Big Question Marks

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Tale of Two Cherry Farms

Hooray! The cherry-pickers are on a three-day weekend! But unfortunately their internal clocks can't be readjusted and they woke up at 6:30am this morning anyway. Yarrrrr.

The countdown is on, and we now have only three more weeks of harvest work in Stanthorpe until we're eligible for our second year work visas in Oz. Cherry picking hasn't been bad at all, in fact, we're pro-stars at it now and spent our week getting shuffled to wherever the work is at the time-- between our original farm (Beaver's) and our new orchard (Cherry Park), where we started two weeks ago.

The two farms are right across the highway from each other, and have their pros and cons. At first, we were overjoyed to start at Cherry Park, where we were promised 5 weeks of employment (all we need for the visa) and there are tons of cherry trees, a nice lunchroom, and a really nice family running it. There were a lot of us working there at first, but since they all sucked at cherry-picking, suddenly it's down to us and an Aussie hunting enthusiast, Dave. We get to cruise into the orchard in the farm ute (see "Autosluts" photo below) and aside from the odd spider, tree frog, and one big resident frill-necked lizard, we're left alone to do our picking (and snacking). Not bad!

But then, this week the folks at Cherry Park told us we're going to work a day and a half at Beaver's farm... OK, whatever, as long as we're getting paid. Beaver's trees are coated in pesticides and fungicides (our hands get SO dirty there, and we're afraid to eat the chemical-laden cherries), but the manager, Peter, is a cool guy who cracks us up and doesn't make us pick the cherries by colour or any of that business. AND there are no mouldy cherries or spiders waiting in the branches (the only survivor we met was a green caterpillar!). We have the run of the whole orchard as their only 2 workers-- a little spooky-- and can goof off as we please. Not to mention we get paid more there!

But Beaver/Peter's orchard only had so many trees (it's mostly apples, which get harvested in January), so it was back to Cherry Park. We felt kind of like baseball players being traded from team to team by our agents... really, we're pretty sure they're just trying to keep us busy so we don't skip town on our days off. We're bittersweet about being back at Cherry Park, as the schedule keeps changing and we honestly think the owner, Graham, has no idea what's happening out in the field (after having part-shares in the farm for years, he finally took it over this year). Part of us wants to make lots of money and part of us just wants to sit around and play lots of Tropico, while ticking off our visa weeks without working too much.

Not to mention our only co-worker, Dave, is a piece of work too-- if he's not talking about cherries (85% of the time, too much shop-talk!), it's about hunting. Don't get us wrong, he's a very nice guy, just a little hard to relate to. If he were a North American, he'd be from the heart of Texas. He drives a 4WD with his spare tire on the back decorated with a logo for "Longbow Hunters". He tells us proudly, "This is the only country in the world where you can knock on someone's door and they're totally cool with hunting on their property," (that's his weekend activity). He says he likes to shoot animals with a longbow "because it's more humane than with a gun". Hmmm. One day in the car ride to work-- yes, we carpool with him-- there was a little too much shooting talk and Dayle mentioned she was a vegetarian. Dave called her a "greenie" and tried to further justify his hunting by saying everything he shoots is "feral". (though in other parts of the world we think "feral" may refer to something else, in Australia, everything that's not a koala, crocodile, goanna, or emu-- anything native Australian-- is feral. Thus, it's OK to shoot apparently.) And Dave shoots feral pigs, deer, cats, boars, camels (well, he hopes to someday). Even kangaroos, though they're not feral, "There's just so bloody many of them," says Dave.

"Well, you know what else is feral in Oz??" Adrian thought, and quickly bit his tongue-- "White people!". Somehow we both think he'd find a way to justify that too.


Paula said...

I loves the feral white peoples part... good fun!

Catherine said...

Ah, funny! You crack me up, and yes, whites in oz are about as feral as they get :0) I want to take my kids to pickcherries for a holiday - does Cherry Pard do that?? Thanks :0)

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