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Margot

Author Archives: Margot

April 11, 2008

Settling into rural life

Week 5-6 – Trip to Hong Kong & Dubai

We had a wonderful time visiting our son and his wife in Dubai with an interesting stop in Hong Kong on the way. Definitely a place to visit, especially if you enjoy camping. Four-wheel driving and camping and in the desert were definitely the highlight.

Week 7– Visit to the shearing shed

On our return to the property after world travels, we had to check the stock to make sure they still had adequate water and feed and to make sure they were all still within our property. All a-okay.

A quick trip to the neighbours provided an interesting opportunity to watch some shearing in action. Somehow I have always thought of shearing as an historical phenomenon – something that shaped and moulded our nation; felt some sense of “awe” for anyone called a “shearer”. So it was enlightening to witness this is a day-to-day occurrence and business-as-usual in rural Australia.

I was surprised to see the number of “shaving cuts” administered in the process. But I’m sure those sheep were glad to shed that heavy coat – a year’s growth of wool. Each fleece is thrown across the classing table while the woolclasser’s inspect, separate, sort and throw the wool into the relevant classing bins. Hot hard works for all: humans, sheep and of course the dogs.

Week 8 – Quick renovations & German Visitors

We spent a busy week preparing our city apartment for rental (long days). Though it is with sadness that I say a temporary good-bye to our river city dwelling, moving out has been the most helpful step in adjusting to my new life. I’ve been quite amazed to feel so satisfied to have all my belongings in one place. Somehow having two homes had made me feel “split” inside.

Though there is more adjusting to do, I’m feeling very happy to settle into life at Spring Creek permanently.

It was great to entertain our first VB visitors since my departure. Birgit, TJ & Linnea soaked up some country air (not to mention beer & wine). I was proud to show them the “grand entrance”, the 3.5 kilometre fence and I think a highlight for TJ was seeing the star lit sky at night; an awesome spectacle.

March 7, 2008

The Grand Entrance Complete

The Grand Entrance

The Grand Entrance

Saturday – Warwick Sales

We attended the Warwick Sales on Saturday to watch the auctioning of our smaller heifers (23) and a few steers (7). It was only a small sale with mostly hobby farmers from around Warwick district. Interesting to watch the auctioneer. They talk so fast. We sold our stock at a reasonable price and were quite happy with the outcome. The steers (young bulls who have lost their crown jewels) averaged around $405.00 and the heifers (young females yet to experience calf-birth) about $360.00. Steers always sell for more, which I find a bit perplexing. Why are they valued higher? I know that is what ends up on your table, but they can’t have steers without cows to birth them! Mmmm … more evidence of the male domination of rural life!

I got to wear my new “go to town” hat – my Akubra.

There are always lots of jobs to do when you go to town – an opportunity to go to the shops! But unfortunately there were no fashion items on the shopping list. We drove from shop to shop picking up parts for broken machines and hardware items! Not quite what I had in mind but we did fit in the compulsory cappuccino.

Monday to Wednesday – Finished the “Grand Entrance”

I actually enjoyed the fencing this week, which was intriguing and therefore I spent time trying to figure out why. (You have lots of time to think while you are fencing). Was it because I now have a pair of my own fencing pliers (should I admit that?); or was it because I was actually making a valid contribution both to the design and construction; but mostly I think it was because I could see the end and it will be a few weeks before we have to start on the next fence! Thank goodness fencing isn’t the only job to do around here!

Thursday & Friday – Spraying Galvanized Burr

Now that the “grand entrance” is finished it is time to turn our attention to weed control. Unfortunately grass isn’t the only thing that does well in a good season – so do the weeds and the regrowth! Galvanized burr is a nasty nasty weed with burrs quite similar to the barbs in barbed wire. You can’t walk around here with bare feet and are taking a risk with thongs. It was time to fill up the 50-litre tank on the back of the quad and set off to spray some bad patches around the house and entrance. You add red dye to the mix so you can see where you have sprayed and to ensure you don’t double up or miss bits. Another job that provides lots of time to think …

When they grade the road the seeds get exposed so it is prolific on the sides of the road. Doesn’t complement our “grand entrance”!

At least it is light relief from fencing and anything with the quad bike is fun in my books!

