Tuesday, September 27, 2011

in stark contrast

to our very short time at the beach, we were barely home and the whip was cracking, and our assistance was required in laying down some poly pipe. Having our saved paddocks of grass burnt to a crisp last week threw quite a spanner in the works, but thanks to the generosity of a neighbour (one who worked with my husband, flat out on his grader, for the duration of the fires) we are able to use one of his own saved paddocks, right next door to us.

However, we needed to add in another watering point for our cattle to use, so the kids and I went off to give our expert assistance.

IMG_9591And don't they look excited (and yes, green shirts are the only fashion choice really, pink is really going against the grain! but she was insistent that the pink matched her boots)

IMG_9594Now, to lay poly pipe easily, one needs a spinner which unwinds the pipe as one drives along. (cranky, stressed out husbands are an optional extra. As are hot, bickering kids). We started at the Bore Dam.

IMG_9597Dragging the first little bit out by hand, to where it will connect to the tank.

IMG_9613And then slowly driving down the track, trailing the pipe behind, until that roll finished and we put another one on the spinner (no photos, grumpy husband required the use of me to lift on the pipe!) joined it to the pipe on the ground, and the continued. Repeat. Continue. You get the idea.

Normally one would bury the pipe under the ground (a far more complicated contract!) to keep the water cool and the pipe safe from fire etc, but this is a temporary pipeline and will be rolled up in a few months time.

We ran out of pipe, and had to go fetch some more from a stockpile across the property. I got to drive the tractor there, but had to drive this old dear home.

IMG_9615 This old Gertie, The Dodge, purrs like a kitten when you start her and growls like a tiger when you put your foot down (and has a Chrysler V8 engine, for those who like to know that stuff!) and gives off the delightful odour of petrol fumes as you burble along. She was quite a delight to drive, with no brakes and no rear view mirrors, and a seat akin to one of those dodgy fold up camper chairs that sort of fold you in half when you sit down.


We believe in keeping our antiques working til they drop. Works for both machinery and humans ;-)

Oh, I forgot to mention, the drivers side door closes with a special custom made latch, which doesn't work all of the time and give the driver a little excitement by flinging open going around corners. Which isn't really an issue as the seat has one in a firm grip that takes quite some determination to remove ones backside from. One becomes immune to such shocks, and continues driving with a carefree air, changing gears and giving the old girl a boot full (to hear the engine growl and ensure no bogging in the sand) and steering with one hand (not sure they had invented power steering back when Gertie was born) and slamming the door shut with the other.


(the custom made door latch - a bit of 63mm poly pipe jammed into the combing rail and supposedly holding the door shut once driver is installed).


The three amigos did a bit of wandering along the pipe line, keeping themselves entertained. And out of the way of hot, crotchety parents who didn't have any suitable non-maiming child friendly jobs for them to do (they did try, bless them, but the injury toll and tears were too much to bear!)


Booting the top of ant hills was also popular entertainment.


Climbing tree branches....


and clambering over the remaining coils of unused pipe.

IMG_9657Which resulted in some grubby, dusty faces (don't you just love the special faces this child gives me?! the same kid that told me, very gently, that my bum was a "little bit big". Nice little man).

Nope, we are certainly not at the beach anymore!

Monday, September 26, 2011

sun kissed

some time at the beach in the sun and salt water brings out the freckles too...just a little sun kissed, despite slip slop slapping...and when did she get so grown up?!

Sporting a new hair cut, over which there were tears. Mum still not impressed, because LOOK ! its in her face! grr.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

short and sweet

It was a short stay, and a long drive, but it was lovely. The units were HUGE and spacious and cool and air-conditioned, and we had TWO bathrooms. And the kids had a tv in their room. They were excited, let me tell you. I hid the remote at bed time. :-)

P1020421And even though SOMEHOW, SOMEONE (we will not mention his name) managed to not put my DSLR in the car, I managed to get a few pics from my old, well loved point and shoot. It held up pretty well under pressure, apart from that funny spot that has appeared on a few shots...


This jetty wasn't as long as it appears, although the kids did get a little toey when I made them sit down near the edge for a photo....but got over it to play in a little fresh water creek that ran onto the beach.


