Sunday, 30 January 2011

Operation "Cows Away"

With trucks unable to access "Chabo" due to running creeks and impassable bogs, horses were trucked to the neighbours' yards and the ringers rode several kilometres into "Chabo".

Saturday provided some cloud cover, a pleasant relief to the sultry Summer days we've experienced over the previous week.  Destination Chabo was reached just in time for a morning tea of cream buns and coffee, no salted beef and damper for these modern cowboys.

Chabo is rejoicing in the wonderful season we've enjoyed, resulting in postcard perfect views in every direction.

Our young team members did us proud, following Dad's lead and keeping in position.

Jessie steadied the lead

while Sarah and Sal kept the tail wagging,

When Sally wasn't searching for a photographic opportunity...

(and again here)

she was a great help to the operation.
Wallace helped out on the tail and moved up the wing when given the hand signal from Dad.

The dogs helped out when necessary, Fred deciding the cowboy to cow ratio was far too high and opted to ride on the bike with me much of the way.

Dad scouted ahead keeping neighbouring cattle away from the mob, and had to go into battle with a certain young mickey intent on joining our group.

At the end of the day all were pleased to see the neighbour's yards and cows were yarded without incident.

With clouds looming, due to the very southern reach of Cyclone Anthony, we were fortunate to get the cattle out when we did.

Home now, the rain is bucketing down.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Our Australia Day

We headed to the hills of Chabo yesterday in search of green grass and fat cows.

And found both to be in fruitful abundance.  As were bywashing dams, running creeks, damaged flood fences and many cattle in wrong paddocks!  A particularly busy Australia Day resulted.

Matthew and his team of two set out on bike, mustering the mountain country with Dad and me along for moral support, and possibly a small amount of advice.

The heat of the day combined with the length of the grass meant these workers were looking for shade and water at every opportunity.

With cows in, we drafted off fat cows destined to the meatworks this coming weekend, other heifers we did an early preg-test on to test the efficiency of a new bull running with them, (he got the tick of approval) and other young cattle to send back to the mountain country.

With the road still too wet in parts to allow a truck through, we will head up again this weekend with horses on board.  Unloading at the neighbour's yards we will ride in, gather our meatworks cows and drive them back out to the neighbours. 

The four youngest ringers are most excited.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Sun Shone Brightly

...on these last days of our school holidays.

Tomorrow sees us head into Grades 1, 3, 5 and 7 at our small primary school.  The last year of all four of them together at school.  With boarding school looming, next year doesn't bear thinking about at this stage.

This past week has been a rather mixed bag, as can so often be the case. 

A trip to town for three new lunchboxes, two new backpacks, twenty-four pairs of crisp clean white socks, a visit to the movies, some hair-trimming and an ear-piercing for a very nearly ten year old...

greatly enhancing her feminine style as can be clearly seen.

A fair amount of horse-riding action abounded

with bareback tiggy in the houseyard very popular,

lawn aeration a beneficial extra.

There was swinging,

just a little sleeping-in,

and a little vege gardening thrown in. 

A crop of sorghum resulting from Matthew and the kids throwing seed by hand in one of the empty pig  paddocks has obviously enjoyed the inclement conditions throughout December 

and these girls are eagerly anticipating relocation.

Matthew and I have spent the weekend alternating between the back end of a cow and a microscope, with five Brangus heifers flushed yesterday resulting in the freezing of 46 embryos, an extremely pleasing result.  These embryos destined for transplant at Blackwater as soon as weather conditions and river levels allow.  Today, we headed north to implant 42 Brangus embryos resulting from flushing purebred Angus cows to Brahman bulls.

And remember last week's mulching effort.  I'm in a fair bit of trouble with the powers that be, over an unexplained flatness to one tyre.

Not exactly what we needed late on this Sunday afternoon.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Gift

With four children in the family, people delight in making comparisons between siblings.  As a result there seems to be a constant striving by each to make their mark as an individual.

Sarah is gifted with a whip, recently perfecting a one in each hand repertoire, enough to have all the working dogs cowering at the back of their cages (do we now realise why Fred lit out when he did)?

Wallace, at just eight years of age is a talented chess player, delighting in whupping his mother whilst she folds mountains of washing.

