Pensioner Paul

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

Paul McCartney

Ever since becoming aware of our new arrival’s story, The Beatle’s song ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, ran in my head. I was not surprised today, as I manoeuvred the horse float into position to collect him, to see the house number ’64’ opposite.

In our district is the stock truck route from the Ballarat Saleyards to the largest abattoir in central Victoria. On certain days of the week, huge B doubles hurtle along the highways, swinging wide on corners, crammed full of sheep. Even as I stepped from my vehicle this afternoon, a truck drove past, with a sheep wildly struggling on the top deck, two thirds of his body protruding up from the sheep surrounding him or her.  I could see sheep on their sides, legs protruding as the truck sped past.

Hundreds of sheep being taken to a dreadful death…while we gathered to save the life of just one.

On the weekend I was advised of a social media post regarding a ram who had appeared in a local town. This town is directly on the stock truck route. Emaciated and clearly aged, the ram was marked for death on his back. This dear old soul, having been of commercial use until now, had been loaded on a truck and  sent for slaughter.

Glenlyon ram

Although he did not know it his guardian angel now came to his aid. He came off the truck en route …and luckily near people who would care for him until a place of safety could be found. His tags were traced to his breeder, but his subsequent owner did not step forward to claim him. It is likely he had been on sold to the abattoir.

Paul 5b

His tags show him to be 11 years old……a good age for a sheep…but he was not allowed to live out his days, instead he was subject to terror and fear.

Thankfully, Paul, as he is now called, instead has come to us. We have him in a shelter at present. He appears in reasonable health, although he needs to gain some weight and strength. All being well, he will have a small operation, so he can join the special needs flock.

A huge thank you to those who took him into care and kept him safe.

Will we still need you? Will we still feed you…..yes, Paul, yes…….

Paul 2b












Tears for a friend…Billy the goat

“I saw goats. A party can’t be all bad when you have goats,” Lucy said.”
― Mary Jane Hathaway, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin’ Cornbread

Recently we were asked if we could assist with a surrendered goat.

Animals are surrendered for many reasons, changes in circumstances, cases of neglect, or that they carer just does not want them. Sometimes the carer initiates the surrender, and at other times a surrender is negotiated to enable to animals to get to a more suitable place.

Some carers are glad to be unburdened of their responsibilities, others are sad and heart broken to lose a friend.

We will always work with a responsible carer to enable them to keep the animal (s) in their care and the animals to stay in their home.

But sometimes it is just not possible, and as large as a person’s heart is, there are at times just not the space or the resources.

When the photo of Billy was sent through my own heart gave a leap…he was just like big Al, one of our resident rescue goats. Al has the best nature, a gentle goat giant. When Al came to us he had cuts in his neck from the collar he had been tethered with. He now has a severely lame front leg, from arthritis in his knee, likely resulting from years of being tightly tethered. Al is however a gentle soul and it looked like he would now have a friend.



Al the goat…a handsome fellow


When Billy arrived, he still had his tether rope on. I do not like tethering but I did note..there was not a mark, not a rub, not a sign, of Billy’s tethering on his neck. He was bright and healthy, agile and well nourished.

I heard how his carer had cried at his leaving, but was relieved he was going to a good home, where he could walk freely and be with other goats.

So the introductions were made and, to our delight, within days Billy and Al were sharing food, sharing their accommodation and clearly best mates !

We thank those who saw Billy needed new options in life and we thank his carer for looking after him, and also having such love for him to put his ongoing welfare above their own loss of a friend…that is true love indeed.



Billy the goat…a new arrival











Drakes in need

Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.

Ralph Marston

Recently during a discussion with a friend, I was told of three drakes at a local animal shelter.

Asking how they had come to be there I was told they had been surrendered. A local lady had purchased the group when they were young, on the understanding all were ducks (ie female). As they matured it became obvious that the India Runners were all males.

With a flock of ducks it is important to have the right ratio of ducks and drakes. Too few ducks or too many drakes results in the ducks suffering, and sometimes even becoming paralysed or dying, as the result of too much mating by the males.

