Thursday, November 27, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

J is really into his picture books at the moment, especially these ones:

He likes to point out the animals and the tractors and make the appropriate sound effects.

Lately, he's started pointing to this picture, making the appropriate sound effect:

and saying "Dada!". And then he'll point at R. Maybe it's R's snoring that sounds a little "oinkish"? Maybe R is a little on the patchy, whiskery side?

Whatever the reason, I used to find this incredibly amusing.

I'm not laughing quite so hard any more.

The other day, we were reading another book, J cuddled on my lap, and he pointed to another picture and said "Mama!':

and then he patted my belly.

R, ever the diplomat, said it was probably the similarity in hair styles.
I don't think so, and if it happens again I'm calling the adoption agency.

Equus mutilis

Horses are delicate creatures. They are always at risk of banging into sharp trees and fence posts, tangling themselves up in wire, bruising their feet on rocks, going lame from hard ground, going lame from soft ground, eating too much of the wrong thing, and getting bits of human flesh stuck between their teeth.

So we go to great lengths to ensure the safety and general well-being of the five horses that live here, from regular dental and podiatry checks to fastidious paddock maintenance.

Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to even the nicest horses.

Last week one of the dogs (I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty sure it was Bill) got hold of a horse. We intervened just in time, but the horse's leg is pretty well mangled.

I shouldn't really be too surprised- Bill is a known sheep-killer.

Blade, don't cry! It's just a bit of fun! The little horse will be fine, just a dab of Superglue and he'll be good as gold, I promise.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can I interest you in a little 'erb?

Joking aside, I've finally come around to the fact that I should let Basil go.
I don't really need another 3sheep type dog, and realistically I don't have time to train him. He's not getting the attention he deserves, and he's such a lovely dog that I'm feeling really guilty about it. Some dogs absolutely love the farm dog life, but while Basil doesn't seem to mind (he's never known anything else) I think he'd be so much happier as a family dog, or at least as someone's best mate.

Basil was born on 4th August 2007, so he's 15 months old.
He's a medium sized (probably 52cmish), long coated black and white border collie, who still has his nuts (although that will change). His mother is our Ivanhoe Sally (Paton's Blaze x Woady Yallock Floss), and his father is a farm dog from Narembeen (Mick). Basil's littermates mostly live in Perth (Kriszty Cumming's Secret, Karen Phillips' Sonic, Gillian Self's Billy and Dave Sebbes' Slipper).

Basil with his sisters, Sybil and Secret:

Basil is probably the most easy going of the litter- he's less barky and less cat obsessed anyway. He shares his siblings' complete disregard for personal safety, and I'm surprised he hasn't broken his neck running into a tree trunk yet. He is also a total cuddle-bunny, and will take any amount of tummy rubs and lap snuggles you can dish out. He walks well on lead, comes when he's called and is quiet in a crate, and he gets along well with all our other dogs, although he drives some of the others mad with bum-nipping when they run together.

Basil behind Secret:

and hitting on her- how could any chick resist that spunky tail?

We've started Basil on sheep, and he hits the head, breaks out wide and has a fairly natural stop. He is very biddable and tries really hard to get things right, and I'm sure he could do well for the right handler.

I'm not desperate to move Basil on, he's one of my favourite dogs around the place, but I really think he's wasted here. I'd love to see him go to a home where he'll get more one-on-one attention, so he can reach his full potential and be appreciated for the great little dog he is. So we're looking for a perfect permanent home for Basil- it might involve some sheepwork, some agility or obedience, but might be simply a pet home- as long as he's someone's mate first and foremost.

If you hear of anyone whose life is just missing some Basil, let me know. He's available to the right home for the cost of castration (sorry, Basil, but that's the deal).


Yesterday I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I started the day with a dentist appointment, then had a heap of urgent accounting to do, which proved almost impossible with a hugely stroppy toddler and a decrepit computer that didn't want to play. And then I started getting increasingly panicked phone calls from the trucking bloke, held up elsewhere trying to load recalcitrant woolly sheep, and unable to contact R to let him know he could let the yarded sheep out. Apparently R's mobile was receiving just fine, but he wasn't answering. No response to the 2way either.

Eventually I had to wake the sleeping stroplet to go driving around the farm looking for him. He wasn't in the hay paddocks, he wasn't in the shed (although his ute was), and after waiting around there for an hour or so we had to drive down the road to the hayshed, where we found the guys unloading the last of a load of hay, R's fully functional mobile in the front of the truck. I delivered the message and a sharp slapping- what if Farmboy was unconscious or I broke my leg or the house was burning down? And then I sulked for a few hours, and when R got home I told him that next time he can do the squealing toddler gig, and I'll do anything else. Anything.

