Painting the Town Pink

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, March 10, 2013

There is an invasive species of tussock grass that's causing a problem for farmers in Australia. It's believed to have come from South America as packing around some saddles (understand customs). Not really pallatable for sheep and competition for native pastures, it needs to be dealt with. With no natural predators, it propegates like mad and is spread by seed carried on the fur on animals. And when you have a mob of 300+ roos on your property, it gets around quite quickly. Because it's a non-native, farmers by law must remove it from their property. With 100's of acres of pasture land, this is quite a chore. We helped out by suiting up as weed busters and went out to paint the fields pink.

Now it took a little education for us, as the serrated tussock doesn't look that different from native tussocks. But soon we were off with backpacks of chemical strapped to our backs and spray wands in hand. Since the terrain of this property is sooo steep, we had to go in on foot to reach many of the places. The spray is dyed pink so you can see that there's bee adequate coverage and so you can remember where you've been. With so many clumps around, you can
easily get off track.

After painting the fields pink, it was time to get ready to paint the town red. Well, we got 'the girls' ready.

Yesterday, we separated out 8 lucky ewes who will go to the Yass Show on the weekend. We learned about desirable quallities for show merino sheep: nose shape, back straightness, bonnet shape, leg stance, etc. We learned the appropriate way to separate the wool for viewing without damaging it and we were even able to tell the difference between superfine and ultrafine by sight! (Something like 15 microns in width). We also learned how to tell the age of the sheep by the number of their teeth. Now with the best of the best separated out, it was time to give them some finishing touches and prepare them for the show.

Some of these sheep have never worn a halter before, or been held on a lead. This is a big adjustment! We practiced walking them out and shatnding with them until they calmed down. This will be like when they are being judged and must stand nicely. We calmed them, talked to them, and rubbed their muzzles and called them pretty girls :) We also had to get them to move their legs until they were standing the appropriate way for showing off their best side to the judges.

We also did up their wool. This meant trimming off little scraggly bit of wool sticking out beyond the bulk and sculpting the overall shape. It also meant trimming off any dags and fribbs.

Then it was our turn. Since it's a long weekend (Monday is Canberra day) we've been invited to the neighbours for a good old Aussie Barbeque!

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