Keen to flush the poly irrigation lines in the new orchard prior to fertigation I turned the ignition key in the ute: nothing. No sound; no click. Battery flat. Headlights has not been left on overnight but the front left door had been ajar. The cabin light had drained the battery. I would need a jump start. The peugeot was parked next to the ute in the garage. I would need to drive it out and push the ute to a position to let me use the jumper leads. With the Peugeot out I pushed the ute out of the garage. I positioned the Peugeot adjacent to the ute’s battery. I opened the bonnet. You can’t attach jumper leads to the Peugeot’s battery. Another solution was needed.

To get the tractor I have to disengage the winged slasher. Hammer to the metal pins released the arms, while pressure and tugs released the PTO shaft. I manoeuvred the tractor into position, attached the leads: nothing. Not a click, not a whurr. Can you believe that I received a state-of-the art jumper leads for my birthday- yesterday. I attached the leads, mindful of the potential for explosion with their superior conductivity. The ute started first go.

I loaded the ute with tools, spade, irrigation equipment, hat sunscreen and gloves.

The orchard pump had not operated in seven months. It started first time. The pressure gauge showed normal functioning and did so for four minutes. I would not have to prime the line or call Chris, our local irrigation expert.

Ruth was pruning station five so I sent the water to six. At station six I parked the ute and used pliers to open up the taps at the end of the poly pipe at the end of the row. Murky muddy water gushed from the pipe. I walked on opening another ten taps. By the time I had done this , the outflow from the first had cleared. I made my way back and closed the tap for this and each successively. There are twenty one rows in station six. I flushed each, on the eastern and western sides.

Having flushed the central poly line I focused on the sprinklers. Some are blocked. Some have been chewed by hares and others knocked flat by sheep. You need gumboots and pliers to pull the tubing leading to the sprinkler head from the poly. Gumboots block the jet from the hole in the poly hitting you in the face once you have freed the sprinkler tubing from the poly with the pliers. Its best to do this once the weather warms. Today is the last day of winter – 21 degrees centigrade. With the pump on its easiest to see errant sprinklers by viewing their spray defined by sunlight. There are those that in which there is no flow, those lying on their sides, those with leaks in the tubing and those with sprinkler faults. Each requires a different but similar solution.

Today went well. Two stations out of six were prepared for fertigation. Its not unusual to be forced to do three to five tasks before the planned one.

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