A Day Out.

My orthopaedic surgeon allows me to take, once every few months, a high dose three day course of prednisolone to allow me to have a pretty pain free couple of days. I use his permission for special events. I used it this week.

In retirement my wife and I live with two of our sons on a small 100 acre (40Hac) property. About 40% of it is taken up with 2 hills steep and covered with my enemy the Chonkee Apple. That leaves us about 60 useful acres. One of my sons is adopted and younger than many of our grandchildren. He is an apprentice mechanic. The other much older has a part time job as pastor of a small church, and makes caring for us and the farm the rest of his job.

So what do we do on the 60 acres? We are developing, I guess you would call it a hobby farm, with Dorper sheep. Initially we bought 12 ewes and a ram. We got 11 lambs, sadly one of which was stillborn and the dogs got at two of them. The dogs have since gone to dogs’ heaven even though we loved them very much. A farmer cannot tolerate that behaviour, and I refused to see them chained up all the time.

So we have 8 lambs nearly ready for market (males) or putting back into the breeding flock (females).

Here the lambs are separated in a small paddock to finish fattening them.

As we separated them from the small flock we counted 8 of them. I think if you try you can count 8 heads. The brown in their ears makes counting a bit difficult. But there were 8. Yesterday there were 9!

Now if you count correctly there are 9!

All our ewes have ear tags. None of these have. The 2 uncastrated ram lambs are easily identified and there are still only 2. So How? I don’t have an answer except maybe our neighbour who has a few now has one less. Something about grass on the other side of the fence being greener! At any rate they are looking in good nic.

But what has that got to do with my use of prednisolone? Nothing! We decided to buy some more ewes. Hopefully by getting a good percentage of ewe lambs we hope to run a breeding stock of about 50. The only place we have been able to get them is a round trip of about 1,200Km. This area around us is a cattle area, so there aren’t many sheep, and not many have dorper sheep. (These don’t need shearing, they shed their wool.) So I, usually limited to small trips and often in a wheelchair these days, wanted to go with my son. Hence the three day course.

This son, whom I think is extraordinarily capable, has built two crates to fit a ute and a trailer plus a ramp

So setting out at about 10 in the morning, we arrived back and by midnight had unloaded the extra 15 ewes and were in bed by midnight. I thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

Sunset on the way home over the long Western Queensland plains. It has been a good season.
The new sheep waiting in the yard the next morning. They are a pretty colourful group.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how many lambs we get. They’re all supposed to be pregnant.

Dominic Cartier.

Facing Farming Problems

I grew up on a sheep farm in the Adelaide Hills. During WWII, while dad was away in the army, my mother, brother and I lived with her parents on their sheep farm. We had pet sheep. They were rescued, bottle fed and then for months hung around the place. Even later they would run up to you when they had been placed back in the flock, treating you like their brother! Dipping, shearing, crutching, tailing, castrating the little males was all part of the richness of growing up on the farm.

Life took us into a different stream when Dad came home from the war and my parents moved into a country store and post office that they purchased. It was in the same district as my grandparents so I had times of helping on the farm until education and then job situations took me away from the store, the farm and the area.

Later I had bought a little farm of my own for one of our sons to live on and look after. It was small and was an after hours job for him and his family. When I retired from Ethiopia, aged 78, we moved onto the farm. Now we are trying to make it work as a small sheep farm. That son still lives on the farm as does our youngest adopted son. So, due to a few problems of aging I’m really a watcher as my wife and the boys make things work. Both the boys have other jobs but we manage somehow. We have chosen to have dorper sheep as they don’t need to be shorn which for our small crop would be financially a major loss. So we are into the market for meat. Now we come to the problems: –

  • Dingoes – protected animals – live in the area. They can dig and jump but don’t do so often, and we have scores of wallabies that they can chew on. Nevertheless we have put in high quality fences both in an attempt to stop them getting in and the sheep, which sometimes think like goats, from getting out! So far we have not had problems although we have seen dingoes in the area.
  • Sadly we have had to have our two beautiful dogs put down as they developed a taste for meat and killed one lamb. Having developed the taste we couldn’t take the risk.
  • Eagles look and are majestic. We have, besides the fellow pictured at the bottom of the page, a couple of wedge tail eagles living in a tree overlooking the sheep. We have lost one lamb that we suspect as being taken by them.
  • One lamb was still born.
  • So from 12 ewes we’ve had 10 lambs but only 7 are surviving.
Flying high – watching carefully below!
The sheep shed(verb) their wool and they don’t look very pretty.
They used to love sitting at the window watching for a chance, so I guess it was going to happen. But I miss them heaps.

