Traditional Clabber Cheese03/23/2022
Our neighbour’s forestry block was being harvested and they were about to move into the area which has our spring source and 15,000 litre water tank. The forestry boss man had agreed to help us move the tank out with his digger. But on the day, we were meant to do it, with the tank already drained, he was caught up elsewhere. The tank sat on a cut out at least 20 metres up into the pines so David decided we could get it out ourselves… It’s that self-sufficient mindset you see. Where there’s a will there’s a way, if I want it done now, I’ll have to do it myself etc. David’s got it down to a fine art. Besides the reality is a helping hand also brings outside interference, ahem, I mean outside opinions and heaven knows there’s enough opinions between the two of us without bringing in another person’s ideas! David tends to mull over these difficult jobs and find a solution in his head (or You tube if necessary but not in this case) and then bounce it off me for a different viewpoint. Its not the first time we’ve moved a large cumbersome object, though often they are not round and get rolled on posts. Like the 2m x 4m shed we rolled down a small hill, dodging large oak trees and into its new spot as a chicken house.
But anyway back to the tank, using a fence post and a sturdy board as levers and with much straining and grunting, we raised the side near the bank until we had enough leverage to flip it on its side. It hit the ground with a hollow thud and fortunately stayed put on its forest ledge. After much debate and mucking around in the mud, we tied a rope around the tank and looped it around a punga, slowly lowering it down a 3m bank onto a track David had cut through the massive blackberry. The blackberry kept it in place on the slope as we scurried down to join it. Turning the tank to face the road below we pushed it like a steamroller over the dense blackberry, thorns grabbing at our legs and tearing our skin. It rolled up against a small punga but with more manoeuvring it was on its way again.
A broken mess of pine lay over the old gate, so sturdy boards were put down to get the tank up and over. This worked great until one of our future carport beams snapped, damn, what good structural timber that was…
But we got the tank onto the road and across to our paddock. Until now we had been mostly in the shade of the pines but once in our paddock the sun was intense. We rolled and manoeuvred the tank up a steady but uneven incline, pausing occasionally to reposition the tank and catch my breath while seeking much needed shade. Once at the flat area we chocked the tank with a bit of pine debris (of which we have plenty) to prevent it rolling back down the hill. David still had to prep the pad so home for a much-needed drink and to get some more tools.
Later as David was determinedly struggling to flip the tank by himself (I think another term for this is bullheadedness…), Ben the boss man turned up. He was impressed (and a little gobsmacked I think) to find the tank already moved from its hillside perch 100m down the road. David said ‘here pull-on this’ and together they flipped the tank back on its base. Ben being a giant of a man made the job easy. He went off to check on his boys felling trees further up the road, glad to be saved a couple of hours work.
David decided to climb in the tank and give it a clean it. But as he descended into the tank the old wooden ladder disintegrated beneath him. He landed hard on the bottom of the tank, bruised and sore, the ladder fragments around him. His first though was ‘how am I going to get out’, his second ‘I may as well clean the tank while I’m here’. However, it was so hot and stuffy in there he soon stopped cleaning to try and figure a way out, but none of his escape ideas worked and as surely someone would come past soon, he continued cleaning the tank.
The air was getting hotter and stuffier, he stood on the bucket to see if he could get some fresh air. The opening wasn’t too far away so he jumped and gripped the rim. But he couldn’t get his elbows up through the small opening and the top started to cave. The sweltering simmering heat made any effort exhausting and dropping back down he thought ‘Bec’s making dinner, she’ll wonder where I am soon and come looking. I might as well clean the tank’.
As he started to clean, again he was overwhelmed by the heat. ‘I wonder what the time is? Will the sun be going behind the hill soon?’ He stood on the bucket again and could see the sun was still high in the sky it could be another hour and a half before it cools down. The slightly cooler breeze near the opening made him realise he was having trouble breathing in the thick hot air of the tank. ‘Surely someone will come soon; I might as well clean the tank’. You must wonder at this point if the lack of air and the heat was making him a bit incoherent as he just kept trying to clean the tank…
The heat was intense, and he felt himself becoming overwhelmed if he tried to do anything. He struggled with each breath and felt faint, and it occurred to him that he might not last another 30 minutes he had to get out! David picked up the pieces of the ladder and tried to put them back together, but one of the few rungs still clinging to a side rail just fell off. Leaning the broken rail against the tank with its last two top rungs near the wall he stood on the bucket and leapt for the opening again. Holding the rim, he scrambled for a foot hold on the rail. His soaked socked feet (gumboots were on the bottom of the tank) gripped the rail like climbing a coconut tree. This was enough to allow him to get his elbows up through the narrow opening, but he didn’t have the energy to pull himself up. The rail started to slip across the base of the tank, but still stayed upright long enough for David’s foot to find a rung, but he also felt the rung bend under his weight. Pushing himself upwards with the little extra leverage he heard the rail hit the base of the tank, it was now or never. The tank top started to cave again, he mustered all his strength to haul himself out, roll off the tank and still holding the rim he waited till he felt his legs drop below him before falling to the ground. Dehydrated and shaken by the experience he walked home in his sodden socks. We’ll just add this one to his list of well that was a bit dodgy, someone must be watching over him.
The next morning, he made a ladder from timber (all our ladders were too wide for the opening) then went to retrieve his gumboots and finish cleaning the tank. But this time he told me what he was doing with instructions to come check if he wasn’t back in an hour. Long story short he cleaned it, dragged loads of pipe out through the blackberry and the pines, reconnected it to the spring and got our water going again. Luckily for us the crew got in and did their felling without wrecking the spring or dropping a tree on the damn tank. Phew.