Blog - Page 6 of 18 - Margôt Tesch, Writer
October 8, 2014

How do I rate as Jillaroo?

JillarooI had NO experience as a Jillarro when we bought Spring Creek in 2005. It has been a steep learning curve … learning to ride the quad bike, muster, draft, and generally handle the stock. For the most part I do pretty well. Though I do find some of the vet-type tasks a little hard to stomach. For example we had to lance a large lump on a calf’s neck recently.  Blah. I grin and bear it.

But last week we mustered our youngest breeders (still heifers), to take a look at them, drench and move them. We hadn’t counted on the fact that it was pretty much nine months since we put them out with the bull. They had started dropping calves in the last couple of days. They were so cute and wobbly … but NOT very good for mustering. If they can walk at all, they are very slow and linger at the back of the herd.

There was one cute little bull too wobbly to follow and his mum had left him in the grass. We couldn’t leave him there.

I had to go back on my own, run him down and somehow get him on the bike, wrestle him still and ride to the yards with him. Eek! They look quiet until you are about to pounce on them, then they can find amazing strength. I nearly gave up, feeling it was too hard. I was scared of riding and holding him at the same time.

I decided I had to give it a go. I managed to catch him by the tail and trap him between my legs. I tried to hold him until he calmed down but that didn’t seem likely anytime soon. Eventually I dragged/pulled him by his front legs. I managed to straddle him over the seat of the quad bike then I got on the bike while holding him with my arm and legs. It was exhausting.

I set off. He would give up from time to time and lie still and then he’d start kicking and bucking, trying to get off. Phew! It was a long ride, 3-4 k’s. It was especially tricky when I got to a gate, opening the gate while holding him. But I managed to do it somehow.

Sure, I was so sore the next couple of days from holding him all that way. But I was very proud of myself for managing to rescue him. He was reunited with his mum later that day. Such a relief!

 

September 30, 2014

My Addicted Brain

495_alcoholismIn recent years my daily drinking has caused me concern … increased health risks, trigger for migraines, occasional hangovers or slow morning afters. But despite these concerns I haven’t been able to stop.

Emory University (who recently ran a course The Addicted Brain via the www.coursera.org platform) defines addiction as a behaviour you are unable to stop despite distressing negative impacts. While the impacts I’m concerned about can be a little distressing at times, for the most part I do manage my addiction within acceptable social boundaries.

Not only that, many of my friends and colleagues exhibit similar behaviours, making it even more difficult to find the impetus to change. Isn’t my drinking pretty normal? I’m not an “alcoholic”. It’s not that bad … etc. etc.

After listening to an interesting podcast (interview with Jill Stark, a Sydney Morning Herald journalist, who wrote a book about her year of sobriety), I became aware of how we boast about our excessive drinking exploits, such as a particularly bad hangover. We talk about such experiences like they are a badge of honour, marks of a hero status. Interesting when you step back from it.

alcohol-brain

Fortunately, I don’t drink THIS much!!!!

Anyway, I decided to take a “harm reduction” approach. I didn’t want to stop drinking altogether. I just wanted to reduce the harmful affects and reduce other risk factors as I progress into my senior years. Critics of the harm reduction approach believe such an approach fails to address the underlying dependence. Alcohol free days for example, are really just all about waiting for the next time you have a drink.

While I found this to be true – there is always a risk of over-indulgence, the first day  drinking after a period of abstinence – I still felt it was better than doing nothing.

The problem with the addicted brain is that if you partake in regular consistent consumption of a drug (such as ethanol in alcohol) over a long period of time, your brain builds up resistance. This means you have to consume more to get the same effect. Alarmingly, I’ve found this to be true, with my 1-2 drinks gradually developing into 4-5 (eek!) over the last 2-3 decades.

So where am I now? Still very much on this journey. While I have had some success in alcohol free days and reducing my intake, I know that my brain has not yet come to terms with this reduced intake. I’m sure this topic will be returned to in the coming months/years as I try to find a way to take responsibility for my lifestyle choices and the impact they have on my health as I age.

Love to hear what you think.

September 25, 2014

Launch my new website

Website

My blogging has been sadly lacking lately.

When I initially moved from Brisbane to our rural property in 2008, the adjustment was massive and I was very motivated to write about my contrasting, challenging experiences. As time slipped on, the contrast diminished and rural life became “normal”.

