Saturday, October 25, 2014

School Holidays Part 1

The word holiday sort of conveys the feeling of relaxation and restoration, doesn’t it? Not so around these parts, with the juggernaut that is 2014 continuing, or so it feels, to gather even more pace.

After a very busy term, we finally went to our last session of netball training. During the last couple of days of term I also ventured out, attending the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network Conference in Charters Towers. I wasn’t sure what to expect;  but the speakers were inspiring, although the workshops that I chose weren't quite as advanced as I would have hoped.

So, onto the school holidays. It had been on the calendar for a while that a free cutting clinic had been organised. Thankfully, a different location had been sourced at the last minute (easier for me!) so after rounding up kids and saddles and horses and swags and horsefeed and overnight bags, not to mention a few smokos, we loaded the truck and headed off.

IMG_5016Richard Webb was running the clinic. Cutting isn’t something that is high on our agenda of horse sporting events, however he came with a great reputation of being able to teach kids some great general horsemanship skills. And straight off the bat he had the kids doing things that I thought were well above their ability level.

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{Georgie getting Redman to stay collected in the stop – he prefers the lazier version}

Both of the kids ponies are very well trained to a high level, however like all kids horses they don’t use their full range of talents unless the kid actually does the right thing at the right time. Straight away he had them all applying their leg aides and getting great results, with nose in and nose out of the circle. This may sound like gobblydogook, but I was amazed that the kids followed his instructions so well and were able to do as he asked. I guess its about simplifying  the process. They don’t have to understand it, they just have to DO it!

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Although, as you can tell, the ponies did a fair bit of napping when they got the opportunity.

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After lunch the mechanical cow was introduced to the horses. Some were quite unfazed by this bit of flappy fabric on a rope drawn back and forth by a little pulley system. Some however, thought this was some fresh hell come down to earth to torment them and put on quite a show.

Redman wasn’t too worried although wasn’t too impressed with having to try and block the thing up all of the time.

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Kate’s old pony Ben, who knew exactly what this cow was and what it did (and what was asked of him) chucked a tatny of a different nature, and unfortunately got away with it.  He was NOT going to chase that silly thing around, and expend any further energy, thank you very much.

The afternoon concluded and led into a BBQ dinner, with the kids all sleeping over.  At this point I left them there, even Angus who was managing to keep himself busy even without a horse.

The kids rode again the next day. I didn’t take my camera, and am kicking myself. They again had another lap at the cow in the afternoon, and I intervened and made Ben take his overfed attitude up to the cow. With spurs on Kate’s boots and some timely instructions from Richard, she had that old pony sit down and boogie like he had been trained to do in his youth. A great confidence builder for her as well. Ben, he heaved a big sigh of relief when he was allowed to walk away from it.

And so, we then packed up the saddles and swags and horses and feed and ports and kids (when I say it like that, it sounds so EASY and QUICK) and home we went, on a mission to be unloaded before dark lest any constabulary type person might enquire after the lack of lighting on my borrowed gooseneck.

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Being a strapper for the kids is probably more exhausting than riding the horses themselves!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I just need a hand, he said

Ah the infamous words…I just need a hand. We all know how that goes. So I packed lunch and smoko, and the kids and headed off to the prickle farm to help The Husband put up a fence around a tank.  Well, not so much put up, but pull down the old one so a new improved model could be installed.

IMG_4721This may sound a simple task, but much machinery and equipment was required. Firstly we had to wait for Dad to arrive with the bulldozer.  Dad (I should have known better) vastly over estimated the speed of his machine and so we had a bit of a wait. This allowed me to catch up on some reading, and the kids to catch up on some sword stick fighting and generally do their best to maim each other before smoko.

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(is this a case of I HAVE ALL OF THESE BOYS TOYS SO I’M GOING TO USE ALL OF THEM TODAY?!)

First job of the day, after feeding the troops, was to roll up the barbed wire fence that was sort of still standing.

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Clearly my gloves have seen better days and this little chore did not do them any favours. Whilst I was rolling the bulldozer did its thing VERY closely behind me, removing trees that could drop limbs on the new solar panels that are to be installed beside this tank. Speaking of Boys Toys, there were two boys in that bulldozer with big dusty smiles on their faces as they inhaled dieseline fumes and did lots of brooooming as they made an unholy dusty mess.

I also discovered – well I had a fair inkling – that I lack the skills to create anything more artistic than this out of barbed wire.

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Then came the super fun part (please read that in sarcasm font). Digging holes with the post hole digger on the tractor. There’s about 3 feet of super fine sand and then a big old flat hard rock after that. A three foot deep hole isn’t ideal however is not so bad if one has to bale out the super fine sand by hand after the post hole digger has finished.

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(I wasn’t just taking photos! sheesh. That’s my shovel sticking out of a hole there in front of me).

Once holes were close enough is good enough, in went the frame for the solar panels and cement to hold it in place.

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At this point in time, after putting the frame in place and putting in two strainer posts for the fence that was to go around this structure, it was discovered that we were out of both vital materials and day. So all toys were parked up or packed up and homewards we went. The kids were delighted that I managed to get sand bogged in the ute (however nothing that the application of hubs in and 4WD didn’t fix…which reminds me, I always forget the HUBS OUT part. Wonder how many kilometres before The Husband realises and takes the hubs out again….)

Anyhow. I digress. We got home just on dark – and in time for some golden light that enabled me to take this photo.

Great end to a good days work.

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Grubby faced,  bare footed children and sharp toothed pups make the best photos do they not? Smile

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guard Dog

With the passing of dear old Sally (also known as The Black Tart from time to time) Wally the Jack Russell has been a bit lonely. He has also been letting down the side in the watch dog stakes, most likely to only bark at the visitors he knows at the gate (a welcome bark if you will) instead of everyone that arrives.

Fortuitously, the provider of many of our ill fated kittens over the years, recenty advertised the availability of a litter of blue/collie cross pups. I chose one from a photo simply as he had a patch on his bum and showed the most blueness.

And so Boof arrived to live at our place.

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Very wriggly with sharp teeth. Very friendly. Very FAST.

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Also very much liking coming inside. And doesn’t sulk when smacked. Probably would be good if he did as he keeps repeating his mistakes over and over. Perhaps somewhat aided and abetted by the two youngest children in the house.

Boof has settled in JUST fine. The first night of yowling and crying stopped abruptly and we were quite smug in that he had settled in his pen quite quickly. Turns out the next morning, he had managed to squeeze through the small gap at the top of the pen, and put himself with Wally. Not sure what Wally thought of proceedings but it certainly kept Boof quiet . Wally has found out there does exist a more annoying and persistent dog than himself, but thankfully cannot jump up onto chairs and other high surfaces as yet. Wally takes the high ground when he has had enough attention.

It has occurred to me that perhaps having both a Blue Dog and a Jack Russell may be a volatile/rebellious combination. Oh well.

Get ‘em Boof. (and pick up your shoes, kids!)

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