Thursday, 28 October 2010

Coffee Van Realised

It's been a hard road, and it has consumed me both mentally and financially. While I'm not ready to put it all down in cold hard pixels or ink, at least I'm ready and legal to sell coffee, which I'll have my first crack at day after tomorrow. Thanks to all those who have given moral support, and to those who gave none. Without you I wouldn't have had the strength to go through with it all.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Coffee Van, another week

It has been a productive week, although it seems as though my life has become a cycle of list writing, running around town, achieving something while at the same time discovering something else which I need to attend to which I had hitherto been completely unaware. Yet I blunder along and this week has indeed been productive, including the aquisition of inverter, charger, deep cycle batteries, water tanks, gas bottle, water pump, fire extinguishers and pipe of various description. Now just need to bolt it all together in the appropriate configuration in readiness for the espresso machine, which was ordered today. On the earthquake front, was woken up by a rather large aftershock at around 6:20am. Almost three weeks on and the earth is still moving.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Christchurch Earthquake

Saturday, September 4 2010, 4:34am I was fast asleep. At 4:35 I was wide awake, standing outside with two naked housemates and a baby, while the ground shook and buildings and chimneys were collapsing. Powerlines were flashing as they shorted or fell, the electicity and water failed. Stunned neighbours met on the street, some went out walking with torches, talking to those they encountered, asking if they were alright. There was an eerie feel in the air. It was still a couple of hours before dawn. Nobody knew whether the quake was centered near here, or if we just felt part of something much larger centered elsewhere. It turns out that it was centered around 30km from Christchurch and 10km deep, with a magnatude of 7.1 on the richter scale.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Wow, this little adventure is giving me some wicked mood swings, I've been quite manic - depressive recently. Today was an up day. Perhaps it was the business course I did in the morning which made me feel quite positive (although my attitude toward "business people", those square lookin' cats I see in cafes with shiny shoes and folders talking through fascades at each other has been reinforced), perhaps it was the coffee I had with Eroica, perhaps the two coffees I had without eating all day despite not having had coffee for the previous three days, perhaps it was buying a water tank, fixing the van's horn, fixing the broken art deco clock I bought at an antique auction yesterday, or a combination of all these things.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The van is back from the panelbeaters, but I've had a setback. The name I was going to use, "Espresso Rescue" has been trademarked in New Zealand, as has "Coffee Rescue". Looking for new ideas.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Slow progress on the van this week. As well as working on another job the van's been at the panelbeaters having a tidy up. As far as selling coffees and the expenses involved I've "done my numbers" so to speak, today I showed them to the coffee bean man and he said they looked alright. I've obtained some rimu tongue and groove panelling for the back and sides of the service area so when I get the van back can make a start. Getting my head around local council regulations, it is they who issue the mobile vendor and health permits, and the list of regulations is long, while information on meeting them adequately, what can and can't, must and must not - such detailed information is more difficult to obtain. I've obtained business insurance, but am yet to obtain public liability insurance. I'm still trying to find out what size inverter I need to convert 12 volts DC to 240 volts AC and how many deep cycle batteries I'll need to drive it. I'm attending a business course on friday, need to get versed on that side of things, as well as tax and accounting.
It's all left me feeling a bit flat these past few days.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Big Changes

The Australian fruit picking adventure has come to an end and it's time for a new direction. Jenny and I have parted ways, although since splitting we lived and worked together on the orchards for the last season, and ended up getting on better than we did when we were a couple. So it's not an easy thing saying goodbye to her and returning to New Zealand in mid winter, sleeping on a mates couch (said mate and wife having a fifteen month old baby), working during the day on a building site while trying to set up my new mobile espresso van project, trying to raise a little finance, organise a business plan,
blah blah. I have a van to build upon though, a 1975 CF Bedford, only travelled just under 18000km, due to being a rescue vehicle in a small town fire station from 1993 until I purchased it, before that being the fire tender at the "Cherry Farm" psychiatric hospital.
Of course it's turning out to be more complex than bunging an espresso machine in the back of a van and filling cups. Business insurance, public liability insurance, pure sinewave inverters, deep cycle marine batteries, various types of mobile refrigeration, water pressures, council regulations, tax obligations, mobile eftpos, graphic design, coffee beans, milk suppliers..... I'm still at the stage where this list is getting longer. Once it begins to shorten I'll feel better I'm sure.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Goodnight, Tooleybuc, hard times.

