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Any lineman who has ever worked in a country aerial party in the 'good old days' knows only too well that the main qualifications for becoming a member of an aerial party was to own four things and know how to use them:

A good rabbit dog (for chasing rabbits)
A good ferrett (for hunting rabbits out of burrows)
A good bucket (for holding mushrooms)
A good half house brick (to throw upwards to un-twist tree branches caught in the open wire)

None of these items were available ex-stores, but all were available on 'local purchase'.

If one was to glance through the Lineman's Handbook "Field Supervision and Depot Management" one would soon find reference to Plant Account "M" to which all "Repairs and Maintenance" were to be booked. This should probably have read "R&M" due to the fact that it often applied to "Rabbitting & Mushrooming".

In those days one way to fill in a boring one hour lunch break was to go looking for rabbits and mushrooms. The rabbitting exercise was looked on as Commonwealth Government assistance to rabbit infested farmers. The mushrooms were accepted by the underpaid lineman as a gift from the farming community - as a 'thank-you' gesture, if you like. Of course, these activities never occurred during working hours. Perish the thought.

These days little aerial remains and there are not as many rabbits as before. There is still maintenance to be carried out but, alas, no time for mushrooming. So Plant Account R&M is no more.

Ah, for the good old days!.

"On the Line", March 1983.

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