Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Saturday, 10 March 2018

8 tips from a novice entering a country show.

After visiting the  county show  in  our beautiful  little  town as  a spectator  for a number of years, I decided I had to be a participant in the show this year; it was a yearning to be part of the community, which should be the overriding reason, but...... I think, no I know, I am a tad competitive.....So much so I practised chucking a gum boot all around the paddock the day before the show.  The goats decided it was safer not to  hang around me!  When hubby saw me practising he had a chuckle then started to offer constructive tips. By the 10th throw I had figured out the best way to hold the boot and the exact angle to let it go for best trajectory distance.  I was sure I had this event in the bag!

Well I guess that is Tip #1 – Practise. The old saying practise makes perfect. If you have your eyes set on the baking section use the family as guinea pigs before hand. Write down every little alteration you may make to a recipe so you can duplicate the home winner.

Throughout  my schooling  years I  was a good  sprinter so I intended to  enter the  adult running races, mind you, I have not run since leaving school, and all that sprinting has ruined my knees. My husband was not so keen for me to enter this one; he is recovering from a hernia operation and said he was not carrying my broken down body back to the car.

Tip #2 –Realise your limitations (hubby’s not mine!!)

A neighbour told me the pavilion program did not change from year to year; with this in mind I perused last year’s guide for the pavilion exhibit sections to decide what I would enter.

Highest on my ‘must enter’ list was ‘A county ramble’ in the floral and decorative section.  All content had to be from the roadside or paddock, nothing to be from a garden, and displayed in a suitable container. I was in bliss, our paddocks yield up the most interesting and beautiful treasures.  My container was to be a beautiful half piece of naturally hollowed tree limb. All year I collected amazing pieces - colourful bird feathers, nest, sculls, broken pieces of discarded small farm implements, lichen covered twigs.  To my huge disappointment when I checked the new guide a month ago ‘A country ramble’ had been replaced by ‘In the backyard’ a design to resemble a backyard with accessories....Are they kidding??  Good luck with getting entries for that one!    

Tip #3 – Check the new guide before getting carried away...

And no, there were no entries for that class! Here follows the next tip.

Tip #4 – If you are aware a category is not highly contested or popular, enter it. Chances are you will get a first or second placing.  Although I notice where my daughter lives the local country show is huuuge! This particular show society have a rule if only one item is entered for a class it may not be judged. Again check your local show society guide for their rules.

I decided on twelve items to enter in the show. Four of photography, a handmade teddy bear, two covered coat hangers, two chutneys, a lemon butter, a steamed pudding and a boiled fruit cake. 
The day before the show the hall was abuzz with people dropping off their entries.  Many entries were already in place, it gave me a chance to have a wee bit of a preview to see how talented the people in our town are.

On the day we parked at the far end of the showground, stopping on our way to the pavillion to watch the sheep and cattle judging. I was being a cool customer, what will be will be, racing to the pavillion to check out how I went would not change the outcome. 

Finally at the pavillion the first display on entry was the baking section. 

When I had dropped my entries off a neighbour was helping to take the cakes in the baking section.  In conversation she gave me a clue as to what I was up against with judging in that section. Oh my!  How could I have the audacity to pit my novice competition cooking skills with that of the Country Women’s Association judge?!  Big mistake!  

The judging criteria by these CWA judges is strict, rigid and pedantic, do not stray from the guidelines or for that matter, from my observations, from the absolute traditional. 

I was told this particular judge was ‘extreme’ in her criteria, wanting to disqualify entries. I suspect my untraditional boiled fruit cake was one.  I am reliably told she went on and on about how much she hated the decoration on my cake, ripping it all off, and how entrants must follow the rules. Nowhere in the guide lines did it state I was not allowed to decorate my boiled cake so possibly this was a foible of the judge.

This one did not impress the judge

My steamed pudding has been a huge favourite with family and friends for years. It is sticky, super rich, chock full of fruit deliciousness but it didn’t pass muster either. What on earth do the judges know if they don’t bother to taste the entries!

In both classes there were only three entries, with only a first and second place awarded. Never mind, hubby and I are gorging ourselves and enjoying immensely my self awarded third placed cooking efforts.

