“How orften do you shar?” said the posh pom to the sweaty shearer giving his gazillionth ewe of the day a haircut. Through gritted teeth the shearer politely said “Aw, most days mate”.
“Rarely?” says posh pom, “I didn’t realise the sheep’s wool could grow so fast, it must keep you tarribly busy”.
The farmer explained to the sweaty shearer that he thought the posh pom had meant “How often do you shear?”
Well, we shear annually and the Kiwi is currently in the thick of it with 7000 sheep to get through in just three weeks. Leaving at 6.30am every morning, he’s not home until 6pm at the earliest with both he and our working sheep dog, Cloud having worked flat out all day, pushing the sheep up to the shearers then counting them out of the woolshed and back to the paddocks having received a drench on the way.
So far there has been only had one technical hitch. On Tuesday we awoke to no power and with no power it means the shearers machines and the wool press that compacts the wool into bales won’t work. Panic stations! All the fuses were ok and there was no reported power failures from the electricity company so what was the problem? The Kiwi went for a look around the yard and found a dead possum at the base of a power pole. On looking up he noticed that the pole fuse had blown, Mr Possum had been on a little night time stroll around the top of the pole and fused the wires! Mr Electricity Man arrived very promptly and fixed the problem and everyone was able to get on with their day by 9.30am.
It has been a good year for the Southern Grampians district with phenomenal grass growth. The countryside is looking wonderfully lush and green and we were given a boost of another 70mm of rain over 48 hours this week. But now as I write it’s a pretty sweltering. Summer has arrived with a blast, we’ve gone from daily highs of 18c to 35c in just a couple of weeks.
As you may remember I work as an administrator for a day care centre for adults with disabilities. I haven’t ever worked in the health sector before and initially I was quite nervous but I think I’ve settled in ok and I find my new job very rewarding. I enjoy the camaraderie and there’s never a dull moment. For the past few weeks I’ve spent most of my time organising our biennial Ball. The chosen theme was “Spring Races”, apt because the Australian flat racing season is well underway with the Melbourne and Caulfield Cup’s having just taken place and more locally, the Dunkeld Races was looming a week later (more about that later).
A local school, Monivae College, very generously lent us their basketball court for the night and a very talented local rock band provided their services for free. I put together a committee of hard working volunteers who sold tickets, gathered raffle prizes and decorated the hall beautifully. The walls of the huge hall were festooned with black drapes and golden orbs filled with fairy lights were set on each of the round tables.
The participants at the Centre made a life-size horse out chicken wire and paper mache. “Mulleraterong Lad” was very carefully loaded onto a trailer and towed to the ball. Respectfully positioned in the Winner’s Enclosure, he was quite the centre of attention and later was sold for the princely sum of $225 to a local art gallery!
At 7pm the 200 guests started to arrive and I have to say everyone looked absolutely fabulous, all dressed up for a day at the races, I even persuaded the Kiwi to put on his Ascot tails! I organised for a series of prerecorded horse races to be played on two big screens and the guests were all given “funny” money to have a bet with some “disreputable, Dodgy Bookies”. An auction and a raffle also provided us with some more opportunities to lighten pockets as the evening was all about raising much needed funds for new wheelchair hoists in our buses.
Following a demonstration from our local line dancing club the band started up and everyone got up and strutted their funky stuff. At last I could relax knowing that there was nothing much more for me to do other than have some fun and let my hair down a wee bit. It was just great seeing so many smiling faces, with our participants grooving away with quite a few senior Hamilton big-wigs and soon a conga started, it was all such fun! And we got ourselves in the local paper…
The racing season continued and another big date in the local calendar dawned. It was the Dunkeld Races. Again we got into our finery (no tails this time just a very smart linen suit) and we were joined by my delightful cousin from Blighty who is studying nutrition at Uni in Melbourne and local mates, Brian and Jules who wore the most amazing huge red hat. (See top photo!)
Royal Ascot it wasn’t but it was no less jolly and the stunning setting of the racecourse under Mount Sturgeon beat the socks off any other racecourse in the world. We soon realised that we were rather older than our fellow racegoers, most of whom had come in coaches from Melbourne. The young girls seemed to have hardly any clothes on and tottered around in the highest platforms I’ve ever seen. Needless to say the St John’s Ambulance people were kept busy dealing with many a turned ankle.
As the hot afternoon wore on the crowd got ever more tipsy and just before the last race we called it a day to avoid any mishaps. As we were leaving we saw one rather raucous young chap led away in handcuffs by the boys in blue for rugby tackling a wheelie bin full of empty beer cans. But I have to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was great to put on some posh clothes. I had a flutter on most of the races and was dead chuffed to come away only $5 lighter!
To end, Phil the sheep has been growing some more, mostly outwards as he’s getting so fat! He’s hilarious and such a character and still comes for the occasional walk with us. He baa’s every time he catches sight of me and loves having his chin scratched. Unfortunately he’s rather partial to roses and much to my annoyance nibbles the buds through the fence. Nevertheless he still gets his good morning kiss.
PS. There seems to be something strange going on with those readers who view this blog from an email I send you. To avoid further disappointment it would be great if you could hit the subscribe button. Thank you!! xx