Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sometimes I am so stupid!!!!!

Life on Speedwell goes on.  With shearing nearly finished Christopher has moved on to some urgent fencing repairs to try and keep the sheep in their right camps.  Shaun and I have been in the shearing shed on and off most days shearing.  Last week Christopher headed down to the Twin Ponds/Sand Grass boundary to work on the sea crates that have washed out.  The sea crate boundaries are a pain in the butt as they are open to the full force of the south Atlantic ocean and wash out frequently and it is not a small job to re-built.  Anyway Shaun had an idea that it would be better to have a free hanging fence that the force of the sea could push open.  Its quite hard to explain what I mean.  Christopher thought it was a good idea and took the rover and compressor down to drill down into the beach to try and put a more secure foundation in down at the low tide mark.  Unfortunately on the way down he decided to drive through a dried out pond which wasn't quite as dry as it looked and bogged the rover.  Yesterday we both went down in the Mitsubishi to pull the rover out.  It didn't look that bogged and I thought it would come out quite easy.  We put a rope on and I was given instructions to drive out to the end and take up the strain in 1st gear.  This I did and with the Mitsubishi  spinning and the land rover spinning and not a track on any of the tyres to share between them we went no where.  New instructions were issued, back off put the Mitsubishi in 2nd drive faster to the end of the rope and try and jerk me out.  Nothing, the rope snapped.  Christopher dug out a bit from under the wheels and we half heatedly put a few bits of wood under them because it really looked like it should come out easily.  Reluctantly I offered to drive the land rover.  I don't like driving a vehicle that is being towed in case the rope breaks and springs back and breaks the windscreen.  Assurances are given that the rope is not nylon and will not spring if it breaks.  I know this is our best chance of getting out as Christopher will be much more aggressive in second and the jerk will be a jerk.  New instructions are issued, put the land rover in 1st and when I whistle keep your revs on and let the wheels start to spin.  To start with you can't hear the whistle.  First try, slow gentle approach nothing, second approach fast run out for a jerk.  Rope breaks but like he says it doesn't spring.  Luckily we have a very long rope which is actually for lowering the turbine.   Christopher reattaches the now shorter rope and changes to a different angle for the tow.  He has now abandoned trying in 1st and goes straight for second. This time the land rover spinning and jerking moves about 2 feet.  1 wheel comes out on top and its looking good for the next try.  Now somewhere here I decided that maybe I was in 3rd and I decided that maybe 1st is left a bit more.  Ah yes there is another gear over to the left.  Off Christopher goes again, nothing, we don't even move a smidgen. A bit more digging and a few more half hearted boards and we try again.  Nothing again.  If anything the back wheels are getting more and more bogged and not only that but the compressor that wasn't bogged and which we hadn't unhitched was also getting bogged. Although light we decided to take it off to make the pull a bit lighter.  I get back in the land rover and a little voice is saying are you sure you wasn't in reverse.  The little voice says a little louder I think you was in reverse last time.  "Hang on Christopher I'm not quite ready".  I put the land rover into the gear hard to the left put on some revs and gently let the clutch out, um the back wheels are spinning backwards.  I then put it back into the original gear that I had decided was probably 3rd, no it was 1st.  I laugh to myself put it back in 1st and shout I'm ready.  Yeah a couple of good jerks a bit more skidding and I am out.  In fits of  laughter I get out and say no wonder you couldn't get me out we have been playing tug of war, I've been in reverse.  Christopher just shakes his head and I chuckle about it for the rest of the day and there was still more chuckling to come but  I have to do some work so will have to come back to it.
You may wonder why I didn't look at the gear stick to check.  Well that would be because I spent about 20 minutes trying to get the mitsubishi into reverse when we first got it to eventually work out that the gear knob on the stick didn't belong to a Mitsubishi.  On the land rover reverse is hard to left and forward on the mitsubushi is is hard to the right and back.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Photos - Tug, barge & LCVP


Christopher ready to drive the Eager Beaver of the LCVP onto the beach.
Will try and put pictures of tug and barge on tomorrow as the internet will not up-load photos properly tonight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A tug, a barge and a LCVP

It's taken 2 years, yes 2 years but finally courtesy of the MOD Christopher now has the Eager Beaver on George Island and Shaun has his Surf on Speedwell.  It was a close run thing.  If you remember the first date set to bring the machinery out was November, then December.  These dates came and went and in the end I gave up writing about it because I thought it was never going to happen.  Yesterday morning the MOD and FIG were still struggling to get insurances and disclaimers in place for the vehicles to leave Mare Harbour in the evening.  I've got to say when I got a phone call at approx. 10:30am saying our government had to have all the paperwork sorted by 11:30am and there were still obstacles in the way I thought its just not going to happen again.  Then finally we got word it was sorted and the tug would be leaving Mare Harbour at 1:00am and be at Speedwell for 7:30am.  9:30am arrived and I got a ring from Lynn in Stanley who has been working hard on getting the project off the ground asking how it was going.  Sorry Lynn its not here.  Approx. 11.00am the tug came around the point with the barge in tow.  20 minutes later the LCVP was lifted off the barge and finally Shaun's Surf was on its way to the beach.  The LCVP was awesome and came right up and dropped her bow ramp on the beach.  Two minutes later Shaun drove his Surf off, one happy bunny.  By 12:10pm the tug, barge and LCVP were on there way to George Island to drop off the Eager Beaver.  The Port troop boys were great and it was all very successful.  Of course I took my camera down especially to take photos and the battery was flat.  I will borrow some of Shaun's over the next couple of days to show you.  So that was the highlight of the week for sure.  It has taken a long time to happen and I'm sure only happened this time because of the people who have become involved in it over the last 3 months.  On our side 3 people have worked really hard on trying to get it off the ground.  Those people being Lynn Brownlee, Steve Dent and Simon ????.    Thank you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fire fighting AGAIN & the Hennesey Probe

