Thursday, March 24, 2011

Down on the farm

There are a few skills I’ve learned during my life, one of those skills was Oxy acetylene cutting of steel, a skill nearly lost these days as it costs a great deal in gas and time to teach the skill. Back when I was considerably younger and working under a couple of very fine ‘old time’ boiler makers I foolishly thought it was cool to learn to cut steel with hot gas...stupid boy!
Of course I've done my best to forget the skill but copious amounts of scotch and beer simply have not done the job.
The worst of it is that some people who have known me for all those years know that I can still do it… and you just cant kill them all!
A few weeks ago an old mate who now owns a farm down the coast a bit rang to coerce me into coming down to oxy cut for him.

Do you have friends that call from time to time, and when they ring, you kind of go… ‘Oh no!’ ? He’s like that, a good friend and a great bloke but…well, he owns a farm and works like a dog.

Anyway… I get there to find two huge air seeding machines waiting for me, a combination of over one hundred plough points to cut off as well as a similar amount of holding plates and rusted bolts, and all of it had to be done without any damage to adjoining parts. (my adjoining parts somehow don’t bear consideration)
As you can see the machines are so low and so heavy that they cant be lifted, you must crawl under it, between sharp and nasty bits.
As soon as you light the torch the spiders who have taken refuge in the equipment in the preceding nine months start dropping off everything above you…angry spiders!
So there you sit, in the dirt, with Red Back and Orb weaver spiders raining down on you, you don’t worry too much about that however because the red hot steel is also raining down on you. If you twitch or move suddenly you get a plough shear in the head, or back, or somewhere and of course the melted steel ends up on the ground where you're sitting.
I felt something crawling down my back and nesting between my buttocks…probably just another ant. Half an hour later when I got out from under to learn to walk again I found a Red Back dropping from my shorts on a web. (note to self: Next time wear long pants) (Further note to self: make sure there is no ‘next time’)

I ended up spending two twelve hour days sitting under those machines collecting melted steel in my undies… and I've got the burns to prove it.
Then I spent another day bolting on new sharp bits and scratching, scraping and impaling myself on those as I did… and I've got the wounds to prove that. (the things you do for friends)
A few restorative welds here and there and the mighty machines are ready to put the next crop in…any day now.
If I were a bit younger I could make a very good living working the farms, but this old body is simply not up to the task.
After my holiday down the farm I need a holiday!



Argentum Vulgaris said...

And I bet it was all done at "mates rates"?

Nicely written, I almost felt that I was under there with you, but I have far more sense than that, I'll just sit here in the comfort of my underpants and read about it.

Red Back in the undies, nasty. Worse than the hot steel, I understand that having done welding in my time, not gas cutting, but the air force in it's peculiar wisdom taught me to weld with gas; not that fangled lectricitee stuff. real stuff.


Pearl said...

What a great skill to have, though!

Sorry to hear about your old body. :-) My body commisserates and suggests we head down to the corner bar and talk about it.


Windsmoke. said...

I know how you feel, when i was still working i did welding, arc welding and thermal cutting and hope never ever to do them again under any circumstances, not even for mates rates :-).

magsx2 said...

Hi Tempo,
Ah yes, the things we do for friends. I really felt sorry for you as I was reading your post, the red-back in the undies is not good, how lucky you were that it was happy. :)

Tempo said...

Hi AV, yep..well and truly mates rates. On the up-side he has a very nice and very large boat only a few km away from the coast and directly in front of some offshore islands and reefs. I'm quite good at gas welding, at least that's a 'gentleman's' way of joining steel.

Hiya Pearl, ...I'm right there with you girl, first round is on me!

Windsmoke, you've got a great collection of scars too?! Most of my welding these days is Mig and Tig, I still have an old Arc welder but don't use it much anymore.

Hi Mags, Of course you know Red Backs are actually quite docile and rarely bite. In fact Ive never been bitten by one even though Ive had them crawl over me many times. I was sure glad it didn't bite though...that's a wound I'd rather not show the nurse...

Kal said...

First of all, at the FIRST sign of dropping spiders I would have been GONE. My dad always told me there are people who are good at mechanics and construction and it cost less in the long run than doing it myself.

Tempo said...

I must agree with you Kal...get some sucker to do it..OH..right! (pause)
Of course I wave the torch about for a few seconds before getting under it but there are always a few hiding somewhere in all that stuff. (and all those pipes are plastic and it is not considered a 'good' thing to set fire to them)

Spiral said...

Think of the bright side, Kymbo - you got a blog post out of it!

Tempo said...

Right again Spiral, got to salvage something from the disaster eh?!