I personally love writing, and I spend a lot of time during the day and at night thinking about stuff to write about, but never write it down. I was given some advice on writing it all down, and this person told me 'not to get caught up with the structure of writing', grammar and 'structure' is not my thing. So, I apologise in advance for it.
So, take this blog as my huge leap to actually write 'stuff' down, how I see it, how I feel it and how I appreciate it.
The busted arse ringer I call Dad.
As Fathers Day approaches us once again for another year, I find myself thinking about my own Dad obviously, and all the Fathers, Dads, Grandads, Step-Dads, Foster Dads, Father-In-Laws and 'claimed' Dads that I know. It's not quite politically correct in thinking that a Dad is a biological parent to another human. Sometimes they can be a male that we look up to, see as a Dad. Like the saying, 'anyone can be a Father, but it takes a special person the be a Dad'.
I also think about the sadness it must bring to some of us, the ones who can't ring their Dad up to wish them a great day, go around for a cuppa with them, or spoil them with a card, only to send up a quiet prayer for them. This makes me appreciate my Dad that little bit more, and the fact he is still here to be able to enjoy the first Sunday of September with, and tell him personally to have a 'Happy Fathers Day'.
My Dad, well this is where the 'busted arse ringer' part comes in. I originally wanted to write a blog about my Dad, and Fathers Day makes it that bit more appropriate. I want to tell people just what my Dad is like, and of course everyone has the right to claim their Dad as the 'greatest Dad in the world', so I'm just going to tell you why mine is!
Dad on board his favourite mustering vehicle- motorbike.
Dad, on the grey cutting out in the yards when he was ringing in the channel country.
So, a quick brief about Dad, he has always called Boulia his home town, in the south west corner of Queensland, and the country pretty well runs in his blood. Dad went off 'ringing', as most young fellas do when they leave school out here in the 70's/80's, taking on rough horses, feral cattle, long days under the sun, and better yet, fun filled weekends at race meets, rodeos and campdrafts, walking away with happy memories blurred by a skinful of rum. Sounds dreamy doesn't it, chuck in some good looking women, the wide open spaces he got to witness, life experience, and of course the opportunity to meet my Mum, his wife. They met as a very stereotypical way, Mum was a governess, Dad was the 'ringer', ahh how romantic right? They kept in touch with correspondence such as letters and occasionally got on the community line of the telephone for everyone to hear their conversation. They eventually worked side by side until wedding in 1985 and then on to living in Boulia running the butcher shop. Two kids later, the property 'Lucknow' was purchased in 1989 and our family of 4 called it home. During this time, Dad tried, and mastered his hand at shearing, and roo shooting, in between running 'Lucknow' and helping out on the other blocks. Pop and MarMar retired and we moved again to the family 'jewel' being 'Goodwood', where Mum and Dad still live today.
Mum and Dad, young spring chickens.
Growing up, I guess my brother and I just took it for granted that we had a great 'bush' up bringing, full of dirt, mud, prickles, riding push bikes, dogs, sheep, cattle, and being home schooled by Mum and any poor governess/VISE tutors Mum took on to do battle with us. It wasn't until I got older that I realised how hard it would've been for Dad, and Mum. Looking through all the old photos reminds me though, that there were plenty of good, fun times. Get togethers were that much special as we had to drive a fair way to get anywhere, and in slower moving vehicles we have today.
Dad, my brother Thomas and I at Lucknow in the early 90's.
I know a lot of my mates can relate to having a 'busted arse ringer' for a Dad, but by no means am I trying to say that no other job/lifestyle isn't as demanding or doesn't deserve praise. I just want people to know my Dad's story, far from having an ending, and why my brother and I look up to him.
Dad, up the windmill, most probably oiling it, early years.
Most things in the bush are 'unwritten', we have unwritten rules and knowledge that are passed down to generations by word of mouth. Dad keeps a diary, not a 'had a fight with Mary today, I think she hates me' diary but a 'mustered 204 heifers out of 5 mile paddock Hedford and walked them to Goodwood yards' diary. He has kept a diary like this since his teenage years, and in them you will find history or weather, rainfall, stock numbers, bore maintenance, vehicle maintenance, endless phone numbers, and lots of other so called 'scribbled' information. But, it is all very valid to our lifestyle. It's history, written down.
Dad, keeping a close eye on Thomas learning to ride the peewee50 motorbike.
As upsetting it is to think about, I sometimes wonder what life would be like if something were to happen to Dad, and we'd have the rest of our tomorrows without him. It's these thoughts that lead me to remembering all the things I take for granted.
Dad knows all the creek names on our places, and he knows how much rain is needed to run water down them, and how high they will get. He keeps a well tuned record of all our bores, when one breaks down, he will look up his records and see when the buckets were replaced last, and what the problem was last time we pulled it, therefore coming to a conclusion of what is wrong with it even before we get there to fix it!
It's experience, year of it, years that I forget he's lived. The experience to know which way cattle will run in a certain paddock when mustered, that all pipe leaks can be fixed with duct tape and rubber, and that just because you don't know how to do something doesn't mean you don't know some one who does! Dad wears many hats, some more shiny than others. In one day he can easily try his hand at plumbing, electrician, mechanic, bore mechanic, auto electrician, butcher, boiler maker, carpenter and lord help us, chef and of course as a Dad.
Dad and I at the local race meet 2014.
He is a teacher, he has taught my brother and I a lot about cattle, weather, fencing, animal husbandry, maintenance and life.
I know to look for tracks everywhere I go, as they tell you a lot about cattle habits, feral animals, and sometimes trespassers. I know to think about the weather when mustering, cattle will walk better into the wind than out of it, and I'll know when they'll start looking for a drink, therefore when to rest them or to keep them walking to our destination. All this knowledge is unwritten, invaluable and so very precious. There are probably many things he has taught me, that I have forgotten the lesson as it is now just a habit, it's just the way things can be done.
