Grazier's Best Friend
Having a really good work dog on a farm is equal to and even sometimes better than another worker. Nothing against Frank or Murray or anyone else that works on Glenwood – it’s just a fact.
In this day and age with increasing wages and a dwindling workforce, the working dog has become even more important. A good Australian Kelpie saves hours of labour, fuel costs and vehicle maintenance and improves the efficiency of moving sheep from paddock to paddock.At present we have 4 working Kelpies – Biddy, Didge, Susie and Zoe – they are all black and tan in colour. Working with Norm every day the dogs become very loyal and he becomes very attached to them. Carefully trained in their youth they are very gentle on the sheep being “light-mouthed” and always keep an eye on them from a safe distance. Their natural inclination is to remain at Norms heel until he provides simple orders – either a whistle or a verbal “go back”, “way out” or “behind”. It is fascinating to watch the “team” in action. Norm usually takes 2 dogs out to work each day and they ride with him on the back of the 4-wheel motorbike. When they are moving mobs of sheep in a paddock he will take the “paddock” dogs and when he is working in the sheep yards he will take the “yard” dogs ….. very inventive names I know!
At lunchtime he will rest them and take another two out that afternoon. Norm will often take an older one with a younger dog so they learn from each other. In the extreme heat of Summer Norm will do sheep work very early in morning or late afternoon to look after the welfare of the dogs and the sheep they are helping to move.
Norm has had many Kelpies in our 20 years of marriage. The beautiful thing about where we live is that when they come to the end of their working life they can “retire” and just poke about around farm.
I always laugh at the names Norm comes up with for the dogs – I think it was a family tradition started by his Dad, Brian. Some of the more unusual names include Rolled Oats (our Jack Russell), Toothpaste and Bootlace. They have all been special to him but his favourite was Bid. She was extremely loyal and would sit and wait by the gate, his ute, bike or shoes for him to come. If I even tried to touch his boots I was met with a growl so I just left them out in the rain.
Norm was heartbroken when Bid passed away as he has been with those following. We have a special place on Glenwood where our “best friends” are buried and we always have a small service to commemorate their life and service on the farm.
Thanks to the very talented Matt Cawood for the main photo which he took a few years back when he visited Glenwood.
Until next time – stay safe and happy