Three years. A thousand days. A lifetime.
Look! There's Bill, being harassed by Fred on the right, and Charlie on the left. Today, Fred is lying on our doormat, deaf and frail and turning 15 in a couple of weeks. Charlie died in 2011, just a few days after this photo was taken.
Charlie's bottom, very much missed, as is the rest of him (although perhaps not by Bill).
Torbay Trim, the sweet and perhaps more talented litter sister of our Tom. Victim of a grass seed.
And Ziggy's teeth. Still going strong.
Muddy stretching out up the hill, back when he had a functional right shoulder joint.
The golden oldies, former polocrosse horses Gun and Quiz. In their twenties, a bit arthritic, spending their retirement cruising the paddocks. They both died this year. Quiz left us her son Blade and her granddaughter, Rosie.
Jim, Fly's brother. Still around, just gone down the road to another home and job. Miss him though.
Farmboy, aged four. I love Farmboy, aged 7 and a half, more than life itself,and I will love Farmboy aged 8 just as much, but gee, I miss Farmboy, aged four. And in the background is Rex, born in the UK, travelled the world, died last year. Funny old bugger.
The gang, 2011. Charlie, Trim, RIP as well as Bonnie and Jake (pre-cruciate repair) and Moss, Alfie, JJ, all gone on to bigger and better things.
Gone but not gone is the Ginger Biscuit in her 2011 form. She's certainly bigger now, but somehow I always see my baby, and I suspect I always will. That's the lot of the youngest child.
That tractor behind her, it's digging a hole.
The ground beside our house used to be a tennis court, and now it's just a deep hard clay pad, too hard for a man with a shovel to dig a grave for his best mate.
Pigheaded, argumentative, not one for fancy competitive demonstrations but surprisingly sensitive, talented and incredibly reliable and hardworking. A bit like R, actually.
Charlie worked hard for eleven years without a single sick day (even when he came off the motorbike and rubbed his face along the bitumen at high speed). Then suddenly, he wasn't feeling well, and then he was dead from kidney failure.
It was always Fred and Charlie. For eleven years, R's right hand dogs. With him every day, for whatever job needed doing, mustering, yard work, catching fly struck sheep, he could rely on Fred and Charlie to get it done. For a while, it was just Fred and Charlie, and then there were other dogs too, but when something needed doing he'd always take Fred and Charlie.
Then it was just Fred.
And now Fred lies on our doormat, with a Weatherbeeta coat over his stiff old joints, watches R take other dogs to do the jobs that really need doing, and waits.