Kelpies, Life and the East Gippsland Field Days
LIFE ON THE HILL
The Farmboy (12 yrs) has finally thrown away his crutches after spending a good three weeks hobbling around with his fractured leg. Being on school holidays and restricted to one leg nearly killed him (not to mention mum!). No ute driving, no motorbike riding, no bouncing on the trampoline. No making his usual plethora of creative items with his Renovator and other tools. No wandering over the paddocks to make cubby houses and tree houses and follow wombats and just generally suss out whatever's moving out there in the paddocks. I think his return to school was almost welcomed! At least there was something to do other than sit on the couch and read books, play Xbox games or watch DVDS. The novelty of being allowed to do the last two soon wore off after about day 3!
But he did get some relief from the monotony of crutches last week, when both he and I headed on a road trip down to South Gippsland for the most educational and life-changing weekend.
Ever since this lad was little he has loved Kelpie working dogs. His bedroom walls are plastered with Zoe Phillips Kelpie pictures from the Weekly Times. His wall calendar features Kelpies on each page. The second book he ever showed any interest in reading was stories about Kelpies. Man, was I excited about that! He was reading! Finally! (It should be noted though; this came after the ‘Encyclopaedia of John Deere Tractors’. I think you can see where his loves lie.)
I've always said to him he could only have a Kelpie when he knew a) how to train it, and b) could take on the responsibility of looking after the pup himself. And a while back I thought we were finally reaching that time. After making a few quiet enquires and thanks to a gorgeous friend of mine Miss Grey (Miss Grey Photography) we found out about Neil and Helen McDonald’s Advanced Livestock Management and Working Dog (http://www.neilmcdonald.com.au) training course. After waiting patiently for two years for Neil to come to Gippsland (his courses are primarily run in Northern Australia), and virtually on the precipice of saying, ‘Dash it, lets just pack the swags & go to Keith in South Australia from where Neil hails’, last weekend finally saw us on our way to hear from this renowned stock handler.
8am through to 5pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a little place called Buffalo, and that 12 year old sat and soaked in every word our presenter Neil McDonald said. With the help of a few others also doing the course, the lad, even though he was on crutches, was able to pen sheep, work a dog with sheep and even hobble around a course of drums leading his sheep where he needed them to go. He and I learnt more about pressure and relief, how to start, stop and create a good steady flow of livestock, how the position of your feet, eyes, indeed your whole body, including demeanour and body language affects animals. We also learnt about the working dog itself – how to teach manners, social graces and the use of the natural instinct of the working dog to assist you in your stock work. There was whole swag of life wisdom to be gained as well because Neil’s way of teaching was in story form. To an author and her child it was the perfect way to learn. In fact, the lad could just about repeat verbatim a lot of what was said over the whole three days! (Not so me, I had to rely on my notes!)
Can you tell how inordinately proud I was of my son? The only words to come from him for 8 hours of each day were, 'Mum did you write that bit down? Did you get that?!'
H and the Princess came to join us on Saturday night, and the property owners who kindly hosted us all had a HUGE bonfire. It was pretty spectacular and just added to whole camp atmosphere. The children pulled up their camp chairs and watched the whole thing avidly (our kids just LOVE bonfire nights), which caused me to say to H, 'Who needs television? Really?'
We met some really lovely, generous and knowledgeable people including finally meeting face-to-face my friend, Miss Grey, and her buddy Bush Chooks (Bush Chooks Photography) who came to stay with us for a night on the Hill. These girls are on their way around Australia with 20 kelpies on board. Two truly beautiful and talented people who were an inspiration to us all.
And the strength and breadth of information we learnt from everyone present over the weekend has the capacity to change the whole of our farming operation. I can’t wait to put what we now know into action. I can't wait to learn more!
And the Farmboy?
Well, he’s lining up for his first Kelpie. Stay tuned ...
EAST GIPPSLAND FIELD DAYS
This Friday and Saturday (May 1 & 2, 2015) is the East Gippsland Field Days at the Bairnsdale Aerodrome. I’ll be there on SATURDAY May 1, at the Collin’s Booksellers Bairnsdale stand from 10 - 12 midday signing books. If you're in the area, it's a great opportunity to pick up a signed copy of ROSE RIVER for Mother’s Day! Or just come and say hello and pass the time of day ... Love to see you there!
Next week, I'll be giving you some book ideas (besides ROSE RIVER ) for Mother's Day!
Until then, hope you all have a great week,