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11 months ago

Selwyn Times: November 22, 2016

8 Tuesday

8 Tuesday November 22 2016 Our People SELWYN TIMES David Grafton Scout leader’s love of the outdoors Hororata Scouts group leader David Grafton spoke to Tom Doudney about the cave system he helped map as a boy and the extinct animal bones he found inside. He also remembers the heartbreaking loss of his competition-winning three-legged sheep dog and the joy of becoming a father to identical twin boys. Do you live in Hororata? I live about halfway between Hororata and Windwhistle. I’m an agricultural contractor. I’ve got a couple of major clients; I just do whatever work my clients want, predominately stock work. It varies a bit, I get a bit of tractor work occasionally, some fencing – anything farming, it’s what I was born and bred to do. Have you lived in the area long? We will have been here five years this coming April. I was born in Southland but I left there in pre-school so Westport is actually what I call home. How did you get into scouting? I joined venturer scouts over in Westport before I left school. I was never in any of the younger ones and then at 18, that’s as far as you can go in scouts and you have got to become a leader (if you want to stay involved) so I did in 1982. Have you been involved in leading scouts ever since? I’ve had broken service off and on, I’ve moved around the country a bit. I left the West Coast and came to Canterbury in the mid-1980s farming up the Rangitata Gorge, and then ended up in the North Island for six years. What was it that made you want to become a venturer? The guys I was at school with were doing it and I thought ‘yeah, this is a bit of me.’ We spent most of our time as venturers caving and I got a real buzz out of that. A lot of the time we spent was at a place called Honeycomb Hill. We were the original group that mapped that and it is a massive system, which is closed off now because of the value of what is in there which could be too easily damaged. There are a lot of moa bones and we found a full Haast eagle skeleton, which is THREE GOOD LEGS: David Grafton with his dog Stacey and the nine sheep dog trial trophies they won in spite of her missing leg. in the Canterbury Museum. We would spend a whole weekend underground, just going in on a Friday night and staying there. Were you farming when you were in the North Island as well? No, I got to the stage where I wanted to make a decision as to whether farming was what I wanted to end my life doing so I got as far away from farming as I could so I actually went and sat behind a desk, I wore a suit and tie. I enjoyed it while I was there, but I was getting sick of it when the company got bought out and I got made redundant. So it all sort of worked out really good, but it made me sit down and think that farming was what I was born and bred for and I got back into it. What sort of company were you working for? It was a big laundry based in Taupo and they supplied all the linen for the big hotels. My job was sales and service manager so I was in charge of a fleet of drivers, I was out making sales, getting new clients and chasing bad debts. It was exciting for a while but I missed my stock and my dogs and everything. Do you have any other interests outside of scouting and farming? Probably just sheep dog trialling, but at the moment I haven’t the time and my dogs are not quite up there yet. I had quite a good heading dog years ago, called Stacey, that I trialled. Unfortunately, she got injured quite young in life and I was pretty successful at a couple of sheep dog trials with her. KEEP IT SAFE & SECURE Our pre-Christmas exhibition is once more, a lovely mix of five female artists working in a range of media, both two and three dimensional. Jane Downes continues to play with her dandelion structures. She manages to make metal ethereally beautiful. Katrina Perano’s anthropomorphic painted portraits of familiar and exotic creatures are so endearing. Blanche Fryer is a whimsical ceramic artist who incorporates painting into her recycled native timber framed artworks. Kate Beatty uses appropriate botanical references in repeating pattern as a backdrop to her detailed and beautiful native bird paintings. Elisha Jordan’s birds belie their sturdy stainless steel structure, they are graceful and animated. Get your perfect backyard shed! THICKER, STRONGER & MORE SECURE BIG RANGE OF GARDEN AND STORAGE SHED SIZES AND STYLES AVAILABLE CHRISTCHURCH 55 Hands Road Ph: (03) 338 9063 www.stratco.co.nz

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday November 22 2016 9 and his three-legged sheep dog She broke her leg badly and they couldn’t save the leg so I ended up with a three-legged dog – and that’s when she won the trials, she only had the three legs at that stage. But then she went on to injure her only other back leg and at that stage, unfortunately, the vets had to put her to sleep. Is it as impressive as it sounds that she won those trials with three legs? Yes, at the Loburn North trial she won all nine trophies available. She was actually the only dog, whether three-legged or four-legged, to have won all the trophies available in a particular year at that trial. A back leg doesn’t restrict them as much as you might think it does, losing a front leg is a lot harder on them. But she was an exceptionally good dog. How did she injure the first leg that she lost? She jumped off my fourwheeler to catch a sheep for me and it was just the way she landed on the ground, her back leg broke. I had to take her to specialists in Christchurch and they put it back together with a whole lot of pins and external scaffolding on it but, unfortunately, infection got into SCOUTING: David Grafton at a recent venturers camp. it and they couldn’t save the leg. She had the amputation and was happily back at work within 10 days. But I always knew that probably one day her other back leg would be her downfall and she injured it to a point where the vet said it’s just not fair. That wasn’t one of my better days when I had to make the final decision. How did she injure the other leg? She was heading a mob of deer for me and she went through a drain, the leg went into the mud and it pulled the joint out. Had she had another back leg, you could strap that one up and she could take the weight off it and it would heal, but that was her only back leg so she couldn’t stand up at all. Do you and your wife [Jacqui] have any kids? We have identical twin boys, Thomas and James, who just turned 15. They’re both venturers. Is that interesting having identical twins? It was a bit trying to start off with, getting to know who was who, but even though I don’t think they look alike, most people say they do, but they have two completely different personalities. How long did it take you to start being able to tell them apart? Thomas was born with a wee strawberry birthmark on his forehead and that stayed there until just before he started school. The one thing Jacqui decided right from day one was we would not dress them the same. Thomas has his colours and James had his colours so that they did develop their different personalities. In saying that, there is something there about twins – some connection, some force, I don’t know what it is, but when they were little, they had their own language and they knew what was going on between one another without other people knowing what was going on. With all the adventures you would have been on over the years, can you think of any times when you or your scouts had to use your special scout skills to get you out of a difficult situation? No, through good planning I have never got into a situation which has not been part of what was planned. The last trip we did with the venturers was up the back of Mt Somers. We spent two days in the snow up over our knees. In the second hut, we met a group of German students that had gone in there, some of them were wearing sand shoes, one FOUND: The skull of a Haast eagle found in the Honeycomb Hill caves is now on display at Canterbury Museum. had no sleeping bag, they had no safety equipment at all and were going to carry on to the next hut. We strongly advised them they really shouldn’t be there. I suppose scouting must be like having a big family for you in some ways. Scouting is like a family. 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