Sally, just six, considers herself somewhat of a horse whisperer.  At four years of age terrifying her father when he looked up from the yards where we were working to see her riding her horse bridle-less and saddle-less, with a piece of baling twine hitched around horse's nose and back to rider.  When questioned as to the logic of her actions, she replied "It's alright Dad, I'm an Indian"!!!

Jess is a wonderful cook, keeping us stocked up with biscuits, cakes and slices, yet also able to put her hand to whipping up complete meals.

She's recently realised her newest skill.  One which no other child is capable of.

A genetic gift inherited from her father.  The ability to separate first and second fingers from third and fourth.

They've since formed a club.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A Grand Adventure

Those who live and work in rural industry, in particular the livestock industry would recognise the value of the humble working dog.  Not only a faithful companion, these team members work long hours, often saving a man's wages for little more than a pat on the head, a cup full of bikkies and a kind word from the boss. 

And throughout our lives, many dogs come and go, some just making up numbers, space-fillers, butterfly-chasers, pan-lickers, many names long forgotten.  Boofa, Sam, Fletch, Kym, Lotte, Jill, Max, Trapper, Taggart, Siegal, Butch, Chocko, a few of those that come to mind.

But then there are those dogs, those one-in-a-million dogs, whose ability, tenacity, loyalty and strength all combine to create a dog with a special gift, who come along but once or twice in a lifetime.

Our first such 'special' dog was Tess.

Lithe, agile, spirited, smart Tess.

Our beautiful, capable Tess succumbed to snake bite, along with her daughter Polly one Wednesday afternoon many years ago.  Polly died almost instantly, Tess was raced to town to the vet surgery and lived through that first night and next day, filling us with false hope.  That second night she lost her fight. I cried rivers.

A second dog of legendary value entered our lives as a four year old, some five years ago.  Fred.  Timid, loyal, incredibly capable and brave Fred.

And just two days after this photo was taken,

we lost our beloved Fred.  Let off for his evening run, Fred was nowhere to be found come feed time.  As darkness fell, we called and whistled, all to no avail.

With Fred still not back next morning, we started to drive.  Driving, calling, whistling.  I sent out an email to all neighbours, put posters up at the local store and roadhouse.  The bush telegraph swung into action and all and sundry were keeping an eye out for our beloved Fred.

I cried.  Children cried.  I cried some more.

Five days later, I answered a 'Found' advertisement in the city paper over 100 kilometres to our south.  The description fitted perfectly, unfortunately the lady hadn't been able to catch the old dog, but he had been hanging around their local park for some days.  We headed to town the following day, no Fred to be found.  More posters were placed and the older girls slipped notes into letterboxes in search of our dear old pal.

Eight days after he disappeared, we received the phone call we'd been waiting for. 
Fred was found.

He'd had a grand holiday, was fatter than when he left home, and proceeded to stink up the car all the way home.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Almost two months ago the Main Roads Department saw fit to spend thousands of dollars driving up and down our highway, clearing roadside trees and mulching them.  Much of the resulting mulch was returned to towns for use in public gardening projects, roundabouts and the like.  Some fortunate roadside dwellers were also given some if they so desired.  I most gratefully jumped at the opportunity and asked for as much as they were prepared to spare.

Bogging the first truck they sent through the gate, I found myself the recipient of one load of mulch only.  Deposited at the yards, some distance from our house.

So earlier this week Sarah and I set about hooking the trailer to the quad-bike, gathering up some shovels and set off.  After much shovelling, sweating, huffing, puffing and more sweating, we had filled our trailer and not left so much as a slight indent in the mulch-pile.  With approximately 154 trailer loads to go, we decided to call in the big guns.

Enter the mechanised She-Devil.

Better suited to a museum display, this old beast was one of Matthew's Clearance Sale finds.   An antiquated loader, prerequisites to driving her include a steely determination, overpowering personality and a Charles Atlas physique. 

Enter Mummy.

158 trips from house to yards to house, 79 bucket loads of mulch, 356 pot holes, 172 aching muscles, three chiropractic visits and a physiotherapist appointment later, the gardens are mulched.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Me, Myself & I

Before I began blogging a little over a year ago I knew nobody who lived in Canada, England, Norway, the USA, even Western Australia or Tasmania.  And now I do.  And not only have I formed friendships, I have learnt more of these people's countries, their states, their ways of life.  All opportunities I would have missed out on had I not begun to document our life.

