Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Muttama Princess

And 10 months later, I return to Muttama Station to be a harvest cook. After a lifetime of travelling from South East Asia to arrive here (6 days baby!), i arrived to the most disgusting sanitary situation in the house. This coming from a girl who's lived in a developing country for 7 months. That should say a lot.

I got the place all sorted out anyway, (4 hours to clean the stove/oven!). That night I went up to the farmhouse with one of the farmboys for dinner with the farmer and his wife. There is one boy who is the same from last year.
I wasn't confident on the cleanliness of the kitchen in the quarters so I didn't want to attempt food cooking there. I had a good chat with them.  Their favourite story was how a fellow teacher friend of mine got mugged. By three lady-boys on a moto. The farmer and farmboy never tire of re-enacting the scene. It keeps me in stitches. Sometimes I just randomly ask farmboy to do the ladyboy accent, and generally, well actually  ALWAYS, he obliges (never mess with the lady who is in charge of the food). It makes me laugh so hard. 

As for actual day-to-day life out here, it is pretty quiet. I originally had four Irish lads and one Aussie guy, but the Irish "needed to take a spoonful of cement and harden up" (Farmer Tom's words, not mine, my description was more along the lines of "bunch of pansies") and left.  The one guy in particular wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he was the catalyst for the whole mutiny thing. What happened was Farmer Tom told him to knock off work at 7pm as he was going to pull a night shift on the hay baler. So this clever lad waltzes home and proceeds to sit in front of the TV. Puzzled, I asked him if he were going to bed as I can turn the music off etc. He said, "No, it's worse if I sleep. It's better if I just stay awake the whole time."  

I tried to tell him that temporarily he might feel ill, but at 4 and 5am, he would be really happy that he had slept. He didn't listen. In fact he drove to town and bought 5 RedBulls. Then he sat down and downed them.  Sheer brilliance.  He went to work, then came home around 6am and went to sleep. At 1130am, the Farmer told me to wake him up. So I did. Genius boy was so upset, he muttered and complained the whole time. Then when he joined the group at work, they were waiting for a truck or something, so they were all standing around. This upset him to the point where he stomped back to the quarters and grouched about it to me. I politely, and delicately reminded him that he had the 5 hours the night before to sleep, which he didn't. The Aussie Farmboy came to the quarters and was like, "Soooo, are you coming back to work because we sort of need you?!".
Irish guy,"Ummmm...I have a headache and need coffee". Awkward silence where I avoided eye contact with everyone and looked for the nearest exit to make my escape, then Aussie farmboy left. 30 minutes later the whole lot turned up at the quarters full of laughter and jolliness. They told me they were out and wanted to know if I wanted out too. Pansies. They got all worked up over the way they were being treated.   I knew Assistant Farmer had no clue, and there was gonna be a scene.  I really wanted out, but unfortunately, the quarters were not the biggest place. When I saw him coming I quickly retreated to my room where I could hear a ruckus in the kitchen that involved a lot of swearing and shouting. I hid out until it quieted down then made an appearance. The Irish boys had their music pumping and were well on their way to getting wasted. They packed up and left a few hours later. Good riddance was the general consensus at the farm. 
 So currently I have two lovely Frenchies (who wash their dishes...WITH SOAP!!!) and the one Aussie.  Because the Frenchies are so tidy, it leaves me with little do. Lately I have been doing catch-up with family and friends from back home. My life in Cambodia combined with the internet situation made communications difficult. Also, I have been doing hours of navigation online trying to sort out school stuff from afar. Turns out I am terrible at this stuff. I really am way more comfortable face-to-face. Alas, being in the bowels of Ozland makes that a wee bit difficult.  Also, Farmer and Assistant Farmer both have kids so I have been doing some minding for them. Emma, the Assistant Farmer's wife is close to my age and we get along famously. Like a house on fire really. So we hang out and exchange gossip and recipes.  She has got two really lovely kids, Maddison and Angus. They are both close to my nephews and nieces age so I really like to hang with them. Farmer Tom and Steph have four kids, but the two older boys go to boarding school, so I see the two young girls, Abby and Gilly (10 and 9). They are absolute gems. They are currently taking dance and so the other day I was over and we had a free dance session to Adele and they ripped out all these groovy ballet/hip-hop moves and were quite good. So, anyway, it feels very homey and comfortable here. 

