Bulldozer better than a boat

Paul Burt loves his new dozer, but he’s struggling to grasp the concept of teamwork.

In Home Block5 Minutes

IT WAS THE MIDDLE OF THE night and I could only describe my condition as odd. The mother of all hangovers had descended upon me without invitation.

I had been asleep but woke up saturated in a shearer’s sweat, not sure if my head was still attached. My joints simultaneously screamed for replacement and my stomach was messaging its plumbing north and south. Before the body acted on these signals I thought I’d better make a move. My blood pressure was dropping (so Dr. Google told me later) but I got most of the way to a place where the mess would be easier to clean up when I went down like a butchered bullock.

They say even non-believers turn to God at the end. I was aware of a heavenly glow (the bathroom light to a healthy man) and then I had a vision. An angel with an affro appeared. As I came to, I realised it was just Louise standing over me. Despite, at the end of the financial year briefly wishing Louise was an accountant, I was never more pleased with my choice of a nurse and a very good one at that.

That episode was a while ago and I’m back to doing what I enjoy each day. For me that still includes a lot of farming but balanced by trying to minimise the mundane. That’s where Louise comes in. I keep reminding her that we are a team and she keeps saying there is no ‘I’ in team.

Apparently, I am not a good team player. Years of working on my own have blunted my communication skills and I’m told instructions are issued more like working dog commands than appeals for help. I always praise Louise’s own occupational abilities. She has patched me up with skill and compassion on a number of occasions, but when I add that I know more about farming (intimating that she should listen) I get the “you know where you can shove that” look.

Despite me not being “right” as much as I would like, together, we still get things done and I hope this will be the pattern as we see out our productive years. Part of the process is learning that there is a lot of give and take in a team.

Last year, I succumbed to another illness but the only attribute Louise displayed was tolerance. I suffered a bad case of ‘Iron Disease’. (I didn’t want to reach my death bed wishing I had upgraded my bulldozer.)

I made a purchase with all the thrill of being in love for the first time (better make that second time in the interests of domestic stability). The machine is, fittingly, a golden colour. Things have to be in balance for harmony in the team, but in this case it will take years to square the ledger. My feeble arguments describing the Komatsu as a working asset and a wise investment fall on deaf ears.

The joy of operating the dozer is tempered by the dread of a major breakdown forcing me to take out a personal loan and learning to sleep by myself. It’s hard to portray to a non-believer the sheer exhilaration of shaping the earth with a bulldozer or digger. Peeling soil off a steep hillside and creating a road where there was none before has a status (to addicts) above mere work, although you never admit that at home.

However, it’s just as well machinery operation has these highs as it helps you forget the downside. Like getting stuck, disturbing wasp nests and the rare occasions that result in a change of underwear. Not to mention the potentially eye-watering repair bills especially with older gear. Despite the dramas, life is too short for lingering regrets and I’m much happier than if I had bought a boat.