But really... yesterday R started the day at the crack of dawn, getting sheep into the yards. He spent the day carting horrible itchy hay that brings up red welts on bare skin and sends his hayfever off the scale, in the muggy heat that precedes a storm. He got a verbal slapping from his very cranky better half, moved the yarded sheep back out to the paddocks, got a phone call from the trucking bloke letting him know that things had changed and if the sheep were still in the yards they could pick them up in ten minutes. He went back to hay carting until it got dark, and came in for a quick bite of dinner and romp with his son (at 8.30pm! Curse you, daylight saving!) and then he went back up to the shed to crutch 80 sheep, alone. I don't know what time he got home and crashed into bed beside me, but we lay there a while listening to the thunderstorm rains soaking any hay left in the paddocks. He was up again at 5am to get the sheep back into the yards for the trucks at dawn.

My head is throbbing from toddler squeals and accounting stress and if I never see another spreadsheet it will be too soon. But sometimes I think I do get the easier end of the deal.

(but if anyone has any tips on dealing with those high pitched toddler squeals that make your ears ring, I'd love to hear them. Once my hearing comes back...)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Messing around with dogs

The last couple of weeks have been a bit all over the place, and so is this blog entry.
It's just some random bits and pieces cobbled together until I can find something more coherent to write.

Here's Muddy from the other day, helping me move some sheep after shearing:

It's really hard to film, walk and try not to let the sheep knock over the slightly ricketty fences simultaneously.

As soon as we'd finished the first lot of shearing, an agent turned up to look at lambs and culls for sale.

Fortunately Mike, a trialling friend from Albany, had come to help out with sheepwork, and he and his dogs Tig and Badger (FredxTig) racked up the kilometres taking sheep to and from the yards.

Badger only took an interest in sheep 2 weeks ago, but she's already very handy in the paddock, and took to yard work easily too. And she's much better behaved than our ferals!


Badger outside, bringing the training sheep up the house paddock to the training yard:

Spectating in the yards:

Badger, Bella and Charlie:

Bottoms up!

BabyJ isn't really into yardwork.

He had words with Bella about her annoying bark:

He sat in the dirt (well, it's probably more accurately decomposing sheep poo, but I prefer to call it "dirt"):

And then he retired to the car to peruse his tractor catalogue:

I have a bad feeling BabyJ is going to be more of a cropping man.

Hangin' in the house paddock, after Mike and Tig kindly gave Bill and I a lesson in shedding:

I did okay, Bill not so much, but we will keep working on it. We'll have to find some more farm work to entice Mike up here again- we had a great time picking his brains on trialling, farming and sheepdogs in the UK, enjoying stories about various high profile handlers and trials ranging from small local events to the Nationals.

BabyJ was more impressed by the tasty rubber hose on the bike:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Truck dogs

A quick clip of some truck dogs unloading sheep for the Albany trial:

Not a great clip, but it takes dogs with some guts to get right in those fully packed pens.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The springtime it brings on the shearing

Out on the board the old shearer stands,
Grasping his shears in his long, bony hands,
Fixed is his gaze on a bare-bellied 'joe'
Glory if he gets her, won't he make the ringer go.

Click go the shears, boys, click, click, click,
Wide is his blow and his hands move quick,
The ringer looks around and is beaten by a blow,
And curses the old snagger with the bare-bellied 'joe'

In the middle of the floor in his cane bottomed chair
Is the boss of the board, with eyes everywhere;
Notes well each fleece as it comes to the screen,
Paying strict attention if it's taken off clean.

The colonial-experience man, he is there, of course,
With his shiny leggin's, just got off his horse,
Gazes all around him like a real connoisseur
Scented soap and brilliantine and smelling like a whore.

Now Mister Newchum for to begin,
In number seven paddock bring all the sheep in;
Don't leave none behind, whatever you may do,
And then you'll be fit for a jackaroo.

The tarboy is there, awaiting in demand,
With his blackened tar pot, and his tarry hand;
Sees one old sheep with a cut upon its back,
Hears what he's waiting for, 'Tar here Jack!'

Shearing is all over and we've all got our cheques,
Roll up your swags for we're off on the tracks;
The first pub we come to, it's there we'll have a spree,
And everyone that comes along it's, 'come and drink with me!'

Down by the bar the old shearer stands,
Grasping his glass in his thin bony hands;
Fixed is his gaze on a green-painted keg,
Glory, he'll get down on it, ere he stirs a peg.

There we leave him standing, shouting for all hands,
Whilst all around him every shouter stands;
His eyes are on the cask, which is now lowering fast,
He works hard, he drinks hard, and goes to hell at last!

Jinx, an American Bulldog puppy, belonging to one of the shearers:

BabyJ was besotted!

Esme, are you hassling those sheep?


"Who, me?"


Boss of the board:

Suffolk ram:

Poll Dorset ram:

Merino ram:

And this is what it's all about:

So the shippers and rams are done, and the team will be back in a couple of weeks to do the rest.