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Animals

Information Page

 

A QUIET PLACE

When I was thinking about horse stories for Angela Goode's 'Great Working Horse Stories ' (pub.1995) my husband told me he had heard there was a graveyard somewhere in the hills behind Myrtleford for the horses that had worked in the pine plantations and forests.

I didn't finish the poem until 1996 - it was published the following year in 'The Bronze Swagman Book of Bush Verse'. I remember seeing Clydesdales walking along the edge of the rows of trees and grazing up the gullies and being told these were the retired timber horses.

Published:

1997..

The Bronze Swagman , Book of Bush Verse

 

A SMALL CREATURE'S PRAYER

Dedicated to a wonderful lady who cares for injured and orphaned native wildlife, returning them to their natural habitat when they are fit enough to be independent. Her home is a delight. One never knows if a pixie faced sugar-glider will emerge from behind the washing machine or exactly what bird or animal will be occupying temporary homes in the big kitchen. A humicrib is available, often the 'baby' is a tiny brushtail possum or a kangaroo joey. The huge rambling garden is home to various animals  (wombats, kangaroos, wallabies) and birds.

Published:

1992..

The Eldorado & District Crier .

 

-’ BACK UP , BABE

Rover is not at all impressed by his glimpse of the video film 'Babe' starring a small, resourceful piglet apparently capable of performing the work of a farm dog. No pig would get the chance to move in on his patch.

Published:

1996..

The Weekly Times

 

BILL'S BROWN

I often write about horses. I have always loved them. The first ones I met would have been the Clydesdale teams working in the orchard my father managed at that time. These huge gentle animals were the power source for scooping the channels and forming the irrigation bays later on when we owned our own dairy farm. My father went into a partnership breeding Australian Stud Ponies ( A.P.S.B.) and my life revolved around the farm and the varied personalities of my four-footed friends.

Published:

1988.

The Bronze Swagman , Book of Bush Verse .

 

BIRDS ARE BEASTS !

Local farmer, one of the Everton Upper Tennis Club members, arrived at the courts complaining of a sore back etc. after drenching sheep. Our aviary birds also need regular drenching. Trying to get a measured dose down the throat of an angry parrot or tiny finch might make his work with sheep seem easy!

Published:

1994..

Australian Aviculture .

 

 

Also read at the Avicultural Convention , Knoxville, Tennessee , U.S.A.

 

COULD BE WORSE , MATE !

'Saturday Night Country' - a country music programme presented by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and hosted by John Nutting. John's dog, Bonza, accompanied him in the studio and supposedly listened to the tear-jerker songs and then voted by howling,   the more howls the more mournful the performance. Could this be a case of cruelty to animals?

P.S. I really think this one should be sung - perhaps to some tragic old country music tune such as 'The Luggage Van Ahead'!

 

FOX  RUN

The European Red Fox was deliberately released in Australia near Melbourne,  Victoria,  to provide 'hunting sport' in the 1860's. It rapidly spread,  becoming a pest and by 1917 had reached far Western Australia. It isn't found in tropical areas or Tasmania, (although there are  reports that some 'environmental vandal' has introduced this 'declared vermin' into Tassie recently). A dreadful sentence for the little quolls,  Tasmanian Devils,   possums and wallabies, if true .At present no large predators inhabit the Island.

Sheep farmers are constantly waging war against foxes,  using poison bait and regularly patrolling their flocks or conducting spotlight expeditions.   Many lambs are lost in our district alone.   They have been seen plucking blueberries and other fruits in orchards. This cunning killer,   along with the introduced feral cat,   is also responsible  for great losses of our unique native animals and small lizards.  Eggs and young of ground dwelling birds are a popular food item in their diet.

Nevertheless,  I admit it is a handsome animal. We often hear their distinctive hunting cry echoing around the hills and smell the strong feral scent where they have been 'casing' our aviaries for easy prey.

Our dog always raises a racket,   promising the invader swift punishment if she ever gets close enough to get hold of it.