Dominic Cartier.

The cycle of Life

The other day, I think on Facebook, I saw a carton in which a child was being pushed along the street in his pram and an old man was walking in the other direction pushing his wheeled walker. And it is true that people drop off the edge and others join the race.

We have seen the cycle this week. A 100 year old lady, a close friend for many years died. I believe in heaven/hell and Jesus and I must confess I’m not weeping. For several years she hasn’t recognized anyone, not even her family and been a grumpy old thing. That was so unlike her and at her funeral we’re going to forget the last couple of years and celebrate the vibrant, loving lady who when we transferred several thousand kilometers to this area over forty years ago, was like a grandmother to our kids and a wise backup to us. I was overseas when my dad died and unable to attend his funeral, but I recall, although sad as we were to lose her, my mum’s funeral was a celebration of life lived so lovingly. So I can’t be too sad over this lady’s passing but am so thankful for the last something like 45 years that we have had the blessing of knowing her.

At 80+ I’m glad that we don’t have a new born child in our house to see the other side of the circle. But we have a great-granddaughter who will be 2 in a few days and this week we celebrate birthdays for four grandchildren, a son and a daughter in law. January seems to be the month to join the ‘cycle’ in our family!

But yesterday we did have a birth on our farm. Yesterday morning we had twelve sheep; yesterday afternoon we had thirteen! Not the same as a human addition, but we’re very happy about it. When I looked at the small flock this morning I was suspicious that there will soon be a few more playmates frolicking about the paddock. And we don’t get up at night on a feeding roster!

Dorper sheep are scruffy looking, but it had just been born and the picture was taken from a fair way away. They shed their wool and don’t get shorn.

Dominic Cartier

Please -Forgive the Absence!

I’ve been remiss lately hardly even opening up my blogs. And I want to say why.

I haven’t even had time to comb my hair!

There has been the pressure of meeting the deadlines for publishing my two ebooks. At last they are in the publishers’ hands and due to open for sales in the next few days. They are published through Smashwords.com. They are – ‘Have Scalpel will Travel – memoirs of an older surgeon – revised and updated’ & ‘Medical Diagnostics a Surgical Approach’. The second is definitely medical with pictures.

Then we are not quite prepared for our pregnant ewes to lamb and have a shed and yards to complete in the next few days.

There was a granddaughter’s wedding to attend about 1,500 km away. We drove but whereas once we could do it in a long day it now takes three days. So we were away a week.

We got a broken car window and with all the bits they add into the glass these days it meant a wait of several weeks for the correct glass to be found and a second trip to have the bits tuned up. Now it is much better than looking through cracks!

Then in the last couple of weeks I’ve had a preaching appointment on zoom to India and Ethiopia, another at a church whose minister has just resigned and this weekend in our own church. Our church has a new man arriving in January, we having been without a Minister for a while.

The house restoration is looking good, but the place needs painting! So all I can say is please forgive my tardiness!

Dominic Cartier

Fears and Phobias.

Is fear good or bad? It’s a bit like the question is pain good or bed. In the matter of pain the answer is a simple one – it is both; bad because it hurts, good because it indicates something needs to be looked into or done about it. It is wise to fear some things.

My wife has a fear/phobia for rats or mice. Snakes she can tolerate and in her childhood has eaten snake meat, which she reassures me tastes quite nice – a bit like chicken. I have not asked her to prepare it for me even though we see them quite often around our place. Sometimes they even seem to come by post.

 However, she hates rats. But what is in a name? She was in the paddock the other day and discovered a delightful little critter. It didn’t run away, nor did she. She thought it was a poteroo, (like a small wallaby) but strangely it didn’t run away and she stood and took a picture of it. No fear at all.

Naturally she came home and shared the experience with us. It is not a poteroo but a rat! A Rufous rat kangaroo. Hereafter she may prefer to call it a Bettong, but really what is in a name? Maybe, just maybe, the word rat won’t terrify her any more.

On the other hand the husband of the family living here some years ago, built a lovely tree house for his children to play in. It still stands solid and useable maybe 50 metres outside the home area fence. The children were allowed to play in it once, before the wife knew that it had been built. It was never used again because of the wife’s phobia of snakes!

Dominic Cartier