Friday, February 23, 2024

Ditch the dog catches up with Steve

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It’s been a while since Steve Wyn-Harris retired and Ditch went to live with John Wilkie in Whangaehu.
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By Ditch, as told to John Wilkie

Hey Steve, I heard John on the phone with you the other day, sounded like you were asking how I was doing, so I thought I better jump on the woofi to tell you it’s all good, mate.

Mind you, took a bit of settling in with the team. The youngster here set up to play-fight and I thought he was for real and got stuck in. Next thing the whole team were on me but I quickly implemented Plan B, rolled over and played dead, reckoning John would intervene and sure enough, in he waded and gave them all a growling, so got that sorted, bunch of wimps.

I’m just like part of the furniture now, long as nobody tries pinching the bone I’m chewing.

Here’s a pic of us from few weeks ago, on a rare fine day.

Pretty cosmopolitan bunch: 

Quinn from Waikato in the front, the youngster, specialist at kicking over his water bucket and nicking my mattress from under the rail and shredding wool all over the place. 

Baz on the left, a grizzly from central North Island, big bark, so good that on his first day he put 600 ewes through the side of the yard. He’s limited to the straight ahead stuff now. 

Then Bruce, from western Taupō, all-rounder, he’s the one with the bionic leg. TTA the op’s called, bit like a multiple ACL, expensive job but well worth it, never looked back. He goes out fencing with Rob and Jamie, but they invariably have to do a search party at home time, given his penchant for random olfactory pursuit – the ultimate “hunt away” he is. 

At the back there’s Chief, from up near Tolaga, an energiser frenetic you’d hardly know nearly karked it as a pup, another lengthy stay at the vets. The nurses loved him, so does John. He has daily “sit down” sessions and is so good at it he’ll sit down anywhere, except when he’s chasing sheep, but he’s getting pretty close to putting two and two together.

Then there’s me. I do all of that stuff. I’m the “sit down” king, and on “go back” I do my unassuming pootle round the fenceline, and before the sheep can snort and look up it’s too late, I’m on them with a woof.

And man, can I bark. I give John’s right ear drum such a hammering on the MUV, he thought about phoning the tinnitus hotline but they didn’t answer the phone, it just kept ringing … and ringing … So, apart from the odd cattle job, I’ve had to mostly stay home till lambing was done.

Talking about “go back”: Did you know that the Rottie side of me goes back to the Roman Legions when we were droving the mobile army rations? Got left behind in Germany when they deserted the place. The local Rottweil butchers took us up for all-round herding and guarding stuff, so there you go. No wonder I was a cinch for you to train, and a natural at this farming caper.

As for the pootle, well I done a beaut when we finally got a decent let off the hook come docking time. While the men were setting up the docking pen I did a pootle around this 70 acre paddock, had the ewes and lambs heading up the hill and on the way back to Waipukurau, but that wasn’t the plan, exactly, so I, um, got a bit of a rest clipped on the back of the MV, while my new kennel mate, Tank, sorted the job out.

Tank’s on retirement plan like me, from Bart and Nuku’s Mangaroa Station up past Wairoa. Bart whakapapas from coupla kilometres up the road from here, small world eh? Got a bit of nous too, this dog.

Anyway, I earned my stripes today helping draft hoggets from their  lambs, then keeping the hoggets up to the dagging crush after that, just me and the Boss, got me lots of “good boy” pats.

Hey, it’s tucker time!

Cheers then, from me and Tank.

PS Worked out pretty quick where the food got kept but I got a growling for charging at the feed-room door, just about bowling John over, fat old coot like me, only room for one of us in the doorway.

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