Today was a rare time that I had an actual weekday free so I hotfooted it out to the garlic at Cam and Ginny’s patch. The added bonus of it being a weekday was that I got to bend the ear of Tony the resident Farm Manager and Enabler of Handy Machinery. I was expecting to do a little casual weeding and hoping the ground had enough moisture from the long past rain. On both counts I was a bit wrong.
So the weeding was not triffid-scale and the nettle fiesta had definitely quietened down considerably since my last massive weed haul. But doing my entire 50 metre row still took a good few hours and Cam’s babies were now also needing a solid de-weeding.
Also on the lady farmer radar today was Kel’s row which didn’t have any mulch and since the recent dry spell had started cracking on the surface and giving me the heebie-jeebies.
After a good chat with Tony about wind, and timing, and watering, and what’s good for strawberries, I hunkered down and kept weeding. It’s always a great start to the day to get the daily wisdom from Tony before starting out on the crop. This time I learnt – how much a towball costs to get put on a car; that strawberries hate the wind; that the Ballan Southerly would pick up the thickest mulch and fling around the paddock come November; and that Italians like tidy farms.
Stopping for a quick lunch down at my favourite main street local, I headed back to sort out Cam’s row of weeds and concoct a plan to get a towball put on my car so I could (before the dry summer really kicked in) make use of this beautiful beast –
And then, like a vision, just as I was coming close to finishing the weeding, Tony appeared in the ute, towing this water tank extravaganza along to just in front of the garlic rows. Then he jumped out, gave me a demo and left me to it. Like a Garlic Angel!
Coupled with the already dried out soil, our serious lack of watering utilities was going to be a potentially huge challenge for us ballanisters over the next few hot months before harvest. Thanks to Tony, I was able to alleviate the worst row a bit by giving it a big drink. As we went back, filled the tank again and added some liquid fertiliser to Cam’s half row too. All through the magic of the motorised high-pressure water tank that was hand-delivered, and enabling me to do it in a matter of 45 minutes or so. Take that drought!
I often have mini epiphanies when I’m out there in the quiet and the green. And today’s one was this – that farming only works because of people and their generosity. I felt indebted to Tony today, not only for his willingness to help where he saw it was needed, but for that farmer-style practicality of his approach to helping a sister out.
Driving home, with the vague scent of liquid fertiliser in my hair (some free advice: don’t push fertiliser through a high pressure hose on a windy day, folks) and with a bin full of weeds in the boot, all I could feel was grateful.