  

GRANDFATHER COD

The Murray Cod is a species of Australian Perch and is probably our longest living freshwater fish.  It can live to a great age.

In the fishing season 2001/2002 it seemed every local newspaper I opened had a photograph of beaming angler holding up a huge Cod.  I doubt many of these bigger fish are still surviving although I don¹t know if any surveys have been made to estimate numbers. The introduction of foreign species,   destruction of habitat,   artificial changes of water flow and run-off from agricultural pursuits have changed our rivers forever.

The Ovens River which goes through Wangaratta has been named in reports as being the only stream remaining with suitable conditions to entice the Murray Cod upstream to spawn. (And full marks for this city's decision to leave a fallen tree midstream  right in the town in 2003 - a precious sheltering place for many river inhabitants).

A 'catch and release' proposal is put forward by the Wangaratta and District Sport Fishing Club in the hope that the keen fisherman will pack his camera with his gear and have a photograph taken with his catch rather than displaying old Grandfather Cod's stuffed corpse in a glass case.

Published:

25/01/2002..

The Wangaratta Chronicle

 

JUMBUCKERS

No better place for a child to grow up than on a farm.

We bred Dorset Horns for several years on an irrigation farm at Strathmerton, Victoria. Dad had a prize team of sheep that he would take to local Agricultural Shows (Shepparton, Numurkah, etc.) They all were distinct personalities to my sister and I. We called them familiarly by their numbers.   I particularly remember No. 49 who would butt us without provocation (although maybe she was one of those unwilling performers in my buckjump show just getting quits!). I have heard the results of a  serious study of sheep behaviour which concluded that the animals could actually recognise a human's face despite not having seen the person for several years. Maybe elephants are not the only creatures with long memories!

Published:

2002..

'Jumbuckers' earned a third place at the  Australian Bush Poetry Championships in the Female Written (Humourous) Section. Yarrawonga/Mulwala -- May,2002

 

LITTLE PROBLEMS

Anyone who has had the 'pleasure' of handraising orphan lambs will appreciate this one!

Published:

1995..

The Bronze Swagman , Book of Bush Verse. Waltzing Matilda 1895-1995 Limited Edition.

 

NEVER FOR SALE

Animals do sometimes display amazing courage and loyalty when their human 'family' is in trouble.

Published:

1999..

The Australian Bush Poets Association Inc. Sixth Annual .

 

NIGHT VISITOR

He was not invited.   She was terrified.  Actually I'm not frightened of ........ Well, you'll have to read it!

 

OLD GREY

The old horse was past carrying any burden but countless memories rode on his old bowed back.

Published:

1988..

Wangaratta Chronicle .

 

 

2000..

The Australian Bush Poets Association Inc. Seventh Annual.

 

POSSUM

Beautiful animals. It is a pleasure to watch a brushtail possum eating a piece of fruit held in little human-like hands,  an inquisitive pixie-faced babe peering from the mother's pouch. Their liking for fruit and rosebuds is not always appreciated.  One with a passion for citrus rind would visit our lemon tree and completely remove the peel,   leaving the bare fruit hanging by the stem!

 

PUSSY CAT, PUSSY CAT

The old nursery rhyme in a different form.  Feral cats are a menace in the bush . Often dumped by owners no longer wanting them,   those not torn to pieces by farm dogs or killed by landowners,  soon develop their instincts for survival and become savage hunters, attacking any creature that moves.  They breed readily and each generation produces more efficient killers.

 

REGARDS TO RABBITS

When our family first came to the property at Everton Upper the rabbit infestation was so bad that my father described them as 'forming a living furry carpet moving up the hillsides ahead of us as we approached'.  It was a constant battle to keep their numbers down. We used traps,  a pack of hunting greyhounds, dug out their warrens, 'gassed ' burrows and tried to keep our fences rabbit-proof.  The introduction of viral Myxomatosis slowed them for a while (although it was a painfully cruel disease) but many developed a resistance. The more recent Caleci Virus has reduced numbers quite effectively but I wonder how long it will be before immunity develops.

Published:

1999..

