As some of you may remember, I was blogging away leading up to Christmas. The blogs will stay on our website for a while….I hope you get a chance to read them here.
I am officially ALL SHOOK UP and feel a compulsion to hashtag that comment. Social media buffins will understand…. Continue reading
Well….Christmas and New Year is done and dusted.
If you live just about anywhere else in the State, it means maybe taking a few weeks off and slowly thinking about going back to work. If you are in the Central West….at least for some of us…your thoughts turn to…..Elvis!
I must admit that I did sneak in and make a couple of new dresses for the Elvis Festival….it is nice to purchase something fabulous that is locally made. The dresses are so lovely, it really makes me wonder why we left these styles behind….lucky for me…I have an excuse to pull off some sixties fashion occasionally!
For those of you who haven’t caught up. The theme this year is All Shook Up and our office will be appropriately attired to welcome guests and locals. The weather forecast is looking a tad cooler than normal, in the lower half of the 30’s, so that will be a refreshing change for those who fine themselves in lycra!
We look forward to welcoming Russell Morris as he unveils his plaque on the Wall of Fame at Kelly Reserve on Wednesday at 2pm.
We will have tea, coffee and water available during the week….and a few props for pics if you are up for it. We love to be able to contribute back to the community, show country hospitality and welcome people to our region, particularly during special events.
If you haven’t been to the Elvis Festival before and are a bit bahh, humbug about it. I challenge you to give it a try. Even just the parade next Saturday. This event brings people, to our region, not just Parkes and after the year that our region has had, it is time to have some fun!
If you are a weekly follower, you would know that I was delivering daily personal blogs up until Christmas. This was in response to support for the Landcare NSW Every Day Hero Campaign and I am greatly appreciative of those who have kindly donated. I am very humbled by your feedback and contributions.
The blogs are a bit of a sticky beak into my early life and I hope that they are a little bit humorous. They certainly brought back lots of memories for myself and many others. You can still read the blogs via the links on facebook, Instagram, twitter or our website. If you like a story, let me know on facebook. Follow our page to keep up with all of our news.
The Campaign is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic things that are happening across the State under the banner of Landcare, particularly bringing a focus to Landcare Coordinators across the State. The blogs draw attention to the things that influenced me as a child and encouraged my passion for the environment and agriculture.
I have had the opportunity over the past 12 months to be more heavily involved with Landcare at the State level and appreciate the fantastic work that is being done to ensure the future of the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative as we move forward into the next phase of the program, with continuing efforts to secure funding for the next four years, which helps to employ over 70 part time Landcare Coordinators across the State of NSW. That is why I am happy to lend my skills, stories and photos to the efforts.
Until next week, happy Landcaring!
In today’s blog I want to share a few Christmas pics that really are a reflection of the 1980s and my lack of care for what I looked like obviously. It is nice to think about those days of being protected and not caring if you were wearing brown sneakers with a blue nighty and a yellow crash helmet.
You didn’t care that you were wearing the most flammable nightwear material that was ever manufactured.
We were fortunate to always have a fresh pine tree as a feature that was strategically placed in a bucket of rocks, placed in front of the fire place, resting on the fire guard….just in case. It was adorned with baubles and tinsel and a hand crochet angel on the top.
We never received anything that by today’s standards would be seen as extravagant. I remember being ecstatic with my new roller skates and hooked rug.
Being brought up with enough, but not too much, has made me very intolerant of excess, and intolerant of those who have a privilege and abuse it. We see this happening every day.
I have been fortunate over the past year to 18 months, to meet many people that I admire and some who I haven’t at all. That is life! We all have those moments when we stretch beyond our comfort zone and learn more about ourselves and others and become more grateful for where we have come from. Many of these people have worked hard to hold a position and privilege and some have just had it given to them.
What do we do if we are given a privilege and haven’t worked for it? Some of us waste the privilege because we didn’t have to work for it. Some of us make the most of it because we are grateful for the trust that has been instilled in us to complete a task. Some of us will reluctantly move forward, winging and whining about the responsibility that we have been given. Which one of these are you and why do you think this is?
