Sunday, 30 August 2009

There's Gold in them There Hills

We've always been aware we're not sitting on a gold-mine. Keep in mind the name of the place is "Rock Wallaby", not "Gold Wallaby".

That didn't prevent the fossickers coming out for the day yesterday. We were aware that there was an abandoned gold mine on the top of one of our ridges. Not your typical "Indiana Jones" or "King Solomon's" notion of a gold-mine. I could see the disappointment in the kids' eyes the first time we showed them the "gold-mine". In my mind too there should have been underground shafts, with great rotting pillars of timber holding the earth at bay, cobwebs, the occasional drip of moisture, only to be viewed by the glimmering shadowy light of the kerosene lantern held at arm's length in front of your eye. No, our gold mine was merely a rather unobtrusive hole in the ground, with a pile of matter that once filled the hole beside it. Big deal. But still they came, excited by the lay of the land, the occasional quartz outcrop jutting from the hillside, the hills running into alluvial flats....all the signs of a great reef of wealth awaiting their touch. (I think they enjoyed the attentive audience).

And after a hearty smoko, filling our heads with the thoughts of what great wealth lay in front of us, they went. Like the great gold-miners before them, minus pans, buckets and hairy beards, they set forth with metal-detectors, tiny sample bottles and a great bucket-load of optimism.

And they returned. With this. See the gold. See the great fortune awaiting us. Neither can I. At least not without my reading glasses.

And so today, with grand plans of real estate purchases, new cars and fine living all dashed, we reverted to our daily chores. The lucerne paddock was 'renovated', re-seeded in parts with lucerne and a cover-crop of millet, irrigators put back in place, with the older girls taking turns roaring around the paddock behind the tractor on the quad pulling a makeshift 'harrow' consisting of a left-over piece of reinforcing mesh from a cement job past behind. In between these farmer antics, they managed to mulch my garden beds. Bless them.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


This little fella reminds me of our Wallace.
Some days it just isn't easy getting your head off the pillow.
Thankfully though, mum knows best, and tells you to hit your pins boy.

Then she checks behind your ears.

What are you growing here??? Potatoes??

Come on, shake a tail-feather, we've got things to do...
places to see, mountains to climb...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


The day started with presents...

moved onto a little baking....

then a party when the big kids got home from school...

and ended with the birthday girl's favourite tea - corned beef & white sauce.

Much to the disgust of her siblings.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

Three of our four children had the good manners to be born in daylight hours.

But not Sally Louise.

This baby of ours made her entry into the world while the moon and stars were shining. About ten minutes after daddy came crashing through the door of the delivery room, panting for breath. And I've a feeling it won't be the last time we'll be up at 2:23 am waiting for her arrival.

I remember leaving hospital with her, and making a quick stop at Target to pick up some 'baby supplies'. A sweet baby-loving lady asked Matthew if she was our first. "No, this is definitely the last", he was quick to point out. What a shame.

And today she is five.

And she's giving up sucking her thumb.

And next year she's going to break her mother's heart when she heads off to school.

Happy birthday Sal.

You'll always be our baby.

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Quick Trip to the Tropics

We've just enjoyed a wonderful weekend away.

After much extra feeding of animals, checking waters, filling tanks, we grabbed the kids off the school bus Friday afternoon, ran them through the shower, threw them in the packed car and headed north. Why is it that the 'prone to travel sickness' child can nearly always keep it at bay until we reach the destination. Nearly. "What colour was it Mum?" 300 kilometres, and 1.2 k's from my brother's place, we had to do the screaming pull-over so Jess could jump out and lose her afternoon smoko.

After a lovely catch-up with my brother's family, we hooked up their camper-trailer Saturday morning and continued our journey north. Another 200 kilometres, unlimited backseat squealing and some squabbling, saw us reach beautiful tropical Bowen, now so well-known as the venue of much of the filming of 'Australia'. We even drove past the pub which was the venue of Drover's fight scene as Nicole Kidman came off the boat. (That seemed to mean something to the kids).

As they continued to reel off quotes from the film about "cheeky bloody mickey bulls" and "big bloody metal ships" we enjoyed fish and chips on the beach, and climbed a few trees.