North Eastern & Goulburn Valley Farmer

 

 

 

Read on 'Australia All Over' programme by Ian MacNamara , 7/11/1999 on A.B.C. i.e. Australian Broadcasting Corporation .

 

SNOW DROPPER HOPPER

A 'Snowdropper' is some-one who steals clothing from the washing line. When the thief is a big,   red kangaroo it adds insult to injury!

 

SUMMER DRAGONS

A large population of skinks inhabit the immediate area around the house. Sit quietly on the edge of the verandah on a hot day and soon dozens of agile little sun lizards of all sizes will be darting around your feet.

 

THAT NO-GOOD PUP

A fictional incident, but there are many stories of the bravery and devotion of dogs of all breeds and sizes as they have come to the defence of their human friends in all sorts of situations.

A small black and white terrier appointed himself as my guardian from the moment my mother and father brought me home from the Cobram Hospital. He would lay under my bassinette when I was put out to sleep on the verandah and no-one was allowed near me unless Mum said it was O.K.

My own family also had a canine ‘baby monitor’. The bedrooms were quite a distance from the kitchen and sometimes the mix-master or other household noise would mean I didn’t hear the baby’s waking cry. Kerry, the pretty little barb/kelpie cross, would race to the front door and scratch it until I took notice. She always gave me an accusing look which obviously chastised me for being a bad mother and neglecting the needs of my ‘pup’!

On one occasion Kerry jumped in front of me as I was about to pick up  a  log from the wood-heap  . The tiger snake struck  - and missed. The lovely elderly lady from over the road came running from her garden and despatched it with a shovel  deciding it was a little too close to the house where the children were often running around bare-footed.

Published:

2001..

The Bronze Swagman , Book of Bush Verse

 

THE BRIDLE RING

The work horses were so important in the days before machinery.  Keeping the monstrous tractors,  harvesters,  etc. in good order requires constant and careful maintenance.  A valued working horse team also needed expert management with strict attention to feeding,   grooming,   equipment and general health to get the best performance.

- But I haven't met a tractor yet that made me want to throw my arms around it's neck and give it a good pat!

 

THE LONG WAY HOME

I'm not really a political person but sometimes can't resist commenting on events that strike me as shortsighted,   or on decisions made that don't seem to consider the wishes of the ordinary people -- Or are just funny!

Published:

1999..

Ha! Funny Poems Volume 1 . Collected by Arcadia Flynn. Also 'Funny Poems' Website http://funnypoets.com.

 

UDDER RUBBISH

Probably just as well that cows can’t talk !

We had a house-cow during most of my chidhood. A herd of them when  on the irrigation farm at Strathmerton. Dad and Mum continued to run a small dairy herd when we first came to live at Everton Upper. We didn’t have machines so it was all hand milking. I remember taking my turn at milking and at the separator handle, watching the twisted stream of seprated milk pouring into one bucket and the cream going into another, putting my finger into the cream and licking it when no-one was looking! A truck picked up the cream cans at our gate. I became quite an expert at teaching the poddy-calves to drink from the bucket . Every cow and calf had a name.

When my husband and I were going out together he would sometimes bring a couple of bales of lucerne hay in the boot of his car, telling the generous neighbour of the orchard where he worked that I had a cow in my glory-box and it was getting hungry in there!

Cindy, the glory-box cow,  provided us with milk and cream for many years. A  placid animal, the children could climb all over her. There were a couple of milkers after Cindy, one delighting us all by having twins, the second calf immediately christened ‘Bonus’.  The last cow we owned was Katie, ( mentioned  in the poem  ‘Walking With Katie’).  We had Katie until she was seventeen years old. She would lead and tie up anywhere and in her final years was kept by a local farmer who paddocked her with his dairy heifers because her calm friendly manner assisted in keeping them quiet and manageable.

Published:

2005..

The Bronze Swagman , Book of Bush Verse

 

WALKING WITH KATIE

It really happened!  Katie and I just looked at each other in amazement!

Published:

2000..

The Weekly Times