The Bathurst Burr

 

IMG_1675You can strike them, you can slash them, you can dig them out.  It doesn’t do you any good,  as you lift your head there are three more, or five, or seven.  They’ve been around a while. The Bathurst Burrs were introduced to Australia from South America, probably Argentina, in the early 1800s. And they love watercourses, or in our case where the flood waters came to last September. Farmers around here know them intimately.

I have never seen a more self-protective  plant in my whole life. It bursts from the ground wearing horrible three pointed spines on each leaf and burrs already formed with their prickly catchy cover. You may well ask, where’s the flower. They don’t seem to bother with flowers and I’ve had a very good look. Look at a thistle, sure its prickly but the flowers are a gorgeous soft mauve or purple.  So where, you now ask, is the scent. No scent. It bursts forth from the ground wearing full armour, ready to rock and roll..

Can you imagine me writing a character with all these qualities.  People usually surround themselves with a crusty self protection if there is something soft and gentle inside. Something to protect. There is a reason for their surliness and their argumentative state.  A broken heart or a cruel, abusive father.  What does this plant have to hide?

Please tell me there is some secret medication we can make from them. I got quite tired today and thought maybe we could fill bombs with the wretched  burrs. We could drop them from the sky on enemy territory, imagine millions of these horrible burrs with their triple-spined spikes  floating down like a cloud and covering everything they landed on, it would make such  a great defensive weapon. Actually I can think of a use – they were obviously the inspiration for  Velcro.

I promise you nothing will eat them. This plant just  erupts from the ground already covered in leaves  and horrible three pointed sharp spikes. It grows quickly and soon covers itself with thousands of  sticky, catching burrs,  then they die leaving them carpeted on the ground to get picked up by our sheep as they walk past. Then that ruins the wool.

I have to laugh at our dog. He sits down with me at night and helps pull the burrs out of my jumper. I feel sorry for the sheep.

IMG_1679I’ve been studying these burrs quite closely lately, and have discovered a plant often growing at their feet, It’s a delicate little plant with tiny leaves and not a bur or spike anywhere. It is fascinating, once I’d began noticing them, I saw  more and more of them. They are best buddies with the Bathurst burr. This little plant obviously says I’ll stay right here, you protect me brother.  I’m not sure the Bathurst burr takes the trouble to answer. It doesn’t fit the character.

 

 

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Happy Midwife’s Day

   To midwives everywhere. Don’t you love babies.  Actually this is misleading – Dolly had her twin lambs, a girl and a boy, all by herself. Actually she’s had eleven babies in five years.  She couldn’t resist showing them off, though.        

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A Salute to the Women’s Land Army

In the Second World War, we didn’t have enough farmers to grow the crops, look after the sheep or pick the apples and oranges. So they advertised with posters and in magazines and newspapers for women to come to the country and work. And they called it the Australian Women’s Land Army.                                                   

And they came and signed up from towns and cities – many with no experience whatso ever, you see, if they were from a farm they were expected to stay on it. These girls were paid abysmally. They rose to the challenge and persevered in the face of a huge discrimination from the men still working on the farms. In those times women simply did not do farm work. At the beginning they were not even supplied with uniforms.

                           

I’ve been researching the women’s Land Army, these women were sent all over the country, picking sugar cane in Queensland, ploughing wheat behind teams of horses in Young, picking fruit in Griffith, and peas in Tasmania and dipping sheep in Western Australia. Some worked in teams, and lived in camps, others lived with the farmers family or in a workman’s cottage on the farm. They were lonely, there was no petrol to take them into town but their personal stories are so positive. They enjoyed the work and the challenges and knowing that without them the farmers would not get the job done. They were not thanked. Other women who served in the Army, Air Force and Navy received pensions for the rest of their lives. The Land Army Women didn’t.  So this Anzac Day in 2017, I salute you, women of the Australian Women’s Land Army.  Thank you.

 

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Showtime again.

We’ve just returned from the Royal Easter Show.  You forget how beautiful the weather can be, Sunny with a cooler edge to the temperature, perfect days. And happy families with their kids skipping along. So much to see and do. Of course we spend a lot of time in the Sheep Pavillion. Our sheep did so well. Hornblower got Reserve Champion Ram and Gallagher our Supreme Corriedale Champion Ram at Dubbo last year, got the Best Head.  This is a great picture of Ellie our granddaughter with Gallagher with his ribbon for best head. Ellie is the fourth generation Carter to be holding prize winning Corriedales at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

We have to thank Trinity College for their help in showing our sheep.  We have had a long association with the schools – in their previous names Marion College and St Pats College. – and we wish to thank Lachlan, Tariq, Owen, Micaela and Annabel for their enthusiasm and excellent abilities.