Tip #4 – When it comes to the baking section in this class, do not decorate anything unless it states ‘iced’, you will upset the sensibilities of the judge. Traditional recipes appear to be more favoured. 

My mango chutney was awarded third place in the ‘other chutney’ category. I did enter another variation of the mango chutney that was not placed.  I really didn’t think the chutneys would do well as usually chutney needs three months to mature, lose the acidic taste and for the flavours to meld. Mine were only 8 weeks old.  What I noticed was the chutneys placed were of a ‘honey clear colour’ where as my chutney that did not place was cloudy.

Tip #5 - Apple cider vinegar in chutney rather than normal vinegar boosts the chutneys colour and reduces the time the chutney needs to mature. Yay for my chutney in 3rd place!  The use of ground spices rather than whole spices in a spice bag will make chutney cloudy or muddy as in the case of my second chutney.

The sunshine captured in a jar, aka lemon butter was hotly contested. Mine did not place; it sure wasn’t for lack of anything but an egg yolk or two.  It was obvious to me all the winning jars used extra yolks; they had a creamier, thicker appearance than mine.

Tip #6 - A mixture of whole eggs and yolks offers an ideal combination of lightness and richness for lemon butter and it appears this may be what the judges are looking for. Whole eggs produce a lighter result. Don’t forget to wash the wax off bought lemons, before zesting them and be careful not to grate into the pith as this is bitter. Straining the cooked lemon butter is super important to remove any bits of cooked egg.

I was trying to be cool and calm taking a stroll around the pavilion looking at all the exhibits rather than running straight to mine. That was until hubby grabbed me by the arm and said, “You have to see your teddy bear, now!” 
Before my astonished eyes was a purple grand champion ribbon draped around my bear. I had won the highest award over every other hand made item in the section! Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this.

I love my teddy bear

Hubby raced off into the room displaying the photography leaving me in joyous tears in front of my bear. He came back out to me urging me to leave my bear to see the photography. 

Really?  Was that a first and blue ribbon attached to my triptych (three photos in a series) entry? I looked to see if I was mistaken, surely it was for the one under mine, but no, the first card had my name on it! I had only entered this one half heartedly, thinking it was not good enough.

Husband turned me 90 degrees to the back wall and there was my photo entered in the ‘Braidwood Perspective’ with a highly commended card under it. I walked over to it in a daze, with my mouth open.  

Yet again my husband came over to me and asked ‘if I was feeling clever and was my head growing with my success?’ I just nodded dumbly. He replied to my nod, “then get ready for your head to get bigger” and took me to another wall. There was my nature photo of a wattle bird with a second award!  Don’t even ask me what the first place photo was; I was too stunned to take it in. 

Tip #7 – Don’t under estimate your photos, if you particularly like a photo you have taken then enter it. After studying the photos entered, particularly some with a similar subject to mine, I still can’t figure out exactly what the judges are looking for.

Did I say I was trying to be cool and calm? That disappeared when I excitedly hurried back into the main pavilion room to see how my covered coat hangers had done.  Woo hoo!  A first and second placing! 

I floated around the pavilion on cloud nine, looking again at all the exhibits, still bewildered but excited at my successes.

You may ask how I went in the gumboot and running events.... I totally missed them because I spent too much time drifting around the pavilion!

The Show Society was running an Instagram challenge with a first prize of $150 and second prize of $50 for the best photos taken at the show on the day. It is always hard to know what sort of a photo depicts and encompasses the image of the country show. What the heck, I was feeling buoyant so I entered five photos I shot of the day.  

My hay bale stacking photo won second prize!!!

Tip #8 – Just do it! Be part of the day, the show’s success depends upon participation, the more participation the more enjoyable the day!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dancing with goats.

I’m really not sure where the saying ‘Silly old goat’ came from, be assured goats are very intelligent.  Silly old humans would be more aptly applied to us when trying to use our wits against the goats when attempting to wrangle them in the old holding and handling yards.

