Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A stare into the past - Bushranger shoot out at the Show ground.

As a family historian it was fabulous to be able to have a front row seat and stare back 150 years into Braidwood’s history as the infamous bushrangers Tom and John  Clarke were recaptured all over again amid a hail of bullets and gun smoke during a faithful re-enactment at the showground.

Luke and Tom Clarke admirably played the parts of their ancestors. Everyone I spoke to wanted to tell me how they were related to the Clarkes.  These guys had cousins they didn't know existed, like cockroaches they were coming out of the woodwork, claiming kinship to them and the bushrangers.

Australia’s worst and most troublesome bushrangers consisted of the Clarke boys, their relations the Connells, and other desperate individuals who periodically joined the maundering gang.
On a modern day resume the Clarke’s occupation in the early days would have read professional cattle duffers and illegal purveyors of stolen horses.  As time went on their activities escalated; they plundered publicans, storekeepers, farmers and travellers, they ambushed gold shipments, killed a policeman and they had no hesitation in killing any member of the gang suspected of being untrustworthy.

The Clarke brothers were children of the bush; with their superior horsemanship and knowledge of bushcraft they could dissolve into the surrounding country side without a trace. This was aided by an intricate web of family marriages; many people would harbour them and help with an extensive 'bush telegraph system'. They also ensured their safety from the law with threats of personal and property damage or a share in the spoils. That was until they were suspected of murdering four special policemen who were tracking them. Finally they were betrayed by their cousin for the huge reward money. 

The recreation of Tom Berry's slab hut where the Clarke Brothers were ambushed by police after being tipped off by their cousin Tom Berry

I wanted to buy this hut for our property but then so did everyone else in Braidwood. Unfortunately for those of us wanting to snap up a nifty slab hut full of character the builder, Terry Hart, who is related way back to Tommy Clarke's wife Charlotte nee Hart is re- erecting it on his own property. 

The re-enactment begins.
During the night the police surrounded the hut. Constables Wright and Walsh took the Clarke's horses so they couldn't escape.

At 6am when the Clarkes came out to saddle their horses the police opened fire upon them.

The Clarkes beat a hasty retreat back into the hut where they held off the police, until police reinforcements arrived.

Knowing their situation was hopeless they surrendered.  

The Clarke brothers were taken to Sydney for a trial lasting only one day and found guilty of intent to kill and the wounding of police officers, an offence carrying the death sentence.  

Chief Justice Sir Alfred Stephens on passing sentence listed their record, excluding suspected murders, as Thomas, nine mail robberies and thirty six robberies of individuals of all classes in two years; John, twenty six crimes in one year. He pointed out "the Clarkes were to be hanged, not as retribution, but because their deaths were necessary for the peace, good order, safety and welfare of society. Their fate was to serve as a warning to others".
Tom Clarke as Tommy Clarke                           Luke Clarke as John Clarke

Friday, 10 March 2017

Sew it. Grow it. Show it.- Braidwood Show

The 141st Braidwood Show is done and dusted, although it was more mud than dust. The dress code for the day was gumboots, drizabone oilskins and umbrellas. At 7am the rain was steadily falling at the farm and had been all night, not something I want to complain about considering how badly we need it, I rolled over in bed and considered if I really wanted to head to the annual country show. These shows highlight country life and are a big social event for the town. 
I  had  driven  past  the  showground  the  morning  before  and  it had  been  abuzz with activity, the talented ones dropping their local produce, flowers, art and craft entries off to the pavilion. The stewards had the huge unenviable task of judging the exhibits Friday afternoon. 

I thought about the herculean effort is would be for the show committee to organise the day, the disappointment for them, the exhibitors and  local businesses supporting the day if no one turned up because of inclement weather. So I chucked on the wellies, hoisted the golfing umbrella and went to play in the mud.   

The steady rain didn't let up until lunch time, nevertheless the show had a good turn out. The local paper reported it was the wettest show day in living memory!

As I strolled through the pavilion browsing at the diversity and rich kaleidoscope of local skills and crafts I made a promise to myself I would enter something next year. I am sure it makes the day more enjoyable if you have items entered and how exciting it would be to have a coloured ribbon draped over your entry.  

In my mind I am already working on a cabbage of outrageous proportions for the vegie class next year.  

I will leave the baking to the gods and goddesses of the ovens. The whole idea of snipping a raisin into 2-3 pieces, cherries into 4-6 pieces and almonds crosswise into 3-4 pieces for uniformity of ingredients for a fruit cake, does my head in, and I am 100 percent sure the judges would know if the butter and sugar had not been creamed evenly. 

As for flowers, Dahlias and Roses are the queens of the show, and I kid you not, one exhibitor turned up in a refrigerated van with his flowers, now that is a serious exhibitor! The flower section may prove tricky for me to enter as the wild ducks keep eating the flowers in my struggling garden but I like to be innovative so I am thinking perhaps a thimble arranged with pretty weeds would be considered as 'One container of any other flower not mentioned'.  

It appears a lot of sheep in the Braidwood district are running around naked.

