As my new project, the construction of the Australian Canine Sports & Training Centre draws to a close I have started to populate the fields with sheep and ducks, all of which to date brought down from my family Station in Queensland.Not far from the Centre is the beautiful locality of Windsor, made famous in the 1980's as the setting of the popular TV series 'A Country Practice', it truly is a beautiful part of the world and I often pinch myself that here within cooee of the insanity and endless sea of housing and pavement that is Sydney is the tranquil region of green hills, ponds and traditional Australia.
Each Saturday the Windsor Auctions are held on the road between town and our Centre, its really a series of Auctions, with anything and everything having its time under the hammer, from birds of every kind, to vintage crap from what seems to be from deceased estates (most of which I would have thought were just throw-away-cheap-brica-brac), crap from peoples yards, tools and spares, crap from building sites and the gem of the day at 2pm, the Poultry Auction.
I have to be honest I did attend 3 of the Auctions of 'crap' and even made a few bids, walking away with a pair of screw drivers I don't need for $3, it was a lot of fun, made more enjoyable for the people watching experience. There are 'types' of people that attend this auction clearly as their weekly routine, all known by first name by the auctioneers and who revel in buying this stuff they don't really need but feel that they must have. To me it is a pretty cheap form of entertainment when you think about it, especially when you actually get the opportunity to bid on something you might need. Its not unlike the pokies or blackjack...though you get to wear whatever you fell asleep in and don't need to bother about a shower or shave.
Learning as I went I did have to concentrate in the exotic bird auctions to see how it all works and I wasn't the only one ..there were a fair few 'traditional Australians' who were puzzled at how to bid and what was actually happening. However the masses of 'new Australians' seemed to know exactly what was going on, there was every nationality represented from the Sub-continent, to the Mid East and a lot of Chinese all vying for the bird, bunny or Guinea Pig of their choice.
Finally the Poultry Auction came around and I was still confused, not quite knowing which ducks were Indian Runners and whether they were males or females... I asked a lot of the new Australians only to get blank stares or answers to questions I didn't know I asked. After the Auction was well and truly on its way I felt I had a grasp on things and entered the fray, only to lose out time after time as the prices went beyond what I was reckoning as reasonable.
Then suddenly I was the winning bidder on two black Hens, I later found out were Croad Langshans, after the initial excitement that I now have chooks, I realised like many people in the earlier Auctions I just bought something I didn't know I needed so I thought Id better focus on the ducks I actually came for.
I had spoken to a lot of people and to be honest even the traditional Australians who seemed like they had been attending the auctions since they began, were pretty hard to understand, let alone the new Australians... that I cound't really make any sense of.... then in the pushing and shoving that is these auctions I suddenly found myself in the far corner of the squawking and qacking alongside a man who I later found out was 91 and had been breeding and showing poultry since given his first fowl as a little kid by his elderly Grandmother (who when you think about it... was around in the time before the telephone, rubber tyre and the United States still auctioned off Human Beings in situations not dissimilar to where I now found myself).
He was a striking fellow, and after chatting for a bit was struck by that fact I hadn't noticed him before this, as he was dressed as the quintessential country gentlemen you would have thought would have been attending these country auctions for 80 years. He had a Tweed Jacket, brown slacks and brown leather shoes topped off by a tweed cap. He really did look remarkable in the sea of hoodies, hijabs and unwashed hair, and upon talking with him I found a gem, a fountain of knowledge on all things Poultry. Suddenly my questions about ducks and chooks were followed by an electrifying tour of the countless cages of birds, showing me what to look for to find good layers, what feathers to look out for and to avoid which indicated breeding defects.
I felt so privileged to be learning from this man who, as I was later told, has probably won more awards in the Sydney Royal than any other living soul, in fact at the last Royal his family made history by having 4 generations exhibiting in the Poultry section.
Amongst the journey I was encouraged to bid, and as the dust settled and the feathers started to fall to the Ground I was the winning bidder on 4 Indian Runner Ducks, 2 Barred Plymouth Rock Hens and a magnificent Barred Plymouth Rock Rooster which I added to my earlier purchase of two black Croad Langshan hens.
Unfortunately one of the hens which I bought prior to my learning from 'Peter', was dead this morning... apparently the pecking order meant that she was on the outer with her new mates. However the Indian Runners and my Pekins had become great mates and already coming to my chant of 'Duck Duck'.... there are few things more rewarding than feeding your ducks and chickens in the morning and watching them scratch about and rummage through the grass...and all the more so that a man in Tweed helped me buy them.