There have been some developments down on the farm. There is a heatwave here, and in all of Victoria including Melbourne, four - perhaps five consecutive days are forcast to be over forty degrees celcius. This has affected the growth of the fruit. Warm nights help growth but extreme heat during the daytime shuts the trees down. It also gives the apples sunburn making them unsalable. The pear trees have a fantastic crop but it is mostly a very small size.
A bigger and more worrying development though, the farm I've worked the fruit season on each year for the past ten has merged with a larger company -"merged" was the word first circulated but as the days pass "takeover" might be closer to the truth, at least insofar as the running of the farm goes. The pickers quarters on the orchard here are by this time of year full, the lawn has tents scattered about, and I'm meeting people from Oz, Nz, Germany, France, Finland, UK, Japan, Korea and a handful of other nationalities. This year the place is all but deserted. The new "entity" will be using contract labour to do the picking, that is to say one person, a third party "contractor" will bring in a load of pickers who work for him to do the harvesting. The farmer pays him, he takes a cut from each bin picked and then pays the pickers. Most contractors are just parasites who make a sugarbag o' money through other peoples hard work. It seems this contractor will be bringing a load of Malaysians to do the picking. We will probably have no picking job here after this season, and the farm owner has said as much, though at least he has offered to find us a spot on another farm if we want.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
The heat is on now, we've already had a couple of days (including today) into the low 40's celcius. The apricots are finished, peaches and pears are just beginning, but the heat is making life uncomfortable, especially being out under the sun all day.