Friday, 13 May 2016

... and before too long ...

by Simone McPherson
The other afternoon whilst we were out on our afternoon walk, well really it was more of a stroll with my two companions Maxi and Lily pup.

We came upon Rocky and El Ranchero.  Rocky was being given some ‘shoulder in’ exercises.  You may be wondering what this is, this ‘shoulder in’ exercise that El Ranchero is teaching Rocky.   

Well a number of years ago I did too, as I had no idea of what he was referring to.  From memory El Ranchero’s explanation went something like this.

Image from Google image search
“… the shoulder in is best described by the man who created the exercise.  His name was Francois Robichon de la Guérinière who was born in France around 1688 and died in 1751 and there is a copy of his book in our Library L'École de Cavalerie, "The School of Horsemanship", which was published around 1730’s …” “Oh! Ok can you show me which book …” was my reply.

Image from the book "School of Horsemanship" by Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere -Magnificent etching by Parrocel
I was to find out that there was very little known of Monsieur De la Robichon Guérinière until he opened a riding academy in Paris opposite the Palais du Luxembourg.  Here he taught both equitation and everything else relating to horses.  By 1730 his reputation was such that the Master of the Horse entrusted him with the Academie des Tuileries, where he remained as director until his death in 1751 … “

Image from the book "School of Horsemanship" by Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere -Magnificent etching by Parrocel
… and here is a little extract that I found from Wikipedia  on this wonderful man who obviously had an understanding into the behaviour of the horse  “…  De La Guérinière is credited for the invention of the shoulder-in, which he called the "alpha and omega of all exercises"; he was the first to describe it. His treatise L'École de Cavalerie, "The School of Horsemanship", which was published in parts between 1729 and 1731, and as a complete work in 1733, is an important book on the training of the horse, detailing equitation, veterinary treatment, and general horsemanship. This book has become an important text for the Spanish Riding School of Vienna … “

Image from "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider" by Alois Podhajsky
El Ranchero told me that the whole idea of the ‘shoulder-in’ exercise is to create suppleness in the fore quarters and encourage weight carrying in the hind quarters – the back legs – instead of the front.  And the picture of Alois Podhajsky is an image of a ‘Perfect Shoulder-in stride’ from the Author himself, in his book “The Complete Training of Horse and Rider – In the Principles of Classical Horsemanship” which we too have in our little library here at the homestead.  

Fantastic images from Google images of Col. Podhajsky and General Patton to the right
Alois Podhajsky was a Colonel and became the Director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna 1939.  The home of the famous white Lipizzaner Stallions and his life is a story of Legends, Champions and Heroes.  During World War II, he managed to save the Bloodline, with the help of General Patton, who assigned the rescue of the horses to Col. Charles H. Reed …

Image Googled from
… and Col. Reed was instrumental in the saving of the horses – the Bloodline - from the breeding farm at Hostau, Czechoslovakia on the 28th of April 1945.  The horses, the Mares and the Stallions were kept under American protection for the duration of the War.

Excerpt from obituary supplied by Jane Reed, via

Colonel Reed, a career soldier, was born in Richmond, VA and was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia before going to West Point, where he graduated in 1922.
In civilian life he served as president of Williams & Reed of Richmond, a wholesale dry goods distributor. He was president of the Virginia State Fair for 20 years and a director of the Bank of Virginia.

Colonel Charles H. Reed died following a stroke. He was 79 years old.

As you can see I love how the ‘Spirit’ can move us as Human Beings to achieve things that are just phenomenal acts of bravery, kindness and compassion in times of darkness and hardships.  And to have that relationship with an animal is just astonishing to say the least.

I have been enjoying the taste of Balsamic Modena vinegar on many things too of late, including my toast in the mornings, as I can no longer consume saturated fats or animal fats.  The only oil I can consume these days is Virgin olive oil and Sunflower oil, so you can guess what I have been having on my toast … just as well I love Olive oil and savoury foods.

