The first bison calf to be born in the world in 2019 has arrived in the Hunter.
To be honest, we can’t be 100 per cent sure if it was the first new-year baby bison across the entire world. But we reckon it could be.
It has to be in the top 10, at least. But let’s be optimistic and believe that we came first.
Sarah-Jane Dunford said the calf was born at 10am in Maitland on New Year’s Day.
She told Topics that American bison were born in our winter. And bison in Europe are usually born from May to July.
Plus, Sarah-Jane said her bison was born late “because of the drought”.
We asked Sarah-Jane why she has bison.
“I watched Dances with Wolves as a kid and loved it. And there was a stuffed one up on a wall in Lone Star [restaurant] and I used to stare at it,” she said.
“When we bought the farm in the Maitland area about three years ago, we were trying to decide what animals to farm.
“We found out there’s about 500 head of bison in Australia. You can’t import them or their meat.”
She and husband Luke went to the International Bison Conference in America to learn more. They decided to go for it.
“We got our first four bison, three girls and a boy, a year ago,” she said.
Their first calf was born two days ago, followed by another on New Year’s Day.
She said a lot of farmers use bison for the rodeo, but “we want to farm them for meat”.
“There’s only a small number of farmers that do it for meat,” she said.
She said bison meat was “leaner than kangaroo and not as gamey”.
“It’s delicious,” she said.
Anyone for a bison burger?
A Smoking Chimp
The new year is here – that time when resolutions are often on people’s minds.
No doubt many smokers are thinking about quitting. Which is fair enough. Smoking is no good for people.
It’s no good for chimpanzees, either.
So let’s cast our mind back to January 1986. Newcastle's Quit for Life campaigners had set their sights on Wally the smoking chimpanzee. They wanted him to give up the habit.
Hunter Quit for Life co-ordinator Terry Slevin had called for Wally's smoking to be dropped from his stage act with a circus.
Wally was the star of the show. At the time, he was performing at the Kotara shopping mall, then known as Garden City.
Mr Slevin pointed out that the chimpanzee’s smoking could encourage children to smoke because it portrayed the habit as normal and acceptable adult behaviour.
Topics has learned that Wally didn’t just smoke. He had a drinking problem, too.
Lambton’s Phil Mahoney has been in the entertainment industry for a long time.
He recounted a story of the “funniest job I ever had”.
It involved Wally the chimpanzee. It was 1986 – the same year that anti-smoking crusaders were on Wally’s tail.
Phil had just broken into the Sydney entertainment circuit. An agent had booked him at Manly shopping mall for a school holidays show.
“He rang up worried. He was out of breath,” Phil said.
The agent needed Phil to urgently fill in for Wally. Wally was due to perform on stage but couldn’t be woken. He’d broken into the fridge and drank all the beer. A dozen cans.
“Part of Wally’s act, on stage, was to open the fridge, open a can and swig it. All the kids would be in raucous laughter,” Phil said.
“After he had a can of beer, he’d grab a packet of cigarettes, light up and walk around the stage smoking. Imagine that. The things they did in those days, you’d never do in these days, you know.”
The Joys of Junior Sport
Topics wrote last week about University of Newcastle research into the weird and wonderful world of junior sport.
We half-joked that junior sporting grounds were suburban battlefields and that junior sport makes adults go nuts.
Mount Hutton’s John Ure was president of Cardiff South for a period in the 1970s.
“It’s always disappointing to read about parents interfering in their kids’ enjoyment of sport. It wasn’t always thus,” John said.
Three of John’s sons played soccer with the club from the age of four.
“Although, admittedly, the catchment was much smaller then, the parents not only knew each other in our teams but we often got to know parents in other teams,” he said.
“We’d run into parents from other teams year after year. Although perhaps we didn't get down to first-name terms, we would exchange greetings, make small talk, talk about how the kids had grown, applaud each other's goals and good saves and generally just get on well together. It was competitive but not combative.
“You would occasionally see parents getting a bit excited, but not out of hand, so if a culture of parental interference has emerged to the point of being a real problem it must be a fairly recent and unacceptable phenomenon.”
John said junior soccer was “one of the greatest activities any kid, boy or girl, can be involved in”.
“It is a true team game where everybody can play a part, forge lifelong friendships, stay fit and have fun.”