Weekly photo challenge: Beloved

Reflecting upon the meaning of beloved as part of this week’s photo challenge I find that there is no one thing or person that is beloved to me, there are many and they contribute to many of the special moments and experiences during my life. For this particular challenge, the focus is on cherished childhood memories, just thinking about the fun we had makes me smile and start reminiscing about ‘the good old days’.

Living on acreage in the country meant that we could have pets beyond your typical cats, dogs, and budgies. With Mum’s help, we hand-reared calves from a local dairy farm and as children, it was our job to mix their formula and feed them morning and night. I can remember the formula we used, especially when Mum changed over to a more nutritious formula which smelled revolting. The calves would love it and once they finished slurping up the milk they would suck on our fingers and follow us around the yard. Our first pet cow was Caramel, she loved to wander all over the countryside and we would have to go and pick her up and lead her home, on foot which usually entailed carrying a bucket of food in front of her to entice her to follow. Sweetie was our second calf and she was soon followed by Horrie, all of whom you can see in the following picture. I would often head out into the paddock to pat them and talk to them, it was so easy talking to cows, they just munched on grass and tolerated my company.

Our cows Caramel, Sweetie and Horrie
Our cows Caramel, Sweetie and Horrie

Our school trips often involved camping. Our school principal had a large property up in the hills and each year he and his wife or a couple of keen parents would take a class of students camping for a week. Camping involved bushwalking, swimming in creeks, learning about dingoes and other native animals and sitting around the campfire telling ghost stories or singing songs. They were magical times and although I’m not much of a camper these days I still love bushwalks and our natural environment.

Kids in front of a tent
My Christmas tent

My Mum is a horse person, she brought us up to love them as well. A good friend owned several horses on a property not far from ours and it was always a joy to visit them and help with feeding. On one particular occasion, we were present during the birth of a foal, keeping our distance of course and it was so exciting. When the foal was old enough we were allowed to interact with it, that is me in the brown riding helmet in the picture below. I saved and saved to buy that helmet so that I could go horse riding with my Mum.

A foal and children
A new foal

Our first dog was a beautiful black Irish Setter mix called Lady who used to run all over the hills with us, there weren’t fences in those days and being on the main road in the country meant that nobody drove slowly. Lady had no road sense and sadly she was hit by a car and did not survive, although she was not with us long I can still remember her sweet face and happy nature. Scooter was our first puppy, a playful boy who would follow us everywhere, down the road to visit friends and through the hills as we explored neighbouring farms. Scooter had a dog house at the bottom of the yard, it was a time when dogs lived outdoors and at night he was secured by a chain to his house. As much as I loved Scooter I don’t recall the bond being anything like what I have with my boy Bundy, perhaps it was because we were so young and the dog really was Mum’s dog. Taking Scooter for walks was how I earned some pocket money, sometimes I rode my bike while he ran alongside, on a leash of course.

Scooter the puppy
Scooter the puppy

Holidays in New Zealand were not frequent growing up however we were lucky enough to travel to the North Island a few times and they were some of the best holidays I’ve ever had. Fun times were had on the farm, feeding Nanna’s ducks, horse riding and tripping around in the back of the ute with cousins and my Grandfather’s dogs. My Nanna and my Aunty would cook up a storm and we must have consumed litres of Raro (cordial) and flavoured soft drink from the Soda Stream machine. We even helped in the shearing sheds one year, sweeping dags off the floor and camping overnight with all of our other cousins and family. There was no accommodation on the farm so we slept in the shearing shed. The smell of sheep and pine trees always brings back memories of those holidays. Beloved.

Tripping around the farm in the back of a ute with cousins
Tripping around the farm with cousins

Back in the day…

Nanna droving in New Zealand
Nanna the drover

My Nanna loved living and working on the land, some of my fondest childhood memories are ones that involve feeding all the ducks and chooks, collecting eggs, making butter and horse riding. Nanna met my Grandfather after the war when she was working on a farm, my Grandfather was a man of the land and spent much of his life on the back of a horse and they would often do cattle drives together. For a long time, Nanna was believed to be the only female drover in Northland, she rode horses for work and pleasure up until a serious health problem slowed her down in her seventies.

My Grandparents didn’t always live on a farm, they had a house in town and oversaw my uncle’s property while he was living overseas. The thing I remember most about Nanna’s house in town is the garden filled with fabulous fruit trees, in summer we would eat the plums straight from the tree and my Nanna would spend hours making jam, filling jars with stewed fruit and preparing fruit pies or crumble. Visiting the farm was a real treat, we would help with shearing by cleaning up the wool, explore the paddocks and feed the chooks and occasionally we would visit neighbouring properties on horseback. The only dog we were allowed to play with was an old English Sheepdog called Muff, the working dogs were off limits unless my Grandfather wanted to send them with us to move sheep or cattle, they were generally Border Collies or Huntaways and they knew more than us when it came to mustering.

I have very little information about the photos below although I remember seeing the first image framed and hanging in Nanna’s house, as a horse crazy child it seemed like a fun and exciting way to live.

My Grandparents, the drovers
My Grandparents, the drovers
Northland cattle drive, New Zealand
Northland cattle drive, New Zealand
Droving on horseback, Northland, New Zealand
The drovers and their dogs
Bringing the cattle through town
Bringing the cattle through town
Cattle on the road
Four legged roadblock
Cattle and car on the road
Those were the days…