Tide OUT, in the mornings, was the best time for swimming, for western bush living kids. Look at that gorgeous, flat beach.



Uncle helped build sandcastles. Although the attention span of both uncle and kids did not last long.

In the afternoon, when it was too cool and windy for swimming and the tide was coming in, it was a good time for running and racing the waves and just expending some energy. (built up during the enforced movie/rest time after lunch, during which parents attempted to regroup their own respective energies.)P1020608

And just one more, to prove that I was indeed there - although this is the closest I got to swimming - by the time I was wound down enough, and warm enough to consider it, the kids had had enough. Oh well. This body isn't really built for public exposure in a swimsuit!

P1020607Meet my daughter, Cousin It! (and please do excuse the awful top I have on! what can I say? It was cool, comfy and didn't require ironing!)

So there you have it, our two days on the tropical north Queensland coast!

Friday, September 23, 2011

a challenge page

I am home and back in the trenches after a few days away on the tropical north Queensland coast. Bit of a stark contrast to the week that preceded it, I have to say.

Anyhow, I will pop back later to share some of what we got up to - you will be envious, the weather was GLORIOUS - but in the mean time, here is a page I whipped up in response to a challenge Emma set over at Simple Aussie Girls.  Simple sketch, and I love how it turned out.

IMG_9289 VERY simple, the photos, the scallops and the text is printed on photo paper/card, and then I added the title stickers and the brad. Hybrid at its very simplest, and I really love how it turned out. (even though I crowded my title up, story of my life, did not think enough before I started stickin'!)

IMG_9290I've just realised that I have not put a date on this page! I will have to go and add it at the bottom by hand, I can't stand a story that hasn't a date to it, especially when one looks back on older pages a date is really important (well to me anyhow).

Do pop over to the SAG blog today and see what everyone else did with the same sketch from Emma.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

finding the funny side

I've just remembered a little story from the past few days, that I wanted to record. Amongst the seriousness and stress of it all, there is always room for a little laughter and levity. We had a good number of locals arrive to help us out, that dropped what they were doing and came. One of those was a gentleman called Jeff, who brought his vehicle, himself, his jackaroo and any bit of equipment and gear he could fit and thought might be useful.

Jeff was at our place from start to finish (although did go home for a rest, as he lived not far down the road). On the second? or third? day, when I arrived to feed the masses, I noticed Jeff getting around in most interesting attire. He was wearing stubbies shorts over the top of his jeans, topped off with standard work shirt and floppy felt hat. Jeff is a most cheerful fellow and I greeted him and commented on him wearing his extra layers. Tis not often you see a man wearing his shorts over his jeans, especially in this part of the world, and in the middle of some serious work.

He laughed, and explained. He was running out of clean clothes, and dressed that morning in a pair of jeans that were a bit on the worn out side, particularly around the backside. Gave the jackaroo quite a shock when bending over to load something on the ute, so decided that he best change into more respectable pants. Puts on his shorts, and discovers when going back to the ute to finish loading, that they were a bit holey in the crotch area, and instead of his bum hanging out, some other bits were, and the jackaroo was most vocal in his opinion that was a sight even worse.

What to do, what to do?! no clean clothes, the dirty ones not fit to be worn again. So Jeff had a light bulb moment. Put back on the jeans, and with the shorts over the top, all modesty was kept and off he went on his merry way and the jackaroo - and any other fire fighters - were spared any little surprises.

He explained all of this whilst the neighbour and I were rolling around in fits of laughter (perhaps not enough sleep) and with the jackaroo standing behind Jeff nodding in vigorous agreement to this tale, sent us around the bend even further. Even now, picturing Jeff in my mind in his shorts and jeans has me giggling into my keyboard.

And we've decided that we might need to shout Jeff some new pants for his troubles! ;-)

Or maybe you just had to be there.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

the week that was

This past week hasn't been one of the better ones. Its been one of high stress, many phone calls, many miles driven. Not much sleep. Focusing on one thing, and one thing only, and the rest just had to wait.

You may recall we that last week we managed to block a fire in our neighbours place, and all was well with the world. That fire wandered its way through the hills in the days following, and with some nice, gale force breezes, sent it scooting to the north, until a wind change saw it coming back around to threaten our other boundary.

