Blowing up a cowshed a hit with the kids

Author Jennifer Somervell with her book The Day Dad Blew Up The Cowshed.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Author Jennifer Somervell with her book The Day Dad Blew Up The Cowshed.

Back in the 1970s Jennifer Somervell's father blew up their cowshed.   

And on Thursday she read the picture book The Day Dad Blew Up the Cowshed to the children at Makahu School, near Stratford.

They loved it, Somervell, from Christchurch, said.

Author Jennifer Somervell visited Makahu School  and principal Chris Mattock to read her book The Day Dad Blew Up The ...
supplied

Author Jennifer Somervell visited Makahu School and principal Chris Mattock to read her book The Day Dad Blew Up The Cowshed to the children.

"They had lots of questions. It's a farming area, so they all knew what a rotary cowshed was. When I went to a school in Christchurch they had no idea what a rotary cowshed was."

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Somervell's father had heard about a new rotary shed that had been invented by Eltham man Merv Hicks in the late 1960s and decided he wanted one, so Hotter Engineering made the cowshed for the Somervell's farm, she said.

"It was the first one in Hawke's Bay. But he had to get rid of the old cowshed."

Her grandfather had learned how to use explosives as a soldier at Gallipoli in WWI, she said.

"So it was natural to think you'd get rid of it by blowing it up.  It was very funny, you wouldn't do it today. They brought in an explosives expert. As kids we watched this unfolding drama."

The windows of the house were taped up and the kids were sent to stand on a hill, so they wouldn't get hurt, she said.

"We watched and waited and then there was this almighty great bang. It was unbelievably loud. We were not far from the Ruahine Ranges, so the sound went out then it echoed back from the Ruahine Ranges. It sort of reverberated. And all the this concrete went up into the air."

The occasion stayed in her memory and when her father retold it in 2006, Somervell wrote it first as a poem and then as a picture book, which she had illustrated by her sister Margery Fern.

"The story was hilarious and I thought it was just kind of a drama that kids would love. It's a story that catches kids imagination."

The book was first published in 2012 and has now been reprinted with a history of the rotary shed at the back of the book.

The Day Dad Blew Up the Cowshed was available for $21.95 at Paper Plus in Stratford and New Plymouth and at Poppies in New Plymouth.

Tales From the Farm website for more information.

 

 

 - Stuff

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