Luckily for these boys they were at a compassionate shelter with a no-kill policy.

Whilst appreciating that the carer was looking out for the females in her care, I do not believe surrendering the drakes to the shelter was the right, or responsible, action to take. A decision to take an animal into our care comes with responsibilities. To provide, food, water, a safe environment, shelter, companionship, enrichment. And it is a commitment for life.

The drakes can live as a bachelor flock. The previous carer needed to set up a separate area for the drakes from the ducks and all would be happy.

To simply surrender animals to a shelter because they do not ‘suit’, to make the animals the responsibility of another, is irresponsible and selfish.  Shelters run on donations, with volunteers and limited resources. There are many many animals without a carer who need the support of a shelter.

Knowing how hard it would be for the shelter to rehome the drakes as a group, we approached another rescue with facilities for the drakes. Luckily they were able to assist and so we drove over to collect the three boys. The shelter attendant had a quick lesson in duck wrangling (never ever attempt to catch them by the leg as their legs can easily break) and soon the boys were being chauffeured in style to their new home.

Lucky ducks indeed.

three drakes 1







Lambs are for loving…….

“The Emperor wishes me to send my innocent little lamb to the slaughter. ”
― S.J. Kincaid

According to Jan O’Connell in her blog, ‘The Australian Food History Timeline’, in 2005 in response to declining lamb sales, the Australian  Meat and Livestock Corporation recruited former Australian Rules footballer and media personality Sam Kekovich to be their “Lambassador“. Ms O’Connell states, ‘ The first 90-second diatribe condemned vegetarians as un-Australian. Annual rants have continued to promote lamb for Australia Day, resulting in a spike in lamb sales in the week leading up to the national holiday. In my youth, Australia Day used to be a pretty tame affair, mainly taken up with naturalisation ceremonies, flag-raising and speeches. There was the odd re-enactment of the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson and, of course, there was a public holiday, but I don’t remember lamb being on the menu.’

Some weeks ago we received a call from a contact located in the west of Victoria. A number of sheep, part of a flock being loaded on a transport destined for the abattoir, were ‘left over’ (ie they could not be squeezed onto the already heavily laden truck). By way of being an inconvenience, their lives were saved. Fortunately there was someone nearby who could take them, and through them, we were contacted. Although we have taken in so many sheep this season, and our paddock feed is drying up…we were their lifeline  and so we agreed to give the five young wethers a safe destination.

Transport was not available until this week, and poignantly, as thousands of other young sheep faced fear, terror and slaughter, these five sheep arrived to safety, to live out their natural lives together.

Although fearful after their journey, already they are responding to us (with Weetabix as always our helper), and starting to settle.

Being Australian, being a ‘good’ Australian, does not need us to embrace the slaughter of innocent animals.  Our lambs are for loving…….





One lucky sheep

No one gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck

Orson Welles


‘What about me…arrival number three?’
Sorry, we were getting to you.
Arrival number three for 2018 is the very handsome David. I feel we should have named him Phil…for ‘Lucky Phil’ because he is one very lucky sheep.
Bred, born and raised to be sold for slaughter, all was going to plan. David, with hundreds of his flock, had been rounded up, yarded, and sent to the sale yards. There they were bought by a meat processor for slaughter.
So again, he was rounded up and pushed up the ramps onto the B double truck. His journey would end by being off loaded into the yards at the abattoir, and in the next day or so, pushed through the door to the slaughter floor, where his short life would end, to provide meat.
David got lucky..very very lucky.
The door had not been secured properly. Not long into his final journey, the force of the other hapless sheep pushed David out of the door and onto the highway. There, stunned, he paused as the truck kept driving.
A passing motorist saw what had happened and, being in the line of work that knew what to do, stopped to help the sheep and secure him, contacting authorities to collect him.
He was impounded and traced through his NLIS tag, but no one wanted to claim him. We put in a successful tender …so David now is more than a commodity, he has a name , not just a number. He is loved.
…and the reward…in less than a week after arrival…after all that he has been through…he allowed me to scratch the top of his woolly head tonight, even though he was free to move away.
So welcome David, we are lucky to care for you


David the sheep

Not our usual rescue…

“A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden.”
― Robert Sowthey

Arrivals no. 4 and 5 for 2018 are a little different. These two babies, together with another sibling, were discovered on a local property. No mother could be located and sadly, in the heat of last weekend, the third sibling died.