This is a wonderful picture with our two prize winning rams Hornblower, Reserve Grand Champion 2017  and Gallagher, Supreme Dubbo Sheep Show, 2016 and Best Head 2017. at the RAS with their  strong Billigaboo support team,  and our excellent handlers from Trinity. College Goulburn.

  And finally, Billigaboo Hornblower- our Reserve Champion Ram for 2017.

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E.T.

 

et-1This was my experience of E.T.s until last week.  He was such a nice guy and E.T. meant extra terrestrial.  My world has changed and E.T.’s now are embryo transfers.  We have just embarked on a program to increase our stud numbers quickly, important when time is of the essence.  Six of our best ewes and two of Ballyvaughan’s stud, had their eggs harvested, which were then artificially inseminated by Jim,  a Stanbury ram, himself a Champion.  So now we are expecting 10% of our elite ewes to be producing 80% of  our ram drop. We were helped in this amazing journey by Genstock, of Jerilderie, It’s quite an involved program of putting the recipients on the pill, taking them off it and  then injecting them – all to a strict timetable. Other rams have to be kept a long way away from the recipient ewes. So there is no confusion for our girls.

Here come the  E T girls.         img_1254

Genetics are fascinating. Corriedale sheep, having evolved over the last one hundred and twenty years, have distinct genetic paths to follow or maybe I should say to choose from. On one side you have the ‘type’ a visual measurement, and now we have various other methods of garnering measurements, the wool diameter, muscle depth, and weight gains. Mothering and milking is a big factor. But most of  all fertility and constitution are the key to it all.

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So it was hot in the shearing shed and we borrowed an air conditioner, neighbours, three vets and friends came to help and over sixty recipient ewes were anaesthetized, shaved and then operated on.  Fascinating business.

And it’s not all that different to extra terrestrial stuff.

 

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Mosquito

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mosquito

We are in defense mode. We wear netting hats and cover ourselves with repellent. Lots of repellent. I am surprised we can stand being close to each other. Along with the beautiful water views have come battalions of mosquitoes ducking and weaving, they retreat and reform and attack again. They are fast and persistent.

My father flew mosquitoes in Africa and India in the Second World War. That was a great choice of name for the bomber. When the mosquito finally came into existence in 1940, it was the fastest airplane in the skies. It was made of wood and glued together by a huge team of cabinet makers and carpenters. That was quite clever of Geoffrey de Havilland, whose idea it was, as England  had a lot of men proficient in wood working at that time.

It started with only two crew and bombs. No anti aircraft guns to defend itself. The idea was it could escape attack because it was so fast. Because it was so light it could travel further  than other planes.  I think Mr de Havilland studied the mosquito quite closely.

Outside, where the roses are spectacular,  they are mobbing me. Someone has suggested spraying with Pyrethrum.

I was given an interesting recipe yesterday for squirting the little horrors.

1 litre listerine, + 3 cups of epsom salts + 1 bottle of beer. Someone said all I was doing was making them drunk. Hundreds of thousands of them swaying around and slurping blood

Sounds good to me.

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Tour Down Under

Recently seven intrepid New South Wales Corriedale breeders embarked on a tour to have a look at some Victorian Corriedale Studs. We set off amid reports of major flooding and storm warnings. I had never been on a sheep stud tour before and I must say it is something I can thoroughly recommend. The weather was perfect, by the way.

First to Loddon Park, where Shane Baker showed us his sale rams,and some ewes and lambs.. Moving along to Darryl MacDonalds at Porcupine Ridge, Jan, we will never forget those cheesecake tarts and homemade sausage rolls  and I can tell you that a thousand Corriedale ewes and lambs decorating the picturesque hillsides of Porcupine Ridge is a sight to behold.

The second day we were ushered straight in to look at the ewes and lambs, mustered into the yards for us at the Venters, Springdale, near Geelong and a drive round the farm. Morning tea was magnificent, Brenda thank you for the scones, and then on to meet Milton and Charlie Savage for lunch. Milton had a large mob in the shearing shed for us to inspect and we enjoyed the intense and ensuing discussion. Each place was special, to see the flock on their home ground, and how, even though they were barely one hundred kilometers from each other, each flock was individual representing the type their breeders were looking for..there was no holding back, We thank each breeder for being so generous and welcoming.

At the Deniliquin Peppin Museum, Amanda Kemp discovered a row of Corriedale Flock Books starting at No 1, which was a most interesting start to our trip.  We discovered both the Venters and the MacDonalds had been on their farms for around one hundred and fifty years. Meeting the next generation of breeders was wonderful, Shane Baker and Finn MacDonald and Amanda and lastly,Charlie Savage, were all interesting to talk to. So looking for something different  – I recommend a sheep stud tour, of Corriedales, of course.

Now you may be wondering about the elephants? Jim Venters has them in his garden. We think he may have remembered Corbett’s description of his rams – the size of Shetland Ponies……. Elephants?

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