Further north we travelled for "Salisbury Plains", home of my beautiful friend Sue who was celebrating her 40th birthday. Sue and I have known each other for over 20 years, and fallen in and out of touch over the years since. She's one of those true friends though, that regardless of the weeks, months or years since your last contact, it's as though it was only yesterday.

So after a super Saturday night celebration, very little sleep, and a big barbecue Sunday brunch, we turned around and headed for home.

At least the noise from the backseat was a little more subdued on the return trip.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Scrabble Anyone?

Wal's "book of the month" is not "Dinosaurs Love Underpants", it's not "Where's the Green Sheep", it's not "Harry and His Bucket full of Dinosaurs" and it's definitely not "Pippi Longstockings".

No, it's the dictionary, of course.

And his favourite pastime is looking up new and exciting words, and for a real thrill he gives one of his sisters a dictionary as well, and they have races to find a word, usually provided by Mum or Dad.

Sorry Old Nev, but I don't think he's going to be a front-row forward for the Broncos.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Monday Again!

'Twas a rather horticultural weekend at RockWallaby, with vegetative (?) pursuits in both the lucerne paddock and the houseyard. Grass had to be sprayed out of the lucerne, and my poor long-suffering roses enjoyed some tender loving care. Close inspection of my thumb indicates no shade resembling anything like green. Mowing, hedge-trimming and digging......who said gardening was relaxing?

Fred the wonder-dog has gone off visiting some lady friends. A planned visit. It seems his talents are in demand statewide. Steel, son of Fred is one of the results of the last visit. That time, Bronze the mummy dog came to stay with us, but as the children are still recovering from the trauma, we thought it best that he go away this time. His services are required with two girls this visit, both trial dogs, so we look forward to a couple of new puppies here in the months to come. Meanwhile I'm missing Fred, and with a paddock to come in tomorrow, Sal and I will have to be content with yelling at each other.

The children, in their infinite wisdom, created a 'toy' for their own amusement yesterday, that I shouldn't even write about for fear of having the 'safety police' onto us. They found an old board, attached some baling-twine as a handle, a long rope from it to the quad-bike, and away they went, bouncing and jolting across the many rocks in the house-paddock, on their sled. Most unbelievably, there haven't even been any gravel-rashed elbows to report......yet.

With another 26 ton of molasses rolling through the gate yesterday, I'd best be on my way, working on emptying the tank again.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Imagic That!

Our baby Sal hasn't mastered the word "imagine" yet. She has a very good grasp of the concept however. As most four year olds do, she has a particularly colourful imagination. Combining "imagine" and "magic" has allowed her to come up with the term "imagic", which is now used by all family members, and like so many of their mannerisms, we'll probably continue to use these special little terms (which make no sense to anybody else) long after they've outgrown them.

Imagic if we were the only people in the world.
Imagic if horses could talk.
Imagic if the sky was green and grass was blue.
Imagic if I could fly.
Imagic if we had brumbies living in our hills.
Imagic if the big kids didn't have to go to school.
Imagic if lollies were good for you.
Imagic if Daddy did all the ironing. (I imagiced that one).
Imagic if we could pick this echidna up we found in the lucerne paddock.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Home Made

These are two of the team heading to the 'World's Biggest Bull Sale' in October. We're particularly proud of this year's team. Not only are we happy with the bulls, we made them ourselves.

It's three years this week since we were trained in the 'science' of embryo-transfer, and these bulls are two of the first drop of calves we ever 'made'. Our wonderful little Indian teacher (all five feet of him - Matthew literally towered over him) Dr Dan Jillella, was a pioneer in the field of embryo work and was involved in much of the research that has helped take the stud cattle industry to such heights. He was a wonderful teacher and we will forever be indebted to him for sharing his knowledge (and his magnificent curries).

It still gives me a buzz to think we take a microscopic embryo, 1/6 of a millimetre in diameter (and its tiny brothers and sisters) from its superovulated mama,

.... rinse and grade it in a petrie dish, handle it with tiny pipettes, suck it up into a straw and place it ever so gently into the body of another mama cow, who births it, raises it and loves it as her own.

