Blog 1

G’day, I’m Jet, a Border Collie/Kelpie. I live on a farm in Tasmania.

Today was a good day.

It starts in the usual way with me and The Boss heading over the back to check the nets on the vineyard. Sometimes a bird gets in and we have to chase it out. Sometimes after a windy night there might be a dozen birds to chase which is great fun.

I’m not sure why The Boss doesn’t enjoy it as much as me on those days, he starts calling the birds the same names as the sheep when things don’t go well. Anyway, there aren’t any birds in the nets this morning, so I just have to bark at some Currawongs sitting up in a gum tree watching us.

We do a lap around the hill and have a look over the sheep and lambs and head back to the house for breakfast. The Boss is in a good mood and lets me dart in and nip the toes of his boots for a while as we walk back before he growls, “that’ll do”. It’s a game I play with him.

After breakfast, instead of heading back over to the vineyard to do stuff, we head down to the paddock where the lambs have been for the past few days. This usually means we are going to move them so you can imagine my excitement!

Sure enough when we get close to them The Boss says “away” and that is all I need to hear. I feel like I can run flat out for ever on mornings like this. I  hear The Boss saying “steady”, so I ease back a bit just to humour him and gather up the lambs and push them up to the gate The Boss is heading for.

Instead of opening the gate, he tells me to “hold” while he does something with Fone. He often seems to do stuff with Fone. Then he opens the gate and I push the lambs through and hurdle the fence and go around the back of them in case we were taking them to another paddock.

Sure enough we are! Not just the next paddock, but the one after that! The Boss opens the gates while I hold the mob. I push them up to the next gate. When it goes well, he just says “good boy” occasionally, or “stop” or “steady”. Hey, I’m a sheepdog. I know sheep.

When we get them into the last paddock he says, “that’ll do”. I know he wants me to stop in the gateway, but I can’t help creeping forward just a bit. “Stop”. I stop. I can creep just a few more steps, it won’t make any difference. “Stop!” I stop. “Good boy”.

We close the gate and head back up the hill the vineyard. I give him a few playful nips on the toes of his boots, and he gives me a grin. I give him a few more nips and some playful growls. “That’ll do”. That’s okay, I’ve moved some sheep, that’s the main thing!

We spend the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon in the vineyard. The Boss does stuff with the vines and Fone. I dig a few holes, wrestle with some old prunings and steal some of the black bunches on the vines when he isn’t looking. They are getting quite sweet.

I have a snooze in the shade under the vines.

When it’s getting close to knock-off time, I go down the row to where The Boss is and tell him. “I know” he says but keeps doing stuff for a while. I tell him again. “I know”. He packs up and we head back to the house.

Usually we do a couple of jobs around the house before he fills up my feed jug and we go back to my yard. But today he sits down on the seat on the verandah where we sometimes have a cuddle.

He has been in a good mood with me all day, so I give a couple of the cuts and scabs on his hands a really thorough licking.

It doesn’t get much better than sitting up next to The Boss giving a few nasty scabs a good licking. He smiles down at me and says, “Happy Birthday Jet”.

Blog 2

Today was a good day.

It starts in the usual way, heading over to the vineyard to check the nets for birds. There aren’t any, most of the holes in the nets have been mended now and the wombat holes under the fences blocked up.

We’ve never seen a wombat under the nets, but I can smell them. A few weeks ago, wallaby were using the openings the wombats made to get in and I got to chase them out. That was the best fun ever! They haven’t been back for a while…

After breakfast we are back in the vineyard working under the nets.

Mum’s been home for the last few weeks and she and The Boss have been pulling off leaves and cutting off bunches of grapes and just dropping them on the ground. Not sure why, usually the bunches go in buckets and get tipped into bins on the trailer behind The Bike and then those bins get tipped into great big grey bins which get loaded onto trailers and head off out the gate and up the road.

Usually there are lots of people picking the grapes... reckon they will be here soon... the grapes are very sweet... I hope so, I love meeting new people.

I thought it was just going to be another boring day in the vineyard, looking for birds or digging holes to find out what makes those wonderful smells around the roots of the vines. The Boss growls at me when he finds me digging around the vines. I don’t think he can smell properly.

After lunch we head down to the machinery shed. I'm not sure what the plan is, but it turns out to be my favourite job!

The Boss climbs up into The Tractor and loads fertiliser out of the big blue bags into the spreader. I love fertiliser spreading. I’ve got my spot next to the glass door where I can stretch out on the floor and watch the world go past from way up high.

With glass on three sides you can see everything from up there. If it gets a bit warm The Boss twiddles some knobs and lovely cool air blows down on me.

Sometimes the rocking of The Tractor over the paddocks sends me off to sleep and I wake up with a start and wonder where I am. I reach up and give The Boss a reassuring lick.

We spend most of the afternoon spreading fertiliser. I wonder if The Boss knows its going to rain tonight.

Blog 3

Today was a good day.

It starts with The Boss loading stuff into The Ute. I wonder if it means we are picking today. Some bins turned up yesterday, but where are the young people who smell so interesting and camp Over The Back when we are picking?

We take The Ute to the vineyard and then we go and get The Bike and the picking trailer. The Boss starts opening up the ends of vineyard nets – its looking promising. Sure enough, cars start arriving. I know most of them, they have been here before. Mum comes over and The Young Bloke turns up! I haven’t seen The Young Bloke for weeks, it’s like he’s been deliberately staying away. I am overjoyed to see him, and he makes a big fuss of me.

It’s a bit odd, everyone seems to be keeping their distance from each other, like we aren’t all old friends. I take the initiative to go round everyone and give them a reassuring lick. Some of them pretend that they don’t need reassuring, but its better to be safe than sorry I reckon.

