The grey cloud and still morning suggested rain but nothing of the sort. Instead the wind sprung up and whipped its cold arms around us from breakfast time on. Joy had rounded up a merino the night before and it was waiting for us after breakfast – a lesson in butchery which most were able to handle. It’s an instructional session that includes a revelation in anatomy that is far more enlightening than any text book. We poked around in the offal and opened things up and explained this and that much to the intrigue and horror of some. We cut it up more quickly than we should but it still cooked okay at the end of the day.
The 1949 fridge, gas fired no less, was removed by Rod this morning and a few of the lads maneuvered the beast of a thing out of the shearers quarters and up to the newly cleared shed. For most if not all of us this is our first and only exposure to a gas fridge. That it has the original door seals is also an introduction to how things used to be made. It made way for a new fridge that is more compliant with health and catering requirements. But Rod had to get power into that corner of the kitchen and close off the gas line. The power was run through a stone and brick wall which took a couple of attempts to run through four walls. Not helped by hitting “iron” stone as Joy called it. But by the time Rod and Pete were finished there was some neat conduit run into the kitchen, the fridge fitted up and turned on. That this was done before September was of course a source of immense satisfaction to Joy when she saw it later that evening.
By the time the mutton was prepared and the fridge installed we were past lunch and any prospects of doing more cactus killing out of the question. So some of the lads got in some time with the .22 before we went up to Hill Grange and took on a task we have planned to do on every trip here but never been able to turn our hand to – clearing the footings of sheep manure which has built up over a period of years. Up to ten perhaps. The idea grossed out a few of the team but to their credit they all committed to the task and climbed underneath – well nearly all. But we put in three hours and cleared a ton or two of manure. And there’s plenty more to be done so we can look forward to that tomorrow or the next day.
Dinner of saltbush mutton and vegetables followed by honey garlic prawns. Pretty tough fare! We always eat simply but well. And it s great opportunity for everyone with even a shadow of cooking experience, or aspirations for Master Country Chef to have a go in the kitchen. It’s great to see Sara and Sarah planning meals on the run and leading teams of helpers getting the meals done.
Joy and her niece Sharon joined us for supper (which consisted of hot chocolate and those yabbies’). It was pretty potent to hear Sharon, who had only just met our crew and watched them working under the woolshed earlier in the day compliment them on their “respect” for where they were (in general) and for Joy in particular. I know they are great but its nice getting that external assessment. Their greatness was evident today when, at a low point in the afternoon and a couple of tempers frayed to exasperation, one of them started singing and did not let up for ages. Not any old singing but hilarious snippets that rapidly had everyone laughing, myself included, to the point of tears. The afternoon finished with a manure fight, with sheep marbles by the hand and by the shovelful being flung at each other.
Midweek was summarized by city born and bred Sarah who quipped that she could quite honestly stay here and never go back to Sydney. Amen to that.
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