Disclaimer: This magazine article is in no way a representation or connected to the publication â€˜Country Wideâ€™. For the purposes of a UCOL assignment it was made to fit the style of this magazine.
Not only a working relationship The importance of the working dog to drystock farmer Ronald Ramage
Written and photographed by Kim Ross
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his daily chores with his father. This like most rural kids he knew was more enjoyable than going to school. At the age of 15 he left to continue working for ‘the man down the road’. Ronald was always surrounded by working dogs and naturally it was at this age he acquired his own. The father of four bought his first farm in 1970 and returned to farming. Standing at his property at Gladstone Street, Woodville he states “this one here, my first farm...seems like nothing now”. As I speak to him I can see all the memories return, this is where all the action really started. This was the place where he trained his first dog and it was here where he learnt the true importance of the working dog, and of a good one.
Farm Facts: average of 900 acres of hill country on his 6 main farms combined. Also running smaller blocks just for grazing. Location: Woodville and Papatawa Farmer, Woodville, Wairarapa area, Wairarapa Staff: Himself, his two dogs and once Born and bred on a Matamau farm, a week a student.
Hawkes Bay, Ronald Ramage was immersed in the farming culture from a young age. When asked how long he had been farming for, the 77 year old lovingly said “oh...since I was a kid”. Ronald’s love for farming started with
Ronald’s first dog on his new farm was a heading dog called ‘Watch’ who was already trained. He then began training his own pups which he described as “just natural instinct”. Over this
Above: Grazers mid move Below: Jaz and Zoe at Whariti Farm
time Ronald became known in the Woodville area for training dogs. He also began taking in older dogs that hadnt been trained properly, training them up and selling them on. Ronald liked to give every dog that he felt had a good nature a chance, usually bitches as he felt they were better at working and he had a bad experience with a dog he was training . At the start
“Dogs are the most valuable piece of equipment you can have on the farm”
Above: Ronald Ramage and his first farm vehicle Left: Ronald and Jaz in hill country
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Jaz keeping a close eye on the cattle Below: Jaz is never far from Ronald
of his farming career, he had trained a dog named ‘Mac’. A head strong young dog who he describes as “a nice looking dog but thick as two short planks”. He discovered then how a bad dog could make things so much harder and also how it felt to be bitten on the bum. “A bad, in-experienced dog can kill stock, over gullies and things”. “You couldn’t do it without dogs” Over the years he has had 9 main working dogs that have been with him from start to finish. Not only has he expanded to owning and running 6 main farms with other small sections, but he has also made a transition from farming sheep and beef to running Dairy grazers. Throughout this time the majority of the farm work has been done solely by him with the occasional casual worker.
dogs are absolutely vital in the success of his business and he is fully aware of this. “You couldn’t do it without dogs.. the most valuable piece of equipment you can have on the farm” he replies, when asked about why he uses working dogs. He states that “especially on hill country, you have got to To this day he still runs all his properties on have dogs...and good ones”. his own, which at his age, and on hill country is quite a lot of hard work. He current“especially on hill country, you have ly has two bitches he trained and are now got to have dogs...and good ones”. both 7 years old. Jaz a Beardie X who is his strongest dog and best friend, and Zoe the Heading X who makes a great sidekick. His The relationship between Ronald Ramage and his dogs is one that is not only a workTop left: Looking out over Woodville ing relationship but also one of companBottom left: Thick as two thieves ionship, trust and love.