Jenny and I, despite our relationship having ended, have returned to Goodnight in order to pick oranges.
The farm we stay on with it's campsite on the banks of the Murray River is as beautiful as ever,
but the year since we were last here has not seen prosperous times for Goodnight or Tooleybuc, nor has it been particularly fruitful for Jenny or I.
Where to start? The locust plague is as good a place as any. People have been driving about with shade cloth covering the
front of their cars, in order to prevent the locusts from fouling their radiators. If the locusts were bad a month ago,
it seems it will pale into insignificance compared to the expected plagues this coming spring and summer,as this autumn the warm weather
and good rains provided perfect conditions for egg laying. These eggs will remain dormant for the duration of the winter, and news of the coming plague is even reaching the ears of city dwellers.
The town of Tooleybuc is not faring well either. The town of around 250 souls is home to a pub, general store, caravan park and post office. All of which are for sale.
The number of groves and vinyards in Goodnight which have been allowed to dry up and die seems to have increased, and the farm we picked oranges on has not escaped. The wine glut in Australia has reduced the price farmers in these
parts recieve for their grapes to below the cost of production, and as this farm is primarily a vinyard, the owner has decided enough is enough.
The farm is for sale and the grapevines won't be pruined nor watered in the summer. They will most likely die.
There is more money to be made selling the farms annual water allocation than using it to grow grapes. The permanant
water rights are able to be sold seperately to the land. Indeed the water is worth more than the land and it is probable
that the water will be sold to another farmer, leaving the farm itself without water, leaving the grapes and oranges to die, and leaving the resulting mess worth little.
As for this seasons orange picking, the oranges were big, some took two hands to pick, but the farm was flooded with
illegal contractor pickers, and the season only lasted a week. We have been to the other farms in the Goodnight/Tooleybuc area,
and they are all employing the services of contractors, who will not give legal workers a job. Today we visited a large
farm in Tooleybuc we picked on last year, and as we waved to the illegal Malaysian Chinese pickers who we met earlier on the farm here in Goodnight, we were told there was no job for us.
Having recieved this news we decided to drive to Swan Hill to comiserate/celebrate the end of picking. Swan Hill seemed
even more depressing than usual, the opressive vibe of despair I usually get from the place being that much sharper.
I've heard it said bad things come in threes, on the way back to the farm from Swan Hill the clutch on the old corolla started
to slip badly, the car we were hoping to sell in the next couple of weeks could be up for an expensive repair, and the toilets at the farm camp have blocked up.
Individually these things vexed me greatly, but now I feel strangely calm and at peace. I don't know if this is good or not.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Treatment Of Backpackers and Illegal Fruitpickers In Australia

Here is a link to an excellent report downloadable from the ABC Radio National website which goes into detail regarding the conditions faced by backpackers and illegal workers in the Australian fruit and vegetable harvest industry. The situation has become rather disturbing in the past two or three years.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Some Travelling, More Waiting

A trip to New Zealand was had, which for the past few years has become par for the course around this time of year. The pears have finished and around here there is usually a break between pears, the early apple varieties, and the start of the main apple crop (here Granny Smith, Sundowner, Pink Lady).
New Zealand was great as usual, spent time with Eroica and Jeff, savouring with them episodes of coffee, beer, nightime city wanderings, and their witty banter. With Steve and Renata and little Tiago, nights of meat and beer and blatting in the '65 big block impala hand built and just finished by Steve, sister Karyn the woodchopper and sawer competing at the Methven A&P show, a trip to Rotorua to see Steve and Mel, and meet young Pheadra, it had been way too long, and surprised and overjoyed to see Andrea, Jeremy and Vege aka Darryl after how long? Ten years?............
Now back on the orchard, to be given two days work then a week off because the apples aren't quite ready, and the neighbouring farms all in the same boat. Waiting.
Such is the life of the fruitpicker.

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Pear Season That Was

A while since the last posting, have been deep in the pear picking season, going all extreme once again, starting the days work at around 5am using a "miners" head lamp 'till first light which is now around 6:30am. Pear season has finally come to a welcome end, and once again it's been a strange old season. There has been regular rainfall for one thing, which has been most welcome after around ten years of drought. Indeed there are widespread floods all over eastern Australia.
In a previous post I detailed the situation regarding the rise of labour hire contractors and their preference for employing illegal migrant workers. Mid season the Australian immigration department conducted a "compliance operation" in this area, detaining around 95 Malaysian and Indonesian workers who had overstayed or were in breach of their visa conditions. Within a couple of days of their removal and the departure of immigration officials these workers were replaced by another crew of Malaysians with dubious papers!
As for the pears, the first variety "william" was well down in crop size across the whole district, while the second major variety "packham" was an excellent crop, and with all the rain much of the fruit was large sized, infact there was alot of oversize fruit which can't be packed - not good for the farmer but no complaints from the pickers!
Apples are yet to start, so I'm off to New Zealand for a few days.