Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Shepherd for 35 Years

On our trip of the past five weeks we met some incredible people and learned of some wonderful stories. I’ll be blogging on a few of them over the next couple of days.

We were looking for a spot to do a picnic and drove down a back road, turning around in a farmer’s yard. Betinha said, “They have a wonderful flower garden. Let me jump out to take a couple of pictures.” In all of our travels we’ve never seen better flower gardens. Virtually every house than what we passed in our 1,300 mile driving trip in New Zealand had beautiful flowers. Very English!

The farmer was standing in the yard and was pleased to allow his flowers to be photographed. While Betinha wondered around snapping photos I carried on a conversation with him about his farm. Frank Brady admitted that he was in his 80s although he looked many years younger. He ran a few sheep on his small farm and had kept a herd of sheep dogs from his days of working sheep for a living. He told me that he got as much work as he wanted in retirement since, “The young people don’t seem to want to work too hard.”

“I worked for 35 years on Ngamatea, a 250,000 acre sheep operation. Would you like to see the recent book written on it?”

Frank pulled out a very nice book that had many pictures, some of him as a young man.

“The whole place was about 250,000 acres. It was 35 miles long by 25 miles wide. We raised about 30,000 ewes (mother sheep) and 10,000 weathers (castrated males). We had to pack it in and stayed out there for about nine months. We all lived in a small hut with bunks that was about 12x15 and had a dirt floor. We dug holes in the hillside where our dogs stayed to keep them out of the snow.”

Frank showed us one picture in the book of him taking a bath in a small tub out in front of the hut, laughingly telling us, “They should have gotten me in the all-together.”

Delightful man with many memories.

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