Fearful for the remaining kittens the property owners arranged to trap them. We were asked if we could assist in finding a rescue for them. Sadly, at this time of year, cat rescues are overflowing with kittens so we took these two in. We set them up in a large dog crate with a cat cave to hide in, their food, water and a litter tray.

Kittens always amaze me with their self sufficiency when the right conditions are in place. The food was polished off and there was evidence that the litter tray was welcomed :).

Luckily, I knew of a local family who had recently set about to rescue a mother cat and kittens they had found on a vacant property, but sadly were unable to re locate them to trap. So I contacted them to ask if they would consider taking in these babies. They are experienced with kittens and it is an excellent home so I was thrilled when they agreed to foster…with a planned ‘foster fail’

So these two little ones were transported to their new home in situ in their crate and now are undergoing socialisation after time to adjust to their traumatic last few days.

When appropriate, all vet work will be done including de sexing and microchipping. We look forward to updates.



It takes a village…..

It takes a village to raise a child

Source unknown

On September 5 I saw a post on a local community Facebook page regarding a group of goats who were frequenting a local property. The property owner had posted asking if anyone knew the carer of the goats as they were roaming the neighbourhood, causing damage.

Elevated Plains goats 1


After suggesting the local Shire be contacted, I sent a private message to find out what was happening, as no one had claimed the goats.

The property owner was frustrated at the damage to their garden but did not want the goats to come to any harm, so I suggested I bring over some panels to try to secure the goats and take it from there. Thus started a three month journey…….

I dropped off the panels but at that stage realised the enormity of the challenge. This was in a local area I had not previously visited. A gorge, bushland, ravines…

Then the ‘owner’ of the goats became known. A relatively new property owner, a largely absent property owner, had decided to purchase five goats, but did not make provision for them to be contained. In the area is a herd of abandoned goats. Before long the five goats were lured into the wilds…and so the problem began.

Roaming far and wide across impenetrable terrain, the goats visited olive groves, vegetable gardens, and caused angst amongst the land holders. They did however regularly return to their ‘home’ but because the fencing was inadequate, sooner or later they were on the prowl again.

We were given permission to take the goats, if we could secure them….

So a rescue began……

It is all very well to take on animals, but you need to know where they will go to be safe for life. We have a large property and our goats are happy here…but they are the type of goats who hang around. We could not risk letting these goats roam again, and our secure yards are already occupied, A call for help was answered, and a deal struck. We would take in five rescued sheep from another rescue to join our flock,  in exchange for them providing 5-star goat accommodation in their existing secure enclosures.

Then I received a call. The owner of the goats was planning to shoot the goats.  Not only was this a cruel and unnecessary outcome, unless a goat was killed immediately it would run off to die an horrific death in the bush.  Getting the goats was now critical.

The goats had returned to base and I was advised, contained in a yard. So I headed off with the horse float to collect them…….

When I arrived it was apparent the yards were not secure. We tried our best in the circumstances but to no avail…and the end result was the goats headed bush again

Another call that the goats were back…but this time when we arrived and they were running loose in a 100 acre paddock.

We were then advised that the goats were back at the neighbours. So we set up an appealing ‘goat retreat’ in their shelter with straw bedding, water and feed, hoping they would decide to make it their base. Our plan was to set up a feeding station in a secure yard, and use this to capture the goats.

We heard nothing for a number of weeks, weeks where we were busy with incoming rescues. When  we next made contact we found out the goats were still roaming and the neighbourhood was up in arms. The owner still refused to do anything but get a shooter in.