However, having the time to pursue intellectual interests I wanted to move on to writing about other things … philosophical questions I was wrestling with, discussions around morality and religion, addiction is a fascination for me … and more. Despite my passion, I didn’t make it happen.

But now that my exploits as an author have progressed (one book self-published, a manuscript in waiting and more ideas cultivating) I wanted to bring my blog and website together … to create an author platform.

So I took some time out from blogging this year to learn web development. First I had to decide on my platform. I looked at Ruby on Rails and WordPress.org, undertaking courses for both. Deciding the learning curve for WordPress seemed less steep, I chose this path. While I still have a lot to learn about html, php and css (style sheets) I have come a long way and managed at last to have created a website that is ready for launch!

There have been some very painful times (as there always is resolving IT problems) but I pressed on and as I did, things seemed to become easier (until I encountered the next problem of course).

So now it’s time to return to blogging … and my first topic is going to be on the struggle I’m having with my addiction to alcohol. This will be published in the next couple of days. For ease of following, you are welcome to register via the “Follow Me” box on my home page. This will ensure you receive an email with each new update. It is easy to unsubscribe if you choose.

Comment always welcome. I’d love to get some dialogue going.

See you soon!

March 17, 2014

Duty of Care

Graziers care about their stock

Graziers care about their stock

I don’t know how many people understand the duty of care graziers feel when looking after their stock. It has astounded me, the lengths Chris will go to, to save one cow, the commitment he has to save a life if he can.

The day after the bush fire a few weeks ago, we were finishing up for the day and around 5pm Chris found a cow stuck in the mud in the dam in the house paddock, number 59. She was a good cow, in good condition, no doubt attributable to her resourcefulness in foraging for feed. She had crept into the dam (we imagine) to munch on the floating reeds but got into trouble. The shrinking dam had become a death trap.

We’ve tried saving cows stuck before with no success, pulling them out with a chain, but they never get up. It’s heart breaking. Chris decided to try to dig her out instead … to free the mud around her enough to hopefully enable her to pull herself to shore.

Rescue vehicles

Rescue vehicles

So he started up the faithful blue tractor and got to work. It was agonising watching. With each scoop of the mud I was willing her to get up but at the same time, horrified to watch the tractor wheels sink so deep into the mud. I was wired to the max with every move Chris made. In the end I had to turn away to try to still my anxiety and take a few deep breaths.

Dark fell and Chris worked hard scooping mud and tipping it outside the dam … until the inevitable happened, the blue tractor got bogged.

Amazingly, we managed to get the old faithful green Deutz tractor humming even though it hadn’t been driven for over a year. But of course a rescue vehicle requires a driver, and that meant me. Eek! As usual, my lack of confidence using this machinery sent my body quivering. And as usual, Chris’s short temper under pressure and expectations that I should just know how to do it, didn’t help. But we did it. We got the blue one out.

So Chris set to it again … for hours … in fact until midnight. He pushed and shoved and dug and dipped, got bogged and freed again, over and over. He was manic in his mission and I couldn’t help thinking if I was to go to war, I would want him standing next to me … such resilience and commitment.

I stood by and watched, cheering No. 59, calling to her to get up every time she made some effort. She managed to get up on her hind legs but couldn’t get up on the front legs, though it seemed so close at times.

We wrecked the dam

We wrecked the dam

Chris had been trying to move the soft mud away to create a firmer ramp for her to walk out to the edge. He was working on the side of the dam which had a steep drop. Repeatedly he would get stuck but use the bucket as leverage to manoeuvre his way out. Such dexterity using the machinery was impressive. But at one point, with the bucket full of mud, the left back wheel lifted several feet in the air. Enough! It had become far too dangerous. Fortunately he managed to empty the bucket (almost on No. 59’s head) and get the wheel back in the mud.

Again the green tractor came to the rescue and yes … I was still terrified being the driver. I just don’t seem to do it often enough to develop that calm confidence. Once the job is done, I have to sit in the seat and wait for the adrenaline to ease back. But we got it out again, for the last time.

Poor No. 59. What an ordeal she had been through having the tractor bearing down on her all that time. She had been completely silent, patiently waiting and working with us as best she could. But when we packed up to go, she looked at us and let out a long low mournful moo. She knew we had given up, somehow, she knew. It still upsets me to think about it. But we could do no more. Our only hope was that we had pulled enough mud away that, left alone, she might make it out.

It was not to be. She died during the night.

Sad and difficult times and an experience that will have been shared by many graziers across Queensland in these difficult times.

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