bilateral kellerberrin

April 26, 2005

Kellerberrin Tuesday 26 April 2005

Filed under: keller dailies — Lucas @ 7:15 pm

Yesterday was the Anzac Day ceremony outside the Kellerberrin Memorial Hall. A new monument had been built and was unveiled, with the minister for something or other officiating. (I liked his name, I think it was Mr Chance). He made a speech which skillfully marked a trail between remembering past military service, and deliberately not glorifying war. Betty played a mean piano to accompany the trembling voices of the congregation as they sang the national anthem.

Afterwards, there was tea and triangle sandwiches. I met John, Pauline’s brother who had come down from Moora with his wife (whose name I forget). They farm mainly livestock, and John told me a thing or two about his farming philosophy. The farm has been in the family for generations – it was run by his father and grandfather. He said he is kind to his land, and he thinks that it’s kind to him in return.

Sheep, said John, don’t have the same overheads as wheat. You can breed them yourself over the years, you don’t have to keep buying in stuff each season to make a harvest. You have young ones coming up, those in their prime, and old ones ready to be pensioned off. It’s not as rigid as the seasonal wheat cycle, which relies on a fragile climate doing its thing, which controls when you can plant and harvest. That all made pretty good sense to me.

I asked John what he thought about all this noise being made about, you know, cutting the sheep’s bum to stop the flies. Mulesing, it’s called, and PETA is trying to stop big shops in the USA importing clothes made with Aussie wool, to put pressure on farmers to change this inhumane practice. Well, John said, it’s complicated. Here’s how it works: the price of wool drops. In order to survive, farmers need to get more wool per sheep. So they breed the woolier sheep together and get a higher yield animal. However, the woolier sheep also have woolier bums, which attract flies, who lay their eggs in the muck around the wooly bum. This is called flystrike, and it irritates the sheep so much that they go off their food and often it gets infected and they die. So, the farmers cut away some skin flaps around the bum, so that wool roots do not grow there. This keeps the bum area clean and bald. The cutting is done when the sheep is still a lamb.

John’s response to the claims of inhumane treatment go a bit like this: well, it’s not ideal. The lamb definitely feels it. If there was a better way to stop flystrike, then farmers would certainly use it. But at the moment, it’s the best they have. If they were to stop doing it now, the sheep would suffer much more in the long run. The only humane way to reduce flystrike would be to breed less wooly sheep. John said there is also some protein being researched which will stop wool growing around the butt. Perhaps this is where things will head. But it’s not happening overnight. So demands for the immediate cessation of mulesing are a bit misguided – it’s not something that farmers can stop doing right away.

Ah yeah. This is one of those cases which is more complex the more you delve into it. Maybe the best thing PETA’s campaign will achieve is to make the government move a bit faster on the research front, if it doesn’t put the sheep farmers out of business before then.

I dug around on google a bit to see what various folks think. There are strong arguments on each side. Here are some:




Later in the day Chris and I headed over to the Prev to oil the cross (see yesterday’s photo story, filed under “pointlessness”). We got waylaid by “Old with Style”, and I bought a set of half-a-dozen old-fashioned rope “quoits”. I figured that all the games I have so far are cerebral, table top games, whereas throwing the ring over the stick is more physical. Gotta keep the physical in there. Colin said the quoits were from the Doodlakine school, which shut down recently. The Doodli kids mainly transferred to Merredin. The school was chucking a whole lot of stuff out, and he grabbed them, and also a bunch of discussion posters. You know, the sort which show people doing things – key occupations, industries, animals etc – designed to stimulate a discussion with primary school students. I love those things. If he’d had one of ants I would have snapped it up. I can’t think what I’d use them for…yet.

At the Prev, the heat baked us up there on the steep roof, but a breeze blew and it wasn’t an unpleasant exercise after all. James tolerated our pointless farting around, and our timid attempts to climb the wobbly ladder, and he brought out a big tub of linseed oil – so I can take my little bottle of oil back to the hardware and get some plants instead. Nice man, that James. He has an endearing tendency to use your name each time he phrases a sentence in the conversation. Makes you feel kinda special.


Its getting to the point where a small amount of activity generates a large amount of material to be processed (text, photos). It’s time consuming, but kinda satisfying. And yesterday I went through my unpublished dailies and posted them up here too – they go back to April 6 2005. So I’m pretty much up-to-date now.

One of the things which needs working on though is my “search” facility. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful, but I’m sure I can tweak it to make the way it returns its findings more informative. So if you are a Keller citizen, and you want to see if you have been written about, you will be able to do that using the search form in the right hand column. Stay tuned for these improvements…

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