Tuesday, July 30, 2013

so, what do you do out here?

Its a question that drives us - those that live in rural communities and townships - bonkers. Honestly. There is rarely a weekend or weekday that there isn't an event or function or business thing to do, and in between we are working, and you know, just living every day normal lives.

Recently, I went to the  North Western Games Dressage Competition in our nearby town, to watch a level of competition that has never been held in the west before. I don't know much about dressage, do know a little about horses and equestrian ability (although fellow campdrafter/stockhorse persons did agree that these dressagey types can be a bit princessy?! ;-) and holy cow. There was some seriously talented stuff happening and some drool worthy horses there. With a whole lot of feed in their bellies.

IMG_4388IMG_4398I was there to help photograph and record some of the competition. It was somewhat challenging in a technical sense, the great big undercover arena being great to ride in (so they tell me) but a real pain for photography. Took some fiddling and also deciding that only grey or white horses should be allowed to enter within. Took so so so many photographs and wondered about my own equestrian skills before laughing my silly head off (internally of course) at the notion.

Following that weekend, we had some Rugby 7's, fiercely competed:

IMG_4973and just to show that we don't just gad about playing ladies, some work in between:

IMG_3291Which really is a post unto itself: unloading poly pipe off the truck. Our truck (or should I say, ONE of, husband seems to think he needs one for each purpose, so lets say the CATTLE truck as opposed to the CRANE truck which is used for our trough business) can be a little tricky in its gear box, so I gingerly took control of the wheel and resolved to get my gear changing practiced. Given that the track was rough and we had to stop every 200 metres, I only ever got to third, but by golly I am getting good at those three gears. But throw into the mix a 40ft trailer on behind which is attached via articulated dolly (not something I've ever been in control of in my driving career to date, nor studied the strange movements and mechanism of) and one can imagine the wild hand movements seen the rear view mirror when tree stumps and other obstacles had to be negotiated. (husband being on the trailer pushing the pipe off). There may have been an odd occasion where driver alighted and using hand movements of her own indicated that HE do what he like with truck and trailer.

Ah, husband and wives working in harmony in the bush. I rest easy knowing that across the nation, there are similar marital discussions like this :-). Just for once, there weren't a few kids helping to add to the excitement of it all, in this case safely in care at school!

So yes, we find PLENTY to do out here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting creative as opposed to getting dirty

So where was I? that's right, having a slight anxiety attack about the water or lack thereof at the prickle farm, and thinking not so loving and positive thoughts about my dearly beloved. Never fear dear reader, all ended well. The new fangled high tech (and high fail?!) automated system kicked in and I awoke (very early) to find the water levels in a far more upwards position since last the last time I posted. Phew. Husband most relieved too, for varying reasons ;-)

Anyhow, playing catch up. Well over a month ago I had a little play at being a quasi photographer, after a local girl took a leap of faith and purchased me and my camera at a charity auction (I donated myself!). We finally coordinated our fairly hectic schedules and took some snaps.

It makes it pretty easy when they are all so photogenic, doesn't it?!

IMG_3273aIMG_3285bIMG_3165a IMG_3277c A couple of my favourites, she wanted some shots of her fiancé and herself, and with her mum and dad. Her mum, bless her cotton socks, was THE hardest work ever, so very tense and self conscious (oh my wrinkles and laugh lines!!) As the happy couple are getting married very soon, we've decided that mum might need to have a few hits of vodka before the wedding photos to relax her just a wee bit ;-) As we said , they show a life well lived and loved!

And while I was at it, and needing to post these photos on good ole facebook and not wanting for her photos to be used willy nilly (other than by herself) I made a little logo for myself, which after 2 minutes of image googling and a minute of fiddling, I came up with this. I am pretty pleased with it, even though its a bit rough and did ahem "borrow" a graphic from the www :-)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Little Campers

Lots been happening around here, don't know if I am Arthur or Martha to be honest, but the big day I had planned tomorrow blogging and paying bills appears to have been cancelled. Husband has gone off checking on agistment cattle/boys own adventure for four days. All well and good, until this evening upon checking a remote tank monitor to find it in the NEGATIVES (not a good sign at all) and the other remote monitor not working AT ALL.

This after I was assured on his departure that all was pumping and under control.

I forsee a day of blind leading the blind as I beg the neighbour to come and help me sort my water woes, as well as endeavouring to not loose the tank monitor man with my dodgy mud maps as he comes out to get the non operational monitor working again (he is most cross with the thing for misbehaving).

Even more pleasing is the fact that mobile phone service at the agistment place requires phone user to stand on back of ute with leg leg in air and head tilted just so to obtain reception.

I do hope his ears are burning.

Over and out. Reporting in once water is restored.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

the toure

Long time blog readers will have read with amusement of our annual Toure de Prairie over preceding years. Why stop a good thing, and so we squeezed it into the first Friday of this busy term. Costume demands become more and more complex each year, ebay being my saviour this time round, with a firm hand on ever changing minds.

The ride goes down the road to a homestead about 6kms away, a family that once had children at the school, and whose daughter had cerebral palsy.

IMG_4057(Where's Wally, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Mexican and the spare kid, a feisty kitty cat )

Children raised money for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation this year, for a local lad's (from the property we rode to) fundraising efforts, which he hopes will go directly to a NQ family in need.

Turnout was great, and enthusiasm for costuming high:

IMG_4106 Local truck driver, dad and husband of superwoman also got into the spirit. We want him to wear the costume on his next triple road train delivery :-)

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Sausage sizzle lunch was enjoyed, with birthday cake and pavlova for a few celebrating. The hosts explained to the kids about cerebral palsy and how it affected their Alex, who passed away at age 8. The kids have all seen photos of Alex at school and know about her, so it was great for them to get a little more information to process.

And then they all mounted their bikes and rode back to school, with THE most wicked headwind ever, making some of the littler ones get a lift home (my boy, full of snot and coughing, one of them). Another great event that the community as a whole really enjoys and supports.

We love our small school :-)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

School Holidays

Yes, school's been back a week here in Queensland, and its taken this long to get around to sharing our adventures or lack thereof. Restful isn't a term I would use for the July holidays this year, nor one in which cleaning, organisation or catching up were a part of....

Instead we did a bit of this: (hover over pic for details)

information technology field day And quite a bit of this:

bangtailing with the help of PeterFinlay  Big Girl learns to draft following more cows 

Weaners were processed, with the help of PeterFinlay who stepped in to help when we were short handed; Kate took control of the drafting pen levers and mum did the miles penning up and yelling BUSH (or otherwise) a zillion times (BUSH meaning which gate I wanted opened). And the drafter also got to be no 1 offsider putting cows into a fresh paddock.

look out trees, antbeds and livestockNo 2 offsider went with dad and "learnt" how to drive during a very sloooow and loooong drive behind weaners down the laneway. Style and co-ordination need practise :-)

And then we did it all over again the next day and the next day, vaccinating the cows for botulism, taking off weaners, branding some stragglers and then sending them bush.

We also did some of this, just for a change...(but in a different location!)

big skies doing the weighbox boogieWeighed some steers and lamented the state of the season and the cattle market.....

bye bye jumpin jack Packed a few fatties on that front double decked trailer there and sent them on their merry way...

its much further down than you thinkTook a break to admire brothers bogged loader at the bottom of a very deep hole,  one he wasn't going to be digging himself out of with that piddly little shovel (wishful thinking on his part?)

that won't get you far verrry deep hole

After that little adventure, we resumed normal programming and went back to this:

IMG_4028The horses and truck drivers not getting my memo about photographic composition, after filling the trucks with steers bound for Condamine. (no drama involving rain nor traffic accidents in this years loading).

After these nearly two weeks of driving, back and forth and chasing cows and myself and running perilously low on clean undies (never fear, a clean forgotten stash was found waiting in the clothes dryer) my expected day at home resulted in more time spent here:

 trying to wash the stink of a dog that rolled in dead things Back in the yards to tidy up those weaners we took off the week before. Joyous times, I tell you. Especially when, taking pity on the dogs who had a fair bit of pen time and taking them for a jaunt, they found something very very dead to roll in. That was a really special trip home, with the dogs in the back of the wagon. 

Yes, that pretty much covers the school holidays, with lots of dusty and dirty washing processed in flurries, and many mismatched socks worn and quite a bit of cranky mum each morning when chores were to be done before leaving. But, at the end of the day, they almost always ended like this:


Tired, dirty, happy little faces.

Monday, July 8, 2013

School Camp - Part Two

We had a very full week of activities planned for school camp in Longreach. Its clear to see that Longreach has embraced outback tourism and would be the epicentre of the tourism in the west. SO much to see and do there.

So it was a very brisk and cold morning that we started out first adventure with Kinnon and Co which take on the "olden days" aspect (in particular about Harry Redford). We were most excited to go on a stage coach ride - the whole school on two Cobb and Co coaches, one drawn by heavier Percherons and the other drawn by a Waler like breed. We were all loaded on , the last three of us getting to ride shotgun, literally, on the top back of one coach.

Gallop-thru-the-scrub IMG_2443

It certainly made us contemplate just how LONG it would have taken to get from A to B back in the old days. After our coach ride and fairly sedate gallop (Percherons not known for their speed) and being highly entertained by the red cattle dog that obviously loved his life as part of the Kinnon Family, we were treated to smoko. Scones with cream and jam and copious cups of tea which of course were annihilated by the kids. The old days theme continued with an old kids movie, and then onto a hilarious play. Featuring the same stage coaching driving smoko serving family/staff members an animals, and a great deal of ad lib-ing,  it was very much enjoyed.  By the time this was over, the kids were starving again, so back to the quarters for lunch, then to get ready for our evening out, by the river.

Sunset-Cruise-on-Thomson-River IMG_2532

Kinnons also have a paddle steamer, so all aboard for a river cruise on the Thompson River, which given the season wasn't as mighty as usual. Very tranquil. And no child lost overboard. After the cruise, and getting bloody cold, we had a fireside dinner and some bush poetry, followed by a wonderful sound and light show about the Harry Redford story. Did I mention it was cold?


