Through winter, the dirt road to our farm has been wet by constant showers. I noticed last week that clouds of dust billow behind the car. The fine pale particles travel in the wind across gardens and fields to settle on the shelves and furniture of our neighbours. Our house is set back from the road. We do not get a dusting; only when a neighbour plows his fields. Sometimes the house disappears and the roof is covered in a fine film.
Dusty roads are a sign of winter passing and the beginning of the spring rush. Like the rumble from the 9 am locomotive on the railway tracks at our northern border, mother nature is palpably impatient to burst out of the winter chains. Grass is lush, buds are swelling, blossoms are about and birds are pairing. Willy-wag tails have just resumed residence in their nest in the climbing rose.
Fertigation feeds the new growth. But, one station in the orchard has profuse umbrella sedge in the tree-line. Feeding those trees through the irrigation system would only benefit the weeds. The sedge is too tall and prolific for herbicide. Today, I commenced whipper-snipping the twenty rows. If you walk to the left, a right handed person finds it easier to swing the spinning plastic string from side to side, biting deeply and quickly into the tangled mass of green stems. Juicy tit-bits fly into your face and mouth. You taste, feel, see and hear the cutting.
Meanwhile, as I mow the weeds, our neighbour Michael hills up the prunings that have accumulated into four separate mounds about the orchard, in readiness for burning. We need to get this done before the fire-bans come into force.
In the sheep race in the north paddock, Ruth has gathered the sheep. Brian, our shearer, has left his ewes and lambs with us for the last two month. They are keeping our main orchard clean. Today he is bringing sixty lambs from another property. The sixty odd lambs that have been here with their mothers will be weaned today. Tonight, they will bleat. That is, unless they go to market and bleat there. An agent is coming to choose. Those of the 120 lambs that do not go off will stay with us.
After I cut three rows, Michael hilled four bonfires and Ruth gathered the sheep, the rain commenced. On the radar the rainclouds extended to Swan Hill. Rain for three hours. So much for orchard work. The agent continued selecting his flock to go to market.