by Susan Johnstone
Not For Sale
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Not For Sale
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It’s been raining for a while – last week it was cool, misty and grey. We had a weekend away and miraculously had lovely sunny, warm weather. Then on our return, the storms came and a big bank of cloud let go of its contents for days. Monday was wet, but despite that, we had to pick radishes and daikons.
We bunched the radishes and rinsed the mud off them, and I tried to shake them dry, ready for packing. Meanwhile, Bruce loaded up the wheelbarrow with daikons and trimmed off their leaves. He returned with his bounty that I had to clean up and again try to dry before packing into cardboard boxes. The air was misty and outside the packing shed it was drizzling. When I came back inside, the water dripped off the brim of my cap onto the veges. After lunch-time we called it quits, although we still had some trays of lettuce to plant. We were cold and miserable. My clothes were saturated and even though I had woollen long-johns on underneath my jeans, my legs were clammy.
Tuesday was wet again, and we lit the fire to keep us warm, and to dry the washing on a rack inside. The ropes strung up under the house are useless in this sort of weather, as the dampness and mist blowing in keeps everything wet. I wondered how on earth people cope, living in monsoonal climates where it pours every day for months on end. How do they get their washing dry? I’m sure not everyone has the luxury of electric clothes dryers. Even my sister in Brisbane has complained about the humidity making the walls mouldy.
Wednesday didn’t seem much different, and with those lettuces bursting at the seams of the trays, we knew we had to give it a go. The clouds had lifted and it seemed the rain might hold off, but the ground was wet, wet, wet. We donned our gum-boots and squelched in the soil of the paddock. With each step we sank down so the mud oozed over our feet, and we had to pull hard to bring our feet back out. 3-year-old Jessie saw this as a wonderful opportunity to run and stomp in the mud, showing us exactly why we call her “Messy Jessie”. But after many slow and measured paces along the row, we had our lettuce planted and we washed the mud off our boots and drove back home.
That afternoon brought a glimmer of sunshine and Bruce told me to grab my camera.
“Look, there’s a patch of blue sky – take a photo!”
At dinner-time we held hands and said grace and while we thanked God for the rain, we asked if we could have some sun back to dry out the soil and to stop the plants getting waterlogged. A few heavy drops of water landed on our tin roof, as if to say: Not yet!
They say that farmers, particularly horticulturalists, are a fussy bunch when it comes to the weather, and it is true. We want the rain for the plants to grow and to fill the dams, but we also need sunshine and warmth for growth. Those cloudy days that block the sun and cool down the soil are a nuisance, and heavy rain just washes soil away. Of course, working in the rain is annoying, so the ideal recipe would be for some light rain overnight with sunshine each day, and maybe a good solid bit of rain once a week. Too much to ask??
That night another storm hit and we wondered if things would ever dry out. I rang a friend who told me they had decided the wet weather would be an opportune time to seed some lawn. With two bags of seed spread across their yard, they were hopeful – until the heavy downpour washed all the seed away!
We went to bed and woke in the middle of the night to find the exhaust fan on our composting toilet had stopped, something that curiously happened last time we had lots of rain. Bruce told me to shut the toilet door and open the window, in an effort to save our house from the smell. He went down to investigate while I snuggled back under the blankets.
Later he told me he’d fixed a wire that was shorting out in the wet, and while under the house, he saw a ringtail possum sheltering out of the rain. Even the wildlife must be getting sick of being damp.
In the morning I awoke with a strange sensation – the house was warm and the room was light. Sunshine! It was almost too good to be true.
“Sing hymns of praise to the Lord; play music on the harp to our God. He spreads clouds over the sky; he provides rain for the earth and makes grass grow on the hills.” Psalm 147: 7, 8 (Good News Bible)
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