Neighbours at the station

Our neighbours give Nola a very hard time. Such a tease. She really feels they ought to pay attention to her voice.

So I sat by them for a bit while she understood that they in actual fact don’t need her to bark at all. That everyone has a boundary to keep. And they are just neighbours.

On my way back to the kitchen I saw this:

Corellas on a truck

Call em Shawn

I don’t speak sheep.

This weekend was the weekend that we have been building towards. So yards are getting built. The shade cloth was going up. The shed was getting finalised. All because out in the paddock were some fairly woolly animals that were in need of attention. Parker has a nice handful of sheep that will take an average Shearer a good day to shear.

The shearing was booked. Not the usual fella, but the recommended second-best. The caterers were prepared. The volunteer workers signed on. Ready for a day of shearing.

I spent the first good two hours just observing and as a result I got to see a little bit closer how it all happens.

Old mate grabs his sheep from the double swinging doors and gets into it.

The Rouseabout starts collecting the bits of wool that won’t be part of the fleece. Parker is the wool classer and he’s there ready to grab the fleece and lay it out over the table. The skirtings are removed and the fleece is put into its wool type. Meanwhile the shearer is already nearing completion of the next sheep.

It’s a well oiled production line here that almost doesn’t need my help actually and that’s fine with me. Cos I don’t speak sheep. Parker does. I eat lamb, I wear wool. I like sheep, but I speak cattle.

Old mate didn’t seem to understand that statement… keep advising me on all the things… and without fail I said with pride “Mate! I don’t speak sheep! Better go chat with Parker!”

And then it came time to be a sheep wrangler.

See all those lovely Shawn sheep needed drenching and a lice backline. So I put my cattle work skills to good use and wrangled those tiny little things over to the gate, allowed them to be treated and released in the holding yard so they could finally get a drink and a bite to eat. It was definitely a big day, possibly bigger day than feedlotting cattle. But a good one.

Cousins and Jazz!

I like to watch a specific TV show with my specific cousin Ruth. But I’m not on station so I was able to watch it with her this time. 

We ate lovely food, we scrapped, we shopped, we even ducked up to my Auntys for birthday cake. And we talked and talked and talked. 

Meanwhile, Kelsie and Jazz the kelpie played and rumbled  and chased until they were tired. 

I’m on my way 

I departed the southern outstation on Saturday morning. Picked up a bit of gear in Mt. Isa like a belt and some camping gear and food for healthy snacking in the car. 

Not sure why my dog is pulling a face… she actually likes being just there while I drive. Better views and more air conditioning.

It took me 3 days to work out what to do. That meant I could do everything I might’ve in town. So I found myself with not much left on my list of things to acquire and kicked out of town early. Off to Cloncurry and beyond. 


I pulled up to camp on the Northside of McKinlay. 

What this lovely photo doesn’t tell you about it the crazy mad mosquito factor and the heat that never left. 

Anyway I’m in Winton now catching up with friends. So that means a super comfy lounge, a cool night and a shower. 

Winton really is a beautiful place: it’s a place where it’s mostly flat… except for these remnant rock formations scattered across the countryside. 

Backyards 

My story: we had a fair bit going on at the station. There were cattle to process, and an AI program to continue with. We were down to a handful of staff and suddenly found ourselves short alone critical afternoon. So the interim manager assigned the book keeper and the station cook to the care of the head stockman to get a simple job done of changing the ear tags on a specific group of cattle. 

Now the book keeper grew up on a property, albeit a small one… so if you put here in a yard and say move these cattle there and those cattle here, she’s at least already thinking forward on how. The cook, however does not have that upbringing. So I followed on and tried best to be observant and helpful. 

A cattle yard is an interesting place. Gates every which way. Pressure points and ever decreasing spaces for cattle to cope with.  So I have 200 cattle in one yard and we “push” some into the next and less into the one after that. We end up with 10 in a small octagonal yard that is all gates only and called the round yard, to direct the cattle as quietly as possible to the race and the cattle crush where we can replace the ear tags as required for this day. 

So while it was bookie, head stockie and me, it might have been slow going. But I was able to keep the cattle coming up quietly. And they seemed happy enough. 

But then we had a few other show up from the bore job. And holy moly. Those cattle were stirred up!  I ended up in that round yard with far too many cattle. They were moving about trying to gain relief from the pressure of bing too tightly confined with no where to go. As a result one cow kicked me in my hip. It felt like a softball coming at me from a div 1 player. Thump! She looked back at me… and I asked what did you do that for? Both of us said oh well and continued trying to keep things as quiet as possible when the others are stirring the pot way too much. 

I had a bit of a go at the “processing” end. That’s a pretty fast paced game. High energy activity to swap tags and do any other jobs required. Not today, but things like branding and weighing happen there. 

But I decided I much prefer to work the backyards. To quietly stand in a yard and try to determine where to apply a small amount of pressure to get enough cattle into the next yard without having them change their minds just at the gate and run back to where we started. 