Usually in the mornings I clean up and try to bake a little while it's still cool.  Harvest is nearly finished and during that time the boys worked incessantly. One guy worked 24 hours straight, then came home and slept 18 hours. Poor bloke. These guys work so hard! I saw one of Frenchie's time sheets and he had worked 96 hours in one week! Yikes. Mind you, that would be some good coinage. I have hinted (never seriously) to Farmer Tom to let me drive the header (Combine for you Canadians). But after having driven him somewhere in the Ute and gearing down, then keeping the clutch in WHILE I turned the corner (apparently this makes it so that you have less control, somehting to do with compression, and my argument of saying I had full control because I am steering the steering wheel didn't fly), he says he doubts I am fit to drive the John Deere ride-on mower. Darn. I should,however mention, the header is 3/4 of a million dollars to purchase....
 On the weekend, the boys had been out there for a bit and Tom needed me to farrier the ute back in forth so he could get the road trains onto the paddock. While I was waiting in the paddock, Tom told me to hop up with the boys in the header. He says it was to show me how cool it was. I say he wanted me to talk their ears off and keep them awake. I got bored after an hour or two. But I am glad to have my part in this whole production, even if it is to make sure they aren't falling asleep.  

During harvest, they take turns coming home to eat and then sleep. I feel bad for them because they have been sitting in their tractors ALLLLL day with no one to talk to, so I usually sit at the table with them, drinking tea and checking on their day. Some days I feel like the only thing I did was sit at that table and drink tea:D  (And in case you didn't read into that it's more like I had no one to talk to allll day and there is a backlog of words stuck in me, so I have to get them all out, I just disguise it as an altruistic gesture of keeping them company...hah). 
The other night, Tom and Steph had myself and the three boys up for dinner. Steph is an awesome cook, so I always look forward to her cooking.  I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt (it was like 17 degrees out and I WAS FREEZING), but when the Frenchies came out they were all spit and polished up. So Aussie boy declared he couldn't be shown up by the Frenchies, and changed. So then if course I had to too. So there the four of us rocked up to the farmhouse in skirts (with gumboots as it was rainy) and "grade A" clothes...we looked good:D Steph served up  Indian food, although it didn't quite outshine the Shandhar Hut's food, it was delicious nonetheless.  We had such a good time up there. I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt by the end of the night. Tom and Aussie farmboy love to speak in French accents and imitate French stereotypes and it's so funny!The French boys just politely look on and take it with good humour. We all just had a really grand evening, and it felt very homey to all of us. As the Frenchies summed it up, "we feel belonged".  We do indeed. 

  I have seen my usual array of kangaroos, wallabies, tons of foxes, emus and an echidna!  I never tire of seeing them. The other day I was on a dirt road and decided to race the roo hopping beside me. He was going over 60 km/hr!  Impressive. 

Just on one last note, there's that part of the poem by Wordsworth, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", in the last stanza it says " as I lay in vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon the inner eye, which is the bliss of solitude", which I totally get now. There are certain sights that are so awe-inspiring that you think about them repeatedly.  I have never seen the likes of the sunsets and the stars that I see here. Every night, I stare out the back window, or sit on the steps and watch the sun sink into the wheat-filled paddocks with the silhouette of emus and wierd foreign looking trees and am thankful for the opportunity to be out here. Then, when it becomes pitch black, the stars are so close and big that I can just stare and stare and it never ceases to amaze me at how gorgeous the scenery is in our world.  God, the ultimate artist, sure knows how to do things right!

Found: One kanga in the paddock
Baby Kangaroo
Me and Mia, the baby Roo

In the quarters, chillin' with local wildlife

Tina, the sausage the wiener dog checks out roo

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