Goph on the right. The driver who came 12 hours too early on the left.
We had a brilliant example of the type of community spirit and genuine support that you find in the country the other night. We were out late feeding (too late because the sheep need to find their camp for the night, not run around eating). Daniel and I were trying to lure half the flock out of one paddock into another, there was a breakout and they ran as a mob all the way to the hay shed for a feed (ignoring the fact we were about the feed out anyway). Whatever, we were feeding late when Louisa came up on a quad bike saying the semitrailer had arrived carrying the load of oats that we ordered when we decided to feed for 100 days and punt on Adopt A Sheep to pay for it. It was 7.30pm and the truck was exactly 12 hours early. (Not unusual.) It turns out the semi pulled up at the Goolma pub to ask the way to our place.
Two of the locals filled their esky and led the driver out to "Uamby". Not only that, Goph (Col Doherty, one of our shearers and our guardian angel) connected up the auger we had borrowed from Carol Burns, a local farmer. He rigged up spotlights so the driver could unload. And he even switched the auger on without the key so the loading could start. (Dan had the key on him.) Then we stood around having a beer and watching the precious grain pouring into the tray of the auger and yelling a conversation above the din of the auger engine and the spiralling carrying mechanism within the huge pipe carting the grain to the top of the silo. At the outlet chute was a pile of old weavilly corn left over from the last time we hand fed grain. Afterwards it was back to the homestead and beers on the front verandah with the light off and just the stars above. Dan and Goph sat yarning til the wee hours... This voluntary helping out is like an old fashioned American barn raising. People do it because they like being together, doing something useful.

These people will drop everything and come to your assistance. For instance, on day we had a ram with very extended horns was delivered and we put him on his own in a yard near the other rams so he could settle down and we could ease him into the mob. But he jumped out and ran amok, finally getting his horns trapped in a grill and threatening to break his neck. (He cost $1500). Daniel was away. Louisa and I didn't feel competent to wrestle a fairly irate ram. So I called around and found Dan Gorrie in the pub, talking to a guy about a fencing job. Dan Gorrie is a neighbour. Within 10 minutes he was out at "Uamby", plucked the grill off the ram's horns, returned it to the yard, and stayed for a drink and a long chat. Country people can't see someone needing help without doing something about it. Wonderful. (I think they feel we city slickers need to be watched over in case we get into some real trouble.)

Between you and me, something I've noticed... People out here resent it when they hear reports about how buggered we are, ie. depressed, weary, desolate, etc. It's strange because we are all of those things. But maybe they're too proud to be comfortable being thought of as defeated. It's the same reason Centrelink has to beg farmers to apply for relief funding. They are fiercely independent and proud to be so. They are always making jokes. Laughing in the face of disaster. Like that Stan Cross cartoon:

I need to ask could I please adopt a sheep so I can hack its arse away without any anaesthetic (mulesing) then slaughter it and eat it afterwards?

Many thanks.

Jeune Robinson
Somehow I dont think that is the idea. I think they want to keep the sheep alive.
You have every right to be outraged at the measures we woolgrowers have traditionally taken to protect our sheep from flystrike. Mulesing, or removing a flap of hide that attracts fly strike, is cruel and I can't be in the vicinity while it is being done. Although an animals's hide doesn't have the same sensitiivity as human skin, there is a lot of blood. Not a lot of bleating, though. And the agony a sheep experiences with maggots eating away at its flesh after a fly strike is far worse, don't you think? As soon as the new clips are available we will trial them. We already use fly traps liberally scattered about the property. And we check our flock everyday for strike - and pull a sheep out for treatment if required. Mulesing upsets me. It's strangely like circumcision. Or body piercing. It's interesting that a lot of animal rights activists willingly submit to having bits of metal thrust through their skin. They appear to want to be kinder to animals than to themselves or other human beings. Did you see the recent South Park episode where PETA was (I think unfairly) depicted as a bunch of emotionally lopsided human haters with a primitive desire to deify animals and sacrifice humans to them. Very funny, but not very fair or objective. It's good to be fair and objective, don't you think? We live by the belief that all living things are part of a community and that all members of the community - even weeds and farmers and animal rights activists - have a role to play and a right to exist. Amen.
PS> I have a gentle rebuke for selfrighteous vegetarians. Read the Secret Life of Plants. Vegetables, we now know, have emotional responses to death and destruction. DO you say a benediction over the carrot so cruelly torn from the ground, sliced, boiled and devoured along with your other veges? "No one feeds unless it is on another." I like eating lamb. Especially one I know. Did you know that in Christ's time a shepherd was so well known to his sheep, he could call them individually from out fo the villages flocks herded together for the night behind a sheep fold? Sheep can recognise up to five human faces and a dozen other sheep. How do you reckon the shepherd felt eating one of his friends? And why is it that humans have got canine teeth? For tearing at lettuce leaves? Let us alone to gnaw our bones.

All the evidence stack up against vegetarians.

In the words of my song EATING ANIMALS IS COOL

"Vegetarians are insane if they think plants don't feel pain,
They enjoy being killed as much as cows and pigs and such.
Don't look down your noses at the carnivores.
At Least they're honest about all the death they cause."

We are all of us slaughtered and eaten eventually... by the earth.
I just want to say GOOD LUCK to you and your farm and I hope you get many people sponsoring your sheep....I hate to think of the poor starving animals out there through these years of drought - I am an animal lover and give to many animal charities and their lives rely on us humans....
Ive posted my donation off to you today for a little help but a mere 'spit in the ocean' isnt it!
All the best for Christmas and hope 2007 brings lots of rain!
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