A couple of days prior to Christmas, mid 1930’s, rural Western Australia.
A lone working dog named ‘Scotty’ loped along beside the seventeen and a half hand brown gelding FC 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.
December sun slowly edged toward the horizon of the hilly paddock FC was travelling through, home his target. Grass, tall and dry, was unseasonably wet under foot. A good quarter of an inch had fallen intermittently throughout the day, subsequently he had all but emptied 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 painted mongrel 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 large male grey kangaroo, raised its head from feeding on the grass near the dam, turned both ear and head west toward the hound and then FC for no more than a moment. Turning to flee, the boomer slipped on the wet grass, righted itself, and took off down the slope, the fear of the dog, and the sound of FC, now in full gallop, spurring him into life preserving action.
Half a mile disappearing under foot, tail just touching the ground with every hop he took, the boomer started to tire, losing ground to the working dog, the mongrel not showing the slightest sign of slowing. Nostrils flared, FC had given Teatime his head, the rangy beast eagerly entering 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 dog 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 dog unable to get him from behind, enticing Scotty closer, allowing him to fall tantalisingly within his range, offering all six and a half feet and a hundred odd pounds of himself to him.
Gaining on the dog and nearing the tree with the boomer standing before it, thankful that it did not go into the dam, FC slowed, letting the Scotty do the work, keeping the horse out of harm’s way. Giving himself the opportunity to unhook stirrup leather 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 crop destroying boomer when the time presented.
Barking and baying, Scotty rushed in and back from the boomer, never exposing his back to him, nor getting quite close enough to bring him down, merely opening a place for the man on the horse to get in and strike the marsupial to the ground.
Sinking his heels into the gelding, FC shot in toward the boomer, stirrup held high in his gnarled and recently cut right hand in anticipation of the blow to come. Drawing rein heavily, FC 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 FC with his front paws, pulling him further from the saddle for the man to land with a thud on the ground, his back crashing to the damp dirt. Raising himself up onto his tail, the kangaroo struck at FC with the enormous pointed toes of 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, FC 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 Scotty attacked, yet keeping his feet enough to lash and strike at FC’s ally. Alone in his attacks, the dog stepped back and away from the deadly roo, retreating to stand growling over his wide eyed and bleeding master in an act of protection. Seeing the gap, the now blood splattered grey kangaroo made off again toward his beloved bush, succeeding after a minute in doing so, leaving FC bleeding into wet ground, quickly dampening it further.
“Your father should be back by now,” said Hazel, wife of FC, to her young daughter Rosemary, and younger son Kevin, “it’s not like him to get back after dark.”
Teatime appeared at the house gate slightly more than an hour later. On seeing 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 in her life. Frantically trying to recall exactly how her husband had started the machine, she eventually got it going, and headed up the paddock with engine screaming in first gear, both of the children now tired and crying seated beside her.
Planning for the worst, but hoping for the best, she found FC 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, the FC she found was barely conscious through the loss of blood he had sustained.
Tearing strips from his bloody and ragged shirt, she bound his wounds as tightly as she possibly could. Hazels many attempts to get him onto the tray of the truck finally paid off, and she set off for town as quickly as the old vehicle would carry her. Hazels flight cast destruction behind her, driving through closed paddock 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 FC into an infection killing iodine filled bath, to have him regain consciousness in a thrashing, screaming response to the pain of the iodine on 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 his chin, and ending two feet later beside his groin. FC’s other gruesome lacerations, whilst slightly smaller, all had run well over a foot and a half in length, splitting him like some macabre fruit from throat to abdomen. How he was alive had the staff held in wrapt amazement. His abdomen had been puncture, ribs cracked, and the major blood vessels in the groin and neck only narrowly missed. FC’s heavy muscles over his chest and abdomen, taking the full force of the boomer, saving him from deeper injuries.
And live he did, all in time for Christmas.
I have a feeling I may have posted this sometime ago. Regardless, the account you see above is 100% true. FC is, or rather was, my Grandfather. After surviving the near fatal wounds sustained, he went to war eighteen months later. Leaving Hazel, my Grandmother, to run the farm on her own with small children in tow from 1939 through to 1945.
Falling pregnant just prior to Grandpa going to war, Grandma gave birth another child in his absence. Some months after the birth of the child she developed mastitis, and due to isolation and the amount of work she had to endure, she didn’t manage to make it in to see the local doctor for roughly a week after her breast became inflamed. So bad was it, combined with the over all lack of antibiotic medicines available at the time, her breast was subsequently removed. Something that would never happen in this day and age. Still breastfeeding the wee mite, she returned to the farm as soon as she was able, and returning with no other option other than to get back to work immediately. The mind boggles at the thought.
They certainly built them tough back then.
Anyway, following the routine practice on my wee site, click the above picture and enjoy the music that follows.
text only – (+61) 0418393742
All posts and associated intellectual properties regards ‘’ remain ©The World Turned Upside.