I have also become reacquainted with ‘Ricard Pastis’ which I enjoy over ice with a splash of soda just before dinner.  Now if you are not acquainted with ‘Ricard Pastis’ you may know its sister ‘Pernod’.  Both are Anise flavoured spirits served as an aperitif.  Pernod is distilled in Paris whereas Ricard Pastis is distilled in Marseilles from memory.

And I have been dabbling with the flavours of ‘Ricard Pastis’, pistachio’s, slivered almonds, the zest of a lemon, lime and an orange and into my Biscotti mixture and you will be astonished to find out that the result is ‘Heavenly’ with my coffee in the morning and here I was thinking that I had found the perfect Biscotti, well “News Flash” … now I have, well until the next brain wave at least.

This week also brought the gift of some beautiful bread’s Sourdoughs, Sourdoughs with olive oil and olives and a delicious little Turkish style bread with some friends that came down for the day, we gobbled up the little Turkish breads with a baked Sweet potato and ham soup with some lovely Kale from the garden

The girls came down to collect a little firewood and even El Ranchero got in on the act …

once we collected enough wood it was then a short drive to …

 … one of our dams near the Crutching shed …

… to troll for Yabbies, now every Australian usually has a childhood memory of trolling for Yabbies on a Farm dam somewhere in the bush in the summer months or even as a very thrilling event while visiting relatives on a Farm during Christmas.

Yabbies - Cherax destructor - are a small fresh water crustacean that can also be found in streams and creeks.  In some places they can cause quite a bit of damage where dams are concerned as they will burrow deep into the dam walls, hence the word “destructor” in their name.

These little crustaceans have adapted to the many different habitats throughout the Australian landscape.  These fresh water crayfish are in the middle of the food chain. They are basically vegetarian but also scavenge decaying plant and animal matter. In turn, they are preyed upon by many native fishes and water birds. 

The common Yabby forms an important part of the diet of white ibis, several cormorants, and warm-fresh water fishes such as the Murray cod and the golden perch or yellowbelly and these fish make good eating too when caught.

… and our friends where in search of these little critters as bait for they were off on  a fishing trip to the Coast.

So once we were armed with the necessary tools, a bucket and a contraption to scoop out the Yabbies that one of the girls had made …

… we were off to work and El Ranchero was the first one to start trolling for the Yabbies with much jeering on from us girls …

… then one of the girls showed El Ranchero how it had to be done …

… some of the Yabbies must have been monsters as all we found were ruminants of what they once were.

Even Max got into the mode of trolling for Yabbies too.

And before too long the day was starting to disappear and it was time for our visitors to get on the road before all the Kangaroos where out for their hour drive back to their home, it was a lovely way to end the day for us all …

Saturday, 7 May 2016

... for afternoon tea ...

by Simone McPherson
The other morning we were up early as we had to check the Creek paddock for water as it was disappearing very fast for the rains have not been coming as they usually do … and to our amusement we find Dominga with her new found friend a ‘Pretty-face’ Wallaby grazing together.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology
Each morning while getting organised for the day we always check to see what the weather is doing so that we can  make plans, if need be for the jobs at hand, and to our surprise we were extremely fascinated in what is being forecasted for the coming week.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology

By this map all the Pilbara region of Western Australia and the desert country are going to get some wonderful rain, which will flush out the creek systems and fill the inland Lakes.  Hopefully that wonderful rain will be coming our way too, nevertheless you really cannot plan too far ahead where the weather is concerted for it is shifting all the time.

After driving for about 20mins we are down on the Creek floor, and we loosen the electric tape so that we can drive through, then we start … 

… as we drive along  the creek bed we can see that the creek has definitely dried up.  There is also another task that we need to attend to while we are here, and that is to go in search of some cows with their calves that are missing from another paddock.  El Ranchero believes that they have either pushed through a fence or have been pushed; for we have sighted a mature Dingo living down in that creek area. 

