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Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

I’m so grateful for my battered hat

Even though the brims so small

It keeps the hot burning sun

Off my face for a short while

My face is so hot, it feels so hard

Like rough sandpaper I fear

And the itch on my nose I can’t scratch

Since my arms are tied tight

Straight out from my shoulders

And my fingers are quite bent and twisted

There’s a breeze whistling through

A hole in my trews

And if I’m not very careful

Soon you will be able to see straight through

Drat, here comes those pesky crows

I don’t like them, I think it shows

One sits on my hat with a laugh

And two on each arm

What a charm

Scat! Begone! Oh bother the lot

They’re pecking away at my shirt collar

And stealing my stuffing away

Dear me what shall I do

The life of a scarecrow

Is not as easy as you might think

In fact

I’ve been left feeling quite flat!

image from littlegreenshed.blogspot.com

© Susan Jamieson

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image from mogollonmonster.com

This story takes place in the middle of last century, that is in the middle of the 1950’s. The area around Cootamundra in New South Wales was well settled, mainly sheep grazing and wheat. There were many tales going round about strange creatures seen at night, especially on those near moonless nights when shadows take shape.  This saga occurred in the middle of a bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky.

Father was out mustering the sheep as there was always plenty of work looking after the mob and ensuring the lambs were safe from foxes and wild dogs.  He wouldn’t be seen until close to dinner time.

Mother was outside bringing in the wash which had dried quickly under the hot sun.  There were, at that time just two children in the family, occupied with their games. They were playing in the shade of the verandah. The sound of lazy cicadas could be heard in the heavy air.  Just another day on the farm.

Suddenly a silence descended on the place. Not a cicada or a bird could be heard. Mother felt the hairs on her neck stand straight and an icy prickling feeling ran down her spine.

Slowly she looked over her shoulder and there at the fence stood an image from a nightmare. It was the biggest dog she had ever seen.  It stood four feet at the shoulder, its head coming to the top of the wire fence which surrounded the garden.  It  looked like a giant cross between a Great Dane and a Doberman, jet black in colour with the brightest RED EYES she had ever seen.  They appeared to glow even in the sunlight, piercing her to the spot.

Quietly but with an urgency in her tone she urged the children to get back inside the house, quickly, but not to run. She made her way back to the house steadily, keeping one eye over her shoulder to keep the creature in sight. All through this the dog made not a move, not a sound, just stared with those evilly glowing eyes.

As soon as she got inside the door she grabbed the  .22 calibre rifle, kept near the door within easy reach. As she spun round and opened the door she got an even bigger fright. There was no sign of the creature at the fence.  About a mile and a half away there was a small mob of sheep scattering in every direction and she spied a large black shape loping along towards the trees.  Moments later and several more miles away she spied a dark shape quickly loping over the rocky terrain and towards the bush.

At that time of day she could see miles in every direction.  There was no doubt at what she was seeing.  She looked again at the fence. Being just over five feet tall herself she could feel how large this animal had been. There wasn’t a mark on the ground, no paw prints despite the dust near the fence.

The creature never returned to the farm but they kept a weather eye out for it, just in case. There were stories of it being seen running in the distance from other farmers, lambs being taken, lambs being killed and eaten, the carcasses found later.  Such was the concern at the devastation this monster was causing that Father and a mate decided to set up a trap.

So they built a sturdy cage in the middle of the paddock,

gathered the lambs and ewes inside, themselves, guns and  a shooting stand, car battery and spotlight and set out to lure the creature out. Despite being out there the entire lambing season and many thereafter they never lured the creature in. The killings continued elsewhere unabated.

Was it real? Could it have been something from deep within the Great Dividing Range where no man could get through? Was it some strange beast escaped from a circus years before? There were many questions and no answers and to this date no one has captured or killed this creature….. the Devil Dog of Cootamundra.  Perhaps you’ll see it someday.

I wouldn’t call the farmers and their families of those days people who were easily scared, nor with imaginations which ran to making up stories like this. I, for one, believe that this monster dog is still roaming its vast territory and when it is ready, it will make its appearance once more.

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”   Alice Walker

Tell me, what do you think?  Can such a creature exist, undisturbed and breeding in uncharted territory for decades? Will we see the emergence  of beasts to terrorise the local farmers in years to come? Who really knows.

Cheers,  Susan x

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image from members.ozemail.com.au

This tale takes place about fifty years ago, a tad before my time. I can assure you it’s a real story and I promised not to use true identities as the star of the story is still with us I’m happy to report.

One hot summers day our young stock man, 30 years of age and very handsome, had been mustering his sheep all day. They had been taken up to the shearing shed to be crutched. Now I thought crutching was just clipping around the nether  regions, but apparently it is used to refer to “topping and tailing” the sheep.  Another term for it is  “wigging” and “crutching”. So, clipped around both head and nether region.

Now I’m trying very hard not to laugh at all this information, for a city slicker the mind was just not able to cope.  Come to think of it there are a few Judges that could do with wigging and a crutching or two might bring them into line, but I digress.

He had helping him his two, very well trained sheep dogs, Major and Darky and was riding his best stock horse, Blossom. After a long and tiring day he was moving the sheep back to the paddock and he was looking forward to a nice cup of tea and a bite to eat.

At that time there was  quite a bit of trouble with brown snakes in the area, nasty bad tempered creatures. Definitely to be avoided.  As they were traveling back he heard an odd sound near the horse’s front hoof and looked down. Blossom had picked up a King Brown snake with her hoof as she walked forward and it had wrapped itself around her leg. He could hear the snake whipping back and forth as she slowly walked along. A very good stock horse.

image from bushbelles.blogspot.com

So our stock man dropped the reins of the horse, which told her to stand and as he dismounted the snake slithered off into the grass. Over his shoulder was his trusty stock whip. He was pretty good with his whip and it was the best method to stop a snake before it could get close to you. Since this one was about six feet long and rather angry at it’s ill treatment he wasn’t about to take any chances with the dogs running around. The farmers lose more dogs to snakes than anything else.

He shrugged his whip off his shoulder and as he walked slowly forward let it trail out behind him.  Searching the grass in front of him he was suddenly startled to hear a slithering behind him! He whipped around to see, not the brown snake but his stock whip slowly trailing over a dry saffron thistle, for all the world sounding like an angry snake slithering after him.

image from http://www.arkive.org   King Brown Snake

Well that was enough for him for one day.

Looking a trifle green and feeling a little sheepish (I couldn’t help but include that) he gathered his reins and set Blossom on her way back to the home paddock after the sheep.

It was a good day. Sheep, all 500 had been wigged and crutched, Major and Darky avoided the snake, as did Blossom and the stock man got to ride home, pride a little the worse for wear but able to tell the tale to his family. (I hear tell he said, “It frightened the sh*t outta me!”)

As a point of interest the Western Brown snake is a shy snake and will avoid human contact. The Eastern or King Brown is very aggressive and will go out of their way to attack anything which moves near it, even more so during mating season.  As such the farmers cannot afford to take chances if they are seen and have to deal with them in the safest way possible for livestock, human and animal.

I swear it’s a true tale as tall as it may sound.

 

Cheers, Susan x

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