Challenges of Farming - 5. CoF Ch 5
Going to bed a little earlier than usual, I soon fell asleep to the sounds of the rain on the roof, but was woken suddenly by the sound of the crack of thunder, and the wining sounds coming from Jack. I called him to jump up onto the bed and he settled down with his back against mine, and I was soon fast asleep again.
The start of a new week was no different than any other day of the week on the farm, milking and feeding the animals, breakfast for Jack and me, then plenty of other farm jobs. Firstly, I went over to the corner block, to check the small back yard behind the cottage, and tidied it up a bit, by whipper snipping the grass, and removing any rubbish.
I also pruned a few trees close to the cottage that are leaning a little too close to the cottage, so they will not cause any damage in any storms, plus I raked away all the leaves and gumnuts away from the fence line, to reduce the fire hazard. Once I was happy with the area around the cottage, I headed over to the cottage that I used to live in, on the original block of land, and I did a bit of a garden tidy up there as well, which took me until lunchtime to complete.
As Jack and I climbed into the vehicle, my mobile rang, and the caller ID was Malcolm. “Hello Mr Danby, how may I help you today,” I said as I answered the call. “Hello Mitchell, you sound nice and chirpy today,” Malcolm responded, and I smiled at this comment.
“Yes well it is another beautiful late autumn day, and I have achieved quite a lot of work today,” I commented, “Well that is nice to hear. “ I have called you to ask if you are interested in renting out the cottage that you used to live in, for two weeks, as we have relatives coming over next week for a visit, and we don’t have enough room at our place,” Malcolm asked me.
“I am there as we speak, I have just finished doing a tidy up of the grounds around the cottage, and yes that is not a problem, but it will need a good cleanup inside, maybe Loretta can do that this weekend?” I replied. “Yes she has already suggested that idea to me, so what is the cost going to be to rent it out for six days?” Malcolm replied.
“I have no idea. I have never done a holiday letting before. Do you know what the price is usually?” I responded, “Well, it can be anything from $195 to $265 per night for a self contained cottage like yours,” Malcolm replied.
“Gosh, that much, I think since the cottage is a fair way out of town, and fairly basic, I would prefer it to be well below that amount… how about $70 per night, and I will include the use of my double kayak, paddles and PFD jackets,” I suggested.
“You have a deal, thankyou for that, I will leave it to Loretta to organise it all. Bye for now,” Malcolm said happily before ending the call, and I just chuckled at his happiness. After Lunch, I loaded the vehicle up with tools and supplies, before heading back to the cottage on the main block, and I got to work to make a few basic repairs, with a few door handles missing in the kitchen, a few squeaky doors to oil, and a few loose floor boards to mend.
Once I was happy that everything was in a better condition than I left it, I headed back to the main shed, and returned all the tools, before heading over to the milking shed, to start on the afternoon chores. When I returned to the house after having finished work for the day, with it nearly been dark, I had a shower before relaxing in the lounge room and watched the news.
Just as the weather report came onto the television, a notification came arrived on my phone, and I have expected to see kangaroos grazing near one of the cameras, but when I saw a vehicle with no lights on, parked at the front driveway that leads directly to the milking shed, I jumped out of my chair, as I called Jack to follow, I grabbed the vehicle keys and raced outside.
Instead of driving around to the front, I chose to go through the paddocks, as it is less than 500 metres to the milking shed, and walk in fridge, and once I was there I did a quick look around, before jumping back into the vehicle and driving down the driveway towards the gate, but with my headlights off, as there was enough moonlight for me to be able to see the driveway clearly.
As I was approaching the gate, I switched on my headlights and flicked on the high beam, catching the intruders off guard, as they scrambled back into their vehicle and backed out of the driveway and raced off up Redmond West road.
When I stopped at the gate, I could see a few wires had been cut, and some marks on the chain where they had tried to cut through it.
Pulling out my phone, I called the police at Albany, to report the attempt to gain access to my property, and I gave them a description of the vehicle and the registration number, and informed them that it was heading along Redmond West Road, bound for the Albany Highway.
I also informed them that I have video footage of them attempting to break into the property. I was informed that there was a police car at the nearby Albany Airport, and that they would head west to intercept them, and I was asked to come into Albany to make a statement the following day, which I agreed too.
Once back at home, I made myself and Jack some dinner, and we headed to bed early, since I need to make a trip into the city after milking. The next morning while feeding the poddy calves, I thought I had better call Loretta before going into the city, in case she needs anything to make the cottage look a bit more presentable.
“Hello Loretta, do you need anything for the cottage, as I am unexpectantly heading into the city,” I said when Loretta answered my call. “Oh, why unexpectantly? Good morning to you Mitchell,” Loretta asked, “Sorry good morning Loretta. I had some people try to break into my property last night; luckily my security cameras picked it up and notified me.
I called the police last night, and they asked me to come in and make a statement, and to bring in the security footage that I have,” I replied. “Well I am glad that they didn’t manage to get in, and in regards to the cottage, how about I come over in twenty minutes time, and I will have a look at inside the two cottages and make some suggestions for you, then we can go and do some shopping if need be,” Loretta suggested.
Leaving Jack at home, Loretta and I visited both cottages, and she came up with a short list of things that could brighten up both buildings, including ready to hang curtains, a couple of floor rugs, as well as new sets of linen for the bathroom, bedroom and for the kitchen, new cooking and eating ware for the smaller cottage, that will soon be home for my work hand.
When we arrived back from the city, with over $750 of purchases, Loretta said she would take home to wash all the linen and iron the curtains, and I thanked her for her assistance, and watched as she headed down the driveway, and I made a mental note to lock the gate before going to the milking shed this afternoon.