Goats are masters of evasion, helped by eyes that can see 340 degrees around them and with the advantage of 4 legs easily out running our arthritic knees. Yells between hubby and I of “Go left, no right, Run! Run! Round the back, get behind them; cut off Psycho Bitch before she takes off”, are generally the order of business just to get them into the pens from the holding yard.

Our old German Short Haired Pointer was absolutely useless as a herder, she believed it was all a game of divide and scatter to the yard’s farthest corners.

It doesn’t help that goats have a fantastic memory; they remember the last time they went into the yards when I either stuck a thermometer up their bum or squirted a nasty tasting liquid down their throat; it could have been worse and been the other way around!

After about 30 minutes of goat anarchy, we usually manage to get about half the herd into the pens; these are usually the pets and quieter ones. 

Psycho Bitch and Crazy pants have avoided capture and taken the scattiest of the herd with them.

The actual handling yards are designed for cattle. Being over 60 years old they are in an extremely dilapidated condition, the timber is rotten and precariously held together with bits of wire.  The yards have done the job but they are not at all suited for goats. It would be very difficult if not downright impossible for me to do goat husbandry in them on my own.

The pens are the wrong shape and size for naturally pushing the goats into the race. The goats do an avoidance dance around the pen while hubby and I perform our version of a Maori Haka. We puff out our chests, bend our knees, arms are outstretched and madly waving up and down while clutching our weapon of choice - our hats, and stomp in a bent over position behind the goats while making weird guttural noises to send them into the race. Doing this we can normally get a least 4 or 5 goats in there at once, but not enough to stop those ones doing a tango up and down the wide long race.  

The pet goats stand in front of the entrance to the race with their heads cocked to one side looking at us like we really are stark raving mad, but still stand their ground, refusing to enter it. A bit of a forceful push on their rump helps.   

Life would be so much easier if the goats in the race  would happily trot down to the cattle crush, but no.  The next step is to grab a goat by the horns. Horns are wonderful handles but goats hate to be held by the horns and forget getting them to come quietly along with you, oh no, the description ‘stubborn goat’ really comes into play. They lock their four legs and push their heads down and it becomes a game of tug-o-war into the crush.

The crush just acts as a big cage, where hubby holds the goat by the horns while I do whatever is necessary.

Needless to say, working with goats in these yards is hard work with husbandry jobs taking twice as long to do.

Over the years we have tried to modify the yards with sheets of aluminium packaging and they have been patched with sheep paneling until the beginning of last year when my husband pulled half the pens down on the other side of the cattle crush with the intention of transforming them into something more suitable for the goats but other jobs took priority over the yards, at least in a man’s opinion, and were left!!

So last time we danced with goats was the final straw for my patience. This crazy city goat woman totally lost her cool...... The yards are back at the top of the priority list. 

Friday, 3 November 2017

Stalking a Red Belly Black Snake.

What to do when a Red Belly Black snake takes up residence under your wheelbarrow water pump cover? 

You sit and wait patiently for snakey to vacate, 'cos if you don't see it leave you don't know if it is safe to remove the wheelbarrow to use the water pump!

Australia has a good share of highly venomous snakes. Our farm has three of these,  the Eastern Brown snake being the most deadly and aggressive of our Australian snakes,  it is also ranked second most venomous snake on the planet! Coming in at seventh place for nastiness is the Copperhead snake and taking out tenth place is the Red Belly Black snake.

So when you spy a black tail hanging from under the wheelbarrow you sigh a little in relief, "Could be worse." 

When we first started coming across snakes on our property and mentioned our horror of  stumbling upon a Red Belly Black snake the locals were so blase. "Ah,  blacks are okay. Leave them alone and they won't bother you."  

My thoughts at the time - "Are you kidding? It's a venomous snake! It's like, - well, - slithery, fork tongued, scaly and above all scary."

Here I have a confession to make. I think the Red Belly Black snakes are rather beautiful. No, I don't think snakes are beautiful, it is the black and vermilion red of this snake that is gorgeous. I do admire Red Back spiders for the same reason. 

I have learnt the locals are right, the red bellys are not aggressive and would rather slink off in the opposite direction than have a confrontation with you. Just don't threaten them by stepping on one, give it a fright or try to grab it, then the story would be different.