Dodgem cars are the staple amusement ride at any country show and a side show alley would not be the same without being able to stuff a ball in the clown's moving mouth to win a prize.

At these country shows you come across some very strange creatures wandering the grounds. 

Children and youth are highly encouraged to participate in all sections of the show including showing their cattle and sheep.

I arrived at the ram judging at an interesting time, yes the judge is checking out their maleness.

Show society committee I have one word for you - goats. Goats, their cuteness is taking over the world! Where is the goat section?  Disappointment much! I need a grandchild so Chunky Monkey can be, at the least, entered into the children's pet show. 

Chunks would have a horn in for the 'most debonair' or the 'longest ears', but more likely the cheekiest pet with the loudest voice.  

The Dagwood dog is up there with fairy floss as gourmet carnival food to eat while watching the family activities. 

The foot events had a bumbling charm, totally lighthearted, with a blind eye to strict rules even though the first three places won $15, $10 and $5 respectively. For most entrants the enjoyment was simply being part of the day. 

Toss the gumboot and pass the footy into the space were worth entering with a prize of $30 for 1st place. Watch out my goats, I will be practicing throwing a gumboot around the paddock in preparation for next year, I wonder if I can train them to fetch the boot back to me? 

Bale stacking. The highest stack built in one minute by a team of three wins. They build them up then knock them down.

Chain saw racing always draws a large crowd. I was cheering on my neighbour who was beaten by a few spins of the chain in this heat. 

The biggest matter of the day requiring deep discussion, mental calculation and resolution was what Harley and Charlie, the Brahman Steers, weighed. 

The horses always look so handsome with their manes and tails braided. A lot of effort must go into their grooming before an event. 

The Braidwood Show may not be as big as some of the other local shows but it had a genuine, warm family appeal with plenty to occupy every member of the family. 

I am eyeing off a blue ribbon from the 142nd show, I will just have to put plenty of fertiliser on the imaginary cabbage. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Braidwood Race Day

My husband and I want to experience and immerse ourselves in all that our little town and community has to offer, so we were looking forward to attending the annual horse races with the Braidwood Jockey Club.

This was a first for both of us. The closest we have been to a racing track was to watch on television the 'Melboune Cup', the biggest horse racing event in Australia. We had no idea how to place a bet or even what to expect of the day!

As the day dawned the weather report was looking dire, the heat was expected to be between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius at Braidwood (98 to 104 Fahrenheit). Due to the extreme heat many sports over the state were cancelled, as were many larger horse racing events but after discussion with New South Wales racing stewards the Braidwood meet went ahead. The club committee moved the event to a twilight meeting to avoid the worst heat of the day.

Amid  much controversy about  animal cruelty and  suggestions from  activists who  try  to force their ideologies on everyone by verbal bullying via local social media that those who supported and attended the races were disgraceful, we frocked up and went. 

It is not unreasonable that people were concerned but I simply can not imagine an owner or trainer would put an expensive thoroughbred race horse’s life in danger for the small prize money from a country meet. I trust these people know what is best for their animal and the attending vets would be watching carefully for any signs of heat stress, both before and after their run. If a vet reports a horse is ill or sustained an injury after a race, for its health and safety, there is an automatic ban for it from any further racing for a minimum of 3 months. That is a lot of race meets and potential prize money to lose.

We sat near the stables and saw every horse arriving. They were magnificent, a picture of health, well hydrated, not sweating or showing heat stress. 

Each horse was hosed down upon arrival. 

Then placed in their shaded stall until they were taken to the saddling paddock, where they were kept in the shade.

Many years ago a friend owned an ex race horse. ‘Bay’ just lived to run, the moment he has a chance he would take off. I doubt Bay was a one off in this matter.  I think many animal activists don’t understand this about these horses. While I agree they may not choose to voluntarily run in extreme heat but once in that starting box the instinctual urge to run must be great for a horse bred for racing.

After the race, they came straight off the track and again, not one of the horses looked exhausted or stressed.  The horses were unsaddled and immediately led off to the wash bays where they were hosed down and watered.  There were no reports to the stewards of heat stress experienced by any horse that competed during the course of the evening.

I discovered race day fashion on the country field is no less fiercely contested by the girls as a big city meet. There was 17 categories for the stylish to show off their finery.

Even the children paraded their fashion flair!  

Number 12 was the overall winner of women's Fashion on the Field for the day.

 We quickly learnt how to place a bet with the bookies.

 It was so painless going back to the bookie to collect our winnings! Winners are grinners! Even better was winning on a locally trained horse "Little River Road'.

The bar area is always a popular place to hang out on a hot day. Note the majority of the guys took a more casual approach to fashion on the field.

Six of the twelve jockeys were women, that's girls power!

We had a lovely day with friends in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and we are anticipating attending as many events as our little country town has scheduled for this year. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Escapees from goat Alcatraz in Braidwood

Over the past number of weeks there have been large numbers of escapees from Braidwood Maximum Security Goat Gaol.

