Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another foggy morning

There was another heavy fog this morning. I stopped four times on the way to work thinking "that will be a great shot" but only got one I liked and that was just after I turned out of my driveway. Just down the hill a few metres is a One Way Bridge sign. Every time it is foggy and I see the sign and can't make out the bridge I think it is funny. Guess I am easily amused!

When I first moved here I hated these foggy mornings, having to slow down to drive safely. I guess I have buttoned back a bit since then, both in driving speed and lifestyle. Now, when I first peek out the window each morning, if it is foggy I pick up the morning routine pace a bit so I can leave home 5 to 10 minutes earlier than usual. Initially it was simply to allow extra time for a slower trip but, as I started to see the beauty in the fog, I wanted to have time to try to capture it on film.

The day turned into our third in a row without rain! Another of those remarkable winter days we appreciate so much because we see them so seldom.

On the way home, while still on the sealed road, I came up behind two ladies moving half a dozen calves and a sheep down the road. The very sight of them brought a huge smile to my face.

I was reminded of the number of sheep and calves in this country that have an identity problem and remembered when my children were younger and we had animals like that on the farm.

Around the north (and I'm pretty sure elsewhere in the land) each year rural schools have a Pet Day. In the old days it used to be known as Calf Club Day but with the number of semi rural lifestyle blocks growing this has changed. Back when my kids were young, pupils at rural schools had either a pet calf or a pet lamb. They had to look after them and teach them to walk beside them on a lead and negotiate an obstacle course. It was easy to pick out which kids and pets had put in the training time.

One year my younger son had the best trained lamb I had seen. He had put in hours and hours, feeding, brushing and teaching his lamb every trick he could think of. It was a sure fire winner!

However, Calf Club day was unusually warm (usually around October when the spring animals are a couple of months old) . Bernie and his lamb performed like champions in the morning competition elimination round.

But when it came Bernie's turn in the finals after lunch his lamb just sat. Would not budge. No way. Bernie tried and tried and finally gave up in great embarrassment.

His father and I couldn't understand what had happened. This lamb adored this child, followed him as faithfully as Mary's had done.

We gathered up the childrens' pets and took them home in the trailer and the children came home a bit later in the school bus. Bernie came off the bus, walked up to his lamb, gave it a filthy look and a little kick, looked up at me and said, "You can eat it now!"

Trying to hide my amusement I asked him what had gone wrong. He explained he didn't have a clue, he'd been extra nice to it, given it a drink of lemonade at lunch time and even let it have a lick of his icecream!! (I really did have to turn my back and walk away then!)

All over the country there are animals that have been pets for Pet Day. Then, of course, they grow. Mothers get tired of them being in the yard, eating their gardens and generally being a nuisance and eventually they are turned out into the paddocks.

Trouble is, a child who lives on a cow farm (as we did at that time) might have chosen to have a pet lamb - and vice versa. So when the little creature is put out in the fields there are none of its kind around. They grow into adulthood thinking they are whatever it is they spend their time with. Like the imprinting that went on with the Canadian geese in Fly Away Home.

So when I saw the sheep with the calves this afternoon it was so obvious here was the same old story repeating itself. Heart-warming that so much has changed but some things are still the same.

I was bit slow getting the camera out and had to snap this out the front window of the car. Several calves have already moved off the road into their paddock on the left.

A few years after Bernie's lesson on what a lamb should eat, one of Justine's pet lambs became a real pest. We must have let her keep it around the house for too long because, although we lived on a sheep farm by then and it had a flock of its own kind to join, it had spent so much time around the house in the company of the dogs it had become convinced it was a dog. It simply would not stay with the flock, there wasn't a fence on the farm it couldn't get through to return "home". Time and time again we would walk it out to the flock and leave it there but it would always be back at the house by the next morning.

And the dogs had been trained not to both Lambkin. If we tried to discourage it from coming back to the house by getting the dogs to chase it away they would just look at us as if to say, "Are you mad? After the number of times you've yelled at me for barking at it?"

My ex was not in any way a soft hearted man and not known for giving in but that lamb beat him and in the end we let it live in the house paddock, the big paddock in which our house and yard sat. It used to sleep in the shelter of the dog kennels.

Every time we got the dogs from the kennels Lambkin would trot off at our heels along with the dogs.

And we discovered the easiest way in the world to move a flock of sheep. Instead of driving them with dogs from behind, I would have the job of walking in front of the flock with the pet at my heels and the flock would follow.

3 comments:

  1. What a great story of sheep from a country that has more sheep than man. I loved reading every word.

    Welcome to Friday shoot out. Where abouts are you. I am in Auckland, and the sheep I see are at One tree hill or when we driv down south.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I read posts like this I still marvel at how the blogging world has made us all neighbours. Thanks for the visit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a loverly post...... sheep are one of me favourite creatures, well besides Janet me chicken that is :)

    x

    ReplyDelete

I love to know who's visiting. Leave me a sign!