So I watched and waited for two hours for snakey to come out.  I will call the snake  a him, I have no idea or inclination to try and sex a snake. We played peek a boo with him popping his head from under the barrow and tasting the air, to see if it was safe to venture out. By the time the shadows moved across the barrow I imagine it became too cold under there for him and he finally slid out. 

I was deceived by his small head, thinking he was a little snake when in reality he was nearly a metre long.

He slunk into a sun drenched grass spot, flattening his body out to absorb the radiant heat.

He may have vacated his temporary sanctuary but my snake patrol was not over. Beavis and Butthead, my  goats, had decided the reeds at the dam presented the best option for lunch and could not be deterred from this gastronomic delight. The snake was sunbathing, deathly still, a few metres away. I was scared the goats would inadvertently step on him and be bitten.

After warming himself up Mr Snake took off over the paddock. I followed at a discrete distance to make sure he didn't hang around. Boy, did he slither fast once warmed up.

To my delight he was heading for the boundary fence but then seemed to have a distinct purpose in mind, halting at a decaying tree stump and quickly sliding in and out of the fallen wood. Then without hesitation he went straight up the stump, the top part of his body disappearing into the hole at the top. I figured he was looking for a new snooze spot in the rotten center. 

I was about to turn away, believing my stalking was complete, when I heard the weirdest noise. It is so hard to describe. It was like a high pitched squeaking sound like a cork being twisted into a wine bottle. The snake appeared to be trying to squeeze the thicker part of its body downwards into the trunk hole with a twisting motion. I honestly thought the snake was stuck and wondered how it was emitting that distressed sound.

All of a sudden he backed out of the hole with the back leg of a frog between its jaws. That dear little frog was trying to hang on the the stump with all its might but Mr Snakey was not letting go, he had brute strength on his side.

How I wanted to rescue that little frog with its front leg waving imploringly in the air!  Three gulps, frog was gone. There was no way I was going to try to wrestle and deprive Australia's 10th most venomous snake from its meal. 

That snake went straight back up into the tree stump and dragged out a second frog. Lunch was on!

A third investigation of the hole left him without dessert. He slithered all around the fallen wood on the ground, seemed not to find anything further and finally went through the fencing wire into a heap of leaf litter to digest his meal.

At last we could put our water pump on. We will be extremely careful taking the cover off the pump in snake season from now on.

The dam is still alive with the sound of frog music, so I am pleased to say Mr R.B.B. Snake has not decimated the frog population.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Does mumma need a gun? Stock euthanasia.

Where to begin? I am anti gun. I hate guns. To me a gun represents violence. I applaud Australia’s strict gun laws. As a city girl I can’t think of a possible reason outside of sport anyone would need one in the city sprawl.  Hunting is no longer a subsistence requirement among the skyscrapers and urban landscape. I am quite sure the local suburban parks now have wild children not wild game running about them. City hunting and gathering is done at a supermarket. 

I am so anti gun I would not allow my son to have a toy gun when he was little. 

I am so anti gun when my daughter came home from school at the age of five singing “50 bullets in your head, bang, bang, you’re dead” I was horrified and marched up to the school demanding to know why such a disgusting song was part of my child’s learning. I was so angry I was shaking.

I do think I had every right to be outraged about this because only two weeks prior to my daughter coming home singing this song a gunman had shot and killed 16 children and injured 13 other children in a class of five and six year olds at Dunblane School in Scotland.  My protest to the teacher fell on deaf ears. The teacher described it as a “fun action song”.

I explained to my daughter I would prefer she did not sing it and my reason why.  Bless her heart when the class continued to sing ’50 bullets’ she refused to join in.

And then we go and buy a farm and stock it with animals.......

Most farmers own guns as a necessity to dispatching vermin or as a humane way to euthanise stock, which is an enormous responsibility, deserving of being done right with utmost respect for the animal.  So, apparently we suddenly had a genuine reason to apply for a gun licence, and to own a smooth wood and cold steel weapon.....well husband did, I sure wasn’t having a thing to do with it. 

To my dismay my son also applied for his junior gun licence.

