Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hugh's First Motorbike Race

Odette, Bonnie and Sophie, with Hugh on his motorbike.

Hugh says that when he grows up he wants to be a motorbike racer.
Well he is far from grown up, but he has already ridden in his first motorbike race.
Even though his birthday is not until December he received a Yamaha PW50 motorbike in October. There was no point buying it and putting it away for two months... :)
So with three weeks experience riding the new bike, he set of early on Sunday with Roger, with his bike in the back of the car. Roger was on duty as a first aid officer, but as there was only one injury for the day he had plenty of time to spend with Hugh. The Wasmann family had encouraged Hugh to ride at Collie, and he set up with them, even wearing Regan's spare outfit and protective gear.

Ready to race...

The gates are down...


Hugh is down! But not for long...

A bit of help from a competitor's father.

I didn't arrive at the track until lunch time, so I missed his first race. As the day wore on and the bigger bikes tore up the track it became quite hard for Hugh's little bike to handle the conditions on the sand track. By the third race he really struggled, and needed help to get through a couple of sections of the track. He toppled over a couple of times, and the commentator was really supportive, saying things like "it was the bike's fault" or that "the wind blew him over!" He described Hugh as "a helmet on wheels" because he was so small. But he looked like a real motorbike racer, and he came home with a medal. He was a proud and happy little boy.

Hugh may look like a motorbike racer, but Odette looks more like a fashion model!

A Farm Post

Roger with some carrots from his garden.

Not a fence post! It is just that I have not made a blog post about the farm for a long time. And that might possibly be because I am not on the farm very often these days. In fact I haven't been home much lately. Before I went to Japan there was a lot of preparation and weekly meetings in Bunbury, then ten days in Japan, and now I have had three days hosting Akiko from Japan and driving around the countryside. Last night the kids worked out I hadn't eaten dinner at home in six nights! (Although three of those nights I was with the family, and those three nights all involved sausage sizzles!)
Even though I didn't eat with the family last night because I got home late, I did eat the dinner Roger cooked. He was very proud to prepare for the first time a dinner made completely of his own produce - steak from his cows, with onions, carrots, pumpkin and beans from his garden.

New tomato plants in the garden.

Onto farm stuff...
Another reason I haven't posted about the farm is because there hasn't been a lot of good news. The winter and spring were very dry. We kept waiting for a decent rain to turn the season around, but it never came. Our crops are dismal, pasture is minimal, and we are offloading livestock to ease the pressure. The growing season was late to start, and then when we had rain it came in very cold and we had a record number of frosts, so nothing grew. Things held on with small amounts of rain far enough apart to really stress the plants. Each year we call it the "Spring Flush" when the wet winter turns into a warm spring and there is an abundance of pasture growth, far in excess of what the sheep and cattle can eat, and we can conserve the pasture for dry feed in the summer. This year it never happened.

Spring pasture should not look like this...

The hay crop was the worst I have ever seen.
The first year I came to Warragal Park (1995) I took photos of Roger in his waist-high oat crop. He battled to get his mower through it and rolled hundreds of bales of hay. This year the crop wasn't knee-high, and the area of crop Roger cut for hay would normally produce 200 bales of hay. He optimistically hoped for 150 bales, but the final count was a meagre 85 bales. And that is not enough to feed all our cattle through summer. The remaining oat crop which will be harvested for grain in December or January is likely to yield similarly. So without enough dry pasture and supplementary feed, drastic action was required.

Roger inspecting oats.

Much of the agricultural region in Western Australia has experienced unusually dry conditions this year, and for many it is not the first time their crops have failed. That means no-one has excess feed to take the livestock everyone wants to sell. And that could be disastrous, except that in the East the season has been exceptionally good. The severe drought in the Eastern States has broken, so farmers are looking to re-stock their farms. Which has been a real bonus for us. Probably a million animals have been trucked across the Nullarbor plain to farms in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

Our cross bred lambs from Wattle Creek were weaned early and 1,200 lambs were trucked to South Australia. Thirty cows with their thirty calves followed. Another 186 dry ewes went to an abattoir in South Australia, and some 600 wether hoggets are going onto a ship for live export. Today the stock agent is looking at some cross bred lambs at Warragal Park.

Poll Dorset/Merino cross lambs

Some of our remaining cattle.

Roger has managed the poor season well, and his burdened has been lightened with the sale of the livestock. Most of the sheep and some of the cattle would have been sold eventually, but we would usually expect to carry them through summer and fatten them for higher profits. Without the fodder that is not possible, so the limited resources will now be used to maintain the breeding ewes and cows, so that they are maintained in a good condition, ready for a good season next year.
And as an added bonus, there won't be so many sheep to shear in January, and most of the sheep sales, which usually occur after shearing, have already happened; so we have booked into my parents holiday house at Bremer Bay for ten days in January!!

Always look on the bright side...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dog Bite Trauma

When it happened, it was such a shock. Hugh loves dogs. He is always playing with Bobby, our sheepdog. So Roger thought nothing of asking Hugh to give a leftover bone from the barbecue to Bobby on Saturday. The rest of us were inside, so don't really know what happened. We can only imagine that the dog felt threatened that his food would be taken, and he has bitten Hugh. Being small, it was his face that was bitten. Hugh cried out to me as he stood outside the glass door and I had no idea what was wrong, only that he had blood on his face and was holding the side of his face. He cried out that "Bobby bit me" and I was almost scared to take his hand away form his face not knowing what was there.
I always freak out in medical emergencies. I panic and imagine the worst. I was already calling for someone to phone the hospital and get the car keys before Roger had looked at the wound. Roger is a volunteer ambulance officer so as you would expect he is much calmer than me in a situation where someone is injured. The blood doesn't worry him, and he will investigate instead of imagining the worst. By the time Roger had mopped up the blood and looked closely at Hugh's face I was lying on the floor feeling sick and shocked. But Roger was being a little optimistic when he stated that a couple of steri strips would be all that was required.
Collie is a small country hospital, and so our wait in casualty was brief. I would hate to have been sitting in a large metropolitan hospital for several hours before even being seen by a doctor, which is what happens all too often. The staff were kind, and passed no judgement on the manner of the injury.
I held Hugh's hand while the nurse cleaned the wound, and when the doctor came to investigate. But then I knew I had to take some photos. I snapped away happily while Roger and Hugh waited for the doctor to return, and Hugh was giggling and laughing and not too concerned at all. The Ibuprofen we gave him at home must have dulled the pain. I started photographing the doctor injecting the local anaesthetic, but Hugh moved his head and the wound was bumped and more blood poured out. It took three of us to hold him still while the anaesthetic was injected, and Hugh screamed blue murder. I started to feel a little unsettled. But once the area was numb the doctor could start the sutures, so I got my camera ready again and snapped a few frames. But all the meaty bits visible for the internal stitch were too gruesome and I had to leave the room and sit and watch the waiting room carpet for a while. Before long Hugh had seven stitches holding the wound closed, and a nice white patch over his temple, and a bravery certificate signed by the nurse.
We stopped at the deli for a drink and an icecream befor eheding home, and when Hugh got out of the car at home he got on his bike and acted like everything was normal.

Hugh looks pretty happy, despite the blood...

Being examined...

The anaesthetic injection - first try.


My view of the carpet tiles!