We had already discussed options with other rescues skilled in goat recovery. With time running out and the logistics being so tricky it became clear that there was now only one viable option….the expertise of Manfred, from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue.

It is a huge ask to dart and capture five goats. With any shot being fired the rest will disperse, and this was impossible terrain. Wild, steep, bushland going for miles, with nothing to contain the goats.

The neighbour agreed to coordinate with the representative of the goat’s owner and  the neighbourhood to allow us time. They also agreed to coordinate directly with Manfred on the goats’ whereabouts. We were pulling this together when a friend sent me a Facebook post that was being circulated.

Elevated Plains goats 2

‘Free to good home 5 lovely whipper/snippers (goats), they are for the chop If nobody takes them’

It was late at night when I opened the message and saw with horror the five goats, with comments on the post about how wonderful they would be in various meat dishes.

Several frantic messages and texts later, Manfred rearranged a full schedule to get to the farm. The owner was contacted to agree that the property be accessed.

Amazingly, and totally to the credit of Manfred, four of the five goats were successfully darted and captured…..this was incredible given the situation where the goats could not be contained. The four were transported to a new home.

Elevated Plains goats 3

We were so happy…but each and every one of us could only think about the last goat, who had run off before she could be darted. Manfred, so professional and so compassionate, would not rest until the fifth goat was brought in.

The two days later I received a message. The fifth goat had appeared. Manfred went back and darted her…but the dart glanced off and she took to the bush. Manfred, Helen and everyone searched through thick bush terrain for hours but she could not be found.

Holding onto hope we waited….

Then on Sunday morning, another message. The goat had reappeared, seeking comfort from the resident alpacas. Once again Manfred drove to the farm. We waited for news. Then I received a message…could I head to the farm, help was needed.

By the time I got there Manfred had secured her. Climbing again through the horrific terrain was about to return, desperate that the goat again had got away when he spotted a ‘strange looking rock’….

Getting her back was a heroic task but he did it…Safely contained…the fifth goat….hardly to be believed.

Within an hour all five were reunited, now safe forever.

Elevated Plains goats 4

Sadly the owner has no interest in contributing to the cost of securing the goats, no interest in their welfare, no interest in even making contact to say a thank you.

Please, only ever bring animals into your life if you are willing and able to take full responsibility to care for them and protect them from harm, and this includes making sure they are not causing disruption to others.

It takes a village…not only to raise a child, it takes community of rescuers, it takes people like the neighbours in this case, who wanted the best outcome for the goats, who were willing to do whatever it took…it takes this to do right.

Our sincere thanks to those who cared, the compassionate neighbours, willing to give practical support and help,  to Pam from Edgars Mission who offered advice and support, to Jason for coming out to try and get the goats in,  to Anne from Horse Shepherd for providing a safe haven, and to Manfred and Helen, for their compassion, skill and boundless determination, for making it possible.

It takes a village…………………









George’s horses – A tribute to Jackie

For the story so far please read Georges’ horses – Part One

One of the horses to arrive from George was Jackie. A lovely black TB mare. Jackie was aged but in good condition and, a horse with the most beautiful nature.

Soon after Jackie’s arrival we took in a filly, Rosie straight from the slaughter yard, where she had waited for two weeks for slaughter. Luckily, her fate changed and Rosie came to us.  See Rosie’s story at The secret hidden in the Rose.

Rosie needed love. lots of love. She needed someone to give her confidence and a feeling of safety, someone to heal her soul.

And in the paddock was Jackie. Jackie immediately adopted Rosie. She would share her food bucket, gently encouraged Rosie to mutually groom, watched over Rosie.

With more horses arriving I knew I had to rehome Jackie  as she was in good health and with an ideal temperament.  But I could not deprive Rosie of her surrogate mother and guide.

So I put Jackie up for adoption, with the proviso that Jackie and Rosie be homed together. A friend was looking for a safe riding horse (gentle occasional riding!) and Jackie fitted the bill. She was happy to adopt Rosie as well. This was an experienced, loving and caring home  and so, as hard as it was to part with them both, we were so glad that such a great home was offered.

