I’ve been settling into my life as a full time farmer. While I’ve always been active around the property, when it becomes your full time occupation you begin to appreciate just how much work there is to do, and how physical it is. Over the past few days, I’ve spent three hours crouching in the olive grove mending irrigation leaks. This can only be done with the irrigation on – which results in said worker being drenched from head to toe, attacked by flies and bees and poked by olive branches (non peaceful) and milk thistle. Another three hours were spent crouching in the Chardonnay vines, de-suckering the new growth at the base of the vines and on the trunks to allow it to concentrate all of its energy into producing big green leaves at the top of the plant to photosynthesise sunlight into plump sweet fruit. This feat was repeated in the Semillon. The toll on my back has been considerable but I’m fast to remind myself that sitting at an office desk all day had similarly painful impacts on my neck so I’ve merely traded one for another… and begin to appreciate my advancement into the sobering reality known as middle age.
Of course my new best friend Terry (the tractor) and I have been getting even better acquainted. Mowing consumes a lot of my outside hours as the clover is robust this time of the year and we’re working very hard to keep the vines looking their absolute best. This is important not only for aesthetics but also for giving them optimal nutrition, water and reducing risk of pests and other nasties.
I also did my first spray of the vines the other week though it was just a test run. Last season Jeff did 100% of the vine work so this has all given me even more profound respect not only for what he does, but just how much goes into turning those little grape flowers into the wine you all enjoy drinking!
The most exciting event of the last few weeks has been the arrival of our new pets, Rodney & Bologna. And for the record – they will always remain pets, not food. Our friend Sheena was visiting from the UK and we started talking about the plans for pigs, and somehow the excitement and momentum built and before any of us knew it, a quick search of Gumtree found some available a few towns over, near Kurri Kurri. It became our Sunday outing and Sheena very generously insisted on paying for Rodney. There were over twenty piglets to choose from – it was a little chaotic and a bit heart breaking reefing the boys away from their mother (such tough farmers) but we took solace in the fact that they are destined for a very happy and comfortable life at Block Eight. They were very very scared of us at first but after four or five days had settled in nicely and were crawling all over us, enjoying scratches (Rodney sometimes rolls over for a scratch on the belly) and they love their food and a rumble after eating. For now they live in with the chickens which has caused some mayhem. The boys love chasing the chooks which is a good thing for now – helps Laverne realise she’s not the top of the pecking order of the entire animal kingdom. The boys have brought some lovely character and life to us here and we are slowly but surely falling in love with their little personalities.
Not all is good on the bird front. Sadly, neither Anna nor Nicole learnt from Smith’s escapade and both followed in their untimely quail end. We are entirely to blame for not fortifying their cage a little better but serendipitously, Rodney and Bologna now sleep in their little hut so it’s all worked out. The squeamish among you may want to skip this paragraph. Lizzie Birdsworth came under considerable attack over the past few weeks. She spent most of her time hiding out in the chicken coop, requiring special meal deliveries. But she was not even safe in there as one day I opened the back door to find her quivering – her sisters had pecked the back of her neck so severely that there was a small hole in it, lots of blood. She was swiftly removed to solitary confinement where she has been treated to meals of oats, fresh corn, cereal and day trips to hang out under the fig tree searching for worms. We are unsure whether she will ever return to the coop. Not to be outdone, George soon after developed a limp and could not put her claw down on the ground. Being chased by pigs was not exactly what she had in mind for a good time and spent most of it cowering in a corner trying to be invisible. In a risky move, she was sent to solitary confinement with Lizzie and there they both currently sit feeling sorry for themselves, nursing their ailments and enjoying their gourmet meal deliveries. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Flying the Coop.
Our army of trades has returned. The plumbing for Barrington View (aka the Bush Villa) is now all in place and our builder returns next week to start on the walls and ceiling. We’re very hopeful to have it finished by Christmas – another task off the list. In my non outside time, I’ve reviewed a lot of the content we have on the various accommodation websites, added us to a few more, and started working harder on improving our search standing. This should hopefully help us secure more bookings. All the finishing touches have been made to Orchard View and we no longer stay in it, so she sits ready and waiting for her first paying guest. (As an opening special we have her available for $295 per night until November 10).
While Sydney deals with storms and snow, Block Eight has enjoyed a moderate level of rainfall and days of extreme heat followed by days feeling like winter. The September cold snap came late this year. The only way to deal with the topsy turvy weather is to drink Block Eight wine – we currently have the Estate Semillon on sale at 33% off. You’ll see a Facebook post re: the same and the person who most creatively Shares our post by October 31st will receive their very own six pack. Congratulations also go to Belinda Chiarella who’ll soon be receiving six bottles of Reserve Semillon for becoming a Mate of Block Eight by September 30.