I most certainly couldn't have said I had a Tasmanian friend, a sixth-generation Tasmanian friend, a sixth generation Tasmanian friend who is also also a lawyer, mother and friend to many.

Now I can.

And this lovely lady Jane has very kindly passed a 'blogging award' to me this week.  Upon acceptance of this award the recipient (that would be me) is to post seven facts about oneself and pass the award onto three other deserving recipients (preferably new to the blogging world).

So here we go:

#1.  I despise housework with a fervour bordering on a phobic disorder.  Vacuuming, dusting, toilet-cleaning, clothes-folding, not to mention ironing.  No thankyou!  I do however appreciate clean, neat, ordered homes, and therefore spend my life dealing with this perplexing conundrum.  Sometimes the turmoil is too much!

#2.  Having been pregnant four times and therefore approximately three years of my life I can honestly say I have never experienced even a minute of morning sickness.  In fact I delighted in telling other pregnant mums-to-be that it was all a state of mind!  (Okay, you can stop booing now).

#3.  All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a doctor, a surgeon in fact.  Devastated when my TE Score saw me miss entry to Medicine, I settled on Science and spent eighteen months at uni learning many and varied things, not so much biochemistry and parasitology, more how to cook rice 3000 different ways and how to drink dollar pots of beer! (Sorry Dad).  The calling back to rural Australia then overcame all academic pursuits, and here I am.  (Still watching Gray's Anatomy with some sense of longing).  Or is that just a Patrick Dempsey issue???

#4.  I loooove to cook!

#5.  I have spent the better part of my adult life worrying about my weight.  Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Tony Ferguson, BodyTrim, you name it I've tried it!  (See #4 above).

#6.  I really love an opportunity to "frock up".  With a day to day uniform consisting of jeans or shorts, workboots and battered hat hiding a mop of dishevelled hair I love to glam it up at any given opportunity.  (My Dad instructed me as a young working woman, "Just because you work like a man, you don't ever have to look like one").  Good advice!

#7.  I consider myself as having an extremely fortunate life.  A husband who I love and respect, four healthy, amazing children, a paddock full of cows for a backyard and parents who love each other.  I live in a community of people who respect each other, in a country where hard work is valued and in a world that gets smaller the more people I meet via this blog.

What more could I ask for?

And now to ask seven deep questions of three fellow bloggers.  I pass the baton to:

Sarah of 'Oesch & Doots', from whose blog-writing I sense a calm, serene and beautiful mother.

Niki from 'Keepin up with the Joneses', possibly not new to blogging, but a fun-filled Mum of four boys who I would love to sip a margarita with one day. (and having four boys should be reason enough for an award).

and third, a Farmer's Wife from 'Life in the Country', who tells the tale of adapting to country life as only a stylish city girl could.

There are many other blogs I love reading, some though are far from new to this caper, others whose privacy I respect and know their blogs aren't really meant for perusing by the masses, but to all of you who blog, you provide me with great distraction from my washing pile ... and for that alone I thank you .

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Remember This?

It was yesterday I think.

Wasn't it?

Back when a mesh bag of bath-toys hung from the tap. When little hooded bath towels lined the bathroom wall in age order. When we sang songs and splashed and everybody loved bathtime. 

How things change.

And whilst I never wish to be one of those mothers who say things like:

"You don't know how lucky you are"
"You want to enjoy them at that age"
"Just wait till they're crawling"
"................................ walking"
".................................going to school"
"You've got it easy"
"Just wait till they're reaching things out of the top drawer"
"............................... teenagers"
"............................... starting music lessons"
"You don't know you're alive"
"Just wait till they start driving"

While I've no need to point out that there are bumpy roads on the parenthood journey, that every age has its ups and downs, its trials and tribulations, its tears and smiles and while I would never wish to sabotage your parental happiness with threats of what's to come, there is something you need to know.

One area that has spiralled downwards over my eleven years of parenting.


For when they were this big, bathtimes were so simple.  You wash her back, you wash his and you wash hers, and I'll be back in a minute to rub a washer over all of you.  Splish, splash, fun and games.