Do you know….one of the simplest privileges that I see we are given in this first world country is being able to recycle. It isn’t perfect. We still have massive issues with plastic redistribution and reuse. Major problems! Still I see people who just don’t care and will throw anything anywhere, just so that it isn’t in their vehicle. I hear people whinge and whine about what an issue the whole thing is, with washing out and the red bin is so stinky and blah blah blah. Stop!
We are the most fortunate generation ever, in terms of having stuff! We have so much stuff and then we complain about the rubbish. Growing up, we were not an affluent family. We recycled because we had to recycle. It was because we needed to reuse and not be wasteful. We didn’t have the privilege of being able to whinge and whine about how it was too hard and too much work…..
Are you one of the people who whinges about recycling, or just don’t care?……It’s too hard, I have to wash up my butter container and take it to the bin. Council provide us with bins, so that we have an options to separate what rubbish goes into green, yellow or red bins.
Too much work to wash out your recycling or separate your green waste and take your bin to the verge each week? We don’t live in filth (unless by choice) because our rubbish is cleared each week. We are living in a first world country. We are the fortunate ones. If you do nothing else in 2019, change the way you think about the privileges we have. Bring more gratefulness into your every day and please recycle. When you are grateful for what you have, so many other things become second nature.
I hope that you have had a fabulous Christmas Day and have enjoyed the blogs. I will have a few more out over the week ahead.
Have you read my other blogs? You can find them here.
With Landcare and in other roles that I have had, strategies for approaching situations or projects are important. It is important to recognise that using strategies is not being manipulative or cunning, it is using a technique or process that will move something forward with the best possible outcome.
Some people have natural skills in this area and some of us had to develop them. Much of my strategic thinking was developed, surprisingly, at the various youth groups that I attended over the years. If you have read my earlier blog, you would know of this involvement….if you haven’t read my earlier blogs….go now….do it!
There were strategies required to put up a tent. Back in those days there were none of these fancy dome constructions that virtually put themselves up, with their fancy flies and you hammer them in. NOOO! We had to think about slopes and angles and pitching the tent so that if the tent touched the fly you had a hope in hell of getting out of there without total saturation.
You had to set out the poles before you even thought about sticking anything anywhere. You had to negotiate with your fellow occupants to establish which pole went where and just when you thought you had it all sorted, you realised that the door was facing the opposite way that you intended and pull it down and start again. The strategies developed through this experience to achieve our aim were priceless.
The next strategy that I developed over several years of disco roller-skating nights at Leeton were those that serve me well in the field and also during rowdy meetings. It was what I like to call the Duck and Weave move.
First you need to picture a massive hall with wooden floorboards, stage….the traditional hall set up. Winter evening, disco lights, the best of the early 80’s hits pumping out on the stereo…most of which I hadn’t heard on the ABC. We had a particularly clever musician and DJ whom I shall call Fast Ed. When Fast Ed got that music pumping and we were gliding around that hall on our roller skates like Olivia (that’s Olivia Newton-John kids….look it up), some of my best duck and weave moves were developed. I was a sight to behold. Pink leg warmers … yeah … you’ve got the picture. Xanadu……Xanadu-ooooo….
If you grew up in a town where most of summer was over 35 degrees, water fights were inevitable. I can remember several events at our home involving the youth group again and I wonder what on earth our neighbours must have thought! Wild children running around the yard, buckets and hoses and screaming! See….all strategy building techniques. Do I run for the house? Could I steal a bucket from someone who turned their back when they were filling it, dump the water on someone’s head and then run to the house and refill in the laundry? Should I just find another hose and take the lot of them out? All strategic thinking!
My other line of strategic thinking was developed at the card table. Actually, it was the kitchen table, but when we sat down to play, there was no room for food! Uno may have been played as a warm up game. Knowing when to deliver that strategic Draw Four was the key. If you could sneak a peak at your neighbours colours briefly, you knew what colour to call when they had one card left and you had unfortunately acquired ten. It is where I developed an appreciation of the difference between luck and good management. An important concept to gain as you grow.
As the nights got bigger and noisier, we progressed to a game called Scopa (which we called Scorba) which was a wild way to fill an evening. We did not use traditional Italian cards, just a normal playing deck. I have long since forgotten how to play, but it was a lot of fun. I did just do a quick referral to Google….Scopa is one of the two major national card games in Italy. Cool! The name is an Italian noun meaning ‘broom’ since taking a scopa means ‘to sweep’ all the cards from the table….yeah! Picturing it with me now?
When we moved to Parkes, the game ‘Spoons’ was the go. It was also wild and loud….and you had to have nerves of steel, moves ‘like a tiger’ and if you weren’t the first person to sneak a spoon, you have to have the strength of Mahammad Ali to fight for your spoon. His description of ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’ fits the techniques required for this game perfectly…..all that strategical thinking happening and I didn’t even realise.
Over there years I have been referred to for my skills at the card table as….Cool Hand Marg….I did hear someone refer to me as old Hot Hands….but I don’t like to brag about it…we are all equal when we are at the table…
We were fortunate to have a wonderful group of players to enjoy these wild games with…and I am pleased to still call them friends, even though some of them live a long way away.
All of that….just so that I could think strategically…it was an exhausting and fun way to learn.
Have you read my other blogs? You can find them here.
I was going to launch into our events over the past year that I have been thrilled to be part of, but it sounded a bit exhausting for a Saturday and will get back to it…..soon…
Instead, I am going to talk about our move to Parkes back in 1989!
After growing up in Leeton, same people, pretty much mostly the same friends and being used to living at least five hours from family, we moved to Parkes! I make it sound so simple, like a quick pack up and off we went. Any of you who have lived somewhere for more than five years (mum and dad had lived there for 18), know how you can quickly accumulate stuff! That stuff that you might need for another event or stuff that you kept from pre-school that the kids would love to look at one day…..and wool and material…and egg cartons…and plastic containers!? How did we end up with so many egg cartons?!
My dad accepted a job with the Parkes Department of Agriculture and it was an opportunity to live closer to my grandparents at Bathurst…and a few hours closer to Bellangry. It all made perfect sense. It caught me by surprise and whilst the thought of leaving friends and adopted family was quite awful for a shy girl, I found the thought of moving strangely exciting!
I had no recollection of ever being to this place called Parkes. I was unaware of the famous Parkes Radio Telescope or a small event called the Parkes Elvis Festival, but my mother assured me that it was a lovely town and showed me a photo of a cream, fibro house with a pretty fence that would be our new home.
After growing up in a town where the fish and chip shop was the highlight of any takeaway evening and then finding out that Parkes had Pizza Hut! I was ecstatic! Funny thinking about it now that this was the big selling point for me. Looking at our assortment of takeaway options in Parkes now, you would not think that would even be a consideration.
When I was halfway through Year 10, we moved to Parkes. My sister and I to Parkes High and my brother to Parkes Public School. There was this other school that everyone referred to as the greeny school, that evidently was out the road, but we were accustomed to public schooling and off we went.
Interestingly, one of the first things that other students asked a new student was what side of the railway you were living on….like that somehow made you a better person or not….it just goes to show how a town can grow and evolve and how we don’t reflect on where a person lives as much as what they are contributing to our society now. Funnily enough, where we were in Grenfell Street was pretty close to the border and that was fine with me.
The house that we moved into was….cosy. Dad set about constructing the obligatory chook pens that were necessary to sustain our requirements and established the veggie patch, significantly smaller than what he had been used to, but a veggie patch.
I can remember an elderly lady, who just recently passed away, telling us that her family grew up in the house and that on hot summer evenings they would sleep on the verandah. Now Parkes is a pretty safe place to live, but sleeping on the verandah….
We were, again, very fortunate to have fabulous neighbours, but I want to finish off with two of my lovely neighbours. On one side was an elderly lady, who had family around town and walked with a walking stick. She had a good sense of humour and kept her home very tidy. Our kitchen window looked out onto her driveway and basically we kept a check on her. My mum would call out and say hi and she would return with “hello noisy neighbour”.
