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!

February 15, 2008

First Week as Jillaroo

Sunday

Arrived at Spring Creek for a quiet Sunday afternoon. (Needed Saturday to recover from Friday night!) Unfortunately a number of the cows had stepped over the fence into the neighbours. This meant an urgent repair job was required. Not a good start. However the intrusion into our leisure time was happily interrupted by the discovery of a cow with a calf born that morning. It was neat to watch the little fellow trying to stand up – all wobbly and cute – with the mother keeping a watchful eye at a comfortable distance.

Monday

Monday was a very profitable day as we managed to sell 40 steers from the paddock. This is a lucrative way to sell as it avoids the volatility of the fat sale and transport and yard fees. The steers were our best pick and in great health with very shiny coats. They fetched an average of $515 each and we got to experience our first negotiation process with the stock agent. They were transported out that day with the last truck arriving at 9:30 that night.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

I spent three days up the very back paddock (about 20 kms from the house) to progress the new boundary fence (3 kms long). This was a challenging few days learning new skills and trying to develop enough muscle to bang in star pickets with a sledgehammer! It rained all day Tuesday – only light drizzle but constant. We even sat and ate our lunch in the rain. We worked through until about 3 pm when I declared I had had enough, as I was drenched through. It then became apparent that all three of the men wanted to go too but were too stubborn to be the first to pull up! I’m glad I’m a woman!!!!
Thursday got off to a bad start with the brakes and wheel bearings failing on the Nissan on arriving at the work site. This meant to get home I had to either drive the tractor towing the trailer (fear and trepidation!) or drive a four-wheel drive vehicle with no brakes and a wobbly wheel through rough terrain across creeks and gullies. I would have much preferred to take neither! The trip back was further compounded by nightfall along an unfamiliar track.
I had known I needed to learn how to drive the tractor as it would be required in emergency situations but wasn’t expecting to be challenged to this level so early! I wanted to get off that tractor and give up quite a few times. Sigh – baptism of fire into being a grazier’s wife!

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