It always seems when I am at the farm by myself I have need of a goat to be euthanised and have to call on a neighbour to do the deed.  I feel really bad I have given someone else this sad task, but also thankful I am not the one to have to do it and usually hide so I don’t have to face the action of it. 

It is easy to settle with a natural death and to deal with the body of my herd goat, but I’m still having trouble deciding to take a life away, even if it is to stop suffering.
Farmers think differently to city dwellers. They have a matter of fact attitude to the life and death of stock.  

The last time I had to ask my neighbour to put down a goat because she had septicaemia after retaining two dead kids and was slowly dying, I decided I had to toughen up and be with him as he shot her. How could I expect my soft hearted husband or my neighbour to do this without understanding and experiencing the process myself? 

I was warned what to expect. It was confronting. There was the most vivid thick red blood.  Yes it was quick; I am told death is instant despite nerves making the animal twitch. The action was still violent compared to a vet giving the 'green dream' (an over dose of anesthetic)  where the animal gently fades away, but the green dream is not an economical solution when it comes to stock.  

Today I look at my husband with compassion as I have to send him off to put down “Numberoneson”, a dear old favourite male goat in the herd, who can’t get up and won’t make it through another day without undue misery.  

My husband is a gentle natured man; this is only the second time he has had to euthanise one of my goats. He has become extremely quiet, probably contemplating what he has to do but does not want to do. I ask my husband if he wants me to go with him, he hesitates but says “no”. The coward in me is relieved. I sit in the house shedding a tear for both Numberoneson and my husband as I hear the shot ring out.

Will I get my gun licence specifically for euthanasia for my goats? I won't say never, but for the moment I have searched my soul, I don’t believe I am strong enough emotionally.  I know I would be a sobbing mess and not be able to pull the trigger, or close my eyes at ‘that instant’ causing 
excessive suffering to the animal.  I am glad I witnessed the putting down of my doe by a competent man and feel somewhat comfortable knowing an animal will not suffer providing the shot is done properly. I have the highest respect for anyone who has to do this. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Aliens are landing!

My usual ritual during the early weeks of kidding time is to walk the paddock before I go to bed to check on the mums and bubs

One particular evening I was annoyed to find the girls were having a night out at the local hay bale; their babies had been left alone all over the paddock. One kid was acting as fox bait; it had climbed through the wire fence and was curled up in the adjoining paddock.  Even the alpacas had decided to have the night off and were at the opposite end of the paddock playing hooky.  I had to re-soundly tell the mums off and yell at the alpacas to get back to work.

After huffing and puffing from carrying armfuls of kids from the far corners of the paddock back to their errant mothers it was time for my bed.  

On the way back to the house I took a moment to take in what an exceptionally beautiful clear night it was and admire the unbelievable splendour of the night sky. The evening sky away from city lights is breathtaking.  The limitless expanse of blackness was ablaze with a canopy of billions of luminous stars. 

I stood in the middle of the black paddock for a few minutes gazing at this wonder and spotted a aeroplane. 

Well I thought it was a plane, but where was its blinking red lights?  It was really bright and it was a strange shape that seemed to be just hovering in the one spot.  Perhaps it is Venus?  No, it was moving, but surely far too slowly for a plane or satellite?  What was it? Did it just take off quickly then stop again? 

It was at about this point my fertile imagination began kicking in.  I started to think about the Mel Gibson movie ‘Signs’.

Yes, a UFO was hovering over my farm about to land and I was all alone!  

It makes lots of sense for a UFO to land in a rural area, there’s plenty of land, easy touchdown.  No intelligent alien would land its craft in the middle of a busy Sydney street, there’s no room for manoeuvring; it would cause a huge traffic jam and then, no doubt, a car driver with road rage over being inconveniently held up would start swinging a base ball bat at it.

My heart started pounding. I was a sprinter in my youth, I am quite sure I broke my own personal best record running back to the house.  

The door was slammed and locked. I raced from room to room making sure the windows were closed and shutting the blinds, terrified I would see something on the other side of the glass looking in at me.  

If the all the lights were off, maybe the aliens would go somewhere else?

