Once again I am so glad I moved to Queensland! Every summer I give thanks for the green crops around me and the summer rain; the horrendous fires down south have been unbelievable. My son lives close(3km) to the Buninyong fire in Victoria so I am even more concerned, especially after the fiascos of Yarloop(WA) and Wye River(Vic). It should be clear by now that the fire services alone cannot be relied upon to save communities. The more ‘officialdom’ takes over fire fighting and the Rural Brigades are robbed of their common-sense decision making ability, the worse it will get.

It’s time every small town at risk, especially in forested areas, makes its own plans for fire safety with regular cool burn-offs in the winter, fire breaks, rubbish clean ups and community education to explain that this is NOT killing every endangered species around….simply making them a bit safer if they choose to live in a high risk area. With climate change making radical weather commonplace, the Greens will have to decide their first priority…trees or human lives. Of course the cool winter burns don’t damage trees anyway, most opposition is based on ignorance. Australia used to be regarded as leading the world in wild fire control, but sadly, no longer. 

We have the good fortune to have received lovely rain this week after a very dry Christmas period. The topsoil dries out very quickly, although these heavy black soils do retain moisture well, as I found when I was weeding my young trees. Great to find only 10-12 need replacing out of 320! I always wait for good rain before planting and only give an initial watering-in… the roots follow the moisture down as it recedes and establish quickly. The morning after typing this I went out to put the replacement trees in and had Roundup sprayed in my face by the next door farmer. He waited until the wind got up enough to blow it onto my trees?! Idiot. 

The last run of pups are leaving home/growing up. Last weekend two nice pups went to local farmers, so it will be good to have them a bit closer to home than usual. I used to sell a lot of rams and found most buyers came from far away, and the same often seems to happen with pups; more to be expected here, I guess,  as it is largely a cropping area. The demand for “going” dogs is huge; so many good working dogs die too soon, and very often there isn’t one coming along to take the old dog’s place in the team. 

From my point of view, there’s a huge amount of time, work and expense if I decide to run on more pups as they really aren’t mature enough to be sold as ‘going’ on cattle until at least 9 months, preferably older(….in my opinion). It’s a tough life working cattle, and a young dog deserves time to grow up a bit before being thrown in the deep end!

The bitches are starting to cycle again, and when I consider letting a young one wait for the following one to mate, I keep remembering all the promising youngsters who didn’t make it. I’m also anxious to get some nice dogs to carry on from Chopper and Wilson as the first pups look so good. With this in mind, Lily’s been mated to Chopper and Cara(Riana Cash II x Karmala Lara) to Wilson.

I took a couple of nice young bitches down to Jeff Ritchie recently for training, and also to get an outside opinion of them as potential stud bitches. It’s a good 12-14 years since we met and wonderful to see he still has such enthusiasm and affection for his dogs. He phoned a week later to say he was ‘over the moon’, they’re the best young kelpies he’s seen for years! I know that “self praise is no praise” but it was such a relief to have my opinion of Wings and Mocha endorsed by such an experienced dog man. It’s always easy to think your pups look pretty good, but are your standards high enough? Tony Parsons told me years ago that I was too critical; I replied that you’d never improve your dogs if you weren’t…. so maybe it’s started to pay off!