Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tractor power rules

In a country plagued by drought we rarely complain about rain. It's always welcome but the wet start to spring had its drawbacks. The Pear Tree Paddock had been used exclusively by horses last autumn, to its detriment and our shame. Attempts at reseeding were less than successful. If only there was a world market for capeweed. With the volunteer capeweed crop now flowering we had very limited time to stop it seeding and going exponential. It would take forever with a hired garden cultivator and it's rather heavy clay anyway. Dragging an old gate around with the ute had done nothing but annoy the bees. It would have to be mowed. Our cheerful neighbour on top of the hill came to our rescue on his trusty grey steed.

Its an old Ferguson, a beautiful piece of machinery with no roll bar, no aircon, no dust shields, not even a seat cushion and it does it's job perfectly, in this case slashing the pretty yellow flowers. My father had a tractor like this when he and his father before him had a serious farm in the Mallee outback of South Australia. He cleared land and built roads with his. They are indestructible.
Our cheery neighbour's vintage tractor chugged round and round, groaning a bit in the heavy wet at the bottom of the hill but working away nonetheless. The various animals in the adjacent free range gullies didn't turn a hair. It was sunny. There was serious grazing to be done and they just assumed this loud grey beastie was grazing too, albeit in a rather logical square pattern. And rather indiscriminately, eating all in its path.

The very nice chap doing the steering had earplugs in, (goodness knows why, it was only really, really loud, not deafening) so comments and conversation were kept to a minimum - being a mixture of shouts and sign language.

It was a very short part of a lovely morning later when the Fergie and its rider mowed the last strip, then chugged off down the road to do their own work, having cheerfully taken nothing but a glass of water in return for their efforts. All done with a friendly wave. Whenever I lose faith in human nature I only need to recall our neighbours' unquestioning help to us. And their enormous smiles.