Nut harvesting at Valla in September 2007
On goes the cotton singlet, hat and rid, I grab the water bottle and buckets and load them into the little trailer on my quad bike.
Jim has run around on the harvester and my job is to pick up the rest of the nuts left behind around the base of the tree and in the grass. The day is hot and steamy in Valla and I was thinking how nice it would be to sit by the pool and read a book. The pool even winks at me as I walk past.
The trees are still heavy with nut and starting to flower already for next season. Some farms are finished, but ours is still productive. I strap on the knee guards and crawl around under the trees on the hard ground. I have learned to use cotton gloves to save the hands a bit and scoop up the nuts, hoping not to also scoop up rat droppings or the odd spider. The webs are glistening in the sun and trap you as you walk from tree to tree, sometimes slipping on the grass on the steep rows. I try not to think of what some other 58 year old women would be doing, maybe having their nails done or hair dyed, as I toss the chocolate brown shiny balls into the buckets. Of course it is a beautiful day and I forget about the stiff neck and back and the odd nut hitting me on the head as it falls and rolls down the hill laughing at me. My clothes are now sticking to me and the buckets are full, so time to unload at the shed. My socks are full of little prickly things and the two dogs are sitting by the bike crunching on nuts watching me remove the objects from my socks. Is that a smile on your face Bandit?
Jim climbs down off the tractor and takes a few minutes to straighten up and walks gingerly towards the house, arms scratched by the overhanging limbs and swearing to lop the trees 8 ft off the ground for next season.
Is this really retirement?? One has to question the sanity of the two of us and also ask how long the body takes this type of punishment.
Then we have a long hot bath and sit on our verandah overlooking the green rolling hills with a drink in hand and decide that at that moment, it is worth all the effort. We may even make some money next year!!!