We get started. The Boss is doing buckets and bins, I’m riding shotgun with him on The Bike, hopping down now and again while he’s tipping buckets so I can join in the banter. The pickers are further apart than usual. I feel like I want to gather them into a tighter mob, but I just know that The Boss wouldn’t be pleased, so I don’t.
At smoko I do the rounds to sniff out what’s on the menu. I keep an eye on The Boss though, he’s got eyes in the back of his head and I know he doesn’t like me fishing for food.

We only stop for smoko when we are picking or shearing. Usually The Boss and I work straight through to lunch time, and I can tell he’s impatient to get back into it.
Back to work. The big bins gradually fill up with the sweet black bunches of grapes, a few wasps hang around them drinking the juice. It gets a bit sleepy in the warm sun and I have a bit of a snooze on the back of The Bike.

After lunch I can sense the pickers need a bit of encouragement. One of the girls makes a fuss of me and we have a bit of a wrestle. She gets the giggles and we wrestle some more. Others are watching and laughing, then The Boss calls out “Jet, on The Bike”. I can tell he’s not really annoyed, but I reckon it’s wise to be a Good Boy.

Suddenly, we are at the end of the rows and the empty buckets are being stacked. The pickers head back to their cars. Me, The Boss, Mum and The Young Bloke load the big bins onto The Trailer with The Tractor, they are all strapped down and The Boss heads off with them. Me, Mum and The Young Bloke gather up all the buckets and other stuff. Everything is sticky. The Young Bloke washes buckets and I check what the pesky rabbits have been up to while we’ve been over in the vineyard all day.

I’m disappointed to see The Young Bloke drive off, I hoped he would be staying. The Boss isn’t back yet and I’m expecting a boring wait until dinner. But just when I’m not expecting it, Mum lets me out and we go for a walk. I haven’t thought about The Sheep all day, so its good to see the ewes and a couple of paddocks of lambs all present and correct.

The Boss comes back with more empty bins. I reckon the pickers will be here again tomorrow. Maybe The Young Bloke! Maybe even The Big Fella!!  Hope so.

Blog 4

Another good day.    As soon as it's light, me and The Boss head over the back to check the ewes and lambs.  Its been a couple of weeks now since the ewes started lambing and already most of them have one or two lambs, a couple of them have three. 

We keep our distance, but The Boss isn’t happy ‘til he’s seen every ewe in the paddock is OK.  If he sees any down, he makes me stay in the next paddock while he has a closer look.  I know he doesn’t want the sheep disturbed so I’m a Good Boy when there are young lambs about. 

All is well so we go home for breakfast.  It’s the second day today, so instead of heading over to the vineyard to start pruning, we load up The Bike and trailer with wheat and hay because the sheep get fed every second day in winter. 

This is one of my most favourite jobs.  So long as I stay on The Bike, I get to go into the paddock and get a close look and smell of the ewes and their new lambs.  The ewes know the routine and they wait where they think The Boss is going to feed out.  He puts a line of hay out for them to eat (or just lie around on…) and then runs a trail of wheat out of one of the bins.  The ewes line up each side of the trail eating.  Most of them have forgotten about their lambs.

Some of the older lambs come up to The Bike for a look.  One of them jumps on the trailer!  One of them puts his front feet up on The Bike!  I’m not sure if I should give him a reassuring lick or a nip for being so cheeky!  I know I’m not allowed to nip lambs, but before I have time to do anything he jumps back down and goes tearing off to find his mother with four or five other lambs chasing him.

The Boss is looking at a ewe that is lying down and didn’t get up to feed with the others.  He doesn’t go too close, so I reckon everything is alright.  He gets back on The Bike and we drive around the paddock and have a look at any other ewes that stayed away with their lambs and at any spots where lambs might have got stuck or left behind.  The Bike doesn’t seem to disturb the ewes and we can drive quite close to them and make sure all is well. 

Next we go and feed the ewe lamb mob, last years lambs who are quite noisy and silly now. I like moving them, they are always doing unexpected things, breaking away from the mob, charging around in different directions, sometimes running straight at fences and looking surprised when they bounce back off them, or sometimes go straight through them!  The Boss doesn’t like moving the ewe lambs. 

They don’t need to be moved to a fresh paddock today, so I just sit on the back of The Bike and watch as The Boss feeds them their hay and wheat.  One comes up to look at me but is more insolent than friendly.  I’ll keep an eye on that one.

We take The Bike back to the shed and then head over to the vineyard.  The rows are long and The Boss doesn’t like having a break until he has finished a row.  He’s using The Electrics this morning to cut back the vines and pull last year’s growth out and drop it on the ground. 

I inspect the vineyard to see which wombats and wallaby have come in last night, wrestle with some cuttings, chase some little birds that fly over, have a nap, dig a hole (just out of sight of The Boss) and keep an eye on his progress.  When he gets to the third panel from the end of the row I go down and let him know its lunchtime.  “I know”, he says.  It’s a game we play.  He is going to finish the row but I stay there and keep telling him its lunchtime. 

When he’s cut the last vine in the row he holds The Electrics closed until they go “beep” and puts them back in their holster.  He starts walking up the row and I grab one of the long arms he’s just cut off and carry it back up to the top of the row.  It’s a game we play.  He hangs The Electrics on the end post and we head back home for lunch.

We go by the ewes and lambs.  The ewe that was lying down is up and licking a new lamb.  The Boss is in a good mood.  After lunch he will be tying down the row he’s just cut.  It’s a sunny day.  I’ll have a snooze in the sun, chase some birds, wrestle with some cuttings and let him know when he’s down to the last three panels.