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    quokka
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Challenges of Farming - 9. CoF Ch 9

Once I was back on the west fence of the triangular paddock, I went through the northern gate and along the line of trees on the north side of the home paddock, and I started to plough bigger fire breaks around the trees that are close to the house and main shed, as well as towards the milking shed and my fruit trees and vegetable patch, and that is when I came across a dead milking cow, and after some looking around, I found a dead calf and two goats.

The cause of their death was fairly clear, with the sizable bullet holes in them, and I was feeling very sad as well as very angry at what I had discovered, as I headed back to the main shed. I jumped in fright when two figures came into view as I was parking the tractor near the shed, which I would need later to bury the carcasses.

I relaxed when I saw that the two men were police officers, “Mr Watkins, you called about gunshots, and we arrive to find that you have a bush fire too,” one of the officers said to me, “Yeah, not a good night for me, I have just finished making some firebreaks, and come across a dead cow, calf and two goats, all of them shot, and the fire started at the small cottage, where my worker was assaulted the other night,” I replied.

“Wow, that is a lot to happen in one night, would you care to show us where the dead stock are?” the second officer asked, “Yes, jump into my orange Ute, and I will take you there,” I replied, as I headed towards my vehicle, and before I could say anything, Jack commandeered the front passenger seat.

“Sorry, he is the second boss around here, you will have to take the back seats,” I commented to the officers smiling, as I climbed into the driver seat. Once everyone was inside, I drove through the paddock to where I found the dead stock, and with the spotlights on, the officers are able to take some detailed photographs, and take some notes.

“I will get the local vet to come out and take a look at these first thing, if you can let him onto the property, as we need to determine the calibre of the fire arm used to kill these stock. Now let’s go and see about the cottage and the fire,” the first officer said, and we climbed back into the vehicle and I drove along the boundary fence line, towards the remains of the small cottage.

When we arrived there, two fire crews were putting out spot fires in the bush near the cottage, as well as dousing the cottage in water to put the fire out properly, as I parked around the front of the cottage, close to the tree where the camera is located.

The two police officers had a good look around, took some photos and made notes, while I watched from near my vehicle. “Well Mr Watkins, it definitely looks like that the fire was lit on purpose, so our report will be that it is arson, but finding evidence to prove it, and who done it, is another thing,” the senior officer said, as I noticed Loretta approaching us.

“That may not be the case officers, as my good friend Mitchell Watkins here, is very security conscious, as you may have discovered, when you couldn’t get into his front gate, but if you look up on the other side of the vehicle, you will see a security camera secured to the tree,” Loretta said smiling.

I just laughed, as the officers searched for the camera, which was barely visible, because it was still dark, let me help you,” I said, as I adjusted my spotlights, and shone it up the tree. “We would like to review the camera footage please Mr Watkins,” the officer said to me.

Certainly, I will bring it into town later today about noon, once I have done all of my farm chores and disposed of the carcasses,” I replied. “Mrs Danby, isn’t it? Do you know how to contact the local Veterinarian?” the junior officer asked.

“I can do one better than tell you his contact details… Jeremy, the police here want to speak to you,” Loretta called out loudly, “Righto, be right there,” came a response as Loretta smiled. A few minutes later Jeremy Harrison the local vet was discussing doing an autopsy on the stock that I had found shot, so as to retrieve any bullet fragments that may be found.

Thanks to a good back burn, the fire was now mostly out, with the fire crews putting out any small spot fires, and any hot spots in tree stumps and shrubs. I drove the officers back to their police vehicle parked at my front gate, and turned back to go and check the rest of my boundary gates, which I had not completed checking because of the fire.

When I came to the gate to the oldest part of the farm, the gate was open, so I drove in and headed for the cottage, where I came across the friends of Loretta and Malcolm, who I had not met yet.

“G’day, my name is Mitchell Wilkins the owner of this property, just letting you know that the fire is under control and mostly out,” I said to the man who was approaching.

“We heard gunshots last night too, which scared my children,” the man said to me, “Yes, and I apologise for that, we had trespassing shooters last night, and they killed some of my stock. The police are looking into it as well as the fire, I suggest that you close and lock the front gates each time you go out or return from a day trip,” I replied.

“We have been usually, its just last nights events, got us a little spooked so we left it open for a quick exit if need be,” the man said to me. “That is understandable; I will close and lock the gates on my way out, I’m sorry if this has ruined your holiday in any way,” I responded.

“Now that we know what is happening, I am sure that the rest of it will be great, thanks for letting us know,” the man said, before I turned and headed back to the farm vehicle. As I was heading back towards my place, I stopped at the gate to the track leading to the milking shed.

I opened the gate and drove through, closing and locking the gate behind me, and I walked a few metres down the track and looked up at the tree where the first camera is located and frowned.

The camera was pointing upwards towards the sky, instead of a downwards angle towards the gate, walking back to the Ute, I drove it to the tree and climbing up, I took down the camera, and I backed towards the gate and stopped just before it, and climbing up onto the roof of the Ute, I repositioned the camera, just two metres from the gate, but at a higher position, and adjusted the angle, so the camera can capture the gate, and anything approaching it.

Once I had done that, I checked my mobile, and discovered that the notifications has been turned off, so I turned them back on and went back to look at footage of that camera, where it showed a little bit of movement on the far side of the camera, as it is angled upwards, but nothing to identify the person doing it or the vehicle involved.

I drove up to the second camera on this road, and immediately received a notification of movement, which was me, and looking up at the camera, it was just as I left it, when I set it up. Checking back on this camera, I had clear footage of a dark coloured four wheel drive vehicle, including its rego plate, and I could see two people inside, and the passenger was holding a rifle.

With the gate locked when I arrived, I drove back to the gate and climbed out, telling Jack to stay, and from the gate, I carefully checked the fence lines, and it was not long before I found a poorly retied up fence line, with all five wires, barely staying together. I took some photos of the fence wires, as well as some tyre tracks in the sand, coming from the next door property.

I continued down the track and stopped at the gate just after the small amount of bush, and I saw fresh tyre tracks park in front of the gate, and after a bit of searching I located half a dozen shell casings that look like are from a 303 rifle, and using my phone, I took photos of the tyre tracks and of the used casings, and stepping back two paces I took another photo to show the location of the casings, in front of the gate.

Using my handkerchief, I carefully picked up the casings and finding an empty water bottle in the vehicle, I placed the casings in it and secured the lid, and using a pen I wrote the date and time, and location onto the bottle label and took a photo of it, before putting it into the Ute and I made my way back home via the milking shed, where I milked the remaining one cow, before feeding the calves and goats,

Back at the house, I had a shower and dressed, before getting into my private vehicle along with Jack and the container of shell casings, and headed for town, and I went directly to the police station, where I informed the officers what I had discovered.

I showed them the photos, as well as the shell casings, as well as telling them that the illegal vehicle came in the direction of the vineyard property next door. After I had given my statement on what I had seen and heard overnight, Jack and I headed to a café for some lunch, and Loretta walked in just as we were about to leave.

“Hey you two, how are things going after last night,” Loretta asked as she approached and sat down at our table, where Jack was sitting on a chair. “I am tired, and I still have so much to do, including digging a hole to bury the carcasses,” I replied.

“I have good news in regards to Myles, he is been discharged from hospital tomorrow, and I have arranged for him to be flown to the Albany Airport, where I will collect him,” Loretta said to me, “Well, that is great news, I had decided that after his injury that he would stay at my place, and I had collected all of his belongings.

So none of it was destroyed in the cottage and bush fire, just bring him directly to my place. I haven’t checked yet, but I am hoping that his bike and my quad bike are all fixed and ready to go home,” I responded. “I will do that, and I am glad that you managed to grab all of Myles’ belongings. Is there anything else we can do to help you?” Loretta asked.

“Can you tell me a bit more about Sam and June Higgins?” I asked softly so others in the café could not hear us, “Oh, why do you ask?” Loretta asked in shock, “I have a few worries about them, so… can you tell me some more about them?” I responded. “Well, they have been in the district for about 18 years, and all but two and a bit years of that has been on the vineyard property. June, whose full name is Junette, comes from a strict Italian family.

“Oh, I just thought of something, are you asking if they have something to do with the burning down of the cottage and surrounding bushfire?” Loretta asked me. “Yes, I had a conversation with them before the incident, and that now has brought up some questions from me.

As well as that conversation, I also have physical proof of someone cutting the fence line from my access track into the neighbouring property, as well as unknown tyre tracks, coming onto the access track from the other property, which leads me to suspect that the neighbours had knowledge of the illegal entry, since they would need to drive past the house to get to my property,” I stated.

