Blog - Page 16 of 18 - Margôt Tesch, Writer
September 2, 2008

Day in the Life of …

Mustering

Time for mustering again… Unfortunately we were lacking a key tool for this muster – the hand held radios. One had been missing since our last camping trip. We needed to move some stock that had been hiding during a previous muster. Though the spring season had just begun you could still feel the winter chill in the air, especially when at full speed on the bike (which isn’t that fast really).

We knew the lack of radio contact during the muster would be annoying but thought we could manage. Once in Terrica Hill (the paddocks all have names) we set off in different directions and agreed to meet at the dam with any stock we found. Many of our paddocks are as big as 3 or 4 city suburbs. I had, rather tentatively, agreed to check the hill. This was brave as Chris usually takes the difficult work. It was time to tackle the more challenging terrain if I’m ever going to pull my weight in this mustering farming game. Terrica Hill is quite steep and riddled with fallen timber and of course the inevitable stones and rocks that characterise trap rock country. Courageously, I set off to conquer that hill!

I found a few cows scattered grazing on the edge and pushed them along the ridge. The ridge followed the fence line to the gate into Sheehan’s paddock. This seemed an easier option than pushing them down the hill towards the dam. Well, the truth is, they decided to follow a cow trail and I felt brave enough to follow them and anyway, it was sort of in the right direction. As I pushed them along I could hear Chris beeping his horn along the flats below. We use the horns to get the stock moving. I felt a bit nervous because I knew I was getting further and further away from our agreed rendezvous point plus the cow trail was growing less and less traversable on the quad bike.

No radio!

There was no easy way down that hill – at least that I was willing to tackle! So I decided to turn around and go back the way I had come to get down to help Chris. I was tearing along retracing my tracks when trouble struck! I was nearly thrown off the bike when it unexpectedly whacked into a stump and stopped in its tracks – stalled. The impact caused the right front wheel to “pop out” and point in a rather abnormal direction at right angles to the bike, a bit like a broken arm with a compound fracture. You find yourself in these predicaments from time-to-time in the bush – you get yourself into trouble and you have to learn to get yourself out. That is, if you don’t want to be seen as a … mere female. I am learning to be resourceful in a whole new context!

No radio!

Though I tried and tried, I could not budge that wheel for love nor money! I tried with both hands. I tried to lift the front of the bike with one hand and pull on the wheel with the other. I tried lying on the ground and pushing the wheel with both legs bracing my butt against the rocks. It would not budge. Sigh. After numerous fierce, determined attempts, a very red face and a sore shoulder I had to admit it was just not going to happen.

No Radio!!

The only option was to set off on foot to find Chris. It was steamy work scrambling down the hill trying to find the tracks. I finally found him not far from the gate on the opposite side of the paddock (about 2 kms). He was pretty mad, as usual, and grumbled such questions as “What have you done now?” and “Where is it?” I bit my tongue but did feel a bit worried that this was going to turn out to be one of those mere female episodes. He doubled me back to the injured bike.

Well, he pushed, pulled, swore and kicked at that wheel to try to get it back in place but he couldn’t do it. I have to admit secretly I was a bit pleased. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say …mere male … he did need my help! Together on 1, 2, 3…we managed to pop it back into the right position. No mere female today! Yay!

But that is definitely the last time we go mustering with No Bloody Radio!!!

June 13, 2008

Feeding Out

Week 17 – Mustering and Weaning

This week Spring Creek undertook a serious muster. We needed to round up ALL the cows and separate the larger calves (i.e. over 90 kg). This meant we had to sweep every paddock to ensure we had found them ALL – long hard days mustering in difficult terrain.  By the end I had such a sore butt I really wanted to get off my mechanical horse for a few weeks!

Aubrey and his family were visiting with us this week and helped put the calves through the yards – drenching, inoculating, weighing and checking the sex. We also needed to castrate the young bulls. Aubrey was quite interested to check this out. We had a friend, Neil, come and assist. He used a very sharp knife and threw the testicles into a bucket – a bucket full of balls! Yuk! Though, I must admit, now that I’ve been through the process a few times it doesn’t seem so gross. I’ve even touched them! Picked them up when Neil missed the bucket. I guess he was intent on withdrawing the next testicle. He took the bucket home for his dogs to eat. They will take a couple of weeks to heal.

Week 18 & 19 – Calf Feeding

Over these weeks we concentrated on getting our calf feeding setup complete. This meant design and construction of feeders for the calf crumbles and the sorghum stubble.

We also need to train the calves – get them used to a regular feeding process. This also helps them to adjust to being around humans. We call them in the morning “C’Mon” when we feed them. In the future we hope to be able to muster them by calling them. That’s the plan…

We now have our calf-feeding setup fully operational. Every morning we get up and feed them calf crumbles (which they scoff down very quickly).

We have over 100 claves in the house paddock who wake us up every morning around 6:30. I pat them while they are feeding and while they don’t particularly like it, they suffer it. Sometimes they sniff or lick my hand.

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!