Saturday, January 31, 2009

We went for an evening haiku

My iPod charged
Gather the dogs for a walk
The breeze has come in

At Turkey's Nest dam
They circle like autumn leaves
Toddler child and dogs

Swirling leaves, take pause
On the dam bank you must halt
When the whistle sounds

Yes, life is short yet
Even butterflies stop to rest
Beauty in stillness

Sybil, your tongue is
Violet with your exertion
please lay down and rest)

In auburn sunlight
Water reflects sky above
Father and daughter

With time and sunlight
Saplings grow into tall trees
Pups may become dogs

Pale in summer heat
Fin burns with intensity
Stands like his father

Noble blood runs in him
Elvis tries to look the part
His ears betray him

The sweetest flower
May conceal the sharpest thorn
Esme, I'm not fooled

Like flies about dung
Pups leap with their tails curled tight
Shall Bill have no peace?

Here, approaching dogs
Wise sheep shelter in the trees
This ram is a fool

Tread carefully, child
Earth bakes hard under hot sun
My heart stays tender

A trio canine
They aspire to a frisbee
The apple is mine

This road may be long
But it is mine to follow
I lead my shadow

He has his dad's hair
He has his grandfather's eyes
But his smile is mine

Evening horizon
Appears a land made of cloud
How do we reach it?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Training day at our place

That was fun!

Finally we got around to organising one of the training days we keep talking about having here, thanks to some prompting from Nan Lloyd. It was perfect weather for dog training, cool and overcast with the promise of rain dark on the horizon, and our training sheep were pretty well behaved. Nan brought over her nice bunch of youngsters, including Balto the collie x giraffe, Yindi the midget collie and some very good looking young kelpies (Zinc, Tonka and Mango), Karen Buller dropped in with her young dogs, and Andrew and Wendy (Esme's breeders) brought her litter sisters Martha and Ditto, their father Tippy and a couple of other pups.

I did take a bit of video, but I'll hold off on posting it until I've okayed it with the victims.

And if you haven't noticed, you only have 12 hours or so to vote in the Flyboy poll: which one should stay? Finbar's in the lead still, JJ and Elvis neck and neck in second, and Harry is the least popular (sssh, don't tell him). Interesting as this poll has been, I still have absolutely no idea which pup to keep. I've always thought Fin was staying, but I've bonded with all the little ratbags, and it's so hard to decide.

We'd kind of decided that Elvis would go, since he was the last to switch on and up until today didn't really seem that interested in sheep. But in the round pen today he started to get into it, low and smooth and focussed, and went around the sheep, didn't do too much rushing or woolclassing, and was actually pretty nice.

My boy Fin, on the other hand, seems to have waaay too much eye, and just held the sheep on the fence as though I wasn't there. Andrew suggested taking him out in the paddock with real kneeknockers and trying to get some balancing going, and we did give that a go after everyone had gone home, with all thirty training sheep. He actually did better, balanced up and was a little calmer, although he isn't as smooth and arcing as Elvis. Maybe that'll come with a bit more time on sheep?

JJ was his usual full-on self, although he settled down a bit after a couple of round pen turns. He's a lot like his uncle Jim in many ways, pathologically confident, bouncing off corrections with a wag of his tail. More style though.

And Harry had a quick spin. He's still the smoothest and most natural of the four at this stage. He balances up quietly, pushes through on the fence and doesn't have too much eye. I put a bit of pressure on him at the end of the afternoon, probably unnecessarily, and he ran over to give me a cuddle in a slightly sooky way. We'll have to remember that he's obviously a lot softer than he looks.

Grassvalley Tippy (Esme's dad):

Esme is so like Tippy- living up to her puppy name of LT (Little Tippy). I had hoped for a Little Bell, but I won't be too disappointed if she turns out like Tip (when he's Good Tip, anyway).

Martha, Esme's sister:

Martha is so much like her mother, Bell, it's uncanny. She's going to be a total star.

Ditto, the third sister:

Ditto is somewhere between Es and Martha, I guess. She's a lovely steady little girl. And she's available for the right amount of arm-twisting!

Ditto and Martha:

I think this is Nan's Mango:

(it's art, not a poor shot, okay?)

And now for the compulsory BabyJ photo:

Grubby Farmboy plays the good host, keeping Wendy amused with his new set of plastic dinosaurs (thanks Nan!). That Wendy, she LOVES dinosaurs!

Oh Dear

So we've just been thumped again by the Proteas. Beaten by a bunch of flowers.

Oh well, looking on the bright side, at least it wasn't England.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australians all let us rejoice... or Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy!

I couldn't decide on a title, so I'm having both.

Today is Australia Day, a celebration of all that's great about our country and our people. It's one of my favourite public holidays because it makes the most sense, because the weather is always fabulous, and because there are no obligations, no cards to be sent, no rituals to observe- it's just pure unadulterated celebration, however you feel like celebrating.

I have been thinking recently about what being Australian means to me, and how I can help BabyJ grow up with a strong sense of Australian identity. It was deep, it was insightful, and I'm not going to bore you with it here, except to say that I'm pretty sure J's journey will involve Banjo Paterson, circle work, the subtle olive beauty of the Goldfields scrub and the dusty red drama of the Kimberley, slogging one over the fence on the way to a backyard ton, meat pies, yabbies, goanna and damper, learning to take the mickey out of his mates, himself and life in general, cold nights in a warm swag as the Southern Cross slews across the sky, and one day standing on the airport steps, Eureka flag on his backpack, the whole world at his feet, ready to step out and grab it with both hands, but always knowing the way home.

We spent Australia Day this year at the Kojonup Picnic Races, which is the big local shindig, a great excuse to get a bit tarted up and gather at the polocrosse grounds/racetrack for horses, gambling, beer and sun- 38 degrees, in fact. I was the course doctor, so I had to forgo alcohol for the adrenaline-charged buzz of waiting for jockeys to maim themselves. Can I really handle a flail chest in the field? Fortunately I didn't get to find out, everyone went home in one piece and I did get to finish the evening with a couple of cold ones. R won a few dollars (well, broke even, anyway) and J was in heaven with horses everywhere, a merry-go-round, bouncy castle, sandpit complete with diggers, and a Mr Whippy van. Life just doesn't get better!

From this:

To this:

To this, before you can say "Yippee, it's Mr Whippy!"

Happiness is: icecream, and a winning bet!

Race day scenery:

My friendly ambos:

The barrier moving, farm-style:

Farmboy at the bouncy castle:


This adorable babe is Dougal, from Don Robertson's Booroola stud, north of us. He'll be coming to do a bit of training at our place when he's bigger.

J refuses to accept the dismantling of the merry-go-round.
"Now, where's the ignition on this thing?":

Diggers! (please note the Holden shirt- you can't say we aren't patriotic)