The true history of farming in Australia has shown it is hard and full of disappointments. Water is the problem. There is never enough of it.
My father was a dairy farmer. He was unusual in that he liked it. He seemed to enjoy the repetitive tedium of milking cows twice a day seven days a week. He never complained. He never changed his procedure whether it was boiling hot or freezing cold. He followed his own ritual. He continued to milk during the summer months when the cows had little energy for giving milk. When most other farms would knock off milking for two to three months over the summer and have a rest he would continue to slog on trying to extract as much milk as he could over the whole year. He had the theory that he would do better by having the cows calve all year round rather than having them only calve in autumn.
For as long as I knew him he had a dream. He wanted to have an irrigation farm. He wanted to be able to have green grass in the summer so he could milk the whole year round.
He never achieved his dream. He nearly made it once. He convinced my mother that they would move to Shepparton and buy an irrigation farm. First he had to sell his own farm. But even with the help of an old army buddy who came to the auction and phantom bid trying to get the price up they did not get to the reserve price. No one wanted to buy at the price he needed to move. The farms around Shepparton were more expensive and he needed achieve a certain price in order to move.
He did not give up on his dream however. Through his contacts at the RSL he heard of a man who could predict where water was. He owned a drag line digger and would dig a hole where he predicted the water was.
We lived approximately one mile from the King River. In fact we lived on a previous watercourse of the King River although we did not realise this at the time. Later on when we became more educated in this area we could see that the river in a previous age was much larger and had a slightly different direction than it did now. In between our house and the King River there were four creeks that only flowed when it flooded. But when it did flood the water came up to our back door. My father progressively filled in each of these creeks by bulldozing in the banks and flattening out the paddocks adjoining each creek until there was no visual evidence that they had existed. He originally thought that he could use these paddocks as irrigation paddocks. His contact advised him that he could dig a hole that would provide enough water to irrigate the three paddocks. My father jumped at the chance.
I questioned the man as to how he could predict with certainty where there was water under the ground? He did not take kindly to a teenager questioning him but he did give me an answer. He said with some anger – Good Vibrations. This set me back a bit. Had he heard the song I wondered? Was he being sarcastic because he didn’t like me? I didn’t know and didn’t ask – but I had certainly heard the song. And somehow this made a real connection with me. It was all he said. It was good enough. I had previously seen him with a bent piece of fence wire which he was holding out in front of him. Whether this was a prop to give him more credibility I don’t know. It could have been to shut people like me up. My father had always educated me to never question the RSL let alone any fellow member so I didn’t press the issue. This was at the beginning of the Vietnam War and the RSL was very important to my father.
I did not see the man again but the drag line hole was built. And it filled up with water. My father bought a new tractor and pump. Because the paddocks were not flat enough for flood irrigation he had to buy a spray irrigation system. This was a system of pipes that had sprays attached. They had to be moved every 4 hours in order to irrigate all three paddocks. For two years we spray irrigated these three paddocks. The drag line hole worked. You could never pump the hole dry. My father was immensely proud of his green paddocks. Did he make enough extra money to pay for the drag line hole and the irrigation system? He wouldn’t say. In two years the grass had deteriorated to water weed and the cows preferred other grass. Moving the irrigation pipes every four hours was even more tedious than milking the cows. But my father thought that hard work was good for young people and had no trouble giving me the job of moving 400 metres of irrigation pipes three times every day.
Then my father got sick. In a short while he died. We stopped spray irrigating. We stopped milking cows.
Many years later the Australian Skeptics Club held a scientific enquiry into water divining. Their conclusion was that there is always water under the ground. They could not find a diviner who could predict where water was under the ground with a more than a 50% success rate.
How did my Good Vibrations man know where water was? Or was it a reasonable prediction given the geography of the place. Or was it a lucky guess.
Are there any such things as Good Vibrations?