A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

Sunday 30 May 2004

Loaded in country Victoria and unloaded after a 12 hour drive in the ACT. Hard work but at $15 a bale obviously worth it and an alternative to increasingly scarce local sources.
Moving grass.

"Hay Hay it's Saturday" the driver joked out the window as the truck stopped in front of us, swirling up dust. This was a few weeks ago when the late afternoon sun was still warm and there was no wind. A few clouds had been 'promising' rain as usual, but we've had none for months. It was pleasant enough, but we'd been waiting about an hour for the truck, with a countdown on the arrival relayed to a number of mobile phones. So at around 4.00pm when it was due, cars pulling trailers, utes and a few traybacks stirred up the dust on the corrugated road to the riding school and horse agistment paddocks outside Banks (on the edge of the ACT). Two at a time we pulled up beside the truck and heaved the tossed down bales into our trailers, paid our money and left with the usual sharp scratches on our arms and string marks in our hands from handling hay.

I have only mentioned Kate's horses in passing in this diary. Although she obviously gets pleasure from them and we try to support her interests, the last twelve months has meant there's been some pain as well.

It was a long story of rushing into one purchase of a horse that wasn't right, borrowing to buy another, trying to get the first horse trained, not being happy with where her old horse was agisted and because of all the costs she was holding down multiple part time jobs, and trying to do Uni work and stressing out. I learnt to hate 'Horse Deals' magazine and we (mostly Jan) became the carers and the fall back feeders, ruggers and unruggers before and after work. Which always seemed to be in the dark given our working days.

Kate seems to have sorted it out now, she sold the problem horse at a loss, and has given a nice young girl a free lease of her old horse, Milo. The current horse is called 'Russ' and was bought sight unseen (with the usual vet checks)  from Tasmania and seems right for her in size and potential. As Kate has moved into Canberra to be closer to Uni, social life and after hours work, she's moved the horse as well. It's now closer to her than us and she's able to look after it without the hour long drives to Bungendore.

With all that, there's no denying that having horses around here is a true 'country' experience. The (mostly) girls who own them are lucky with the number of paddocks and agistment places that support the ACT and region. (If they or their parents and partners can afford them.) Drive a half hour in any direction from Canberra and you're in the country and having care of a large hungry animal also makes you aware of how the drought has hit so hard around here. From worrying about the horses overeating around Christmas time everyone is now feeding hay. If they can afford it.

Kate decided that the lucerne hay that is still available wasn't right for Russ so that's why she wanted to get some of the grass hay from the shipment that was coming up from Melbourne. It was a lovely sunny autumn day so we didn't mind that much. It took out an afternoon, a trailer hire and two trips into town for us which I'm sure added to the cost made the hay expensive, but Russ doesn't seem to appreciate that. Kate says he doesn't like it much.

Instead of making multiple trips with our small trailer we hired a bigger one for the afternoon. It took 20 bales exactly. (Most of which are still stored on our shed verandah.)

You can see from the bare paddocks why hand feeding is needed. That's Kate and 'Russ'.

Jan and Kate get the horse rugs at Riverview.


  Fred Harden 2004 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu

Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden