What colour cattle?
Thursday, 02 October 2014 12:35

During our years in New York, I dreamed of the day we'd return home to our farm and take possession of the twenty (red) Hereford cows we had on order. 'You'd better not tell Mavis,' said a friend. He was referring to the feisty manager of the next door farm, who was known for her fierce view that only (black) Angus cattle suited our often wet river flats. Something to do with water-resistant feet in the Angus breed. All bullshit if you ask me! Then the day arrived. Mavis came steaming up our driveway on her tractor to introduce herself. And sure enough, over coffee, she stared me down with, 'And what breed will you be having?' 'Beautiful day,' I replied. Mavis's eyes didn't shift off mine. 'Rain predicted,' I added. Nothing was working. 'Ah, Herefords,' I finally answered. 'WON'T WORK,' she screamed. It took two years, until the day I found a calf she'd lost, that I made it into Mavis's good books. Finding that calf finally made us friends.

Chainsaw madness
Thursday, 02 October 2014 12:28

Greg Norman's recent mishap with a chainsaw gave me pause, and a sense of the guilts. On talkback radio I heard an expert list things one ought never to do with a chainsaw, all of which I've done, like start it off the ground, use it up a tree, or above waist height. Oops! My first machine was crap, but I managed to offload it interstate, via eBay. We then went to buy a new one locally, but came home with a painting instead! The new model I eventually secured had a mind of its own. Bruce decided if and when he would work. He had the upper hand after someone whispered to him how I was mechanically-challenged, that I'd got just 49% for agricultural engineering at college, but that the principal had taken pity on me and bumped me to 50%, and a pass. On a good day, Bruce cut enough firewood to warm a stadium. Still, I should be dead.

Manual labour
Thursday, 02 October 2014 12:31

The day I sought family help to cart in the hay bales to the hay shed, the silence was deafening. Orchestra practice, cited elder son. Which orchestra, I asked. All of them, he replied. Second son had squash. Daughter had a hair appointment. Our southern neighbour was no better. After asking to borrow our cattle yards, he cancelled when he heard our hay needed carting. Offers of free chiropractic care notwithstanding, I just couldn't get help with the hay. That was until daughter's boyfriend offered. But, an hour after he started, the front tractor wheel fell off from his hoon driving. So, I took to carting the hay alone. With no one looking, I went for a Guinness record for carting the most bales on the ute and trailer. First try was 31, only to be bettered with 49. Finally, I scored a massive 61 bales. Despite my effort, and with dark clouds looming, the paddock was still littered with bales.

Bull business
Thursday, 02 October 2014 12:23

Back to farm matters. Each year, we 'hired' a bull, more than once for our lone cow, Possum, who was a real character. Possum was a twin, whose mother abandoned her at birth to focus on her brother. So, my wife hand-reared her, the poor thing of confused bloodlines that she was. Possum grew up pretty much to run the farm; she went where and when her mood took her. Forget the cattle crush, she was far too smart to go into that. To drench her, one of us stroked her chin while the other poured the beetle-juice down her back. But we never were charged for her annual boyfriend, Ferdinand. All we knew was that he came from over near Yea. All became clear the day we were picking berries there. My wife told pickers how each year we got a 'free' bull from those parts. After asking our names, a local farmer identified himself as the bull's owner, saying there was no way he could charge us when Ferdinand returned home in such wonderful nick, a nice compliment indeed.


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