At 9.30 last night, P got a phone call to tell him there was a fire at the back of our property. That extra-bright, extra-big full moon must have inspired someone to extra-lunatic behaviour and they’d put a match to the dry grass on both sides of the road. So it was burning into our wheat stubble and into a pasture paddock on the other side, dangerously near to a neighbour’s house. Fortunately there wasn’t a breath of wind last night and the humid day had left a lot of moisture on the ground. Those who turned up to fight it were able to get it under control before too much harm was done.
It has always fascinated me that when something like this happens out here in the country, the whole neighbourhood turns up to help. These days the local volunteer fire-fighters are issued with protective clothing, but they’ve always done it, regardless of the danger. Some farmers have lost their lives fighting fires on others’ properties, but it deters no one.
When Eldest was little, a spark from a power line set fire to the paddock just across the creek from our house. That day the wind was raging and the fire shot down the hill into the nearly dry creek and the trees along the banks. Within minutes, about thirty farmers had turned up with their water tanks on the back of their utes. Again, they managed to get it out before it did too much damage.
It’s not just fire fighting that rallies them either. A couple of years ago, P’s dad, well into his seventies, fell from the back of the header whilst trying to tighten a belt. He broke some ribs and was quite ill for a long time afterwards. P was suffering at that stage from untreated anxiety attacks and depression and seeing his father age ten years like that nearly sent him over the edge. He found it really difficult to get back to the task of harvesting on his own. Then in rolled a neighbour with his big green header, twice the size of the one we had. He took off the rest of the crop in a third of the time it would have taken P, while P took on the less stressful role of driving the truck to the bins. We payed him, of course, but the fact remains that he had finished his own harvest and faced the prospect of a couple of week’s relative relaxation before Christmas, but he gave it up to help a neighbour out. True country spirit.
P finished harvest for this year last Tuesday. Last night one of the neighbours fighting the fire told him that his header had broken down and didn’t look likely to be fixed for quite a while. He faced the prospect of not finishing his harvest until the new year. Today P is back on his header, going around that neighbour’s paddocks, taking off his crop for him. It’s what you do. True Blue.
Now here's a little more True Blue Aussie Country -