These days, it's "Wallace, get in the shower mate".  "But Mum, I was first yesterday ... it's not my turn ... why do I always have to go first ... I'm not even dirty ... but Muuuuuuummm"

Followed by "Wallace, get out of the shower ... there are six of us to have showers you know ... it's Sarah's turn ... it's rainwater you know ... other people in this house want a hot shower too you know ... GET OUT OF THE SHOWER !!!"

The bathing process that used to take ten minutes now drags on for an hour or more.

So, in fear of being one of 'those mothers' I will say "just wait till they're bathing themselves".

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Dark Day for Queensland

Mother Nature has dealt a dreadful hand to those in the southern regions of our beautiful state these past few days.

The situation which unfolded in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley is simply unfathomable.  People going about their daily lives hit with a wall of water.  Lives, vehicles, homes, animals carried away in a city known for its picturesque beauty.  The word surreal has been used so frequently in the past few days, but it's hard to find another that better conveys the feeling associated with seeing these visions of despair.  Visions we normally only see on the nightly news telling tales of other countries, other people, not our own.  This time these are our brothers and sisters, our fellow states-people.

We are situated some seven hundred kilometres to the north.  Our region has seen its share of flooding in the past week, but we knew ours was coming.  Flooding to the west slowly made its way through the river system, rising and spreading as it came.  People banded together, neighbour helped neighbour and while possessions may have been lost, no lives were.

There was no forewarning for this "inland tsunami", no media coverage foretelling the event, just families in their homes unaware of the looming tragedy.

To those many who have expressed concern for us, knowing we are situated in Queensland, we are high and dry, physically untouched by the floods.  Let your concern go south, to our friends and families waiting their turn.  To Ipswich and Brisbane, who hopefully have at least had some warning and have been able to evacuate low-lying regions.  Turn your thoughts to those families whose lives have been absolutely changed forever, family members lost, houses destroyed, who still have loved ones missing.

Ours thoughts are with you all.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Pumpkin Squash

My name is Fiona,
and I am a vege gardener.
A neglectful vege gardener.

This is what happens when you don't go near the vege patch for a couple of days.

Button Squash become Pumpkins.

Lots of pumpkins.

Cucumbers multiply exponentially.

Cucumber sandwich anyone?

Meanwhile the latest round of planted seedlings are going well, enjoying the humid days and afternoon storms.

Zucchini seedlings are sending out new leaves, and possibly my favourite herb Rosemary is enjoying its surroundings.

Chives, parsley, eggplant, capsicums, radish, beetroot and spring onions all going well.
And since starting planting vegetables back in October, I haven't watered them once.  An unprecedented season for us.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Week 1, 2011

It's been a good week at Rock Wallaby, this first week of 2011.

The last week of Matthew's holidays.  The last week of the phone not ruling our lives.

We managed to string together more than two consecutive days of sunshine, although two storms at the end of the week resulted in 3 inches Thursday afternoon and nearly 2 Friday.  The laundry flooded on both occasions. In light of the suffering of so many flood-affected people at this time, I will not complain about having to mop my laundry... twice! 

Dry gullies are no longer dry.

We fit in some cattlework early in the week, all six of us saddling up on what was the hottest day of the season thus far. 

Is it just me, or do you get the feeling they're tiring of me constantly taking photos?

I put the little kids' single beds back into bunk-form, freeing up some more playing space.  We cleared the toy box of broken, unloved and outgrown toys, a similar cleansing of the bookcase, leaving at least one room of the house in a semi-pristine state, albeit temporary.

We mowed ... twice.  And will have to again today!  We mulched all the vege garden area.

We packed away the Christmas adornments.

The very last of this season's babies were born.

I finished "To Kill a Mockingbird"... again.

We doctored a baby calf suffering from an infected navel, Matthew inserting a needle to remove as much pressure as possible, gave him a shot of penicillin and sent him on his way, wary of humans for ever more. 

We fit in a town trip, involving a dental visit for all, and marvelled at the floodwaters yet again.

And we cooked.   

And ate.

For come Monday, it's deprivation day. Time again for early morning walks, carb-cutting and drink-denial.

The Christmas season is officially over!


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