Monday night was a turning point. We (using the term loosely, of course!!) probably could have saved a lot of country and man hours and sleep by putting in a break that night. Conditions were perfect. This, however, did not happen.

Tuesday morning things were not looking so great. The wind had changed again, and there was a lot of hurrying around getting breaks and trying to formulate a plan. By Tuesday afternoon, the fire had come across our northern boundary. Extra hands were brought in, and a fire break was burnt from one of our paddocks in an attempt to preserve the rest. Tuesday was one of many many phone calls received and made, passing along messages, finding more men and directing them to the right place.

2am Wednesday morning, after getting home and to bed around 1am from taking food to the troops, I received a call from our neighbour, who had been reporting back to me throughout the day as she assisted in putting in the breaks. The fire had raced away (causing quite some pandemonium at the time, and coming close to taking out men and machinery) and she reported with despair, that they had little chance of stopping it. For a few panicked moments, she thought that both of our husbands had been caught in the blaze as they had been working together further along.

5am Wednesday morning, after the fire had gone the best way through our property, I rallied fresh troops to the scene. By midday, with the establishment of fresh fire breaks and more than enough man power to establish and control the breaks - and a drop in the wind to allow for perfect conditions for burning back - it was under control, finally.

We've lost about 2/3 of our grazing land. The newspaper reports that a fire had destroyed "forest and grasslands" but no property was threatened. The newspaper doesn't realise that IS our property, cows can't eat burned grass. However, with the help of many great people and wonderful neighbours, the fire has been stopped in its tracks and we have been offered a paddock (one that was saved) next door that we can use, which will take the grazing pressure off the remaining pastures on our property.

Anyhow, back to reality and focusing on the wider world again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

other adventures


Headed west for a couple of days, to Cloncurry, for a little field day, to promote our business. The sunset was a glorious colour, no doubt in part due to the amount of smoke in the atmosphere from all of the fires in the north (ours being under control on our side at this stage).

photo taken from the window of the moving truck - I wrapped the strap around my wrist and poke the camera out the window and pressed the button. It worked!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

it continues: part two

You may recall, that I left the end of the last post, waiting for help to arrive so we could begin back burning.  It was 9:30 PM before we reached the newly graded track, from which we would start back burning. The purpose of the back burn is this: the controlled, man made fire burns a break off the track we'd graded, and this should, in theory, stop the main part of the fire from getting away any further.

My role as Support Crew was to drive the ute with the fire fighting unit on the back, should the fire jump over our track, we would put it straight out. Thankfully, this was not required, and as a back burning exercise, it went perfectly.



Although I made myself Safety Officer and kept my eye on the two fearless lads (the fencers of that afternoon). We finished burning our main break around 1:30am (against the prevailing wind), and the First Officer In Charge (ie my husband) declared himself satisfied that the break was sound, and then we lit up the northern side...which had a nice northerly wind behind it. We knew this would be the result:


The rest of the group were allowed to go home. To bed. For the little time that remained of the night, or morning as it were. But, I was terribly dismayed to discover, I was NOT allowed that luxury, I was to remain as Offsider and bloody Support Crew. As we drove up and down the graded fire break a few times, keeping an eye on things, I may or may not have nodded off, huddled under the yellow RFB jacket I pinched off one of the boys (he was going to bed, so he didn't need it (although I did feel a bit bad that he went home coatless) and wearing the coat of the wounded neighbour I found at the house - it was FREEZING. At around 3:30am my husband declared it time for a little stationary shut eye and he generously let me have the front of the ute. Until around 4am when he told me to move over, it was too cold outside in the cabin of the grader!

Let me point this out: four wheeled drive utilities are not best made for the slumber of one person, let alone two. My husband graciously let me rest my head on his knee whilst I perform origami with my legs and body in my allocated space, while he draped his 6ft plus frame in the drivers seat corner.

At daylight, feeling SO refreshed, rested and chipper, we went and studied the lay of the land again. All was good, so Support Crew and Grader headed back to the homestead. I was allowed to go on ahead, whilst he came home with the blade down, to put in some more "insurance" tracks. Just in case, you know.


On the way home, I sat and watched these little fellows for at least five minutes. Feeling so refreshed as I was. Delightful to watch they were.

