A difficult week

Ina’s family came to Australia to take her home.

On Saturday they came out to the farm – like many parents, they had been following this blog while Ina was visiting.

The car crash was naturally very difficult for them to accept. The problem is likely to have been fatigue, but could have been swerving to miss an animal, or hunting for a new radio station. These accidents happen in every country, though you drive longer distances in Australia.

There will be a Coroner’s Report, so that may provide more of an explanation.

We had hoped to meet Ina’s parents sometime. In these circumstances, it was difficult for all of us. We tried to talk of the good times, and show off some of Ina’s projects on the farm. However these were of little consolation.

Several other wwoofers and their families have written to us and asked us to pass on their condolences to Ina’s family. She will be greatly missed by her friends in Australia and those she has touched in her travels.

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On the farm, we still have wwoofers Maud and Andre. Liroy came back, and brought his friend Robin.

We are now mostly focused on the Twelfth Night Feast we are running in Goulburn in January. We have well over 100 people booked to come.

Allison and Maud have been sewing banners madly. Robin and Liroy are making some thrones for the king and queen to sit on. I’m finishing off the painted banners that past wwoofers have worked on.

Andre was looking for some more intellectual stimulation, so he has taught himself the Linux operating system and Python coding and the Django web framework, and is assisting me with a longer-term computing project. Plus planting trees and plugging away on those dreadful tussocks.

We will be having Christmas Day lunch with our wwoofers, then heading off to Allison’s family for a few days.

Dreadful news

We heard on Monday morning that Ina Moeller has died in a car crash, about two hours’ south of our place.

Ina wwoofed with us for about a month in October-November. She was one of a group of wonderful wwoofers, who bought us much joy in their time with us.

Ina was due back here on Wednesday, to stay with us again, until Christmas.

Ina was one of our youngest wwoofers, with the charm and confidence of someone much older. She was always happy to do difficult or unpleasant work. Apparently she had recently been helping to shear alpacas at another wwoof site.

She was somebody who had enormous potential. We expected to maintain our friendship with her over a great many years. We are devastated by the news. Our thoughts are with her family.

(Ina and John having fun at the St Crispin’s medieval feast we ran in Goulburn)

Reaping what was sown

It has been very dry. The grass is tall and dry, full of prickly seeds that get into your socks. We moved some hay bales the other day and I ended up with a splinter in a very unusual place. Farm life is not always as portrayed on TV.

Shayne, our neighbour, sowed some oats in a couple of our paddocks, to help us control the serrated tussocks. The first paddock was ready to harvest on the weekend.

Shayne is fond of antique machinery, and it’s a good size for a small farm, so Shayne used his vintage Fergie tractor, an old header, and a positively ancient Austin truck.

The grain quality and yield were high. Shayne is giving us several bags of wheat from each crop, for our poultry, and he’s welcome to the rest.

The other paddock will be ready in a few weeks, but the recent dry has impacted that crop and it won’t be as good.

The big paddock with the old shed has only a single dam, which has dried up completely. The cows and alpacas and geese are now all in with the horses. They seem to be getting on OK. We could open the gate between the paddocks, but the shed paddock has rabbit holes that might be a danger to the foal.

All of our dams are low, so we would like some rain soon. The El Niño weather pattern has come in strongly, though the statistical indices say it might moderate in coming weeks. We are lightly stocked and can get through a drought summer.

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This weekend was the 150th anniversary of Merrilla Church, built in stone by Allison’s great-great-grandfather. Our neighbouring village is Parkesbourne, and Merrilla is just the other side of that. Allison’s mum was a Bool, a local family inter-related with all the other local families.

There was a memorial service at the church, and then some of the closer relatives came back to our place for lunch.

It wasn’t a rock, it was a rock lobster…

Allison and I went to the “Day on the Green” concert on Sunday, featuring acts from the 1980s. This was held at a vineyard in Bowral, less than an hour away from our place.

We spent the morning wandering around the crafty village of Berrima which is near Bowral, which was nice, and we had a splendid lunch. Allison’s was a prawn risotto, and I had duck confit with a salad of roasted pears, beetroot, walnut and blue cheese. The most delicious thing I’ve eaten for ages, and a prompt for us to do more with our own produce.

At the concert venue, first up were “Mental As Anything”, a very successful band from New Zealand, hence counted as Australian. They were daggy but fun, and we knew nearly all their songs. (For overseas readers, ‘Daggy’ is a Australian word derived from hard lumps of manure on sheeps’ bottoms; means unfashionable, but said with affection…)

Then they had the Proclaimers, a Scottish band known for one great hit, “I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles”. That was great, but the rest of their repertoire was a bit same-same. Pleasant enough on a nice day. The previous day, they had played in Newcastle, in 42 degree heat, which would not have been so much fun.

Finally, there were the B-52s, mostly known now for “Love Shack”. They were very strange, and the weather was getting rather cooler, so we were pleased when they finished. They had three hits, which were great, and again the rest of their repertoire was of a type. Still, I find myself today humming bits from “Rock Lobster”.

We never go to concerts. This was not particularly expensive ($100 each) and the picnic format was pleasant. But on balance, we prefer our local cover band “Authorised Bootleg” which does a wide range of classics from the 1950s to 1980s.

Authorised Bootleg plays at our local Goulburn Club once a month, and it’s free to come along. In fact, they were playing there last Friday night. Usually we are the first ones dancing, but Allison was away with work, and as it was a hot night none of the usual dancing crowd were there. Our current wwoofers Andre, Maud and Liroy came along.

Last Thursday night was the annual meeting for the Goulburn Club. The club is always on the verge of bankruptcy, and their historic building is crumbling, but somehow they keep going. Actually, this year they made a $20,000 profit, after years of losses, so maybe things are looking up. The meeting was civilised and constructive — unlike some in the past! They have a good committee, and hopefully with a few more good years they can fix the place up. We ran a great fundraising dinner for them last July, which will show up in next year’s accounts.