February 29, 2008

The Quiet Life

Monday – Fixing things

After arriving back from town, we worked on both the bikes (two-wheeler and Quad) to get them back on the road (or should I say paddock). Things always seem to need fixing here. This country is especially hard on tyres. Chris says we should buy shares in Dunlop. We set off to check the stock and make sure none had got through the fence into the neighbours again. They were all where they should be except one of the bulls had jumped the fence, chasing a cow on heat no doubt. While we were out the battery died on the Quad. Fortunately we were able to clutch start and get home without too much drama. On other days it has been a long walk home.

Tuesday – Raining

It’s raining. We NEVER complain about the rain but it did interrupt the fencing planned for the day – do I sound disappointed? Time for some baking.

Wednesday –  Babies having Babies

While getting started on the next fence we noticed a calf in the weaners paddock. We went to investigate only to discover that one of the weaners had had a calf! Our conclusion was that she must have been “porked” (Chris’s choice of words) by one of the horny young steers before he was cut.  The poor dear must have fallen pregnant at 9 months. Normally heifers are not joined to the bull until they are 18 months old to ensure a good age before giving birth (9 months gestation). She has done well with a rather small but very healthy handsome calf.

Thursday – The Storm

Unfortunately we had to down tools a little earlier than planned today as a huge storm came over. I really felt like I was in the movie “Twister” watching it approach. It was absolutely spectacular witnessing those huge black clouds billowing overhead and rolling over the hills towards us at a great pace. The lowest clouds were so low you felt you could almost reach up and touch them; they were just above the trees.

We packed up, jumped on the tractor and whizzed back to the shed and made it in just before the downpour. We had good falls that night.

You are much more exposed to the elements out here and seem to feel that you experience everything with a heightened sense.

Friday – Draughting & Visitors

This was my favourite day this week. We got up early to muster in all the remaining weaners. I love mustering – burning around chasing cows on the quad bike. The stock agent arrived around midday to provide advice on which heifers to keep and which to sell. Draughting (sorting out the stock) is also another enjoyable task except no one asked my opinion. Sigh. Mere female.

Another visitor arrived during the morning. It is surprising how often you get visitors out here. I’d say every 2 – 3 days someone drops by: a neighbour; someone wanting to shoot on your place; a salesman; even the JW’s will drop by and leave a piece of paper (they never seem to actually want to talk to you). I never have anyone knocking on my door in Brisbane. The only annoying thing about these visitors is that they all come to see and talk to Christopher! Mere female again…there is a lot to adjust to in this lifestyle!

Please remember to plan a visit….I’m looking forward to someone coming to visit ME.

February 22, 2008

Why am I doing this?

Monday – Unexpected pleasure

Continued to progress the 3.5 kilometre boundary fence a long way from the house. This day I learnt how to use the jackhammer by leaning on it to ram in the pins used to secure the fence stays. This job was actually quite enjoyable, not as hard as you would think.

Tuesday – Why am I here?

As the fence neared completion, it was time to roll out, strain up and tie on the BARBED WIRE! I walked over twice the length of the fence to ensure no tangles and the right tension. But the real challenge came when it was time to tie it on to the tops of the star pickets. By lunchtime I was ready to throw the towel in as my arms were cut and punctured from scratches and bites from those tough old barbs! Then Christopher showed me how to change my technique slightly, and the rest of the afternoon was incident free. Sigh…. do I really want to be an ace fencer? Not sure…

Wednesday – The end at last

This was the toughest day of all, as we had to put the droppers on. These are positioned between each star picket to hold the wires secure. It is a tough job as the clips are hard to apply and the tie wire is also harsh on hands – especially soft ladies hands (fast becoming fencing hands – that nail polish just doesn’t look quite right anymore!). But what a feeling when we came to the end about 11 hours later! The only thing missing were the cold beers on the truck for relief & celebration. What an achievement. Every member of the crew was stiff, sore and glad to see the end.

But the day was topped off by the ride home in the back of the ute (Nissan brakes and wheel still under repair) with a magnificent sunset, the wind in my hair and the perfect temperature, coupled with a great sense of satisfaction of a job well done…mmm… maybe it is worthwhile? Still pondering that one…

Thursday – Friday

Apart from recovery, some odd jobs and a trip to town, plans start for the next fence. At least the next one is shorter (only 1 km long) and close to the house. This means we can have a cappuccino for morning team. Yaaaeee!!!! I’m getting really good at making them now so don’t be worried about missing some city comforts when you come to visit. They go really well with fresh scones with jam and cream, Anzac biccies not to mention the jam drops!