IMG_9539 IMG_9543 this little bloke, after having a lovely skip and jump around with his mates, realised that his mum was nowhere to be seen. A little reminiscent of a kid that had wandered away from mum in the shopping centre!

At this point in time I was starting to feel a little weary, but made it back to the homestead and made myself breakfast - but no coffee, as the gas stove at the neighbours place hates me. I had a nice vegemite sandwich and cold glass of milk instead. And then laid down under a nice blanket for a rest. And when the graded turned up, I was dismissed and allowed to go home.

The End. For Now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

and so it continues

we've had a busy and varied week since I last posted, and the photos I am about to share feel like very old news, considering that the men have just gone back out to the fire front - yes, its STILL not out, a week ago we thought it was under control but its turned around to bite us again.

Anyhow, last Tuesday the husband requested I step away from my roles as IT, HR, Dispatch and Catering, and move into the Field as Gate Opener and Offsider. I would not in any way or form term this as a promotion. My role was not to involve anything more taxing or stressful than opening the odd gate or ten, and marvel at how far away from everything their fire fighting efforts were, and what a good job they had done.

Just in case, we filled the mop up unit with water on the way to inspect the fire break (from the water trough)

IMG_9355 photographing from the front of the moving ute along the barely there track was interesting. But you can see the burn on one side and the non burnt on the other.


We came across the most gorgeous flowers, these little shrubs were covered and stood out amongst both the burnt and non burnt landscape. The husband was really impressed with my desire to stop and take multiple photos. He obliged once or twice.


and we remarked on the nice clean fire break...until we found burnt country on the WRONG SIDE of the track! Ye gads, my goodness, oh no!

IMG_9395A quick reconnaissance of  the area, and we raced (well, raced being not applicable to the terrain, lets say "sped as fast as we could") back to the homestead and picked up the grader.

IMG_9410Its not exactly a racing machine either, but we made good time, and of course, my title now included that of Support Crew.

IMG_9423Support Crew meant I got to follow along behind the grader, in the ute, as he put the blade down and put in a new track from which we could block the escaped fire from, to prevent it from burning further. Bear in mind, we were still working on our immediate neighbours place, the one that was in hospital. He ended up with a broken jaw, did I tell you that?

I had time to study the flora.

IMG_9425   IMG_9432 (can anyone tell me what this pretty little flower belongs to? I do already know, but I am testing out you bushie readers)

I also had time for dodgy self portraits, and wonder woman poses.


And then we came through the trees and it was like we had reached the end of the world. It wasn't really, but we did reach the gorge country. And let me say, I have NOT brightened or colour popped the photo below in any way or form.



And then, over the ridge, we saw this, which made my Support Crew heart go pitter pat just a little (and not in a good way).

We finished grading our track, and then went back around to the previous fire break (and therefore safe, as it had already been burnt) to investigate further. Found a bit of this.

IMG_9474 The Support Crew (ie ME) was then dispatched back to the homestead, after retrieving the two lads that were patching up the fence down the track aways, to round up and wait for further manpower, for that nights burning back endeavours.

I was really wishing I was back in IT, HR and Dispatch....

The Story will continue tomorrow....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Never a dull moment

to coin a phrase from the clever Fiona over at cattle-kids-chaos. She has such a way of summing up a situation with just a few words.

In the past 48 hours, I've:

beaten a webby path to sites like these: sentinel and fire north, tracking and reporting the satellite imagery of "hotspots" on and near our neighbours properties, as the men assembly fire fighting units, machinery and manpower to put a halt to the fire's path;

Received a phone call from the neighbour, wondering if I might track down my husband to give him a hand again at his end of the fire, as he was feeling a little bit crook, after a little bingle between his loader and a tree stump rendered him unconscious for four (FOUR OMG!) hours;

Spoken in calm and measured tones, with the skill of years of filtering the important bits from blokey conversations, enquired on the state of limbs, vision, mental state and feeling, and if there were much blood (ascertaining, yes there appeared to be quite a bit of blood, yes, head and neck feel a bit sore, legs still work, can you find that husband of yours, think fire is getting away!)

