A moment of compassion during a visit to a farm of a friend bought a tear to my eye and reminded me there are good people and good deeds done in the world.
As I am on a couple of weeks holidays at home he invited me out to his property where photo opportunities abound.
He took me on a tour and introduced me to the locals, his merino dorper cross flock of sheep which he breeds for meat rather than wool and some Black Angus cattle before the 4pm arrival of the truck he was loading up with barley grain. In the meantime, he indulged me by letting me wander around some old buildings and machinery photographic gems.
As we were trekking across a field to one such tired and crumbling building, the first double brick house built in the district back in the late 50 to early 60’s, my keen eyed friend spotted a small bearded dragon lizard on top of the tall grass so he picked it up; as you do apparently.
I’m no authority on lizards but even I know they hibernate in winter and for this little critter to be so desperate to attempt to find warmth in the sun on a cold winter day something has to be wrong. Without saying a word my friend wrapped it in his work scarred hand in an attempt to warm it up and proceeded on our walk.
Now you have to bear in mind during my mini tour we came across carcasses in different stages of decay. Most were ewes who died lambing in hill paddocks. I’ve been around farmers long enough to know some losses are expected and wasn’t surprised by his dismissal of the death and strong reassurance that predators were not involved. This is why I found his concern for the lizard curious.
We didn’t make it to the house before he suggested we look at it after the grain is loaded as the truck would be arriving soon.
When we got back to his Toyota ute he tested the temperature of the bonnet and then opened it. He then tested the temperature of the top of the radiator which was still warm so he gently placed the lizard on the warm surface and stroked it with his finger. He was trying to warm it up enough for it to find some food, and hopefully the strength to burrow and hibernate for the winter.
I don’t know why this act surprised me into a small tear but it did. Earlier that afternoon I watched as he hand fed the sheep he had reared from young with Weetbix biscuits and asked if he had any sheep dogs to help with the flock. He doesn’t, he said having their trust made handling them easier.
The hand raised sheep, all of which have names, come when they are called and I watched with amusement as they followed him along an embankment track as if he was playing a flute only they and the rest of the flock could hear. Don’t for a second think this is a hobby farm, it is a profit making producer of meat for one of Australia’s major supermarket chains as well as producing barley, wheat and canola crops.
He does eat lamb meat but he can’t bring himself to buy it from the supermarket chain he sells to.
He is a patient man who travelled the world extensively before settling down and finally realising his dream of owning land near the hills he grew up around.
I’ve known him for almost 40 years as a kind and caring person, always willing to help and ask nothing in return. He is a bugger to buy presents for because he doesn’t want for possessions but he does have a chocolate habit that a diagnosis of type two diabetes by his doctor brought him the closest to tears I’ve ever seen him.
I met him when I was in my early teens. I only got to know him because he was interested in my sister and he treated me like his kid sister in the process. He would be the most genuine and caring male I know, other than my dad, and although my sister didn’t choose him to spend her life with he has always remained a friend and big brother to me. I am thankful for that.