Sometimes they really must wonder who the heck their baby takes after!!!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Saturday's Story

The biggest struggle in my life on a day to day basis is housework (which when you look at the big picture means I'm a very lucky person). Even though our home is small I find keeping it tidy to be a gigantic battle. It just isn't high on my priority list when there are other more important tasks to undertake (like self-torture, navel-gazing, teeth-pulling...) But every so often I declare enough is enough and bite the bullet. Today was such a day and I made my intentions clear early that I would not be leaving the house. In fact the furthest I went from the house today was the clothes-line ....many times in fact. And I can't even recall the last time that happened.

So tonight, with only one bedroom and the office to go I'm feeling very pleased with myself. As much as I detest housework, I do like a clean home.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Strangers Among Us

Fred the wonder-dog has just discovered that there's something very strange in the pig-paddock. It wasn't there yesterday. In fact he and Steel (son of Fred the wonder-dog) and Ella the guard dog discussed it most of the night, at length.

That's it asleep in the background. She's probably tired due to the great dog discussion that took place last night.

This fellow doesn't know what all the fuss is about.

And nor does CCB (Campdraft Committee Breakup).

Our pig production is at an all-time low, due to the acquisition of a new boar earlier in the year. Boots (the boar) was only a wee baby when we got him, and we're still waiting for him to turn into "Daddy" material. Which has meant we've had no piglets born this year, and therefore no pigs the right size for the afore-mentioned breakup party. So CCB arrived yesterday and is to be the star attraction. The trick is do not get attached to pigs.
Except Mama Pig, Socks and now Boots - the foundation herd. And for those avid pig-breeding family members interested in porcine genetics, she is actually half Berkshire, but out of a pink mummy.

Outlook Fine & Dry

Man, it's dry.

You'll all soon be sick of hearing this from me I'm sure. You'll all be wishing for the rain as much as we are. Just so I stop whinging about it.

At least after many years of living through drought we're better prepared for it. All our Stage 1 Drought Strategies are now in place. Cows on molasses supplement, young bulls on grain, cows and calves in a fresh paddock. Just means a lot more work and a lot more expense. But we're certainly not alone, it's the hot topic at every social long will we have to wait for the rain?

...On the bright side, I'm having no trouble getting the washing dry.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Say Cheese

Big photography shoot today.
Very demanding models, hot dry location, temperamental assistants.... no not Milan.
Just Marlborough.
The models were our sale bulls going to the annual Brahman Week sale at Gracemere in October. Advertising material needs to be submitted by the end of the week. We got some good shots (about 470 of them), so everybody's happy. Bulls got to have a bath (after fixing yet another water issue), sun shone brightly and camera clicked.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Another Day in the Saddle

After an hour and a half of chasing horses and finally catching and saddling them, my mind wandered back to a time when the children were babies and we had no other option but to muster in utes and on bikes. In hindsight it was probably a lot quicker.

But I guess not as much fun?!?
For the kids at least.

Finished the last of our preg-testing and drafted some cattle up. Cows and baby calves going into the fresh lane. A couple of skinny old milkers kept in close to enjoy some grain until it rains. Poor old darlins don't handle our dry conditions too well. I think they might yearn for some sweet southern clover.

Matthew and the kids had some pig-cutting duties to perform at one of the neighbours and have headed off to perform these neighbourly niceties. Along the way they are also releasing the pet turtles we were so lucky to acquire at Easter time last year. After eighteen months of trying to convince the kids they'd be much happier back in their natural surrounds, I've finally had a win. Farewell Crush and Squirt. Swim free.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Water Boy

Today's main focus was to install this trough in a lane full of grass so that we can put some cows and calves in there. Previously when we needed the grass we've simply opened up the lane to the adjoining paddock. Now this will mean that we can run it as it's own little entity. Firstly however this involved changing a tyre on the loader which proved more difficult than one might think, thus the forks on the tractor came into play.

Next we had to dig a hole over the top of the existing pipe-line, again easier said than done. As the hole grew wider we wondered if we'd ever stumble across the line. As one can see, we did.

Jess didn't realise that although we'd turned the valve off at the tank, the 2000 gallons of water already in the line had to go somewhere.

It was then just a case of sitting back, enjoying the view.

...until boredom overtook and they all had to lend a hand. Naturally many fights ensued over who used which shovel. I wonder if such enthusiasm will continue into their teens.


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