On the other side was a couple who also had a long connection with Parkes and the house was her family home. She had amazing collections of salt and pepper shakers stored in cabinets (I am talking hundreds and hundreds) that I think were nearly holding up the house…and a corella that was as old as she was. She would spend a lot of time knitting the most amazing things.
If you have read any of my previous posts, you might recall my reference to the smell of a Department of Agriculture Office…not surprisingly, the new office in Parkes had a similar scent. No preserved reptiles though! In those days the office had a Piggery Officer, Sheep Officer, Agronomist, Field Assistant and Secretary. How things have changed.
A lesson from this story….I’ve gotta give you something…stepping out of your comfort zone can be challenging, but helps you to grow. Don’t be afraid to grow. Even if it is painful. Learn from it. Just keep going, even if it seems like you aren’t making any ground. Just keep going and it will get easier.
We left Leeton in 1989, but I can’t leave without telling you about my neighbours. When we were young, the family on one side consisted of grandparents, mum and dad and teenage son. The grandmother had shoulder length, steel grey hair with big curls. She always seemed cranky to a little person, but never really worried me much. The grandfather I didn’t see much of, but just remember him as a nice man.
I have to skip to the son. He was much older than us and when he came of age, he acquired a commodore. Yes….it was beautiful….and yes, it had a fantastic stereo. I can never here ‘We Built This City On Rock an’ Roll’, by Starship, without thinking of him….in a innocent, childlike way….I don’t know how many times he played it in the car, in the driveway near out back door….but it was A LOT! Little did I know that I would know be living in a town that has such a big connection to Rock and Roll!
The father was Ernie. I have to share his name because he was the only Ernie I knew apart from Ernie and Bert on Sesame Street. How cool to have the name Ernie! My small brain struggled with the concept that he did not have a friend named Bert. Ernie was the sweetest and kindest man. For many years, I didn’t know his ‘real’ other half. She was a bit of an enigma to a small child…..until the grandparents had both passed away and we grew up and got to explore the neighbourhood more.
I am scrutinising my neighbours with the intention of bringing some insight into one of the reasons that I love birds. I have left the mother (or Ernie’s other half) until last, because she was the surprising gem that we discovered living right next door all those years and hadn’t really met her.
She was Frieda. She also had fabulous grey curls which she quite frequently had in curlers. She pretty much chain smoked from what I remember. We had never been around someone who smoked that much….and in the house! Freida could even talk with a cigarette in her mouth. She was skinny (perhaps I should say…dainty), always seemed to wear a dress that did not compliment her figure and she also had the most friendly, kind eyes and smile and loving nature….and she had a love of birds…quarrions (cockatiels) in particular. We would spend hours helping her feed baby quarrions with a syringe and listen to her eloquent stories delivered with a gravelly plum (the only way that I could describe it). Frieda also had nails….amazing nails. It always amazes me that we had this treasure living right next door and for all of those years, barely knew she was there. I guess it is all about timing. We needed her and she needed us at that time. I find that is the case over and over again that people come in and out of your life just when you need it the most. When they are gone, you have to just appreciate what was given to you at the time.
On the other end of the spectrum, we housed the dreaded enemy of every bird. The CAT! So we got to see both ends…..life and death! Fortunately, most of the death was involving sparrows….and I know that no matter how many bells and things you put on that collar, cats are stealth killing machines. I had been dying to include the word stealth…
Whilst Frieda was purely doing what she loved doing and enjoying chatting to a couple of girls who were pretty excited about being in the house that we always viewed from over the fence, she taught us another level of care, commitment and love for these little feathered creatures that we could not have received anywhere else.
