Just after lunch last Sunday saw Matt wrapping and wheeling the final pallet of mangoes off the shed floor and into the cold room which signalled the end of our first ever Blue Sky ProduceMango season – wahoooooo!! This also brought our second quarter of farm life to a close (you can read about our first quarter here). It is so hard to believe we have been living in Far North Queensland for over six months now! Only another twenty odd years to go and we might be able to consider ourselves locals!!
These last few months really have been mango madness!! We have to admit that this quarter saw some of the ‘gloss’ and novelty of our change to farm life wear off! It has been hard work and a huge learning curve! The days were very long (Matt turning the lights on in the shed at 5am and often not turning them off before 9pm!), it became stinking hot, it was stressful trying to logistically manage a new packing shed, something we had never done before – remembering to order boxes, stickers, plastic, chemicals, parts – the list is huge! Matt also had to manage a team of twenty – thirty workers of which at least 17 were living here onsite, so it was like running a campground too – making sure toilet paper supplies were up to date, bonds were collected, rents were collected, cooking/washing facilities were all working, check-ins were happening – you get the picture.
Matt was tired and stressed, I was hot, fat, definitely pregnant, tired and grumpy, all of which was not helped by the fact that everybody else in the world was in Christmas holiday mode, ready to relax and get festive, oh, and we did of course have all the kids home too on school holidays and the incident of Jack’s broken arm on Christmas eve!! I think we also got a big dose of back to reality (work, school, bills, responsibility!) and the post-trip comedown/blues at this point too, everything finally sinking in that our adventure so long in the making was all over in three short months. But, we survived, we’re still here, with only a few minor meltdowns and snapping at each other and we didn’t jump back in the camper and take off for the road again (we got pretty close a few times though)!!!!
It wasn’t all bad. The start of the season was actually quite exciting! It’s what I’d imagine a shearing season might be like, perhaps what it might be like here in a few years time – where you look forward to your worker’s arriving for the year and hearing what they have been up to, perhaps seeing some familiar faces back again from the previous season? Our crew all started moving on site in mid-November, the day after our worker’s dorms were actually finished!
Seeing the first few loads of mangos arriving on the trucks, watching them be unloaded with the forklift, hearing the packing shed turn on for the first time (the noise of the shed in action is a low hum – took me straight back to my childhood spent in the dairy!) and seeing the shed in full fledged work mode was quite a site to behold!
There were some other perks of the mango season ……………………………………………
We did also squeeze in a bit of time for a couple of things like ……………………………………
And even a Christmas BBQ and a trip for Matt to follow our fruit to the markets in Brisbane.
And we got a huge kick out of having photos of our fruit emailed to us from all over the place. You might remember Malte who worked here before the season started, well he sent this great photo in when he spotted our mangos on his travels in New South Wales!!
All in all, it was a pretty good first season. We learnt a lot, didn’t blow anything up or kill each other, were still welcome at the Family Christmas table, and we are hopeful that the growers who packed with us this year will be back again next year, hopefully bringing some other farms!! So a big congratulations and thank you to all of the Blue Sky workers this year – we did it – wahoooooooo!!