Spoken again in calm and measured tones, instructed the neighbour to perhaps have a shower or wash to further ascertain injuries, please DO NOT GO ANYWHERE, I'll ring back in just a moment, why don't you have a little sit down for awhile.

Made a rather quick and hasty phone call to a luckily-at-home nurse friend up the road closer to the neighbour, dispatched her (and her husband to aid in fire blocking efforts) to the neighbours place

Instructed the nurse's (chopper pilot) husband to go fetch my non-phone-answering completely oblivious husband from whatever far flung corner of the property he was, via helicopter. With no need to make the journey a pleasant one.

Rung 000 and instructed the Queen Street residing ambulance phone person on how to get to the neighbours property (this took five minutes, before any first aid advice was given!) and assured him that, yes I believed the patient was still breathing as he was TALKING.

Made and received countless number of phone calls liaising with the nurse (who reported that the ambulance man, a very nice fellow, decided to fetch the rescue helicopter to take neighbour straight to the Townsville General for treatment) finding other man power and getting neighbours wife to come home from the camp draft two hours drive away, without causing heart failure on her part.

Heard that the neighbour was found to be sound in mind (if not body, with some facial contusions and fractured jaw, and quite annoyed that he is sitting around in the city in nothing but his jocks and a hospital gown, after they cut off his jeans, much to his disgust!) and fire - after a few anxious moments and busy bodies on machines and burning fire breaks - was more or less under control. At the moment anyhow.

Wondered why I felt the need for numerous cups of coffee.

I think I would prefer a much duller life.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

almost famous!

In national newspapers, these two papers don't rate very highly, but for anyone who does anything in the rural industry in our part of Queensland, these two papers are pretty much the only newsprint that come into our house on a weekly basis. The Bush Bible, they have been called once or twice :-)

Do you recall, last weekend we had a little ol' campdraft? Part of which involves walking the cattle in to town from a nearby property, something that has occurred for the past 5 or 6 years. This year, thanks to the great photography skills of my mate Mel, we made the front page of BOTH papers! (and a nice spread on the inside of each as well!)



Very proud of Mel, that she got TWO front page photos!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

my baby girl is seven

and celebrated with a half cast on her foot and the requested seven shaped cake.

IMG_9322Dodgily iced (not to mention MESSY! lordy, icing and I just don't get on)  and decorated, but it wouldn't be a birthday in our house without it being so.

IMG_9326But with a few cheap decorations (cheap being the word, they did not hold up well in the stiff breeze!) the scene was set

IMG_9333and the cake was demolished

IMG_9335after the candles were blown out, and I took the fewest amount of photos ever in the history of birthdays in our family.  

Another entry in the annuls of the Dogdy Birthday Cakes, and another year older...

Friday, September 2, 2011

hello gorgeous

look what found its way home with me after my recent trip to the city.

IMG_9349Oh I know. I am so shallow and materialistic. 

Isn't she purty? Not overly expensive, certainly not leather, but certainly bright and cheerful and ready to brighten up an outfit and my day.

And fortunately, I already have shoes to match!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

last weekend

(of course, it always takes me the best part of the week to tell you about the weekend past!)

I saw more than a bit of this:

IMG_9336(very bad campdraft photo of the spare kid on her pony)

Let me show you a more of an action shot (NOT taken by me, but by Mel)

IMG_9477That is more like it. Our friend and neighbour across the way, in action.  Anyhow, this is where I was, helping out the new girls on the block (aka Secretary and Treasurer) at their first ever organised-by-them campdraft. I have to say, it felt so much better to be assisting than organising, but then again those girls were all over it and had everything very much under control.

So, I was nicely recovering from my weekend, and feeling very much like a proud mama duck, and ready to book my weekend in Sydney for the time around next years draft. And then, look what turned up  - not an easy feat and involving a two hour bus ride from the nearest florist:

IMG_9344  awww, those girls...they sent flowers to Mel as well, so we are both feeling very loved and appreciated.

Here is the team that made it all happen, the girls also managed to round everyone up for a group photo, for the first time in our twentieth year of running. (and that would be me at the front, with eyes shut and no hat).

IMG_9346I'll be feeling their appreciation for DAYS to come, as the lillies are only just opening. I love lillies.

Thanks girls.

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