Category Archives for "Life on Spring Creek"

Posts about my transition from city to remote rural life. I talk about the challenges of grazing, the frustration of primary production and your vulnerability when facing the elements.

May 23, 2008

Virgin Blue Sales team experiences rural life

Week 14 – Irrigation problems

My adventure for this week was assisting in the re-attachment of the irrigation line to the star pickets in the middle of the dam. The pipe had been damaged by the stock trampling on it close to the waters edge and it needed to be re-seated. A bit different to capturing learnings when closing projects!

Week 15 – Warwick Picnic Races

Week 15 was highlighted by an exciting social event – the annual Warwick Picnic races. We were invited to attend in a marquee in the members’ area. I managed to win $35.00, which made my day. It was fascinating to witness the party spirit of regional Australia – the dance floor was full from the moment the band started playing until the last item and even then they managed to persuade the band to do a few more. I think they could drink any city person under the table. Some keen partygoers were still drinking at 2:00 am in the morning – and they weren’t making any sense at 10:00 pm!!!! Only company in a similar inebriated state would have been able to suffer the conversation. They definitely make the most of social opportunities.

Week 16 – VB Sales Management Team Workshop

Spring Creek was descended upon by a storm: a Nissan Patrol, two large Apollo camper vans, Mathias Friess and 8 members of the Sales management team. The lounge room was taken over as conference facilities, the deck became the centre point for food and catering, every bed was occupied and the quiet country residence came alive.

After arriving 2.5 hours late, the conference commenced after a yummy lunch on the veranda (at least for those not too car sick from the bumpy last leg of the ride while sitting in the back of the camper vans). After 3 hours of stimulating workshop activities, we set off for a serious 4-wheel drive to witness the sunset. Kay bravely took the wheel of the hired Nissan and followed Chris up the mountain. I think he did okay despite some minor damage to the car and his ability to ignore the fact that Mathias made sure he was in Chris’s vehicle on the way down. The sunset was magnificent in the west and the full moon rising in the east combined with champagne, beer and nibbles made the evening quite magical. Even the smell of Mathias’ cigars only seemed to enhance the experience.

Back down the mountain for a wood-fire BBQ. The cold set in quite quickly so after a good feed we were playing games in front of the log fire sipping numerous glasses of wine. We played charades, celebrity heads but the hit of the night was definitely “Catch a Phrase”. And despite the fact that Vanessa didn’t know what a piranha was and Pete thought expanding on the word “foot” meant it must be muddy we did have quite a few laughs and a pleasant evening. All survived the cold evening and the challenges of sleeping with colleagues in close proximity.

After a huge breakfast and more workshop activities the team watched the stock being fed Molafos (a molasses mix). Time for lunch and then the convoy hit the road back to luxury. I enjoyed your visit, and hope you will come back again soon.

May 2, 2008

The Cold Approaches

Week 12 – Injury slows us up

We were slowed up this week while Chris’s injury to his foot healed. He was unable to put any weight on it. A neighbour conveniently lent him a pair of crutches. Even with my gallant effort to take over “boy” jobs … we were unable to maintain our usual pace: fencing; stock management and general repairs. Instead we spent time at the kitchen table planning activities (between the odd game of cards).

Did you hear me complaining? Actually I did find the slowed pace a little boring. Not my style.

In spite of the use of only one foot, Chris did manage to complete the new feeding troughs, (designed by himself). They are now waiting patiently to be used when we wean the calves.

Week 13 – Fence & windmill fixing

Back from a weekend in Sydney and wild partying with my girl friend that just turned 50. Great weekend.

The foot continues to heal. I suspect there are broken bones but we will never know for sure. (Chris chose not to have it x-rayed.) The bruising is still working its way out and there is a disconcerting lump evident on one side of the ankle.

Tuesday was the first day Chris was able to pull a boot on and undertake a full days work. He managed quite well but I think the wine continues to work as pain relief in the evenings.

We spent a day fixing a fence at CAMBREN. Some nuisances have been shooting (uninvited) on our property and when they were unable to negotiate the track due to a fallen tree, instead of reversing out, pushed over and drove over the fence! Most annoying! Any further damage and we will have to consider informing the police.

We also worked to repair a windmill that had been blown over in a storm. This was more challenging, as the well is very deep and required much caution working around it to ensure we didn’t fall in! Also had to be wary of any snakes living under the sheets of corrugated iron forming a crude security barrier. We did loose a number of nuts and bolts during the process. The “plop” sound as they reached the bottom reinforced the need for caution – it was a long way down.

Using the tractor bucket and chain, we managed to pull the windmill out (the base was attached to logs in the well) and lay it down carefully nearby for consideration as to how it might be repaired. It is important to get it working again as there is currently no water supply to the yards which is unacceptable in case we need to keep stock yarded over night.

I’m not looking forward to propping it back up. But as usual…we will find a way!

April 18, 2008

Settling into Rural life

Week 10 – The big Muster

The big muster began, assisted by TJ & Birgit while they were here. They helped moved them all into the house paddock.

Chris and I had to put all the stock through the yards, drench the cows and separate the calves. We let all the really little ones go as they are at risk of being crushed, especially as they move up the race.

You always put the stock through the yards the same way so they get used to the routine.

We picked out nearly 30 heifers and young bulls to go to sale. We fetched a good price too, which provided some much-needed cash flow! There are lots of adjustments being made to this lifestyle and the change in cash flow is definitely one of them. Though you don’t need much cash on a day-to-day basis, as there is no shop nearby! The closest shop is 30 minutes drive to the highway and sells home made pies and fuel.

Week 11– Muster continues

The big muster continued at CAMBREN (our second property about 6 kilometres down the road). Unfortunately, at the end of the muster, Chris took a tumble on the bike trying to keep his hat on his head and badly twisted in ankle – pinned under the bike. The cow-work still had to be done: drenching, separating and branding the calves. It was a full days work in significant pain.

Chris was unable to drive so this meant I had to take over the “boy” work. This is very challenging and meant I had to do things like:

  • back up the trailer to the yard ramp to load an escaped heifer that belonged at the other end of Spring Creek. Are you any good at backing trailers? I’ve never done it before and definitely need a lot more practice!
  • Attach the fork lift to the tractor and manoeuvre it to pick up the feeding tank;
  • Hose out the cow wee and poo from the trailer so it doesn’t rust (yuk!)

and other stuff like that including lifting, pulling and shoving things.

Again I felt what a challenge this lifestyle is when things have to keep moving and you find yourself in a position where you have to keep trying to achieve a task at hand no matter how difficult and how much you want to stop and have someone else do it for you. It is very much a growing experience.

To be honest, I think it takes a fair bit of guts and determination (even if sometimes it is mixed with tears) – more than I knew I had!

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.

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