The years passed.  Rosie has matured and able to live with other horses happily. Jackie looked after the young horses, always the mentor, always the guide, always giving comfort and confidence. Then she became the companion of an aged standard bred, and just recently all moved to a property even closer to us. Jackie never was ridden again, she just had a life of leisure.

So every day I could see Jackie  as I drove past, peacefully grazing with Johnny, her friend. I knew, however, that her health was starting to fail. I was always updated though and she was receiving every care. Jackie would rally but clearly age was catching up.

A few weeks ago Johnny peacefully passed. Jackie grieved and her health faltered. She had a new companion, was moved close to the house, fed, rugged, tested and loved….but we all knew it was just a matter of time.

Jackie last photo

Last night, comfortable and pain free, Jackie passed, to be with Johnny and to meet back up with George, Twinkie, Call Me Misty, My Misty, Rachael (the Filly), and all her other friends.

Bless you Jackie and thank you to Nat who loved and cared for Jackie in her final years.

Jackie will be buried at her home. Nat has chosen a lovely spot that overlooks our property.

Vale Jackie

A very different summer

Summer in 2015/2016 was tough.

With no spring rains, paddock feed disappeared quickly, hay crops were at 25% of usual harvest, hay was scarce and expensive. After 5 years of low rainfall, our dams dried up and we were buying in our tank water.


Luckily we were able to secure nearby agistment for the cattle. With the purchase of a round bale feed out trailer, we could to use round bales to feed the remaining pasture animals.

Many many animals were in need and it was not possible to rehome.


Then finally after months, the rains came, and came, and came. Just fantastic. The creek flooded, the paddocks greened up, and the dams actually overflowed.



It was all just in time, as we had fed out our hay supply and the cattle had returned from the agistment.

Unlike other regions, central Victoria has had a relatively mild Summer for 2016/17. Hot days have been spaced with more mild days in between. Although it is dry, there are episodes of rain to freshen the paddocks and fill the water tanks.

Hay harvest have been plentiful and there is still a good amount of grazing in the paddocks.

We now also have access to a 4WD diesel tray ute. This has made moving around the property and transporting feed and bales, so much easier. We have also relocated our feed storage and re configured our hay store to reduce the amount of manual handling of heavy feed bags and bales.

So with less time needed on feeding out, our focus has been on sorting out our infrastructure.


After ten to fifteen years many of our fences need upgrading. The changing weather causes posts to move, gates shift, and fencing wire needs restraining or replacing, as well as repairing some of the yards.  We also need to upgrade the electrical fencing and to fence off the access to the hay shed to make the stocking of the shed and retrieving bales easier and less fraught.

We started on our fencing upgrade in spring. Our contractor needed to take a break for hay harvest and will soon recommence to finish the work.


The sheep

We are planning to construct a new purpose built paddock for the sheep. Most of the sheep are happy ranging the olive grove but we have a few determined explorers who need very secure accommodation. PS the sheep below had decided to visit the cattle on their neighbouring agistment…this was on the walk home!

With he success of using our main shed for shearing in 2016, we will be working on having more available room in time for shearing 2017, as well as purchasing more portable panels for yarding and runs. With a flock of nearly one hundred sheep in residence at any one time we need to upgrade our sheep specific infrastructure.

We would also like to purchase a

  • sheep ‘deck chair’ from the USA to make the handing of individual sheep for hoof trimming more manageable.
  • a trailer hay feeder for our special needs sheep to reduce waste


The goats

With the increase in our goat residents we need two dedicated goat areas with suitable shelters and activity areas. At present our special needs goats are housed in the horse yards and loose boxes. We need to free up the these for new arrivals.

The rest of the goats are loving having the olive grove to roam. They have a dirt mound on the hill that gives them a splendid view of everything.  They have also appropriated the new studio….destined as WWOOF accommodation…not a long term option! The sheep, and often Samba the donkey, love sleeping under this structure but again…not a permanent option.