Life on the George Island group is still busy, busy, busy.  Since arriving back on George Island we have finished shearing the ewes.  One island down two to go.
On the 5th we went over to Barren and started shearing on there.  We have about 100 left to shear on there.  We left George at about 6:30 for Barren.  We have to take pretty much everything with us for shearing so it takes a while to get organised.  Yesterday we took over 2 motorbikes, a portable generator, a press lid, bale bags, wood to fix some of the gratings, a snack to last all day and even a radio.  Christopher and Shaun left straight away to gather in the ewes and lambs.  I cleaned the shearing shed while they were away as all the little birds roost in there and the floor was covered in bird droppings and feathers.  The men were away about an hour gathering then we drafted the lambs of from the ewes and put the first 100 in the shearing shed. After a quick sandwich we started shearing eventually getting back to George at 6:40pm,  We would have got more shorn but both shear motors refused to work.  This required them both having a bit of TLC which held us up for a good hour.  It was pleasing to find that there were 300 lambs still alive and thriving.  This is 1 more then we actually lamb marked this is because we had about 3 escapees on lamb marking day that were still running around with long tails.  It was blowing about 35 knots when we left Barren to come home.  We all got soaked going out to Theo in the dingy.  The lambs on Barren are enormous and ready to go to the abattoir now.  They are booked to go in next week.
The 6th seen Christopher and Shaun fire fighting again as the very windy weather broke the fire out on George Island.  They spent all day fire fighting.
The 7th saw them back on Barren shearing, without me.  An even windier morning saw me get out of bed, look out the window and say "is it going to get any worse then this".  Christopher's non committal reply was its not going to get any better.  Fortunately they only had 100 sheep left to shear and then press up the wool.  They were home by 5:30 only to find the fire had blown sparks into a previously unlit area approx. 50 metres away from the main area.  Two hours later after more hard firefighting they came in for the night.
So it hasn't been the best couple of days.  The day deteriorated even more with the arrival of our old season lamb results.  Christopher had been quite apprehensive about this because in previous years all animals have been graded visually.  This year a Hennesey probe has been introduced, this is of course very accurate and measures the depth of fat at the 12th rib.  Good you might think!!!!  Now I have seen Christopher two years ago so despondent about the condition of his old season lamb that he has actually held them back for a month to gain condition.   This year he was all singing all dancing with comments such as "I think they are probably the best we have ever sent".  Well no Christopher according to the Hennesey probe they are by far the worst you have ever sent.  To understand what I am saying you need to know that a grade 2 is acceptable but a grade 3L, 3H is preferable and brings in the most money.  In 2009 we sent 30.7% grade 2 and 60.2% grade 3L,3H.  In 2010 frustratingly I have only saved the cover page and the paper copies are in Stanley. I am certain the results were similar however or we would remember them for sure. In 2011 we sent 27% grade 2 and 70% grade 3L, 3H.  In 2012, our all singing, all dancing old season lamb went grade 2, 85.4% and grade 3, 11%!!!!  It has been a dry season and the abattoir reckon the animals are just not as good because of it. It is true that the season has been dry and Christopher himself was concerned about it early in the season but by the time him and Shaun shore them in November he was already confident that they were in good condition.  The other suggestion was that maybe the visual graders had been generous in there grading over the years.  This is possible and in our view probably the correct answer.  Oh well just another trying day in the life of farming.
To finish on a lighter note.  Christopher pressed up a bale of wool on Barren and went to put the cap on.  He turned to Shaun and said damn the bag has went down inside the box.  No Christopher you forgot to put a bag in.
The 8th saw me, Shaun and Tanya dropped of at Speedwell to start shearing a flock of ewes.  Christopher then went over to Flores Harbour to collect a drum of petrol that we purchased from our nearest neighbour, North Arm farm.  The management on the farm are the best and always help.  This is the third drum of petrol that we have used firefighting and it is turning into quite a pricey turnout.  Eileen the managers wife also went to the store and collected up some groceries for him.  Christopher has sweets, I hope he doesn't eat them all before I see him again.  This is the first time I have stayed in the house on Speedwell by myself and I was a little apprehensive.  Shaun and Tanya are up the green but they are not close, its not like having a next store neighbour and there are no lights across the green.  I was quite prepared for my night/nights by myself as I now have a tele in the bedroom.  The plan was if I was nervous I could put the tele on.  Best plans never work.  The umpteenth thunder and lightening storm of the summer.  Yet another lightening strike, no tele, no radio and Shaun has no telephone so I cant ring him if I get scared.  Oh well going to be a tired, grumpy individual by the time Christopher comes up.