We had a family excursion yesterday. Well, a portion of the family I hasten to add, before the rest of the Mutton Stew start sending messages of outrage from far flung outposts. Mr. Moble managed to bog the grader last week, maximum bogging on minimum precipitation. The family motto, reflecting generations of dedication to this dry corner country.
As ever in these excursions, much thought and planning provide a many and varied experience for the uninitiated volunteers (visitors) and those of us who have participated regularly in these retrievals (family). Sometimes we may choose our mode of transport and the role we will adopt; mostly it is allocated. The unexpected twist is what else Mr. Moble will include in what is, ostensibly, pulling the grader out of a bog.
As there are only three of us, very under-staffed as these things go, the vehicle allocation was somewhat limited to a needs-must basis: just a Toyota and tractor as we would be driving the grader home. The retrieval site was remarkably accessible: only half an hour on a rough but by no means bone- shattering road. Unusually, the road was visible to all; not one of our in-house tracks we whizz along, whilst our passengers nervously enquire will we be on a road again soon?
Even the optional extras were reasonably on task, no doubt limited by the reduced team. Generally, the tractor driver would be checking a fence whilst driving out, or cleaning troughs en-route. The Toyota crew may be running a barb or swinging a gate. Take a bike on the back, you may see some stragglers. Anything to maximise the joy of having a dedicated workforce, in other cultures referred to as Family, heading to somewhere no-one generally goes. Murphy’s Law dictates breakdowns happen in the most inaccessible spots.
Mr. Moble headed off on the tractor, his second favourite mode de jour after the grader. The Impatient Gardener and I set off to pump water at a tank, much further out. We were to meet at the grader sometime later, by which time Mr. Moble would have re-routed the creek with the tractor in manner of The Bradfield Scheme and dug out the grader.
We completed our first task without hitch. We noted all the usual things to report, in readiness for Mr. Moble’s greeting on our arrival: Where were the sheep were running? How many? Any lambs? How full was the tank? Did the pump start well? Any fuel left? Did it need any oil? How was the trough? Any sign of dog tracks?
As an optional extra to Meg’s thorough observations, I noted we saw one Major Mitchell, several Black Pacific Ducks and one Shoveler Duck. There may have been others, however I forgot my binoculars. Naturally, Mr. Moble was captivated.
He had also been very busy and there was an impressive amount of earth removed in and around what was an extremely impressively bogged grader. It begged the question did you not think it would be soft in the crossing, after the run in the creek? The response was as clear as a drought sky.
Team of three, to your vehicles. Very heavy, greasy chain fitted between grader and tractor. Start grader. Grader will not start. Tractor cannot pull grader out. Team of two, to your shovels. Remove all impacted mud from between wheels. Return to stations. Tractor pulling sideways to loosen dried mud, ingenious and practical as ever. Still not just quite enough. Noted flat front tyre on Grader. Afternoon warming up.
Second heaviest greasy chain fitted between tractor and old, circa 2000, work Toyota. New, circa 2017, V8 work Toyota happily parked in comfortable shed at home. Old work Toyota does all the actual work. Then, like a well- rehearsed orchestra, we start on cue and the grader slowly emerges from the earth. The Phoenix has risen.
From then on, it was textbook team-work. Muffled instructions directed from inside the grader engine: climb up here, hold the screwdriver there, push that lever forward and when I tell you, turn the ignition on with your left foot. Grader kicks into life. Meanwhile, Meg has the tyre off in a flash and by now, two flat tyres loaded up with tractor. Chains dragged in; quick check for any stray tools, the ubiquitous photo so far -flung family feel like they were here when they weren’t. Then, we all return to base, in daylight no less.
I can hear Mr. Moble in the workshop from here this morning. The rhythmic bang of breaking the bead, fixing the tyres. All going well, I think we will be due for a family excursion this afternoon. Would you like to come?
Wishing you all cloudy skies and rain,
The Moble Gardener