We have planted our first commercial crop - garlic. It is already sprouting, despite the very cold weather.
The climate can be relied on to deliver enough moisture for now, but
irrigation is necessary to ensure optimal growth to maturity. We
will pump water up from a stream to a big tank and from there
gravity will send the precious fluid to a second tank and then to
the garlic. The water tanks were delivered this afternoon.
One of them is to be placed near the house and the other on a little
hill we call "The Knoll". There is a 170m made track to the desired
position on The Knoll, but it had become overgrown. Eve and I went
out yesterday afternoon to clear a path for the delivery truck and
discovered that it was very much more overgrown than I had realised.
Problem one: we have a good quality scrub cutter, but had only
previously used the nylon line for cutting grass. The instructions
for changing the whirly bit were very clear, but could we get the
blade for tougher undergrowth on? We must have spent about an hour
before Eve finally got all the components in the right order and
(the difficult bit) stopped the shaft turning so that the all
important nut could be properly tightened.
It worked very well for several seconds, but thereafter either
loosened itself or tightened up so much it wouldn't turn. So much
for labour saving technology.
So we attacked the broom with loppers, secateurs, a saw and a
hatchet. Plus a lot of muscle.
By the time it got dark we had done roughly half the job.
This morning we were back at it, heedless of the rain, and cleared
all the serious obstacles. We hoped that the stumps were cut down
low enough to do no damage. Wet and triumphant we hurled all our
work gear in the washing machine and settled down to lunch.
A morning phone call had advised that delivery would be between 3
and 4 in the afternoon. Lots of time. Did we drag all the big
branches out of the way? Um, no. So Bill rugged up against the
elements in his sailing oilskins and properly finished the job.
At 3:30 pm the delivery truck driver phoned to say he was at Kohatu
and would be with us in half an hour. We reminded him that he would
well advised to leave his trailer unit in the bottom paddock and
just bring the truck with our 2 tanks up the drive.
Problem 2: At about 4 o'clock there was a tap on the door. It was
the truck driver. His mighty machine was stuck in the paddock. Do
we have a 4WD to give him a tow? It would only need a little extra
to get him moving again. Yes, we do. This is what we bought the
'beast' for. 3 litres of Mitsubishi no-nonsense grunt. Did the
driver have a tow rope? Yes, he had plenty of straps. It was the
first time I had engaged '4WD Low'. In the beast's lowest gear I
set off and, hooray, the truck followed. A figure of eight course
put us in the right position to unhook the trailer and now we are in
Problem 3: The truck driver was adamant that his steed would not go
along the Knoll track. It wasn't wide enough, and he was concerned
that it was a bit slippery, too. Tank 1 was unloaded at the start
of the track. We are promised that it is easy to drag to the other
end of the track.
Problem 4: The truck could not manage the steep corner below the
house. This time it was easy to tow up to the corner by the orchard
where Tank 2 is to do its duty. The first tank was fairly easy to
nudge over the side of the truck. The tanks are plastic and not
terribly heavy when empty. But our drive here is on a bit of a
slope. The driver and I wiggled the base of the tank over the side
of the truck, but the slope was too much for the chocks and we
couldn't stop the tank from rolling back over the end of the truck.
You probably have never seen a runaway water tank. It is very round
and rolls. It is also rather squashy and bounces. So Tank 2 rolled
and bounced with exuberant freedom down the hill. It just missed
Tank 1, and came to rest fair and square on the Knoll track, still
on its side. Nothing Dion's tractor and a team of strong men can't
The driver produced the paperwork and I signed for delivery. Well,
the tanks are on our land and not in the factory.
He reversed all the way down to the bottom, since our turning
options all include driving off the drive onto the grass. That's no
problem in dry weather but ....
Problem 5: Back in the paddock we had to re-hitch the trailer. I
don't think I'm very good at giving directions. Mind you, the
second attempt was a bullseye, but the locking mechanism didn't
work. After about 10 goes he tried a different angle - and got
stuck in the paddock's mud again. The beast to the rescue for the
third time. The driver then removed a metal bar from his tool kit
and did mysterious and noisy things around the towing mechanism. He
didn't swear, but you could see it was only by prodigious
self-control. Now he played his trump card. I would drive the
truck and he would give directions. The first attempt wasn't quite
there, but the second produced a clang that announced the trailer
After that, it was all quite simple really. The truck pulled the
trailer back onto the drive without another tow. It was then
necessary to untie the 2 tanks on the trailer and roll them onto the
truck. Sorry, there were no more mishaps. All in all, I'm glad
that I didn't see another tank make a bid for freedom. From by our
gate it would probably have plunged into the river, which was quite
high enough to whisk it away, at least to the next bridge if not to
The driver thanked me for my help, which was mighty generous of him,
and set off in the gloom of the cloudy evening to deliver his
Now I have to phone Dion and ask when he and his tractor can come to
clean up the mess.