and said I have shed a tear for you and made this paper cricket for you. She kissed me on the cheek and said “your a good kindhearted man I wish you long life”. I just felt like a dirty grandpa, which is what they call me now as I am often grubby. But hey! Who has carried a mermaid back to the water! And I have pics!!!
Most of the day I cooked turkey legs and beef patties, the legs were kinda smoked and looked tempting so I left one in for most of the day and took it to the Pirates pub to eat and drink more beer. A girl was selling cider and mead for a guy I met when we arrived in May, Brian, she said she hungry so traded a mug a very nice cider for half of my supper. It was smokey flavor and slightly chew as it had cooked for so long, Dani loved it and ate most of it. I told her she was a pig, she laughed and topped up my mug in return.
The festival was slow and by six I was bushed, however I had things to do till seven.
When walking back to the cabin Zach asked could I cover the bar at eight as he had a party to go to, I said “yeah, got no other place to be.” As I had been drinking slowly since ten a.m. I could not go anywhere anyhow!
So now it’s half seven and, showered I need to get dressed for a party, all I would like is to sleep for ten hours.
The party was supposedly going to be a wild one and late to boot. Thankfully we were out of there at midnight.
Day 2144 Sunday 28th August
Waking for the first time ever with sunshine my face, it was just passed seven, at half eight I lit the fire in the grill and cooked turkey legs.
I at ten I took a leg to Dani who foolishly gave me a mug of cider, I think it was the sugar because it went to my head! By two PM we shut the grill down as it was not doing as well as the other food outlets. I spent the afternoon in the pub talking with Brian, (mead and cider guy) Mark and Dani.
Day 2145 Monday 29th August
Took a day off first for three and a half months, spent the time planning my route out of here, bank stuff and emailing Elizabeth.
At two PM Tyson asked if I would help swop out a gas tank on an old truck of his. The truck was corroded beyond belief, a scrap truck in the UK. By seven the old one was out and we went to drink beer!
Day 2146 Tuesday 30th August
Spent till midday fitting the new tank and repairing three corroded and leaking fuel lines. My arvo re-fitting the new zip wire lines that were trashed by campers on Friday night
Day 2147 Wednesday 31st August
Day 2148 Thursday 1st September
Day 2149 Friday 2nd September
Spent the last two days setting out Halloween decoration and generally feeling ready for the road.