So for any of you who have a passion for a particular thing, you will usually go above and beyond what would be normally expected to see the survival or lend a hand with a skill that you have acquired to ensure the sustainability of what you are passionate about. Frieda, of courses, had that passion for birds and when a poor, defenseless, featherless little chick was brought to her attention, without a moments thought, she put her skills to use and fed the little dear and cared for it to raise it to its full potential. As the sweet little thing strengthened and grew she realised that it was taking on characteristics unlike the quarrions and over a period of time, it became obvious that Frieda was indeed raising a starling. It had character, she had raised it from a tiny chick – what was she going to do? (just as a side note, I have an equal passion….but it is passionate dislike of starlings)
The point of telling you this story is that sometimes we can find a companion where we least expect it and not in the traditional form, which is great. We can sometimes love things that it makes no sense to love and that’s ok.
Don’t you remember….we built this city, we built this city on rock an’ roll! We built this city…..you know you want to sing!
I really can’t believe that we are now staring at the face of Christmas!
If you are travelling or staying put this Christmas, I hope that you enjoy a time filled with love and happiness.
Last week I committed to the Campaign initiated by Landcare NSW, Every Day Heros. As a thank you for donations, I committed to writing a daily blog up until Christmas. I have been overwhelmed by the response on our website and hope that you enjoy the next week of blogs as well.
As I mentioned last week, the Campaign is an opportunity to bring a focus to Landcare Coordinators…..and I put my hand up for the Central West!
My personal blog is mostly stories about things that influenced me as a child and encouraged my passion for the environment and agriculture and in turn, my love of Landcare….and I hope that it is a little bit humorous.
I will eventually get to some of the projects and partnerships, but at the moment, I am enjoying recalling things from the past and appreciate the feedback from those who have been reading.
As I mentioned last week, whilst there is ‘hero’ in the title, that, of course, isn’t the way that I picture myself, it is just the platform that it is shared on. If you appreciate what we are doing and enjoy my blog, please feel free to support my campaign, but I really just want you to enjoy my blog more than anything!
I have had the opportunity over the past 12 months to be more heavily involved with Landcare at the State level and appreciate the fantastic work that is being done to ensure the future of the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative as we move forward into the next phase of the program, with continuing efforts to secure funding for the next four years, which helps to employ over 70 part time Landcare Coordinators across the State of NSW.
Last week I went back to the 1970’s (yep, I am seriously a Gen-X and proud of it), I introduced my sidekick, explained how I had a real living doll growing up and talked about my love of the Murrumbidgee River and how my grandfather could build a bed from hessian and sticks. This week I have been talking about my love of my grandparent’s dairy farm on. If you see the pictures (the few that I have), of the area you would understand why. Find out why Christmas carols were in style on the Massey Ferguson and how our baling twine reins came in handy on the carry-all. At the time of writing this weeks article, my most recent blog was about my paternal grandmother and or feeding the chooks with my grandmother and her chook feeding fashion sense.
It has been strange to recollect moments from my childhood. It has been lovely to have the positive feedback on the blog and I hope that I have brought some joy to readers who might have had similar memories or involvement in their lives.
Our office will be closed between Christmas and New Year. I look forward to gearing up for the Elvis Festival, which for the Central West (not just Parkes) is a fantastic week of celebration and an opportunity to welcome people to our area and show the hospitality that the country is best known for.
For more information on any of these events, go to our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org, facebook, twitter or Instagram @cwllandcare or contact our office on 02 6862 4914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, happy Landcaring!
On the Day 8 Blog I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of the wonderful events that I have attended, hosted by other organisations that have in some way benefited myself in my role, Landcare or our community.
If you are just catching up with my blogs over the past week…..I agreed to be part of the NSW Landcare Heroes Campaign and in return for supporting the campaign, I am contributing a blog a day to thank donors for their contributions. Up until today, they have been personal blogs, but before everyone heads off on leave, I wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of the wonderful workshops and functions that I have been privileged to attend this year. Find out more here:
Note that there are heaps of links in headings and on footers. The headers mostly link to my weekly articles and the links at the bottom will take you straight to the presenter or organisation to find out more information.
Thanks for your support in the Campaign. Current contributions are $523.51
I will kick off with the a quick mention of the Parkes Elvis Festival. For those in and around Parkes, they have to try and jam in a few days of rest before the big lead up to the Festival. We were thrilled to have so many visitors and particularly acknowledge Phil Emmanual, who sadly passed away this year. He and his family were a delight to have with us at Kelly Reserve.
