Apr 23

Quick as you can

When the farmer pops his head in the door and yells “As quick as you can,” I know he needs help – and fast.

The expression was coined by his old friend and stock agent Goldie Rossiter. It’s best used when you want the other person to do something A) you don’t want to do, B) which is unappealing, C) you need help with or D) they won’t want to do but you know you can coerce them to do.

Sheep on a quad with the farmer

This sick sheep scored a ride on the quad

In this case A, B, C and D applied. Our objective, said the farmer, was to catch a sheep with fly strike. Fly strike is horrible.  Blow flies lay eggs on sheep, the maggots burrow into the skin and the animal’s physical health and nervous system fail. . .

When we found the sheep snuggled beside a bank, the farmer slammed on the brakes, dived out of the ute and rushed at it. In short, he demonstrated the sorry lack of communication skills I’ve found common to many farmers.

It was, therefore, no surprise that neither the dogs nor I were positioned to dive tackle the creature which took off like a rocket; sheep can run surprisingly fast.

After ignoring my unflattering comments, the farmer and I zoomed up the hill in the ute and watched the sheep disappear into some bush with the bewildered dogs in pursuit. It was lively for a sheep with fly strike.

We thought we’d lost it until I spotted it and the race was on again. The sheep plunged down a bank, under a fence and along a riverbed with the farmer on foot far behind it.

Ten minutes later, after heading towards his faint shout, I found him grinning sheepishly (sorry . . .) and in an embrace with the sheep. There is, I hasten to point out, no truth in all those grubby sheep jokes, however the sheep proved there is truth in jokes about their stupidity.

Rex had cornered it on a miniscule promontory on a river bank beside a fence. The only way out was across a stream where Kate the dog was cooling off by swimming in circles.

The farmer removed his gumboots and socks (a one-handed job done while he lay beside the sheep), tossed them to me then crossed the stream holding the sheep aloft.

Somehow it was my job to stop it escaping while the farmer got the ute and did a spot of cross-country driving.

I kneeled beside the sheep and grabbed its legs while attempting to swat away a multitude of blow flies having the time of their life.

“Quick as you can,” I muttered grumpily, having found yet another opportunity to use Goldie’s invaluable expression.


(RIP: Goldie died a few years back)


About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


  1. Judy Field

    Hi Rae, I am just writing to say I enjoyed your book very muchly, I was the dumb blonde who missed your night at PaperPlus however caught up with you at one of my favourite spots, The Fat Camel. By the way, thanks for signing my copy. I was very interested to read about your history – my partner and his family grew up in Russell Road – the Whithams – Garry said to me as I just read the part – ‘they lost their mother quite early’ – a big blow to the teenage psyche. I came across the piece where you spoke of your brother Neil, and he married the younger sister (Raewyn) of an old schoolfriend Carol Doel. More interestingly, was mention of the ‘Morgan’ family from the Batley area. A very old friends mother passed recently and she was the daughter of Fred Morgan (or maybe grand daughter?) Dennis Thompson is my very old friend – he is the descendant. Another interesting piece of info was the Crawford connection. In my younger days I was the Cashier at the Advocate and worked with them when they owned it – one of Gerald’s sons is our neighbour today. The you mentioned Wendy Read – another old schoolfriend who I have lunch with. Then the reference to Robyn and Sofie – more friends, I had to ask Robyn and confirm it was alluding to her – Lol . What a small world we live in. Another part that roused my interest was the Lance Field and I wonder where he stemmed from? As we share surnames, I wonder whether you know anything about his origins? My grandfather came out from Yorkshire as a boy with his family, and they originally settled in Helensville and my great grandfather was a layman preacher in the gum fields in the north before they moved down to Manawatu where they bought a farm.. My parents met in Wanganui. Well, that’s enough for a Sunday Rae, but just wanted to share that I did enjoy your book and I have a list of friends who are keen to read it. Judy

    1. Rae Roadley

      Hi Judy, Delighted you got the book, enjoyed it – and told me so. For a ‘dumb blonde’ you have great recall of a raft of people – and lots of friends. Lovely that you know so many of the cast of characters that make up my life. Thanks for coming to The Fat Camel – it was great to meet you and hope to do so again, best wishes, Rae

    2. Rae Roadley

      Hi Judy, further… No, I’m sorry, can’t help you re Lance Field and whether you’re related. Hope your friends are enjoying the book. I’ve just had another ‘Morgan’ contact me via Facebook. Best wishes & thanks, Rae

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