A few years later, I was a student at an agricultural college in the west of England less than an hour's drive from their farm. They very kindly offered me the use of a bedroom accessible from their farmyard so that I could come and go as I pleased, which I often did.
Mick and his wife Bridget were obviously deeply in love but unfortunately had not been able to have children. Their cattle, a couple of horses and two whippets, were their children.
I enjoyed walking around the cattle with Mick on their gorgeous farm and also going with them and their cattle to various county and smaller shows. When I returned to Australia we kept in touch by letter and I even visited and stayed with them again a couple more times, not least because I married Bridget's god daughter.
As they got into their late seventies, Bridget became beset by ill health and in the late 1990s died quite suddenly. Less than one week later Mick died too. To me that was real heart break, because while his joints were not great, he was not really unwell. I can't even come close to matching that heart break, although if one of my kids died it might be a close thing.
But I still get teary, thinking about my son and daughter in law's cat Nigel, dying while in my care a couple of years ago. He'd been off his food for a while and when I took him to the vet, she advised that it would be more humane to have him put down than try and mend him. I agreed to that and she did the deed there and then.
I dug a hole in the back yard and can see his body now, curled up as if asleep, in the bottom of the hole. I still make my breakfast and take it back to bed to eat and he used to curl up on top of me the same way when I did that.
In fact I cried more when Nigel died than when my 96 year old mother died a year or so before him. But then she had had a full life, and convinced of an afterlife, was happy to face the end.
But six years was before Nigel's time and as they say, it just wasn't fair.