Saturday, June 20, 2015

Penguins & Australian Football

Life on King Island has been a load of fun. After Red and Barten left I started working on James and Karmens farm. The first day was spent with getting some wood planks for their new house through a thickener (I think it's called like that). Worked all day with the local carpenter/joiner Roger and his apprentice Dave. James and Karmen coming to help put the planks through the machine and driving it back to their in-progress house. The next couple of days where spent doing all sort of knick knacks around a farm. Getting a ventilator fitted on their organic toilet, feeding a roll of hay to some cattle and doing a lot of fencing. I had to learn from scratch how to do that, but we got a rhythm in the end, so we completed quiet a bit of it. Some of it looks a bit crooked, but it is only following the shelter belt. Shelter belts on King Island are rather important. They are rows of trees to make sure the cattle, grass and pretty much everything on the island are not blown of by the strong coastal winds.
We visited some penguins on the southern coastline of King Island. The so called “little penguins” are native to the island and come out of the water every evening/night to rest in the shrubs of the coastal areas. Evan and Gipsy where given torches with red foil in front of them (disturbs them less) and I took my GoPro to try and get some film footage. Turned out to be to dark for that, but I saw my first ever wild penguins and they didn't sound to happy with us being there after the amount of racket they where making in the hedges. So we left them in peace and went to the Grassy Club to have an evening meal, where I met a few other backpackers that where spending time on the island. A German, a Dutch and two English guys which are working on cattle farms on the island. We found out after some time that we would meet each other the next day, but on opposing sites as is described bellow. 

I visited my first ever football match (ozy rules) last Saturday. Evan (oldest son) is playing for the northern team and was competing against Curry. The island only has a population of 1400 people, but still manage to have three football teams. Most of them are understaffed and I was approached by a lot of people from all three teams to play for them. In the end I though “What the heck? I'll give it a try”. Me living at James's I went to Northern training on Tuesday and Thursday and had my first match this Saturday, right after Evan had played. Me being a pretty tall guy I was placed on the position of rook immediately. That sort of seems to be the place the lest amount of people want to have. It involves jumping high up in the air, flying towards the opposing rook and trying to direct the ball towards your team mates at the start of a match. My first few second of the game where spent trailing the enemy rook around the field after getting a knee in the gut and being a bit winded, but the recovery was pretty fast. As the game progressed everyone started limping more and more (it is a kind of brutal sport) and I acquired a small split in the head after getting an elbow from not jumping high enough against the opposing rook. In the end I managed to get a mark (catch it save) and helped a bit along, but we'll have to see how it continues. After getting my head injury glued back together I went with the team to have something to eat and drink and then went back home for a nap and hopefully not to sore muscles in the morning.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

King Island

A long time no update. Sorry about that, a bit to myself as well. The weeks have just been full of work, sometimes some fishing trips and a bit of spotlighting in the evenings. Also my internet connectivity isn't the best in the world, I am spending less and less time actually on the computer (most of the times just to read a book now and then).
Katherine came back to the farm after two weeks of absence, once again to help along a bit. I managed to slowly digitalise James farm (only the Heifers till now, but it is a start) to get him more opportunities in future. April (the abandoned twin calf) has been getting stronger and stronger with every litre of milk she gets and is complaining about not being fed enough. Got a few early morning pictures of the fog coming up the creek valley in Tahara and lots of other small bits and pieces. Got whacked in the shin by a 310 kg Heifer which has left a bit of a bruise, but no problem otherwise.
I have moved on from James's farm for now, who knows, perhaps I might spend a bit of time on his farm again in the future. See how things are going. He took me along to his pheasant shooting weekend on King Island, where an old friend of his (also named James) lives and accommodated us. Getting there was interesting, as the only real standard commercial connection is a small aircraft from Melbourne to Currie which only has eight seating places, including pilot and co-pilot. James had his two dogs (Lola and Oscar) with him and we ran out of space in the passenger plane, so he tagged on along in the freight plane. Barten, one of James's friends also came along and the weekend was spent together with Nick and John out in the paddocks of King Island looking for the birds. We spotted heaps of wallabies and I saw my first pointer (type of dog) in action, pointing out the position of a pheasant. I also caught my first edible fish and we had an evening filled with fries, fish and fun. Weather wise we where really lucky, as the southern hemisphere is moving in to winter, King Island tends to take on the qualities of a well known island in Europe. Instead we had (mostly) sunshine with some windy weather coming in on Monday. Looking at the sea on that day we could fully understand why so many ships have been wrecked on the rocks of the island. Massive and brutal rolling waves coming in on the shores of the island, only leaving a few small sheltered lagoons for the ships and fish to seek shelter in.
On Wednesday morning James and Barton left and I started my stay on King Island, staying with James, his wife Carmen and children Ethan and Gipsy. First day of work was getting some planks of wood treated, so they wouldn't have splinters in them any more. All day long we lifted the wood with Roger (a carpenter and joiner), his apprentice Dave, James, Carmen and me. We managed to get it all done and back to James and Carmens soon to be house before dark. Went back, chopped up some firewood and had a nice evening meal prepared by Carmen before starting to make some home made bread. After that a shower and some time on the laptop to update stuff.

Greeting from King Island to everyone, an Island small but similar in weather condition to England.