As kids, he had a lot of faith in us and left us to our own accord to learn certain lessons ourselves. We'd be sent off by ourselves to muster a paddock of cattle, with Dad knowing that we would get it done. After a lot of cursing, arguments and sign language to express our sibling love, the job would be sure enough be good as done successfully.
He taught us how to handle and use a gun, weld, cut calves, brand, read stock when we're working them and naturally in the paddock, skin a 'killer', ride a motor bike, drive a car....the list is endless.
Thomas and I 'helping' Dad reload bullets, early 90's.
I left home after high school into the big world of 'employment', Dad himself landed me a great job at a Brahman stud south of Cloncurry. Within three months of being there I was given a pay rise as my boss couldn't believe my ability and maturity of doing my tasks each day. I have always put my work ethic and ability down to my up bringing, and the role models I had in both Mum and Dad. Leaving home was and is the best thing you can do, I learnt different ways to do things, what worked, what didn't, how to use different machinery, and to Dad's disgust, ride a horse. I have been 'home' now for nearly two years, after spending 6 years away working for other people and trying out different jobs.
Dad and I do butt heads, sometimes he just is a cranky old bugger who 'doesn't know a thing', which I know isn't true, but it's the only way to describe it some days. Of course I don't mean any other the negative thoughts and words I say, but what would be the use of me being here if I didn't push a few buttons?!
My brother on the 2 wheeler with Dad.
So, I've identified the fact that Dad is a wealth of knowledge. Growing up, I thought of my Dad as a superhero, and shamelessly still think this. When we were young, and Dad was away a lot, he was that bloke that came home every now and then, spent time with us and loved Mum. He was a bloke that could do anything, lift anything, fix anything, build anything and ride a motor bike like a pro, crickey what a rock star. Of course now, I realise he was just winging it like the rest of us! I've always thought Dad was invincible, could never be hurt, could get any beast back to the mob, he was brave and tough, nothing could stop him. I guess that's why it's hard when I see him in pain, or get hurt, which humans generally do from time to time. It all catches up to you, plus the years of hard work. I do get sad when I know he's in pain, but then I'm quick to remember that hey, at least I'm blessed to able to see my Dad grow old. Some people would do anything for the things I take for granted involving Dad, which I respect and need to remember, we all do. Like the good saying 'the worst part about growing up, is watching you parents grow old', but really, in a weird way, it's also the best thing.
The busted arse ringer, dressed as a rodeo clown, can in one hand, smoke in the other.....terribly scary looking! Quite the comedian.
Busted arse ringers can sometimes be mistaken for hard, harsh and uncaring men. They can be, don't get me wrong, but all the ones I have come across will be the first ones to pick a poddy calf up off the tail of the mob, scratch a dog under the ear, give a child a cuddle, and be proper quick to tell you that they love you. They are a bit like rocky road, rough looking on the outside, but pretty sweet on the inside, you've just got to scratch the surface and you'll see it.
The harsh ringer covering babysitting duties.
Dad usually got joke books for Christmas or Birthday, and he'll be the first one to tell a mad yarn or joke to who ever will listen. He'll go a couple of months and tell the same joke, and low and behold, it'll still be hilarious. He'll make me shake my head when we're out in public, as he'll be the fella over there in the akubra chatting to some person about first world problems. Can't find him? Just listen for his laugh that will echo decibels above anyone else's.
Take this busted ringer shopping and you'll get a laugh. I learnt from an early age that Mum had it worked out pretty well, you just buy him the paper, find him a bench to sit at and shop you're heart out without him in your back pocket wondering when we were done and could go home. But, not admittedly, he's a worse shopper than any woman, walk into a shop, be it Bunning's, and he'll soon discover all these new 'toys' he needed, and come out with twice as much stuff as originally planned. Sometimes public outings can only be described as like taking a toddler along with you, but a bit more fun as he has his own credit card.
Dad, never laid a harsh hand on us kids, it was Mum's job to bust the wooden spoon out! So, it was simple, Mum taught us manners, chores and talents in the house, Dad taught us respect and work ethic outside. All in all, I think my Brother and I turned out not too bad!
Dad and I riding our horses bareback at Goodwood early 2000's
He has always supported us, in what ever we have endeavoured to achieve in life. In more ways then one, he has 'made us' step up to the mark. My example for instance, there is always that level of respect for him as my boss, but it's little moments when we start a big muster without him, go ahead and put in a new trough without him, that show me that the respect is mirrored. As, in every busted arse ringer is a huge amount of pride, and only they can give the nod to it being slowly shared around the place. I understand this pride, and I know just how big of a step it is for Dad to 'let' me go ahead and take steps forward without him. Plus, we have to learn how to deal with things just as he could at some stage as well.
Dad, in the middle at Boulia rodeo, probably late 80's.
So, here's cheers to all the busted arse ringers that are celebrating Father's Day this year, whether they are with us or not, young or old. Their knowledge could be bottled as gold, and as I see it, they have brought up a generation that still show respect, common sense, generosity, love, and know how to do a hard days work and still have a smile on their face at the end of it. I have mates that are married/shacked up with some of their sons, and you can see it, the busted arse ringer lives on!
I hope you have enjoyed my first blog, can some what relate or respect this type of Dad, and I hope I've given you a good insight of this type!
Happy Fathers Day Dad, I hope you already know how much I love you, and didn't need to read this blog to be reminded. Hug your Dad's a little tighter this year, who ever they are to you.
Dad and I at my 21st Birthday party.