The poultry

With the recent assistance of two young travellers, we have rearranged the poultry accommodation. This is a work in progress.

So far we have emptied out the main poultry house so we can re-lay the bedding and put in new perches. The aim is for the chickens to be the sole occupants of this enclosure, which, over time, have been taken over by  the geese and the ducks. With this achieved we are working on integrating newer chicken arrivals with the flock.

The geese now have new sleeping quarters, totally separate from the other poultry and giving them more ready access to one of the dams.

Our next step is to set up new sleeping quarters for the ducks. This will need the purchase of a new poultry structure.

We will then have a larger  A-frame available for special needs chickens who need to be permanently housed separately from the flock.

The horses and donkeys

Last week three long term visiting horses have moved on, with Flip joining them. This, together with herd integration, has given us the opportunity to rest some of the paddocks. We have been  harrowing the paddocks after rain and will be keeping them free of grazing for as long as possible.

After a break over Christmas, the farrier will be back next week to start on hoof trims and there are a few horses needing their dental work brought up to date.

We then need to do organise our winter rug supply. At least three of the older horses are going to need their rugs adjusted and lined to lift off their withers.

Darling Louis, now well into his forties, will need extra special care this winter. He is very sprightly and alert but struggles to maintain weight.


We have also lined up a trainer for young George, now three. After some initial training on site he will go off site for further development. We will then be looking for a great home for

The cattle

The increased pasture feed has been such a boon for the cattle. This will not last over winter.  To assist with resting paddocks we are hoping to secure agistment on a neighbouring property for over winter and into spring.

Bess is ageing but still keeping up with the herd. Annalise and Rupert have both made wonderful recoveries from their dislocated hips and are now fully mobile.


The alpacas

Clarence and Henry are a very relaxed pair. As long as they have someone to look after, a small flock of sheep, or Robbie the pony, they are happy! Clarence continues to insist on visiting any paddock of his choice but he always has a purpose!

The vision

Our aim is to further improve the accommodation for the animals, caring for the land, ensuring we have readily available facilities for animals presenting in need, and using what we have efficiently and to ensure the safety of the animals and us.

As always, we thank you for your support.







Blind love

“I wish for all of us the blindness of love that makes us see no faults in the other.”
Kamand Kojouri

Many years ago, I received a call. Did I know of a home for a ewe? She had been rescued as a lamb, raised as a member of the household, but her carer could look after her no longer.

It was lucky that I did have such a home available. A friend had a pet sheep, and she needed a companion. So Blossom, as the ewe is named, made her way to a new home and lots of love and care.

Her companion died at an advanced age, and when her carer went on holidays, Blossom would stay with us.

Sadly however, Blossom’s carer became gravely ill and the time came when Blossom came to live with us permanently. She joined the flock however was always keen to come into the house, as she had done as a young sheep at her first home.

Then one day I noticed Blossom walk into a tree. Examination showed she had developed cataracts, and sadly, unlike in humans, this is not a condition that can be treated surgically.

So Blossom moved into our special care yard, with a shelter for nights and extreme weather, and is hand fed.

She has a variety of companions, depending on who is in the care yard as well.

Blossom is now at an advanced age so we make sure she has gentle friends.

Recently two young lambs joined us. Quincy had been found alone in a paddock, with no mother in sight. The farmer decided to surrender him into care. On arrival to the sanctuary he was found to have a condition that reduced his sight…and this was likely the reason he had become separated from his mother as the flock moved on. Luckily this little man had landed on his hooves at a sanctuary that could and did, provide him with the necessary surgery to correct his loss of vision.

Quincy and his friend, Smudge, came to us and moved in with Blossom until they are older an able to join the main flock.

Over the weeks I had noticed that Smudge would go on adventures, but Quincy always stayed close to Blossom.

Blossom has lost her sight and can never regain it. Quincy lost his sight and his Mum, but his sight is now back.

Somehow I feel Quincy is preparing to be Blossom’s eyes, while she provides him with a quiet safe presence, just like a Mum.

Bless them both.