I had an absolute ball that afternoon. I still have a massive bruise, but being fat saved the day this time. I was really hot, really thirsty. Really tired, still required to do dinner but so happy. 

Ok so no pics from my adventure this day but here. Have a selfie. 

The bread went stale after a big function and the crew aren’t keen on dessert so French toast for smoko…. yummo

This is home. Well it’s actually work… my view from the kitchen. 


That’s Lola. Poddies have taught me a lot about cattle. However nine is a lot to be responsible for. 

Mobbed by the bubbas

I now have 5 poddies to love and feed. That makes feeding time tricky because there is absolutely no concept of “turn taking” or “I’m full now”. Also, two know how to walk through steel fences.


There’s Frankie at the front, Lola behind him. They are both stud poddies. Hence the ear tags   Way back behind both of them is the newest acquisition; Soren Lorenson. He’s not much younger or small than my first three fellas. He’s a lovely grey colour which makes him look like a ghost sort of. 
Yesterday afternoon, a coworker set up a very big blow up kiddies pool. So I sat in ten relaxing water for an hour or so. It was so good to be able to relax like that. I miss being able to do that at the local pool. Might have to look into a portable bathtub.

A lot has happened here at my station. The manager has moved on very suddenly this month. And so I am quite uncertain what my future holds given I don’t what the new management will be like. I have canceled my holiday just in case I suddenly need the insurance.

There is a fair amount of anxiety and tension that goes with having a void in leadership. We each are doing our best to do our job. But there have been tricky moments when someone steps out of line and I’m left thinking “you wouldn’t have done that if Boss Man was here.” Everything in me is geared towards just surviving Melbourne cup day when the VIP of the company make a rockstar tour of the station.

Those poddies, whilst being pests, are my lifesavers just presently. For with them I find peace from the turmoil. They are what this place is all about and they are the reason I am proud to say I’m a station cook.  For without the cattle there is no station.

Moments

There’s a lot on. And I have a back log of posts.

But today is just to pretty not to share. Even if it’s via my iPhone.

Morning skies on My way to feed my two poddies. 

I suppose you don’t all know this: I got a poddy last Tuesday: I called him Bruce.


Introducing poddy number 2. A stud fella called Frankie. Acquired him on Thursday 
Bruce needs 3 times a day feeds and Frankie needs 2.

Yarding Bulls and looking upon 3000 weaners

Thursday 9th June A snapshot of the afternoon. 

Today was a great day. Well I hardly remember the morning; this is all about the afternoon. I was able to be useful. I just happened to have an ideal bit of “material” lying in my car that was just perfect for a horse problem. It hard to describe the feelings that wash over me when such events oCcur in my life. Indescribable and unexplainable. 

There are feelings of pride and joy. But it’s no much more than those two feelings. 

So then I rode my station horse: Old Mate. We lapped the airstrip paddock, cantered fast, and did some “fancy” circles and figure eights. 

On arriving back at the yards, I was called on to help shift some bulls. So I ties my horse up, helped organise another horse, discovered that there are things I don’t know still about saddling horses especially in regards to saddle cloths, jumped back on Old Mate and away we walked. 

Bulls are lazy stubborn creatures. a whole lot of “can’t be bothered” oozes from their muscly bodies. A sense of “you just can’t understand how hard it really is to carry a ball sack as big as mine” lies in their eyes. “I need all this potential strength, and I won’t be doing anything unless I have to.” Self important bulls 
So why would we need to move Bulls in the afternoon? 

Because the small holding paddock was needed immediately. Out of the Weaner paddock, a mass of prancing, bellowing weaners coming our way. 

What a sight to behold! 3000, probably more, had been mustered and walked by a team of 9 stockmen on horses and bikes. 

I arrived just to see the mobs converge near the gate out of that paddock. A group from the north meeting a big mob from the south with another mob on the horizon coming in from the south. 

There are photos galore on the internet and in books depicting the mobs of 1000s stockmen handle on cattle stations in north Australia. And there would be articles and stories on such things too. But nothing. Absolutely nothing can compare to the shear beauty and mind boggling enormity of seeing such a sight for yourself. I wish I had a GoPro: just so I could share this with you. But alas, you will have to make do with my poor attempt with words. 

We pushed the 3000 cattle into the next paddock (the same one that I walk through when marching to the bore). And I departed for I am the cook! And steak won’t cook itself. However those weaners were the walked down to the yard I had help clear. 
So I raced my horse home. Removed his saddle and put a nose bag on my horse, ran to the kitchen to put the sweet potato cubed beget in the oven to bake, and the mash potatoes to reheat. Raced back to the yards, phew! The horse has finished his tucker… Washing him down and put him out for the night before racing back home for a quick shower. Who wants paddock in their dinner? Kelsie was super excited to see me. 

Then back to the kitchen. To cook the steaks, the pasta carbonara, the zucchini the mushroom gravy and to dress a pavlova. 

Dinner was a success too. So I am feeling fairly confident just at present.