I felt like just lying down and relaxing until it was time to go to the milking shed, but I knew that I had lots of things to do, one of them was to check out the condition of the walk tracks in the front bush area of the original farm, where I used to go for lots of walks each time I visited the farm.
Driving to the cottage, I left the vehicle there, and with Jack at my side, we spent the next two hours, walking through all of the walk tracks, and also pacing them out, and I worked out that I had approximately 1.45 kilometres of walk trails in that bush area.
I just needed to grade the track, to remove any sticks and branches, which would not be a problem, and I would use the old harrows that I found at the corner block, and attach them to the back of the quad bike, and that would do the job for me.
For the next few days, I was kept busy with the usual daily chores, as well as continuing to clean up the farms, bringing down dead trees and stacking them up ready for burning, as well as maintaining the fence lines, and I also managed to make up a laminated map of the walking tracks, and made small signs at the start of each track, so that guests know where they can go.
Around the cottage, the few bits and pieces of old junk were buried, and the whole area around it was tidied up and I made a trip into town to purchase another four more security cameras, to increase coverage of all main entry points to my property.
For the property that I live on, I wanted to have a camera on the other side of the machinery shed, On the land behind the vineyard property, which is part of the main farm, where there is a shed and cattle yards that I use for my main cattle work, I added a camera facing the yards and the shed, from the direction of the access track.
The third camera, I placed high in a tree looking down at the river platform, located behind the house, and the last camera, I placed in a tree beside the driveway leading to the main cottage, at the junction of a laneway that heads towards the river.
For the past few days we had some unseasonal warm weather, which was a bit of a worry, especially when on the north boundary of the main farm, has the Mount Lindsay National Park as a neighbour.
Although it is a rare, we do get the occasional dry thunderstorm, and the weather forecast for tonight said the chance of thunderstorms, but no rain.
After completing the day’s chores, I had an early dinner, and straight afterwards, Jack and I went to the main shed, where there is a standard trailer, plus a trailer with a 500 litre tank and water pump on it, with fire hoses attached.
I made sure that the pump was fuelled up and ready to go, giving it a few minutes of running to make sure that all is good, and I checked that the hose was in working order.
Once I was happy that it was all working, I backed my vehicle into the shed and attached it to the fire fighting trailer, and left it there ready to go.
Back in the house, I gave Malcolm a call. “Sorry to call you so late, it is Mitchell speaking. I have this unsettled feeling that we may have a bush fire tonight. I have checked my fire unit and it is all ready to go, what do I do when I see or smell a fire?” I said when the call was answered.
“I am glad that you called, Loretta and I were just talking about that while watching the weather report tonight, we tried calling but you didn’t answer the phone, and what you just said, I am guessing you were over at the shed getting prepared. Have you checked that all your buildings gutters have been cleared away?” Malcolm said to me.
“No, I have been so busy with cleaning up the farm, especially over at the cottage with your guests coming next week, that I haven’t had time to do any of that,” I replied. “Well it is too dark now; I will come over in the morning to help you with that. Try and get a good night’s sleep and we will just have to pray that there is no fires,” Malcolm said to me.
“I hope so too, thankyou, I will see you tomorrow,” I replied, and ended the call. I had a bit of a restless sleep for most of the night, and I sat up when a very loud crack of lightning sounded very close to the house, and I heard jack wining with worry, and I stroked his head to calm him as I glanced at the clock, which ready 4.17am, a good hour and a bit before I am usually up to start work.
“Knowing that I won’t get back to sleep, as with the rumble of thunder happening outside, I got out of bed and dressed, before letting Jack out to so his business, while I made a cup of tea, and made some toast. When Jack tapped the door to be let him in, I opened the door and he raced inside, as another crack of lightning sounded close by.
I stepped out into the little patio that faces the river, I stared out into the darkness, as I sipped my tea and munched on my toast, and suddenly the wind changed direction and the strong smell of smoke hit me. “Oh shit” I said, as I dashed inside and grabbed my telephone and dialled Malcolm’s number.
“Hello, is that you Mitch? Do you have a fire” Loretta asked sleepily. “Yes sorry to wake you, the wind just changed and I can smell smoke, coming from the north of me somewhere,” I replied.
“Ok, I will make the call to emergency services, you get to work and clean out your gutters, and if you have sprinklers, get them started around your house so the lawn and garden are all drenched, we will be out there in about half an hour,” Loretta said, and she hung up before I could say any more.
I grabbed my mobile, wallet and vehicle keys, and calling Jack, we headed over to the main shed, where I grabbed the two portable spotlights, and plugging them at the shed, I set them up to point to the house, before retrieving the ladder, and a couple of hessian bags and a bucket, and I walked back to the house, and I was soon clearing away all the leaves in the gutters of the house.
After half an hour, I headed back to the shed, and jumping onto the quad bike, I headed to the front gate and unlocked the padlock and chain, so Malcolm and Loretta could get in, and I returned to the shed and back to clearing the gutters. I had finished doing the house and was starting on the shed, when a vehicle came down the driveway and stopped beside the shed.
“Good morning, did you manage to have some breakfast before you started?” Loretta called out to me, “Yes thankyou, I was having a cup of tea and toast when I smelt the smoke, any news on where the fire is?” I replied.
“I have been monitoring the fire channel on UHF, it is in the National Park, east of the Denmark Barker Road, near the Centre Break Track, which is 16 kilometres north of the South Coast Highway,” Malcolm answered.
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