interesting, and new? Extra money would be nice too.
One of my sons managed a turf farm. I could do that kind of work, drive tractors, mowers,
whatever. No problem, I’ll ask. “Can I have a job on the turf farm? About three days a
week would suit me.”
I got a job. Starting off, I was told to hose the thick layers of mud from under machinery with a high-pressure hose. Damp and dirty work. What else could I do? Fill the tractors, mowers, and turf cutting machines with diesel, making sure to record the specific machine, it’s milage, hours, and the quantities of fuel in the logbook. The Government auditors didn’t take kindly to discrepancies. It was child’s play, but adult male workers often had difficulty with this chore.
I was the only female, and an old one at that, working on the farm. The workmen were courteous to me, but of course I was the manager’s mother. I’m sure they watched their Ps and Q’s when I was near. Whatever they personally felt, I never had the slightest problem, except they always monopolised the best tractors.
Moving irrigation equipment was a constant assignment. They started me on the galvanised pipes, which were scorching hot in the Queensland sun, too hot to handle. Where did I leave my work gloves? Oh yes! They are back in the shed. Why didn’t I think to take them with me? I progressed to setting up the travelling irrigators but was never given access to the central pivot systems.
Next, I was given the oldest tractor on the farm with the spraying equipment attached. But first I had to do a course in chemical handling before being allowed to spray weeds. Then the instruction “Make sure you spray around all the water valves. Snakes love to hang out in those places, making it dangerous for anyone connecting hoses.”
I learned to operate the huge green John Deer tractor with 32 gears, but I seldom got to use it. The male workers always commandeered the best equipment. I had no forklift training but one day I tried to use it. I saw pallets stacked high and just for the experience I decided to move them. I lowered the lifting forks and moved forward intending to push the prongs into the spaces on the lowest pallet but missed. CRASH, they all came tumbling down. I sheepishly told the boss what I had done.
Then I was given a promotion to what I would love doing. I was allowed to mow the precious resource – the grass. After being shown how to operate the big mower and told not to scalp the turf, I began doing a job I loved. It was uplifting and peaceful being out alone in a paddock, smelling the new mown grass, seeing pelicans on the dam, and watching the blue, red or brown dragonflies dashing back and forth. Then one day I mowed over the nest of a pair of plovers. I was looking back to ensure the grass I was cutting was the required height and didn’t see the nest. As I came round on my next circuit, I saw the two plovers looking forlornly at their smashed eggs. My heart went out to those two birds. I felt so guilty. It still bothers me.
From that time forward I was very vigilant when mowing. On another occasion I saw a plovers’ nest with eggs and carefully avoided it, only to discover the eggs were gone the next day, probably taken by a fox.
Mankind can be careless and nature can be cruel.