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Two years on the road

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Its 6:00am at Koramba Cotton Farm.

I’ve cooked breakfast and the workers are slowly filtering into the mess room, most are only just starting to wake up, and all are completely oblivious to the spectacular sunrise which is turning the tree tops and the clouds a brilliant golden colour.

I love the sunrises and sunsets at Koramba and the silence and cool peacefulness they seem to bring.

A few days ago marked the ending of the second year we’ve lived in the caravan full time.

What an event packed two years it’s been.

The passing of that date caused us to reflect on the many blessings we’ve experienced and the absolute lack of the slightest regret.

Our time at Koramba

The longest we’ve stopped anywhere in that two year period has been at Koramba Cotton Farm.

We continue to enjoy our life here and we can’t really see the future without some involvement in Koramba.

Although quite isolated from all the things city dwellers like us are used to, the farm always seems to have something going on.

We never tire of driving around the immense acreage and checking out what’s happening.

Because of this rather busy lifestyle it’s been a while since we updated the blog so here goes.

We lose Bing and Bella

The faithful old pig dog Bing was a familiar and welcome sight around the camp.

Bing, Junior and Bella.

Bing, Junior and Bella.

War torn and scarred this old dog was always up for a pat or a play but the moment Shannon (The Mechanic) started up his ute Bing would cease whatever he was doing to race with all his strength to the ute. He would run for miles to avoid missing out on a possible pig hunt.

Bing ever watchful of Shannon in case he was going pigging. All Shannon had to do was eject a cartridge and Bing would come running and jump in the ute. He would stay in the ute all night if Shannon had his gun in the car.

Bing ever watchful of Shannon in case he was going pigging. All Shannon had to do was eject a cartridge and Bing would come running and jump in the ute. He would stay in the ute all night if Shannon had his gun in the car.

Shannon took him and the puppy, Junior, to his own property for one of his rare weekends off. Unbeknownst to him a neighbour had laid 1080 poison on an adjoining property.

Bing took a dose of the lethal poison and by the next morning was dead.

It was a sad loss for the whole camp. Everyone, even those who don’t care much for dogs, respected this gutsy old hound.

Bella was a little Jack Russell who lived with Dave, the Foremen, and his wife Bev. She was always over at the camp with other dogs at each meal time for her ration of leftover food.

She would play for hours with Bing and Junior and would long for the pats and plays from the camp inhabitants.

One day she found a Red Bellied Black snake from which she received a deadly bite.

By the morning she was dead.

The loss of both Bella and Bing seemed to put Junior into a pensive, depressing mood. It was as if he was constantly looking for his companions.

Lauren, the young English girl, seemed to be Junior’s main source of comfort and affection. They seemed to dote on each bother.

When Lauren left to go back to England for Christmas Junior moped around for a few days until Shannon bought home another dog, a stray from Boomi.

This rather OVER friendly and boisterous dog has pulled Junior out of his lethargy.

The passing of the dogs and one of the horses is a reminder to us that life out here is so different to the city. It can be harsh and unforgiving and unless you learn to live with that harshness you’ll not be able to make a life out here.

New People

The makeup of the camp inhabitants is ever changing.

We’ve lost Soong, the immensely popular Korean, who’s been here for two years. It was very sad when he left as he didn’t want to go and he’d made some deep friendships here especially with one of our favourite Irishman Michael Duggan.

The farm management didn’t want him to go either as he was by far the best all round operator they’d had for a while.

Replacing the ones that left are three great young Irishmen, Steve, John and Mark, two young couples from Estonia and Klaus the young Danish pilot who drove the Wheat Harvester that Kerrie filmed here.

The young Estonians arrived smack into over 40 degree heat and the reality of the place and its isolation must have been a shock to them. They have however gotten used to the place and, even though there’s a definite language barrier, they have fitted in to life here extremely well.

It constantly amazes us that with all the different people and personalities that go through this place we still have not struck any real trouble makers or even anyone unduly difficult to handle.

The farm management also has never ceased to support us and help us with their ever easy going attitudes.

The Garden

Kerrie has taken over most of the work in the garden.

She is refusing to allow it to die and is out there every day weeding, planting and watering.

We ate our first tomato from the garden yesterday and were reminded of why we love to garden. It was an absolute taste sensation totally beyond comparison to the cardboard like, massed produced tomatoes we’ve become used to consuming.

Dave’s wife Bev, also an avid gardener, has experimented with different methods of seed raising to beat the torturous heat that destroys seedlings so quickly out here. It’s good to have another person close at hand with similar interests.

