When it all doesn’t go according to plan……

Anyway.  Sometimes I question why it is so hard, why am I doing all this ,but then I look out the window and I look at my grandkids and I know why.  It’s all good.

Well,  not today- I can’t look out the window and feel good today- there are marauding pigs tearing up my kitchen garden……..At least I won’t have to dig.

But I will talk about the piggies another time- just have had the hardest day……

You know, when everything-and I mean everything- is harder than it logically should be.  That was my day.

Ah! a day at home- was going to garden and paint- but escapee pigs took over and hyjacked my plans. Still got lots done, and felt really buggered when I finally got to the last task of the day- hook up the bike trailer and collect feed from the hay dude, 20 minutes away.

It’s expensive, but a choice I have made for the sustainability of this piece of country and the welfare of my cattle. Quatré Saisons has magnificent native pasture-precious little left in New South Wales- so we have a limited pasture grazing program in place to protect the native grasses, which entails alternate or hand feeding the stud cattle over the late summer, autumn and winter period to allow the grass seeds to mature and resow.

There are a few things we do, and bringing in lush silage from further up the valley is one thing the cattle appreciate during the winter.

And what a cold snap we have had- down to minus 5 and a heavy snowfall over the weekend, but after a slow and very foggy start the days have been spectacular, with a stunning moon each night.

I have had a birds eye view from my bed each morning for about a week and a half now of Mercury, Mars and Venus slowly rising in the cold still sky and welcoming the dawn. What a sight!

Anyway, about today….

With late calves due for a few stragglers and lambing about to begin, the feed requirements are building up fast. So need to haul in that hay!

Called my ever obliging hay dude- always has a happy greeting and makes me welcome on his farm, even when he is flat out- which is always.  Must be a pest having to bring out the tractor and muck about for half an hour for someone who drops in every few days for just a few rolls at a time …

I  asked for 2 rolls of silage- only had the bike trailer with me- and no ute back- (that’s a tale in itself-later) so we talked a bit and compared the weather to this time last year, and concluded that at least it wasn’t as cold as another village further towards the coast, and laughed. As always.

I could see he was itching to ask me where the Hilux was, so I let him ask and watched his face contort as I explained the fate of the mighty Toyota ute.

Hay dude does that you see- enquire about the family each time I see him-only it’s the cars and the cows he wants to know about, not the kids……

Anyway, the silage bales are loaded, we chat a little more, he tells me to take care on the road and off I go- slowly, carefully across the sheep paddocks, over the little bridge and out onto the dusty road. Each turn in the road I check the mirror to be sure the heavily loaded low trailer is following along behind- and it is.

Over the very bad old bridge and on the tar now, I relax a bit and start to fiddle with the radio- why can’t I work this silly radio out?

Then the noise starts- a strange squwooshing noise- like the trailer sounds when it is being dragged sideways because I am jack-knifed again in the driveway trying to do a 44 point turn.  But I am not turning, and I am not jack-knifed and the trailer is there, in the mirror, following along…..

Then I see the smoke.

This bloody road- that bloody council- there is no shoulder to pull over, nowhere to stop but right in the lane of the roadway.  I limp on a little further- just want to get over the crest so I see the truck that swoops over the hill to kill me ….

Over as far as I dare pull up- I hop out and go around the front of the car and drop straight into a drain, full of something slimy, very stinky and overgrown with metre high grasses- so it looks like all the ground around it.

Great. Well. At least I didn’t drop the car and trailer into that bog- so let’s count our blessings here.

The front bale has dislodged itself a little and is sitting just a fraction on the wheel arch.  Just enough to push the metal down sufficiently that on this rough road the tyre is now rubbing on it and dragging rather than turning freely on the axle.

OK. Other side is close but manageable- heavy bales of silage this time Hay Dude!

So I let the tyre pressure down just a bit to see if that compensates for the lack of room under there, and yes, it gives a little more clearance,so I potter off very cautiously.

Off  the tar again just 50 metres on and again the wheel is complaining and I realise that I just am not going to manage 25 kilometers like this and the dusk is falling fast too.

So I have to call.

I hate to bother him, but I have to call Hay Dude because there is no way I can roll off two 350kg silage bales on my own, on the road  with no shoulder and night falling fast. It’s a wipeout waiting to happen.

But Hay Dude is on his way out to a fire brigade meeting, and he is the Captain, so he has to go- “pull into a driveway and leave the trailer there and I will sort it in the morning for you”, he says.

I am silent and nervous. OK. Will do….

I spy the closest house to the road- at least it is visible. My house is more than 2kms from the front gate-so this is actually convenient really.

I knock on the door after making my way through myriad gates that are getting higher and higher the closer I get to the house, and as the sound of my knocking resonates through the house I see why. Six or eight huge dogs come bounding from all parts of the house converging on the door. The noise of their barking echoing through the house is deafening!

A man comes to the door, pushing his way through the dogs and squeezes out the narrow opening onto the verandah.  I apologise and explain my predicament, and ask could I please leave my trailer on his driveway overnight. And would he have a jack we can use to help lever the heavy trailer loose from the car so I can get home please?

This lovely man, who I have never met, doesn’t hesitate- he gets his coat and torch and goes via the garage to get his trolley jack and we wander down the driveway in what is now a dark moonless evening.

Back at the car, I warn him about the drain, just in time, as he walks around assessing the extent of the problem (no man ever says straight out that they are going to check it out for themselves, because after all women don’t know about cars and things do they? Usually they are very polite, and then say- often with a tone of surprise-“You’re right-this trailer/car isn’t going anywhere in a hurry”….).

We exchange thoughts on how little the council appears to do to keep this road passable and how the best thing would be to get the trailer off the roadway before a double tandem cattle truck comes hurtling over the hill.

I hand over the keys so he can negotiate the car back 20 metres and right into his driveway-it’s very dark now and he knows his gates best. And I am not up to reversing the stricken trailer in the dark, up a hill anyway.

But alas!!  the car won’t start- the hazard lights have flattened the battery.

Patiently my knight in shining armour heads back up his driveway and fetches his car and jumper leads. Phew!

A 64 point turn on the narrow roadway lines up the two engines and we start the car after just a little time holding our collective breath.

No Double B yet- so a quick dash back and around and we have both cars and the trailer back at 662.

A little more maneuvering, after first testing if we can dislodge the front bale- no way-and the trailer is off and stowed for the night.  His cattle start milling around the fence as the sweet heady smell of the silage reaches their nostrils on the cold night air.  I ask about his dogs- wonderful beasts-Salukis, Wolfhounds and Afghans. And I discover, he knows about my dogs- heard about Donatella on the local network and so we chat about Maremma, and break-ins and how challenging it can be settling into a country community- we have both been here about the same length of time.  We have never met but he knows just what to say about my recent loss.

What can I say to thank this kind stranger?

I am grateful that he would open his door and help someone he had never seen before, and extend the safety of his property to me.

I am grateful that Hay Dude just matter of factly slotted in the time to have a rescue tractor organised for the next day.

What can you say about wonderful people like that who will lend a hand?

As I walk back down his drive toward my idling car, I watch the moon suddenly rise over the river and bounce over the old church roof, now a house, across the road from 662.  It is glorious and round.

Yes. Thank you universe. I am grateful, and tomorrow is another day……

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