For a change, I am putting up one of my own experiences. Below is a testament to this physical toughness of those in the generations before us.
Two working dogs loped along beside the seventeen and a half hand brown gelding Freddy Chapman was currently astride. Wire strainers, pliers, hammer and fence staples filled his two saddle bags, a couple of yards of coiled light gauge plain wire tethered to the back of his saddle with a length of binder twine. His hard mouthed, red eyed, evil tempered horse despised the fact that there was someone seated upon him; that he had been gelded, and the feel and sound of the wired laid upon him only served to anger him further. Being named ‘Teatime’ didn’t offer him much inspiration either.
September sun slowly edged toward the horizon of the hilly paddock Freddy was travelling through, home his target. Grass, green thick and lush was heavy and wet under foot. A good half inch had fallen intermittently throughout the day, subsequently he had hardly touched the water bag now slung just fore of his work worn saddle from the pommel; wondering while he rode what mother had on for tea this evening? He longed to shed his damp drab work clothes, his damper boots, and get his recently cut hand attended to, the result of a misplaced hammer blow.
Cresting a low hill, still a good three and a half miles from home, unasked, the two painted mongrel’s shot off like lightning from the sky. Streaking down the slope in a blur of legs toward a shallow and poorly dug dam. An unsuspecting boomer, a grey kangaroo, raised its head from feeding on the grass near the dam, turned both ear then head west toward the hounds and then in Freddy’s direction for no more than a moment. Slipping on the wet grass, the big roo took off down the slope, the fear of dogs, and the sound of Freddy, now in full gallop, spurring him into life preserving action.
Half a mile disappearing under foot, tail just touching the ground with every bound he made, the boomer started to tire, losing ground to the working dogs, neither hound showing the slightest sign of slowing. Nostrils flared, Freddy had given Teatime his head, the rangy beast eagerly entered the fray, excitement cloaking man and horse like a velvet glove worn over a mailed fist. Digging deep the large kangaroo made for the safety of the bush, some 200 yards to the north of him, but found himself being turned by the circling dogs toward the thunderous roar of Teatimes hooves striking the ground. Slowing, close to blown, the big roo changed direction again, and again, fear turning to anger within him at the futility of his attempted escape. He slowed near a large white gum. Putting his back toward it, setting a trap for the working dogs unable to get him from behind, enticing them into his range, offering all six and a half feet and a hundred odd pounds of himself to them.
Gaining on the dogs and nearing on the tree with the boomer standing before it, thankful that it did not go into the dam, Freddy slowed, letting the dogs do the work, keeping the horse out of harm’s way. Allowing himself the opportunity to unhook stirrup and iron from the off side of his saddle, gathering it in his scarred sun brown fist, ready to swing and deliver a deathly blow to the great grey boomer when the time presented.
Barking and baying, the dogs rushed in and back from the boomer, never exposing their backs to him, nor getting quite close enough to bring him down, merely opening a space for the man on the horse to get in and strike the marsupial to the ground. Sinking his heels into the gelding, Freddy shot in toward the boomer, stirrup held high in anticipation of the blow to come, leant out and down from the off side of the saddle and swung.
Missing the kangaroo entirely……..unseating himself as he did so.
With his aggressor off balance the enormous boomer grabbed at Freddy with his front paws, pulling him further from the saddle for the man to land with a thud on the ground. Raising himself up onto his tail, the kangaroo struck at Freddy with both feet. The claws of the boomers toes slicing deeply into him, cutting through cloth and flesh with the same ease as a hot knife through dripping. Screaming, Freddy tried to roll, yet the roo struck him again, ripping him open further, blood and flesh exploding from him, coating both kangaroo and himself in the crimson of life.
Raising itself once more, the kangaroo went to strike, and was knocked sideways then back as the two dogs attacked, yet keeping his feet enough to lash and mortally strike one of Freddy’s allies. Now alone in his attacks, the remaining hound, stepped back and away from the deadly roo, retreating to stand over his wide eyed and bleeding master. Seeing the gap, the red coated grey made off again toward his beloved bush, succeeding after a minute or so in doing so, leaving Freddy bleeding onto wet ground quickly dampening further.
“Your father should be back by now,” said Hazel, wife of Freddy, to her young daughter and son, “it’s not like him to get back after dark.”
Teatime appeared more than an hour later, and when she saw him she noted the distinct lack of rider, and later, the missing stirrup. Not bothering to stop and catch the horse, she bundled the two children into the farms only vehicle, an old truck; a vehicle she had never driven before, this being her first attempt at driving. Frantically trying to recall exactly how her husband had started the machine. She eventually got it going, and headed up the paddock with both of the children now tired and crying seated beside her. Planning for the worst, but hoping for the best, she found Freddy in her headlights on the ground, one hundred yards from the tree where the battle had taken place, yet still almost two miles from home. Covered entirely in mud, blood, and vital fluid with the surviving dog seated beside him and pining; Freddy was barely conscious through the loss of blood he had sustained.
Tearing strips from his shirt and coat, she bound his wounds as tightly as she possibly could. Her many attempts to get him onto the tray finally paid off, and she set off for town as quickly as the old vehicle would carry her; driving through closed gates as she steadfastly did so. On arriving at the local hospital, horn blaring, she skidded in the mud of the road, stopping directly in front of the hospitals main entry; staff running to the vehicle in response.
The doctor took one look and rushed him straight in. On a bed under two kero lamps, the generator had stopped working earlier in the week, the good doctor spent time to only close the most major blood vessels. He and a nurse then dumped the unconscious Freddy unceremoniously into an infection killing iodine filled bath, to have him regain consciousness in a thrashing, screaming response to the pain of the iodine in his horrific open wounds. Collapsing unconscious once more, still in the bath, they finally were able to completely undress him. The wounds they found were a series of huge gashes, the largest starting just below the pubic line, and ending two feet later under his chin. Freddy’s others, whilst slightly smaller, all had run well over a foot and a half, from abdomen to neck; how he was alive had the staff held in rapt amazement. His abdomen had been puncture, ribs cracked, and the major blood vessels in the groin and neck only narrowly missed. Freddy’s heavily muscled chest and abdomen, taking the full force of the boomer, saving him from deeper injuries.
And live he did.
“Anyway boy, that happened to the old man sometime in the late 1930’s,” said my father, “how the bastard lived is anyone’s guess, but that bloody iodine bath must have hurt like bloody hell.”
“Bugger me! That must have scared Christ out of Grandma,” said I, reaching for the half full middy in front of me, “and then he went away for five years? Fighting in the Second World War? Jesus!”
“Yes he did boy, Grandma ran the farm while he was away,” Dad once more, “the funny thing is that I had forgotten about it until he died the other day, and I was washing his body.”
“Righto, so what?” Said I, tact and subtlety in line with the amount of grog I had consumed, at this, the great man, ‘Freddy’s wake.
“Well, you’ve seen dead people before. When the blood leaves the skin after someone’s gone west, all of their scars stand out greatly. Anyway, I had no idea how badly he was cut up until I saw him naked, there on his bed.”
“Christ on a bike! He must have been bloody tough! To Grandpa,” I said. Holding my empty glass high, I toasted him, and I do believe I saw him standing to the left and just behind my old man, right there in the Williams Hotel. Fair dinkum.
So, there you go, a tale of my Grandpa, Gods rest him. At the Williams Club, he was 70 at the time, Grandpa got a lifetime ban for belting up a 50 year old after an argument over sheep. But that’s another story. Click the picture above, this is a brilliant cover. Rockwiz duet.
All posts and associated media affiliate of ‘therebemonstershere.com’ remains ©The World Turned Upside Down.