Kerrie has the whole garden looking quite spectacular and even in the mid 40 degree heat it’s flourishing under her constant care.

The 20 fruit trees are exploding with new growth and the grape vines are producing fruit and weaving their way along the fenceline.

The Passionfruit are going great as are the Zucchinis, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Sweet corn, Capsicums, Beans, Onions, Lettuces, Bok and Pok Choy, Carrots, Parsnips and the many herbs.

I’m so proud of Kerrie’s efforts and it’s great to wander through the garden and see everything responding to her care.

An operation

Last week was the trek to Brisbane for the surgery on my skin cancers; four on the right hand and one on the scalp.

These are typically quite painful especially on the hand as with every flexing of the hand or fingers the stiches strain over the tightly pulled together skin.

It’s been fairly uncomfortable working in the kitchen the last 4 days during Gary’s days off.

We’re off to Goondiwindi tomorrow to get the stiches removed, so here’s hoping this helps..


Christmas is coming

Christmas this year will be spent at Koramba.

It may be a hit and miss affair as the irrigating of the cotton will not cease.

There’s both a day and a night shift working at present as irrigating is a 24 hour a day affair and this is likely to continue through Christmas day.

Kerrie has bought our Christmas tree from Brisbane and some decorations and set it up in the mess hall and we’ll have Prawns, Hams, Turkeys, Racks of Lamb and Plum puddings to put on for them all. Martyn has also contributed a liberal quantity of beer.

How and when we’ll prepare and present this is a bit of an unknown.

Some are predicting a wet lead up and possibly even a wet Christmas day, so this’ll determine what we do.

Progress on the programmes

I’m finally getting my head around the protocols that form the basis for the conversion of all our programmes to web based ones.

Man it’s taken some frustrating turns.

Developing these programs over the last 20 odd years has always bought me along a roller-coaster ride of high mountains and deep valleys and the last few weeks have been no different.

There’ve been numerous times when, but for Kerrie’s encouragement; I could have easily given up, especially trying to understand how to create comprehensive reports for the programs.

It took me three weeks of long hours and literally hundreds of failed attempts to get a readable web based report created.

You see without having a way to print or email a report the programmes are useless.

It either had to be done or walk away from web based applications.

To walk away from web based apps is to walk away from the whole business as nobody wants installed programs that are exclusive to desktops and laptops anymore. Unless the apps can be used on tablets, ipads and smart phones they have a limited usefulness.

Well finally I got the reports mastered and I have the first application running on the cloud – a simple web based Risk Assessment and Safe Work Procedure Application primarily for my brother, Barry’s use.

Here it is.

Logon details are;

Username is “Guest” (without the quotes)

Password is “test” (again without the quotes)

This application (along with the 18 or so others we have) will eventually be offered in three ways;

1.            Users will be able to log on and create as many reports as they like for a small annual fee. They will be able to have their own logo on the report.

2.            They can have the application customised and installed on a server on the cloud with their own domain name, (either their own server or one that’s hosted by us).

3.            They can have the application integrated into a more comprehensive Operations Management application which can again be available to them on the cloud.

All the above choices will include access from mobile devices.

We’ve even worked out how to use a mobile phone to scan barcodes to make stocktaking in the Catering Programme easy.

Kerrie’s Health

Kerrie’s sugar count remains persistently high even though she’s been very diligent with her diet.

It ranges from the 7’s up 13.5 and even beyond sometimes!

This has caused the doctor to put her on medication, something she fought against quite hard.

It’s been two weeks since the medication started and yesterday was the first sign of the sugar readings coming down. They’re hovering around 7.5, still too high but better.

The Kitchen

At the moment the kitchen is HOT!!!

At 40 something degrees outside it must be reaching the 50’s in the kitchen when all the ovens and stoves are on.

There’s a great air cooler that certainly helps keep the heat down but it’s broken at the moment so we just put up with the heat.

I’d still prefer to be in the kitchen than out in the fields.

Kerrie has the sprinkler watering the garden for 2 or 3 hours a day now as without it the sun would just fry everything.

During the 10 days that Gary is on I have access to a spare room with a great air conditioner and here is where I’ve set up the computers and desk. The coolness makes it easy to work the long hours necessary to get the programmes built.

Irrigation at Koramba

Irrigation is in full swing at the moment with the guys working 24/7. So Chris and I went for another tour of the farm to see another aspect of this facinating place.