“Oh, ok I see what you are saying; you think that Sam and June are responsible for letting people onto their property to gain access to your property?” Loretta asked, “Yes, and I have also recovered a number of shell casings, that are most likely the bullets that killed my stock on the same night as the fire,” I replied.

“That is some very serious stuff, are you really sure that it is possibly them?” Loretta asked, “Not just me, but the police too, plus I have security footage, from the second camera, that catches the trespassers coming onto the property, that includes a description and rego plate number of their vehicle,” I replied.

“Wait, earlier today, I saw Sam coming into town with one of the locals, and he looked a little tired and when I asked him why, he said that he had been in Perth for a three day conference, and he caught the early morning flight down to Albany this morning, so Sam was not even in the area at the time of the fire,” Loretta said.

“I see, I wondered why he didn’t come out of the house when I did the fire breaks. Ok, so if it isn’t Sam, then it must be June, or someone that she knows,” I commented. “What have the police said about it all?” Loretta asked me, “they have accepted the evidence and they have made up a report and they will make some enquiries. So I just have to wait and see what comes of it,” I replied.

After the conversation at the café, Jack and I headed home, and did a check of all of the outer gates to the property, and found them all locked, including the one to more former home cottage, which I was pleased to see. With just one cow left to milk now, and with less goats and a calf, the afternoon chores were done a lot quicker, and with less milk, I took it over to the cheese shed and put it in the fridge to cool.

Back at the house, I was pleased to see that the house was clean, as it was the day that June cleans and cooks a meal for me and Jack. After a quick cup of tea, we headed over to the shed, where I gathered all of the fencing repair gear, and in the farm Ute, we headed over to the front gate to the milking shed, so as to repair the fence wires. Once I had completed that we headed back to the shed to swap over to the tractor, so as to dig a hole and bury the carcasses.

When we arrived back at home, I looked around the house, and I noticed that my laptop computer had been moved, so I opened it up and entered the twelve letter and number password, and I did a check on the history of the computer, and found nothing unusual, to indicate that the password had been over ridden, and any checks had been made, which I was pleased about.

The last security camera that I had purchased I had decided to place inside the house, so as to keep an eye on any possible break ins or unauthorised snooping, and I had placed it in my study in the corner above the doorway, looking towards my desk, where I keep my computer.

This camera, I had disabled the notifications, but now I opened up the programme and clicked on the study camera, which showed one recording, that was made earlier in the afternoon, and it was of June cleaning, as well as trying to get access to my laptop computer and failing.

I saved this recording and opening up a new email, I attached the recording of the study as well as the extra ones of the vehicle breaking into my property by cutting the fence line, and I sent it to the police at Denmark, with a cover note to explain each of the recordings.

Copyright May 2021 All Rights Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Either someone doesn’t like Mitchell or his new employee Myles the reason I say this is because the problems didn’t start until Mitchell hired Myles and he moved into the cottage. First Myles is assaulted and his scooter was damaged then while he’s in the hospital recovering from his injuries the cottage was set on fire along with a brush fire. Mitchell finds some livestock had been shot as well as the fence between his farm and the vineyard part of the property had been cut and sloppily put back together, he found shell casings as well as tire tracks leading to the fence from the vineyard. He also found that the lady who was hired to be his housekeeper had attempted to get access to his laptop computer. All that was sent to the police.

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Well it seems as if Mitch and Myles are not liked by certain people in the neighbourhood, at least they have plenty of people on there side.

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A lot of missing back story.  A lot of mayhem like this must have really strong reasons.  Arson, battery, killing livestock, and attempted murder must be something big.

 

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The tale of the video will most likely bear out surprises, the culprits are as good as caught, the vehicle registration will be damming evidence that will lead to further evidence!!

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I have just binged read your nine chapters and I absolutely love your world.  Your characters are so well rounded and complete and the story line is wonderful.

     Please don't let us wait too long between chapters.

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Glad to hear that Myles is going to be okay; staying up at the farm house there will be strength in numbers, won't say safety but at least strength.  Obviously, June is involved in some way.  Australia, much like many western states in the US, take killing livestock very seriously.  

Hope they are able to get this dealt with in a timely manner.  I have never understood anyone that was willing to kill an innocent animal to get back at a person.  Just has never made any sense to me.

Keep up the great job...

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