It’s been a LONG time between posts and that reflects where I’m at with cherry farming really. I’ve kind of worked out that I have neither the skill set, the resilience nor the time to be a cherry farmer. So, post harvest I really backed right off and turned my focus to staring my PhD instead.
Damo has continued to plug away at it and I am constantly amazed at his resilience. Last month we had a mini cyclone come through which lasted the best part of a week. It has left our bird nets torn and tattered over the majority of the orchard. I can barely look at it without feeling ill at the amount of work that lies ahead. So I rarely look at it. Mainly now I go to the farm just to take the girls horse riding. I only go out once every couple of weeks to work. I’ve done some pruning of root stock in the Simones and lateral branches in the Sambas, but nothing like I was doing this time last year. And I’ll admit to feeling much happier as a result of not feeling chained to the farm.
Yesterday I roamed about there for a few hours while the girls rode, doing nothing much but tidying up bits and bobs. But farm work enters into you as if by osmosis and so this morning I found myself awake before 6 wondering how I could mend the massive tear in the net above row 25 without use of the cherry picker (which Damien is using to put new net up over the Sambas). The short answer is I can’t fix the net. I don’t have the skill set, nor the spare cherry picker to do it. But being honest here, even if we had a spare cherry picker sitting right under that gaping 30 metre long tear I wouldn’t actually want to repair that net. I would hate every minute of the job and manage to stitch myself into a state of depression. That is what I find being on a farm with constant visible workload does to me. Whenever I’m there I see the endless work that lies ahead. Maybe it’s different on different types of farms. But that’s how I experience cherry farming. I take my hat off to Damien who just keeps plugging away at it. I am in awe that the elements haven’t yet defeated him. In less than a year we have had two major storms come through – the most recent with the power to uproot massive eucalypts on our farm and carry half our causeway off in its torrent. To me the struggle to keep bird netting intact is futile.
I feel pretty pissweak to not be able to continually rise up to the challenges the farm throws at us. But that’s how it is. I’m just trying to psyche myself up for the harvest in January when I’ll need to be there.
In the meantime one thing I can do is use our everyday spending to support local farmers. I’ve had the privilege of gaining insight into just how hard it is to produce food. I think consumers don’t have a full enough understanding of this. Maybe if they did I think they’d support better prices for farmers.
A couple of other quick mentions:
Already, although it’s still winter (just) and supposedly the quiet time for a cherry farmer, Damo is pretty much tied to the farm to the degree that he can’t even get away for a week. Michael asked him if he’d walk the overland track with a mate of his. He told me how much he would love to go. I asked if he could leave the cherries for that long. “I guess that answers it” he replied. (He’s not going). I think it’s important to remember these small things, because they are some of the qualitative impacts of the farm on our life. Damo has been yearning to walk the overland track again for ages.
Likewise I want very much to spend a few weeks up on the Sunny Coast towards Christmas since there’s a family reunion and Nana turns 90, but I haven’t booked it yet. It feels too indulgent since I’m aware that the work demands of the farm will be so high then. But no. I have just now decided that this family business is too important for the girls and me to miss. So we will go.
And somewhere sometime the conversation about the farm needs to address the question of whether it is helping us live the life we want to share together. That’s probably one of the most important questions for us to consider.