It’s hard not to notice how emotive our current batch of leaders are. They’re always getting razzed up about some boring subject or other, then they emote. I don’t much care for that. The other day, our state leader appeared to be threatening jail time for journalists if they broke some rule or other. Not sure what that was all about, but he appeared riled-up to me with the look of barely suppressed anger. And if jail time was a prospect in just doing a job, would anyone ever do their job properly? I don’t think so. Anyway, seeing that response in action doesn’t fill me with confidence that if our leaders were ever confronted by an actual crisis, that they could keep their cool. And who wants to be lead by that?
Earlier in the year, Sandra and I went to an agricultural expo. During the expo we attended a workshop run by a guy who breeds and trains Kelpie dogs. Having two of that breed of working dog here, the workshop was of immense interest. During the workshop he handed a puppy to a small child (as you do!), and then proceeded to critique the kids interactions with the puppy.
As you’d imagine, the kid had a fun time and set to razzing the unsuspecting Kelpie puppy up. Turns out this is a bad thing for a working dog. The dog became over stimulated, was incapable of settling down and then wouldn’t take guidance. It was a bit of a disaster really. But the bloke made an important point.
After the workshop, the group headed out into an arena where the bloke put the young Kelpie pups he’d been training into action with a small flock of sheep. An older Kelpie dog sat on a platform watching the activities of the pups with the trainer and the sheep. It was an impressive display of self control for the older dog to just sit there.
It didn’t take long before the bloke gave the instruction for the older dog to get involved. Off the stand the older dog jumped, and into the fray. She immediately got to work with the sheep. It was an impressive sight to see the dogs working the sheep as a cohesive pack. They made no noise. There was no excited yipping or yapping, they just did what needed doing.
Not all of the pups were up for the job of herding sheep as directed by the trainer and older dog. One puppy in particular ran into the crowd and sought pats from the audience. That puppy sure was popular, but probably wasn’t much of a working dog.
After the display ended, the crowds dispersed, the dogs were put into cages. I had a brief chat with the bloke who bred and trained the dogs. I’d wondered about what happened to the Kelpie pup which ran into the crowd seeking pats. I even amusingly added: “That’s my kind of Kelpie”. Those dogs get sold off is what happens, and unsurprisingly, that’s how we came to have two of that breed of dog. Even at twelve weeks of age, you could tell that Ruby and Dame Plum had zero chance of making their fortunes as working dogs. They’re plenty good enough for us though.
Even so, all of the dogs here get training, structure, routines and calm leadership. That’s what they need, and that’s what they get. It’s taken a lot of effort to get to that point, and the dogs have both freedoms and obligations. They know what’s required of them, and I know that they know. When I call them to me, the instruction is calmly spoken. If there’s a lot of background noise, I’ll add a hand clap. But, there’s no point yelling (or emoting) at a dog like an enraged fish-wife from tales of yore, the dog will think you’ve gone crazy, and then promptly ignore you. What they want is calm leadership, then the dogs will put their trust in you.
Over the years in business I’ve experienced and employed plenty of different leadership styles. In my last role in big business I was asked to take charge of a team where the former manager had allegedly been involved in what is technically known as a defalcation incident. Not good. Anyway, at the time, the team was known to me as was I to them. However at the very first meeting to discuss the unfortunate situation and the new leadership, the team acted like a bunch of feral animals with a lady who was a particularly excitable ringleader.
Their behaviour upset me, but I gave them nothing, and simply walked out of the meeting. Went straight to the owner of the business, and said of the ringleader that: ‘she has to go’, and received immediate support for the decision. The trouble maker of the group had unfortunately been on friendly terms with the former manager. In the meantime and much to my surprise, the team had not left the meeting. I returned, sat down and as calmly as I could say to the trouble maker: ‘this is your last day, pack your stuff, you can go’. Then we all calmly got on with the meeting.
That’s what leadership looks like. Leaders are not in that role to be your mates, or provide emotional support, but neither should they display their fear of reporters by possibly getting angry and threatening them. Leaders have a job to do, and that’s to lead. And looking around, I don’t see too many leaders.
The weather has been quite warm this past week. Don’t fear, there have still been regular rain and storms.
On one day this week, the weather warmed up to 30’C / 86’F and it felt nice to be finally warm. The day produced a lovely sunset.
The warmth on that day was just enough to germinate the seed of some of the heat loving plants in greenhouse (Eggplants and Chilli’s). However, there are still cold spells in the forecast for the next week, so I dare not plant the seedlings outside.
The other thing the warmth has achieved, is to spur on the growth of the fruit trees in the orchard. The shady orchard, which is the oldest, now resembles a rainforest the trees have grown so much of late.
The sunny orchard is a few years younger, but still growing strongly. This week I managed to use the brush cutter (line trimmer in US parlance) to cut back the grass away from any of the trunks in that orchard (which was pretty much all of the trees). Grass really does successfully out-compete fruit trees for minerals and water from the soil.
In the above photo on the right hand side a large brown-ish shadow can be seen. That is a Manchurian Pear tree which split and fell over in a storm the previous week. All of the smaller branches (less than an inch in diameter) were cut away from the fallen tree and fed into the scary old wood chipper. I love using that old machine and it’s a beast of a thing.
The mulch produced from the chipping process was collected and used to feed the new hops and passionfruit garden bed.
Observant readers will note that the garden bed now has a neat rock wall. We also covered over the exposed clay in front of the rock wall with a load of crushed rock with lime. The middle vine in the above photo has begun climbing up the steel reinforcing mesh. No doubts about it, hops are related to Triffids.
For those who are curious, it looks as though the Manchurian Pear split near to the graft. More experienced folks in the readership may have something further to add in this regard?
The remainder of the fallen tree was cut up and either converted into firewood, or burnt off. I used one of the ride on mowers with a poly trailer to remove what remained of the tree, and at one stage I almost got bogged in the paddock despite the ride on having a locking differential and tractor tyres (tires in US speak).
In other work this week, we began dismantling the old raspberry enclosure. The enclosure didn’t work well because the walking space between the rows was too narrow so that during the summer months it was almost impossible to walk through the thorny canes to harvest the ripe berries. Several months ago we relocated about sixty canes, and they’re all doing fine. The fencing materials for the enclosure weren’t cheap and can be put to a better use. So we dismantled the fencing and recovered all of the materials.
An electric jackhammer was used to break up the concrete which supports the dozen or more timber posts used in the fencing. Then the timber posts had to be lifted out of the ground. That was hard work.
The work was almost finished when the heavens opened and the rain bucketed down. We ended up getting quite wet and cold, and hopefully all the equipment was undamaged by the rain.
The machine attachment I wrote about last week arrived. It’s a plough blade attachment for one of the power wheelbarrows. We have a specific future job for which it might do well.
The King Parrots have proven that they have impeccable taste because they’ve taken a liking to the radio aerial on the new Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny. Can’t blame them…
The rain combined with the warmer weather has brought out all manner of critters on the farm. The other evening I spotted this Pobblebonk Frog who was clearly out hunting spiders.
And there are plenty of spiders for the frog to eat, and do we want to find out whether they’ll kill us with their poisons? Hopefully the frogs keep the spider numbers in check.
Spring Produce update:
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 1,278.4mm (50.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,225.0mm (48.2 inches)