Two Dick Richardson Workshops were hosted by Trundle Bruie Plains Landcare early in 2018. As well as being an entertaining presenter, Dick had some interesting food for thought when it comes to ground cover and evaluating what you have to offer and how you can utilise it to its full potential.
In March we celebrated International Women’s Day. I attended the Forbes IWD hosted by Forbes Shire Council, with guest speaker Jean Kitson. Ms Kitson was hilarious and the morning was in a beautiful setting on the banks of Lake Forbes.
This will come up in our partnerships and events as well, but….this event was so well organised, exhausting and exhilarating! Back in March, our Central West Landcare Team braved the mud of the Macquarie River….dare I say….I look forward to doing it again….
The Conservation in Action Conference was hosted by the Central West Councils Environment & Waterways Alliance with a brilliant line up of speakers talking about waterways, natural landscapes, native flora and fauna and threatened species and brought together by Executive Officer, Mick Callan.
In May the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), on behalf of the Federal Government, undertook public consultation for the National Carp Control Plan. The Forbes workshop was well attended with over 30 people. Obviously with any control program there will always be a complication, but I’m sure that anglers and those concerned for the health of our rivers would agree that the short terms pain would be worth the long-term gains.
In June I attended the Sydney premiere of the SCIMEMA Film Festival. This event included the screening of the Best Documentary film, Grassroots, which features local Agronomist, Guy Webb and Forbes farmer, (and CWLL Committee member) Jack Farthing. It was a thrill to see the story, and the guys from Soil C Quest on the big screen.
In June the Central West Local Land Services hosted a conference bringing industry professionals and farmer to gether to explain how and why landholders should actively manage biodiversity to boost their profitability. This conference hosted a fantastic line up of speakers including sheep and cattle farmer, Col Seis, Dr Kate Andrews, Executive Officer for NRM Regions Australia and Coonamble grower Anne Williams. Find out more information about the Central West Local Land Services.
This was a fantastic opportunity to hear from Chairman, The Hon Robert Hill AC and Mr Paul Elton, who have been charged with the responsibility of overseeing the outlay of a substantial program as a result of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. It was also a good opportunity to meet with staff who are working on the ground in our region. I was also fortunate to briefly attend the Lachlan Corridor Conservation Tender workshop in Forbes.
In August I attended the Making Livestock Decisions workshop in Forbes, with presenter, Alastair Rayner. This timely workshop, with finding through the Central West Local Land Services, brought useful information to producers who were in the midst of an extremely challenging period of the drought, where the hardest of decisions were being made regarding retention of stock and feeding regimes. Alastair, encouraged producers to remember the importance of people health as well as animal health.
In September over 800 people flocked to Forbes to enjoy the Grazing Down the Lachlan experience, with a focus on fresh, regional food, the Grazing revolution has become one of the ‘must do’ events in the region, recognising food origin, traditional bush tucker and locally sourced produce.
I loved being part of Reading Down Town in Forbes in August. Held in Victoria Park, it was a gorgeous day with hundreds of school kids from the Forbes Shire. Our theme….much to my delight was ‘Find Your Treasure’, which, or course, required dressing up in Pirate attire.
Paint the Town REaD….Let’s Get REaDiculous morning from Cooke Park and down Clarinda Street was a thrill to be part of ….and dressing up in my favourite colour….RED….and looking REaDICULOUS….um…that was fun too!
In October I attended the National Landcare Conference in Brisbane hosted by Landcare Australia, with the field trip on the first day being a highlight and bringing attention to the wonderful work being undertaken by passionate people who have the goal of sourcing and delivering fresh food within the local area, limiting the number of kilometres for transportation and, in turn, reducing the carbon footprint.
The Conference was also an opportunity to highlight the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative in NSW and to talk about the value of Landcare with presentations from staff of Landcare NSW and Local Land Services.
It was once again a pleasure to attend the Trees in the House event at Parliament House in November. The event co-hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Landcare and Landcare NSW highlights the work that has been undertaken by Landcare NSW. CWLL appreciate having the support of our Local Member for Orange Mr Philip Donato MP at the event. This was also a ‘changing of the guard’ for NSW Leadership, with Chairperson Mr Rob Dulhunty stepping down and Ms Stephanie Cameron taking on the role.
The Central West Local Land Services hosted workshops with presenter, Steven Bowman in November. This was a good opportunity for local group representatives to find out more about their responsibilities as part of a committee or board and the associated compliance measures groups require. Steve undertook a second workshop on Strategic Planning which was also well received.
Today, I’m staying at my grandparents farm on the Mid North Coast of NSW.…I am sure that many of you have fond memories of dogs from your childhood, or even one that you currently have.
I recently read a post from a friend, who I think you would describe as burly, tough and someone that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (if you didn’t know who he was), who had to make that heartbreaking decision to put down a beloved pet dog who had obviously been an amazing companion and to hear him speak of his dog the way he did, it brought me to tears.
I have lots of fond memories of dogs from throughout my childhood. My grandparents had what could only be described as an odd bunch. It was always a thrill to see them and, the majority of them, enjoyed having young, fun companions.
My earliest memory is of an old black scragedy dog named Tim, who was my grandmother’s companion. He was the dog that you did not mess with. If you were with my grandmother and wanted to give him a pat…that was fine. He had the most silky hair on his face that was so soft to touch, but over the years the rest of him wasn’t so pretty.
The most famous story about Tim, involves a baker, who used to deliver bread all the way out to their house once a week. Now…Tim (apart from his beautiful soft face) wasn’t known for his good looks, or his mild manner. He was known for being my grandmother’s protector. When your menfolk are away from the house for the day (and remember, no mobile phone, no radio), he was a handy dog to have around.
The baker was doing his normal delivery when my grandmother enquired whether he had any fruit loaf (I don’t blame her). The baker, who Tim knew only came to the door once each visit, dutifully went back to the van for more supplies and returned to the house with the fruit loaf…and Tim dutifully lunged in to take care of the imposter and ripped his pants. I’m sure at the time it was an extremely serious offense and my grandmother did organise for the purchase of a replacement pair of pants, but over the years the story received much laughter from recipients and from my grandmother who would tell the story with such joyfulness.
After growing up with Tim as the house dog and him passing on to dog heaven at a very old age, he was replaced with Butch. Oh Butch…if any of you have ever loved a Labrador, you will know why we had such an affection for him. He was the total opposite of Tim…accept for his devotion to my grandmother. Butch meant fun times and lots of cuddles and excitement!
Amongst our other tractor companions was the mother dog of all mother dogs, Biddie. She was just about entirely black apart from a lovely white marking on her chest. She was always carrying a few extra kilos, plodded along behind everyone and had teats, that due to many years of motherly duties, were…umm…generous. She seemed like she was around forever.
The most beautiful dog that they ever owned, was a dog called Dingo. She was caramel and brown and she ran like the wind. We believed that due to her striking looks that she was a cross with a dingo. Dingoes were very common on the Mid North Coast back then. She had the loveliest manner and just had a natural instinct when it came to handling the cattle. She died as a result of a white tick.
Tick’s were common place on the coast back then, and….brace yourselves non-rural readers…we would perform eradication measures on any unlucky invaders that dared to face the hot-blooded beasts on the farm, which concluded with a big splat with our gum-boot, destroying the invader and impressing fellow on-lookers.
Our last addition was a collie named…affectionately….Maggie. She was beautiful, looked extremely intelligent, was great fun and not much of a cattle dog. She had also been a transportation job in the car from, at that stage, Parkes, where we have moved to.
Having a farm that had a system of creeks and dams running throughout, there were plenty of opportunities for the dogs to have a quick freshen up and the obligatory shake off, which usually occurred once they had returned to the carry-all with their human friends. Nothing like that smell of wet dog hair to freshen up your day!
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