Monday, December 26, 2011

I wish I had a dog named Father Christmas….

Farmboy from 2010

I think we were aiming for Australian Jingle Bells:

Dashing through the bush,
in a rusty Holden Ute,
Kicking up the dust,
Esky in the boot,
Kelpie by my side,
singing Christmas songs,
It's summer time and I am in
my singlet, shorts and thongs

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Engine's getting hot;
we dodge the kangaroos,
The swaggie climbs aboard,
he is welcome too.
All the family's there,
sitting by the pool,
Christmas Day the Aussie way,
by the barbecue.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.

Come the afternoon,
Grandpa has a doze,
The kids and Uncle Bruce
are swimming in their clothes.
The time comes 'round to go,
we take the family snap,
Pack the car and all shoot through,
before the washing up.

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Christmas in Australia
on a scorching summer’s day, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.


I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a fantastic New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good Grass


This is the time of year that is all about grass. Not just the Weeds vs. Lawn kind of grass, and certainly nothing illegal.  But grass we’ve planted, grass (and some other things) we’ll cut, and grass our sheep eat.

The end of winter rains, the start of summer sun, and green stuff just starts springing from the earth everywhere.


Of course in the past week or so we’ve had a disastrous couple of inches of rain which have drenched and flattened pasture feed and made soggy and mouldy our still standing crops. Up the road at Williams and out East at Hyden it was an actual flood, sweeping away fences and closing roads.

But let’s not think about that now. Let’s close our eyes and go back a few weeks, to that warm, dry, happy place where the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’, and the pasture is high…


Good ryegrass (Italian tetraploid)IMG_0678

Not so good Wimmera ryegrassIMG_0679

Clover. Mmm, clover…IMG_0694

Yep, that pasture is high.

Do you see what I see? Look carefully…IMG_0651

See them now?IMG_0690


No cow tipping in our parts, so we get our giggles by creeping up on unsuspecting sheep.

It’s easy to do when the grass is taller than full grown ewes.


The sheep trails are almost grown over.IMG_0695

This is also the time of year when we get ready for harvest. Hay cut and baled, canola swathed, wheat and oats standing waiting for harvest and we’re hoping it doesn’t rain. Everything is golden and ripe and lovely.


And yes, in reality it may have bucketted down for a week before our harvest even got going.

But we’re luckier than some.

Reader quiz: what is this and how did it get there?

(bonus points for the non-Australians)IMG_0696

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not just one of the mob

Some sheep are just extra special. The wild and woolly life isn’t for them.


Originally foundlings, orphans, waifs, now they rule the house paddock. They’re ovine royalty.


Tuama-tutama is one of last year’s pet lambs. Recently he somehow injured a hind leg, the wound was flystruck, and hundreds of dollars and six weeks of daily dressings later, he seems to have made a full recovery.

pets pen

His companion during his convalescence was Bullet, this year’s pet. And today they needed to be shorn.


Things are done a little differently for the pets. Not for them the hustle and bustle of the shearing shed. No “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” approach from a pro shearer who doesn’t appreciate their little individual foibles.


No, the pets get the personalised approach from the Boss himself, with me hovering close by, peppering the Boss with instructions on how they should be handled, minor panic attacks at any sign of distress or blood, requests for reassurance that he knows what he’s doing, and constant entreaties to be very, very careful.IMG_1292

I’m actually surprised he didn’t take to me with the handpiece.


The Ginger Biscuit shared my concerns. She also regards Tuama-tutama and Bullet as Very Important Sheep.


She joined me in monitoring their treatment, sharp eyed as an Animals Australia spy in an Indonesian slaughterhouse.


Some of what she saw made her hair stand on end.


Fortunately there was help at hand.


“Did I hear someone say a pet lamb was being manhandled here?”


The superhero known as Farmboy came to the rescue and distracted us both with his sheer adorability, before we found ourselves upside down the woolpress.


And the Boss was able to get on with the job.


As it happens, the pets didn’t seem too perturbed by their ordeal. Bullet didn’t even need to stop eating.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Last Shed

The night before the last day of shearing. The last mob of sheep need penning up in the shed.

Some of us have maintained our enthusiasm.

This is the fun of farming. All of us together, kicking up dust and chasing shadows, the residue of the summer heat fading under the clear starry sky.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Shearing 2011- or, A Bug’s Life Part 3: The Final Solution


I love shearing.

The atmosphere, the sheepwork, the process of reaping what we’ve grown all year.

The challenge of trying to capture it all on a camera.

I‘ve tried before: Last year, the year before and the year before that (more than once)

The Farmkids love shearing too.


gb wool

Two fun-filled weeks or so of hanging out

The excitement and energy of the shed. shearing 2family

Sheep, sheep and more sheep. gb pen

Creating their own entertainmentfb inventing

Hide ‘n seek among the wool balesfb hideandseekgb baleskids bales

This year the kids helped me out with some camera

They documented things from a new perspective.

Some shots I would have taken…fb photography

Some photo opportunities I hadn’t ever noticed.

So we start with woolly sheep by the shedful. sheep 2sheep

They come into the yards and shed early to empty out and stay dry.sheep dark shed

The shearers set to work, just a few minutes per sheep and the wool comes offshearersshearers 2shearing peek

The fleece is collected by the rouseabout (or shedhand)board

It goes onto the classing table to be skirted (all the dirty, scrappy bits around the edges taken off) and classed (assessed for important traits like fibre diameter, length, strength, cleanliness and colour)shearing fleece throw

The sheep head out five kilograms lightersheep exit

Some stay around for a quick drenchshorn sheep

The end product, classed and collected up


Pressed into bales fb woolpress(and I think R would like me to point out that this is the old, semi-retired press, not the nice new one with all the bells and whistles and safety gadgets. Of course we only let the kids play with the old one. We figure that if they survive with all limbs intact they are qualified to use the new one)

bale press

At nearly 200 kilograms a bale, it’s serious business when you have to move them around…

for example, to retrieve the boss’s sunnies:

Three years later, Farmboy and his dad’s sunnies just slay me

Yep, we love shearing.