We had come to Alexandra with the promise of two weeks work but I haven't finished pruning in the orchard I was doing and Murray our boss said there were a few things he could get me to do after that as well so we have another couple of weeks of work which is great.
We had to move out of the sleepout at Murray's house as he had some travellers coming to woof (housework in return for free accommodation) at his house. This meant we moved into a four bedroom house on the orchard site and had it to ourselves for a while. The house is massive and we still weren't paying any rent and no longer had to help with the house work and look after the kids at Murray's house which made it even better! The house hadn't been lived in for about a year and was missing a lot of things. As the season kicks off here, a lot of seasonal workers come over from Vanuatu which is a group of islands near Fiji, they have different levels of technology on their islands and so Murray wanted us to live in the house for a while and see what it needed and what worked. Our first problem was that the fire didn't work; it took a few days to get which meant a few days in a very cold house as we only had one electric heater. But once it was fixed the house became a lot more comfortable, and as we had to cut our own fire wood with an axe. Jeff felt very manly especially when coupled with the red pick-up truck we were driving around the orchards.
The weather is still getting pretty cold here at night, sometimes it's staying above zero and sometimes it is dropping below and frosting which means the orchard farmers have to go out and frost fight. If the trees frost the flowers and fruit will die and they will lose the crop, so to stop this the farmers have huge sprinklers which cover the tress when it will frost and cocoon the branches in ice protecting them from the cold - somehow. It doesn't make much sense to me but looks pretty spectacular when you wake up in the morning and see row after row of tree covered in ice.
We got out first flatmates after a few days, they are two guys from Vanuatu who come over for seven months every year and save money to go home. They were called Michael and Cliff Richard. Apparently his Dad came to England and heard a Cliff Richard song on the radio and wrote to him, he replied to their island and his Dad decoded if he had a son he would have to call him Cliff Richard.
San was painting the cuts that Jeff and a guy called Kevin were making while pruning to prevent bacteria getting into the cuts. San was also helping to pollinate one particular orchard where there were no bees, by picking up flowers that had been pruned to put into buckets with sugary water in the trees. While picking the flowers out of the back of the pick-up truck, the truck started to roll back and San had to jump in and slam on the brakes. The hand brake takes a bit of getting used to as it is under the steering wheel and you have to pull it towards you. San also got stuck driving the truck one day and was very close to taking out one of the rows of trees, after calling Murray for help she put the truck into four wheel drive and away she went.
Murray started to run out of work for San, he sent San to help his wife, Paula who works away as a teacher in Balclutha during the week. San arrived in Balclutha and went straight to the school. Paula was on her lunch break, after a quick tour around the school lunch was over and San was the mystery guest for the afternoon. The Year 4 kids (aged 6-8) were very inquisitive about our travels and about the UK. Some had been before and said they knew the Big Ben. There was a skipping rope competition and all the kids did different skipping activities. San had the Ipad and was in charge of taking photos. In the afternoon San was babysitting their youngest son, cooking dinner and doing housework. The next few days San helped two particular rascals in the class with their reading, writing and art work. It was a great experience and San was happy to get back to Jeff on Friday.
We have been trying to save money and have cheap weekends but we have fallen in love with a shop called the Warehouse. It's kind of like Woolworths but with some amazing deals, like shoes for two dollars so we have been checking it out about once a week.
In Alexandra there is a clock up on the hill, kind of like the Hollywood sign but smaller and well a clock. We walked up to it and explored and could even climb on the clock itself. We went up the Alex lookout which has great views of the surrounding areas. We took advantage of having a full kitchen and made a roast for the first time in about 3 months and it was so amazing!
We are going to try and stick it out on this orchard for as long as possible, now San is working over in the school Jeff still has full time work and we are living rent free so trying to save lots of money to head back on the road! We just need to stop our Warehouse trips at the weekends. As we write this we just spent another $50 at Warehouse so not doing so well.