Sunday, 19 December 2010

Things you shouldn't do on a farm...

Don't trust this man on your tractor... Seriously...
In general working on the farm is pretty much the same day in and day out. You wake up, milk cows, feed cows, have breakfast, feed the rest of the animals, fill the troths in all the fields with salt, come back for lunch, sleep, and then go and milk cows again. Obviously there are one or two cachaça breaks in there too. However there have been one or two memorable moments for me, and by this I mean one or two hiccups. Surely not? I hear you ask, but as Cristina has recently told me, I am a 'destructive' person (I'm sure she missed out the preceeding 'self-' by accident) and therefore it was bound to happen.

Of course we all know of my disappointing misdemeanour’s on my first day at the farm, but that pretty much turned out to be the tip of the iceberg.

My least criminal (if that is the right word) activity was one early morning when milking the cows. After I had got a healthy, frothy load in my bucket (minds out of the gutter people) I headed over to the filter on the urn and proceeded to empty my load into the container at full pelt. What I didn't realise of course was that the urn was already completely full. Much to the delight of the surrounding cats and dogs milk and foam came flowing over the sides. They flocked around my feet as if I were the pied piper of Hamlet. Carlinho of course had a different reaction and I can only assume that the words he muttered in Portuguese were not good ones as his profits were lapped up by domestic pets.

That's not so bad is it? Well try the next one on for size.

We were to take the tractor to another farm and I was to drive. Carlinho was perched on the back of it as I started to move off. I wanted to get back onto the main dirt track but couldn't for the life of me see a route from the slightly higher ground to the aforementioned road. As the path I was on was due to end soon I just decided on the spur of the moment to throw a right. To my horror I plummeted down the bank and noticed that the tractor was on three wheels. We were practically on the verge of toppling as I looked back with a slight grin to Carlinho behind me. For once he wasn't saying anything he was just looking straight ahead. I'm not sure if he was so scared that he had lost the power to speak, or whether he was just praying to God that I'd keep my eyes on the road for just one second. Funnily enough, the tractor made a big clunking noise when its fourth wheel hit the ground again. Fortunately Carlinho didn't get dislodged from his less than safe position.

The next misdemeanour also involves the tractor (fast becoming my favourite piece of machinery).

This happened on a day in which Cristina's cousin Flavio had come to stay on the farm. We were going to pick up three 'eguas' (mares to you and I) from one of the fields closer to the mountains to mate with a male horse and a male pony. We'd picked up some mangoes as I was informed that female horses like a bit of the juicy yellowness. Anyway, Flavio was riding on the horse, and Carlinho and I were on the tractor – me in the driving seat (I must admit it took a bit of convincing on my part to be allowed in the seat again) and Carlinho once again perched on the back. We drove off to the field (stopping at a neighbouring farm for 2 shots of cachaça each) and sent Flavio off to get the mares. After about half an hour we saw him chasing down the horses on his stallion towards us. We quickly abandoned the idea that we would tempt them with mangoes as they stampeded towards so we opened the gate and let them pass through making sure that they ran all the way back to the farm. Whilst driving back we stopped off once again at the neighbouring farm (quaffed another shot of cachaça) as we were now to pick up a pig for Mauricio (the farm hand) to eat. After a lot of chasing we had caught the pig and Flavio and I held it aloft as Carlinho hog tied it (yes they really do do that to pigs). I have to admit to being a bit scared as the muzzle of the pig was nuzzling into my crotch as it screamed and bit left and right. I escaped unscathed however and we plonked the very much alive pig underneath the break peddle of the tractor. A recipe for disaster I thought, but Carlinho assured me this was normal. 

We set off again and the pig was surprisingly calm, not moving about, its head lolling over the precipice under the break peddle whilst its back hoofs brushing against the big wheel on the back as I drove the tractor homeward bound. We carried on in this way for a while with Carlinho and I on the machine and Flavio riding alongside until suddenly about halfway through the journey the pig threw a fit and started moving, screeching, and biting everywhere. I of course being unaccustomed to this looked down trying to kick at it to shut it up. Whilst my eyes were off the road, we started to veer off to the left up the bank. By the time I heard Carlinho's shocked shout we were almost on top of Flavio and as I quickly put my foot down on the clutch Flavio's steed jumped up on its' hind legs. Fortunately Flavio is a good rider, but Cristina wasn't too impressed when I got home and told her that I had nearly run over her cousin...

Maybe I should just avoid the tractor eh?

Finally, I'm not sure the next can really be classified as a misdemeanour, I guess it is more of a disappointment. Nevertheless...

One evening we were eating dinner (which turned out to be a delicious feijoada) in the kitchen on the farm and were laughing and joking when all of a sudden we heard a flutter of 'flap-flap' noises and a bat landed/fell but 30cm away from my feet. Never having seen one before I was quite excited whilst Cristina was screaming next to me and almost at the point of jumping on the table. It was about the size of a small grapefruit as it lay there blindly minding its' own business. It didn't have long to do this however as Carlinho quickly took off his boot and launched it at the prone animal. Obviously sonar isn't that good at avoiding heavy boots flying at great speed as it landed square on its head and flattened it. There was no remorse as Carlinho picked it up and threw it outside for the cats to eat. That night as Cristina and I lay down to bed we reflected on the bat story not realising that in the middle of the night we would be woken up by two bats flying into our room and flip-flapping about (they make a very distinctive flapping noise don't you know). All we could do was stay in our beds, reach for the torch and watch and pray that they managed to find their way back out through the window. Fortunately they did. But if ever you are in any doubt as to what to do if you have bats in your bedroom, the following is the answer (according to Carlinho): shut the window, turn on the lights, get your shoe and kill them all! He could only laugh at me the next day when I looked slightly disgusted at the idea...

There are one or two other near-misses I have had, but I've decided to leave them off of this post as they're almost big enough to warrant a dedicated story – keep posted and I'll update you...


  1. Enjoying the blogging Master P!

    It sounds like tractor driving is like office chair racing. Just try not to fall off or hit anything and it'll be fine!

  2. Ah but that was half the fun - the chances of hitting Mary Powell are less likely on the farm in Brazil!