Moving on, the next day we had a Tour of the Longreach School of Distance Education, which I am sure the kids would have gotten more out of had there not been a zillion other grey nomads also doing the tour. Then we ducked down the the river to see if the fish were biting (they were not!). The afternoon for the kids was then spent visiting the big Qantas 737(?) plane and the Qantas Founders Museum. As chef for the night I elected to stay home. (Supersized mince and spag, and garlic bread whipped up by co-chef...was well received)


 very cool metal horse sculpture at Hall Of Fame

Thursday brought a nasty cold wind and a visit to the Stockmans Hall of Fame. Most of which was pretty much lost on the kids, the place was also crawling with the travelling tourists, AND must have had a lighting issue as was annoyingly dark inside. (a more guided tour for school groups might get more info across to the kids, instead of SO MUCH READING which is otherwise required here). The Stockmans Show however was well received and had the kids in fits of laughter. Nothing they really hadn't seen before, but entertainment is still entertainment!

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And then, off to the Powerhouse museum for the kids (which seemed a bit yawny to me! which the kids confirmed) and that evening a dance off/show thing and PIZZA times lots for all.

Friday saw us packing up and then heading back home via the Age of Dinosaurs near Winton. Not having heard much about this, but knowing a bit about its beginnings, I was expecting to see a shed out the flat. Was I ever mistaken. What a first class facility!

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Amazing building and architectural detail, and amazing view out the other side, the museum and laboratory are built up on top of one of the large outcrops/jump ups that are in the Winton area. The road up is an road building feat in itself.  The kids got a great tour and explanation of the bones and the work they are doing on Banjo, Matilda and Clancy (the discoveries) and got to touch and see real bones, and help "process" some bones. Kids were all engaged and fascinated. There was also a great presentation and a viewing of the finished, exposed bones in their special room (something quite rare apparently). They have great plans for expansion and this indeed a special place to visit (just sitting having a coffee overlooking the edge of the jump up is something!)

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And that was that! Home James after a quick pit stop in Winton, back in town in time to grab some groceries and home before dark. And home to find livestock numbers somewhat depleted, of course that would be the case on husbands watch. One dead chook (natural causes) and one dead duck (suspect foul play, or in actual fact, wild feline to be accurate!)

It was quite nice to visit our own back yard, and see what it has to offer. But so nice to be home, and on school holidays as well!

Friday, July 5, 2013

School Camp - visiting our own backyard - part one...

Something strange must have come upon me, as I happily volunteered to be a parent representative and transporter for this years school camp. As part of their Australian History, it was decided that we would visit Winton and Longreach and the great wealth of history at our fingertips in the last week of Term Two.

To say that it was a very full week would be an understatement.

We departed bright and early on a very brisk Monday morning, very much loaded up with warm clothing and bedding.  First stop was in Winton, for smoko at the musical fence and a visit the the "truck museum".

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Husband would have been in seventh heaven at the Truck Museum, full of restored OLD stuff. And a backyard full of non restored, antiquated machinery which quite frankly resembled some that we still have in service at our place!

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The kids were amazed at the really really old ones...Angus was very taken by the fire trucks.

Winton is also home to the Waltzing Matilda Centre. Here the group split, with some wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to see shearing in action at Miss Mac's parents place, and some not wanting the additional driving (an extra couple of hours) chose to do the Matilda Centre and then be in Longreach before dark. Me being the driver that really didn't relish those extra couple of hours of dirt roads chose the latter (even though the kids probably would have loved the shearing, but too bad kids).

Take head visitors to the Matilda Centre. Lots of reading is involved, and lots of time needed. We didn't do it justice I am afraid, its probably not all that interesting to primary aged kids (a tour guide or more interactive displays might be more suited to this age group).

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Art exhibition was great (travelling or local artists, am not sure, but the theme seemed to be outback) -  was very taken with this native flower watercolour. A large section of the centre devoted, naturally, to the origins of Waltzing Matilda and memorabilia surrounding it and the swagman etc.

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Much historical station and household equipment is on display, as well as a large room devoted to old pastoral maps (love old maps) and records of the early days of settlement in the region.

Onwards and upwards, we travelled onto Longreach after lunch. Entering sheep country, seeing one very large mob of cattle heading south on the stock route and seeing some country getting very short on feed. Our destination and accomodation for the week being the Longreach School of Distance Education Quarters. Dormitory style bedding and full catering kitchen with plenty of space for all, wide verandahs, spacious gardens and great playground, this truly is a great facility.

IMG_2425IMG_2430  IMG_2438

Holy smokes, all that for just the first day...I think this will be a recap of many parts - or some better summarisation needs to happen!

Kids were all tucked in after a dinner of hotdogs...and holy cow wasn't that first night in Longreach COLD. A trip to the loo in the wee hours and a check on the kids found quite a few huddled up teeth chattering. Blankets were retrieved and wrapped around cold little souls and heaters turned on (in the dark, a true miracle I got it going!). 

Anyhow, Tuesday was a day full of adventure, which I will share - hopefully much shorter - soon!

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