The Warden is dumbfounded over these bids for freedom, particularly as these goats
were placed in a refurbished cell with new high grade fencing and the inclusion of excellent and abundant rations and the inmates have always been treated with love and affection.

Although so many escaped they decided home was a far better option than being on the run and meekly came back, only to do a runner again a week later. 

One has to question why?

When inmate Missy was interviewed she claimed innocence, explaining they were invited by a pig to a picnic in the valley behind and as they did come back on dusk she did not believe they were attempting an escape.

On further inspection the prison officers discovered bouncing and snorting visitors from the outside were spreading sedition, claiming life was greener on the other side and encouraging the goats to escape by their tunnels dug under the fence.  Wombats joined their cause enlarging the tunnels with ease. These pouched and bristled visitors were upset at the loss of access to previously free range land.

'Are you trying to keep me out lady? Good luck with that one!"

The third escape was discovered with dismay. 

From the prison tower one could make out on the horizon a sea of white, seemingly floating down the road, followed by a car. A neighbour had detected them and foiled their complete getaway.

It is possible only a short time had elapsed since this breakout as the inmates appeared very unhappy at not being able to enjoy the vegetation along the road, therefore decided to rebel against the warden by running helter skelter down the warden’s driveway via the open gate, ripping out vegetation, snapping young tree trunks like they were match sticks and eating anything green in sight. 

This riot only lasted five minutes before the guards managed to get the prisoners under control but within that time much devastation to the drive way trees was caused. The warden thought she was going to have a mild heart attack, this being the second attempt to destroy the trees.

Security on the boundary fences has been upgraded.

Further insurrection may carry the penalty of goat stew. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

Nine New Year wishes for the farm

Many people make New Year resolutions in the hopes of making positive changes to their lives, I'm not a resolution setting type of girl. I believe resolutions are just a way to may you feel bad about yourself when they are not achieved.  There is no point in trying to fool myself into believing I will go to the gym beyond once, or eat lettuce for longer than a week.

Instead of making pledges for myself I did start to think about New Year 'wishes' for outcomes I would like for Somerset farm for 2017.  I realised as I was considering these farm wishes that they are as delusional as me heading for the gym but here are my nine wishes. 

1. The never ending jobs list becomes shorter.   The priority order keeps being shuffled around but the to-do list never seems to get any smaller.

2. A three day weekend becomes mandatory so we can tackle the to-do-list with gusto.

3. Long green stuff known as grass would sprout from the ground. This wish includes the
Kangaroo’s giving us a fair go by moving onto another restaurant so we can actually establish an improved pasture.  Not buying in hay would be a miraculous event up there with the virgin birth!

4. We could get through a job without machinery breakdowns, rendering the weekend as totally wasted because we are not prepared for the next priority job, which in all likely hood involves that same tractor, bobcat, chainsaw, or excavator.

5. The goat’s hooves would never need trimming again. I am sure the universe is laughing at me. I hated doing pedicures in my job, now I do up to 60 pedicures x 4 legs in a day. This is a back breaking mammoth day about every 3 months on the most ungrateful goats that push and kick the minute their leg is lifted for their beauty treatment at Somerset Spa. I was reminded the the hard to wear gloves when tending to their hooves and discovered that toilet paper is useless as a bandage, it soaks up blood but sticks to skin. The goats take no notice when I tell them quite crossly that humans paid a lot of money for me to beautify their feet. Opening my mouth to tell them off also has its dangers, flying bits of goat hoof, dirt and manure are common. So I am hoping the fairy pedicurists will come while I am sleeping and take care of this little matter. 

6. Mr Wild Piggy Snortworth will stop inviting my goats to picnics outside of our property by facilitating an escape route under the fences. We were sure goat Alcatraz was secure until I discovered my herd trotting down the road on their way home after a foray from gaol.  Then they spied the open gate to the driveway lined with delicious young trees. Dessert time!  No doubt the charge was spearheaded by Jasmine and Jade having sampled and destroyed over half the original tree planting on an earlier occasion.  This brings me to wish number seven.

7. My driveway planted with an avenue of Manchurian Pear trees does not get attacked by rampaging  goats for a third time, stripping branches and snapping the young trunks in half thereby setting their growth back by years and causing me to have a total meltdown.

8. I thought a mother was supposed to be life-giving and nurturing but sometimes Mother Nature can be a bitch.  I guess it is too much to ask for a lovely balance when it comes to the weather instead of the extremes we are subjected to. Perhaps if Mother Nature wishes to go to extremes she could also make money fall as rain every now and then, - that would be Australian dollars please.  

9. Now if Mother Nature would comply with my wish at number eight, as in raining money, we could fly with plans of new goat handling yards instead of modifying our 60 year old dilapidated, rotted wood, cattle yards held together with wire and chewing gum.  It is such hard yakka doing any husbandry for the goats in these yards designed for larger animals. 

So my New Year wishes may be as unattainable as resolutions that become dust by the third week of January but one can hope! 

May your tractor keep chugging, the bees and butterflies visit your garden, may your trees flourish and you accomplish your goals for this New Year!