While I’m at the day job business continues on the farm. Ruth was pruning the new orchard when Chris arrived. I phoned Chris last week. He said he would come Monday. By Tuesday I texted him a nudge. Chris is the local irrigation expert. He is meticulous but busy as his thoughts are not focused on an early pub lunch. I had asked him to repair the chewed wire on the valve in station one. I knew he would look over the whole system. He did. He wound back the timer on the pump from 2054 to 2014, and reset the month, day, date and days of watering. He rearranged the sequence of the orchard stations on the pump controller. After he had done all this he checked with Ruth. She taunted him that I would not be pleased.
As they spoke, an unknown car headed along the dirt track to the pump shed. Chris offered to inquire. His laden ute was parked nearby the shed. Ruth observed their interaction from afar. By the time she arrived she realised that the stranger was our shearer, Brian.
Brian was concerned that his young lambs in our front paddock were about to encounter hardened heads of barley grass. At present the heads were soft and edible but in a fortnight they would stiffen, catch in the wool, poke them in the eyes and set up scars in the skin. These lambs had been weaned fro their mothers two weeks ago. The ewes were in the orchard where there was little barley grass.
‘Could we put the lambs with their mothers in the orchard?’ Ruth asked.
‘Yerraahh. The ewes wont feed them now. You interested in buying any of the ewes?’
Summer is approaching and feed will disappear. Brian was sounding out if he might offload some of his feeding problem to us.
‘How much do you want?’
‘You tell me.’
‘I give you $20 a head for pregnant ewes.’
Brian was silent.
‘You know what Barry would say if I buy ewes to feed through the summer.’
Meanwhile, in the house, the painter cursed as the recently plastered patch adjacent to the pantry fell onto the kitchen floor.