Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know, Me and Nellie are Italian sheepdogs, also known as maremmas. Our role with a sheep flock is to guard the animals from predators. Unlike our Hunterway doggie cousins whose function is to herd sheep around paddocks.
Today, mummy and daddy left Me and Nellie and went up the road to see the sheep dog trials. Just to give you, loyal reader some background information about sheepdogs, here is part of an article mummy wrote for the local paper:
A traditional tool of the sheep farmer, unaffected by the needs of technology, was the sheep dog. Without sheep dogs the cost of farming would be much higher because of the difficulty of mustering extensive numbers of sheep in large areas. The importance of sheep dogs to farmers has been highlighted by the numerous times the National Sheep Dog Trails have been held in the Whanganui district. Trials were held on the Parapara-Makirikiri Club’s course at Lismore in 1948. National trials were held at Mangamahu in 1957, 1965 and 1983 at “Te Rimu”. The Mangamahu course was highly regarded because the three events of dog trails; longhead, zig zag and shortheard could all be seen at the same time. The Mangamahu Dog Trial Club was formed in 1923 and within two months the first trial was held, such was the enthusiasm of the founders of the club. With so little time for preparation there was a lot of work involved and there was not a gate left on some of the local farms as all had been requisitioned for hurdles etc. The trials were held in “mud up to the neck” and there were over 100 entries, a remarkable number considered the difficulty of access to Mangamahu in 1923.
Feeding contestants, visitors and doggy participants was an on-going endeavour. Feeding the dogs was a straight forward task. There was plenty of ”dog-tucker” (old ewes) to be had for the hard working unpaid four-legged farm workers. Feeding the human population often proved for problematic. For them the first cook house was a corrugated iron lean-to. It was a primitive building with simple facilities. There was an old fashioned copper for boiling water, a wood stove for cooking potatoes and heating pies. The water had to be carried from an outside tank to the copper and there was a continual battle with the wind, wasps and wet weather. Considering the conditions the fare sounded pretty good. The menu included cold meat, wild pork, corned beef mashed potatoes, pickled onions, jam and chutney for lunch with cakes, scones and pikelets for afternoon tea.
We hope you like the photos. Love Nellie and Jasper, the two bestest maremmas in all the land.