“It isn’t until you stop that you realize how fucked you are.”. These words of Sam quite accurately describe how the long days in the vintage feel. During the work days there aren’t really any breaks. One jobs follows the next and the machines are always moving as they don’t make any money while standing around.
After work we usually sit in the shed for a beer or two and because it is the first time my body can relax I feel like I had a whole six-pack afterwards. Beer is also the hypnotic of choice for everybody and very helpful when sleep is needed at unusual times.
When I just have 6-7 hours between workdays I usually head from the shed straight to the bed and am asleep not much later. While a shower would be nice, it would refresh me and thus keep me from sleeping. As a consequence I tend to get a bit smelly during really busy times. But so is everybody.
During the last week I worked about 80 hours and am starting to get exhausted. There is basically just work on my mind and I already forgot two birthdays. This week is expected to be the last really busy week of the vintage. After that it’ll slow down and work days will get more humane with around 10 hours.
The weather has improved over the last days and we got some work done. Some vineyards are hit by diseases like botrytis but most are still ok. The rain also left many blocks as big muddy puddles which is quite a problem when heavy machinery has to get through there.
The harvesters got stuck a couple of times but with the help of one or two additional tractors they got pulled out again.
As expected the work has gotten a bit easier for me. I now have more experience with driving all the tractors and learned about the different procedures. Since of yesterday I also know how to operate a forklift. We use it to take full bins of the trailers and put empty ones on.
Usually driving a forklift requires training and a license but the later doesn’t seem to be mandatory on private grounds. Initially I didn’t think it would be a good idea to put me on that thing because the full bins easily weigh 2.5t and I wouldn’t want to drop them on someone’s foot but John reckoned I’d be fine.
Since Tuesday night I’ve done about 50 hours, most of it in the last three days. The coming week will probably be quite busy as well and after that it’ll gradually slow down.
On Saturday we had a little BBQ in the shed after work. Yes, really in the shed. It’s a big shed but once the steaks were done we were smoked as well. Well, better than freezing outside. Night time temperatures are down to about 10° which is a bit uncomfortable as Australia is a country without central heating and in that old farm house it’s as cold inside as it is outside.
At the moment the Barossa area is getting a lot of rain. That’s bad for me for two reason. Firstly the grapes can’t be harvested when it’s raining because the harvester can’t separate the wet leaves from the fruits. Secondly the grapes had enough rain and any more could do serious damage. The grapes get mouldy and prone to diseases.
I’m concerned that the harvest might come to an early end, taking away from me the opportunity to earn money for a trip to Asia and Europe. Like usually nothing is certain in the vintage and I’m hoping for the best. So far I still have work, 10h last night and more later today.
Update: Well so much for more work tonight. When I arrived at work at 8pm John was awaiting me with a glass of wine telling me there’d be no work right now. It’s still raining cats and dogs and so we chatted over a glass of wine or two and an hour later I was back home. There will probably be a couple hours tomorrow morning so now I have to just kill the time as I slept all day in expectancy of another night on the tractor.