Australian Geographic
I know that when these dogs hunt they usually hunt alone as they are loners.  However they are opportunistic hunters pursuing small game such as rabbits, rodents, birds, and lizards, eating fruits and plants as well. They also scavenge from humans, though they will not bring down cattle.  Ofcourse the Dingo is legendary as an Australian wild dog, though it also occurs in Southeast Asia and their origins are still a bit of a mystery.  They believe that the Australian animals may be descendants of Asian dingoes that were introduced to the continent some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, now that is a long time ago.
We drive along the creek bed as far as we can before taking the rest of the way on foot and we always travel with a firearm on these occasions, for a number of reasons. ‘One’ could actually fall /slip/stumble down a steep ravine, get bitten by a snake, have an incident with rogue cattle or just find whatever it is we are in search of and it is a way of alerting the other of your whereabouts. I carry my 410 single shot, shot gun it is a comfortable rifle to carry across this country whilst traveling by foot and some of this country is …

… very, very steep terrain …

However once we make the top suddenly we can feel that wonderful breeze fall upon us and the vista isn’t too bad either as we look out towards the South.

We decide that we need to split up to cover the distance that we need to cover with Maxi boy making big sweeps between us both, he is a ‘casting’ dog after all.  After a while I come across some tracks in the sand that are definitely not of Cattle.  I think it's an Emu print … I am very excited, 
Australian Geographic

… though I have never sighted any Emu’s in this country they are more likely to be found along the  Plains and Grasslands.

After three hours on foot I managed to pick up the cattle track and by the feel of their droppings I estimate them to be no more than five minutes or so away, I stop to hear any sound of them crashing through the bush, nothing.  Then I hear El Ranchero down on the creek floor with Maxi moving the cattle up the steep hillside on the opposite bank … and then I catch a glimpse of them as they disappear into the scrub … they escape us yet again, at least we know where they are camping now and we will just have to come out again on another day.

On our walk back to the Ute we walk along the creek floor and I cannot but admire the beautiful River Gums that are presently …

… dropping their old bark and revealing …

… their magnificent white trunks.

The past week has also had us busy weaning the calves, though this year we are doing things a little differently, we are leaving the Steers with their mothers for a little longer and weaning the little Heifers off their mothers.

While El Ranchero, Rocky and the dogs are out mustering I will usually attempt to catch up with paperwork in the office, until I hear a “ …clip, clop …” outside on the concrete veranda and who do I see when I peer around the corner … Rocky and El Ranchero.  El Ranchero is in for lunch and Rocky after his well-earned hose down is waiting for his ‘treat’ a lovely green apple out of the fridge as he gently takes the pieces from my hand he dribbles apple juice everywhere as he delights in eating that lovely cold apple.

I’ve also planted some more little Minuet lettuces to replace the Oak leaf lettuces,

Some Rocket …

… and I’ve trimmed back the little Kumquat trees …

… I’m attempting to finish up some jobs that were started way back before November 2015 … one was to repaint a wardrobe which I’m now tackling and at this time of year …

… I also re-oiled all our timbers inside with a mixture of 50/50 parts of boiled linseed oil – not raw as everything will stick to it and it is tacky forever as I found out a few years back … and Gum Turpentine that is to say a Turpentine that is made from trees and not mineral.  This mixture lasts me very well, the only thing is that El Ranchero finds the odour a little over bearing; I on the other hand do not as it reminds me of my days of painting in Oils which I no longer do after discovering all the new Acrylic paints they have manufactured nowadays for artists, the selection in colours is endless and they even have the depths that you can only really get from Oils.

… and on that note I have also started sketching again, nothing flash, just quick little studies …

… which has proved to be quite positive for me as my ‘Therapists’ recommended, and I have found the sketching very …

… settling for my mind.  I bring out the sketch book in the mornings when we have a coffee break and then again …

… in the afternoon for afternoon tea, which is about now, so have a great week and while I go and make that lovely cup of Lapsang Souchong and a traditional milky tea for El Ranchero who should be home soon for afternoon smoko …