I was waiting for the house to light up, being infused with blinding orange light; the windows and doors to start rattling and banging.  I was not up for any close encounters of the third kind.  

Truly, I was mentally looking for somewhere to hide in my teeny tiny cottage know, just in case. Aliens wouldn't think to look in the broom cupboard, would they?  Yes they probably would know I was squished in there.

Should I grab the aluminium foil to start fashioning a helmet so my thoughts could not be read by the visitors? No that would take too much time, a large saucepan might work, also doubling as a weird creature wacker. 

Like a child I dived into bed and threw the covers over my head, hoping a ball of light wouldn't materialise into a starman hanging out on my veranda. As I hid under the bed covers a mantra kept running through my head, "It was only a plane, it was only a plane" until I convinced myself that was all the unusual light was and I could fall asleep. 

All this time I knew I was being irrational, silly and far too imaginative.  Obviously I have watched too many Sci-fi thrillers.    My strange light was probably just a plane.... but who is to say it wasn’t a unidentified flying object.   

A number of months later I was visiting the coast, which as the crow flies is not so far away from the farm.  The local news reported “A bizarre shining orb filmed hovering near the coast late last month was not from any identifiable source.”   I felt quite vindicated for my galloping imagination. 

"There's a starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
but he thinks he'd blow our minds"

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, off to olive picking I go!

I think I sort of invited myself to help with the olive harvest at Narranghi Olive Grove situated just outside of Braidwood.  I met Kerry and Paul, half owners of the grove with Kerry's sister Di and her husband, through a friend who had talked about the fun she has every year helping out at the harvest. The harvest sounded like a great social event, I figure if someone willingly goes back year after year to help friends out for gratis, simply for the joy of being there and the good company, it’s something I would also like to experience and I’m always up for learning something different. And learn about olives I did, as well as being so well fed over the weekend I thought I would go home and have a food baby! 

Kerry is such an organised woman with her well planned map of the grove with every tree numbered, row by row. I am sure she knows each individual tree and whether it is a dud or a darling. 

Anyone who wants to cultivate olives must have a patient personality, that counts me out! A tree takes over seven years to show its first fruiting and then it won’t be until it is 15 to 20 years old before bearing at its best. 

The olive trees require a lot of work, they must be properly pruned to insure the fullest possible exposure to the sun’s rays. 

Pruning aficionado Paul.

Once one job is finished a new job on the trees demands attention, whether it be spraying for lace bugs or sooty mould, or constantly checking the irrigation lines haven't been pulled out by the pesky rabbits.

Picking begins after the olives have been nipped by the first cold of winter, the fruit can be harvested when it is green and unripe, fully ripened to black or any stage in between but no matter at what stage of ripeness all olives need to be processed before they can be eaten, I believe they taste dreadful 'raw'. I wasn't falling for Paul's cheeky joke to a rookie picker that I could eat as many olives as I wanted while picking. 

There are no mechanical harvesters at Narranghi Olive Grove, it is all done lovingly by hand and lots of loving hands are needed when a grove consists of 700 trees!  I am told the mechanical harvesters used by some large commercial growers, grasp the tree by the trunk then shake the bejings out of it to drop the olives, however, the trees are sensitive to being so assaulted,  therefore many boutique growers prefer to hand harvest.

When olives are harvested by hand, sheets of netting are placed on the ground under the trees to catch the fruit.

A sort of milking motion is employed to strip the fruit from the trees. When we weren't talking and laughing I found the hand picking puts one into a meditative, calming zone. The hardest thing about picking is to be aware of where your feet are so you are not prematurely squishing the olives on the net. 

For those higher branches a long handled plastic rake is used to comb the fruit out. Wendy was determined to get to those olives at the top of the tree.

After harvesting of a tree's crop is completed, the nets filled with olives are emptied into crates, which are then taken to be processed.

They are highly perishable commodities, souring easily, so that they must be pressed as soon after picking as possible. Narranghi Grove have their own processing plant.  

End of the picking day as the sun sets over Narranghi Olive Grove, an amazingly beautiful setting. 

What a great weekend I had, with a humourous, congenial bunch of people who made me feel very welcome. I might just invite myself again next year!

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