Hello from a rainy Manjimup!I hope everyone is well. We have had a great first week of WWOOFing at the vineyard. We have learnt a lot, met some fab people, and become very dirty! Our main jobs have been to look after the animals and manage the upkeep of the grounds, so we spent Monday and Tuesday working in the vines (weeding and re-stringing). We learnt how to take the laterals off the stem of the Riesling vine and how to tie certain knots. We also placed large nets over the Shiraz grapes to stop the birds getting in and eating it all. Rick, the farmhand, has been wonderful at keeping us entertained with his stories, although I’m fairly sure that he likes to scare us with wild tales of spiders and snakes. On Wednesday and Thursday we sorted out the Kikuyu weed that has been growing all over the vineyard. It was really hot and hard work, and it showed us the major disadvantages of working outside in Australia. Anyone who thinks that they want to work on the land, or own a farm or even a few veggie patches, should try WWOOFing first. It’s not that it has put me off ever wanting a patch of land, but it is seriously hard work that is forever ongoing and tiring. Nevertheless, the experience has been worthwhile and has taught us a lot about ourselves and the way of life that we might want in the future. Moreover, we now know a lot more about wine and gardening and we have seriously green fingers. Watch out Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock! Friday and Saturday saw us painting the cellar door and storage barns. The vineyard is on a hill and gets a lot of weather coming over from the coast, so the rammed earth buildings need a coat of sealant every once in a while to protect them from the wind and rain. We also continued to weed in the flower beds around the house and sweep the cobwebs from the ceilings, which was a gross job! We are given larger jobs to keep us out of trouble in the mornings, but we constantly keep an eye on the animals, making sure that they have been fed and the chicken’s eggs have been collected, and also alternating the sprinklers so all the veggies have a chance at survival! It has been extremely hot this week.During the afternoon we have a few hours of free time, so we have been into town a few times, but there isn’t much going on in Manjimup. The town has a yokel feel, and is 14 kms (‘clicks’, as Rick calls them) from the farm, so we haven’t spent much time there. However, on Friday we realised that we had a flat tire on the van so we had to drive slowly to a garage to get it sorted. The mechanic was not impressed as the tread on 2 tyres were completely bare and wouldn’t pass a police test (whatever that means). There was also a nail in the back tire so they had to replace the front 2 tyres and fix the back one. Whoops! Luckily, the rental company paid for it all and apologised for the state of the van. Hopefully we now have a chance of crossing the Nullarbor desert with no problems in a few weeks time.The Herriot family have been very kind to us. Lexie (6) has Down syndrome, so we have learnt a lot about children with special needs and their requirements. Yvonne’s eldest child, Aimee, also has 3 of her own children and we saw a lot of them at the beginning of the week. Tahlia (4) and the twins, Oliver and Dominique (4 months) are a real handful, so our experiences this week have put us off kids for life! Yvonne is busy with the house, kids and animals so we haven’t seen much of her whilst we have been out working, but we have had some delicious organic meals with her. It is fantastic being able to pick your own veggies before dinner, and collect fresh eggs before breakfast. The family have gone to Perth this weekend so they have trusted us to house sit for them for a few nights. We have been left with loads of jobs but it has been nice being able to slob out a bit! They don’t have a TV but they do have a few DVD’s so we relaxed and watched one last night which was a real treat. On Friday evening we drove to Nannup to the music and hippie festival. We had a fun time and there were some brilliant live bands playing, but the drive over was horrible! We had been warned about driving too much at night, but seeing as Nannup was close, we weren’t too concerned about heading over at 6.30pm. Mistake!! There were kangaroos everywhere and it was so nerve wracking for poor Phil trying to dodge them on the road. We were fine and made it there and back with no problems, but we are NOT driving again at night. Before I sign off, I have to mention the other scare that Phil had this week. He is not a fan of spiders as it is, so when he was bitten by a REDBACK (!!) on Tuesday, it was nasty!! We were working in the vines when one managed to crawl up his sleeve and bite him in the armpit. Ouch! They are mildly poisonous but he is fine now and it will make for an impressive story in the pub. Well, as it has now stopped raining, I better get back outside and take the quad bike out for a spin. It’s a hard life. We are off to Mt.Barker on Tuesday to WWOOF at a Kangaroo Sanctuary. I’m, not sure if they have internet so farewell for now!With lots of love,Alan and Charlie xxxP.S - Phil has selected some photos to upload but the internet is slow here, so we will try to get them up soon. Watch this space!
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