Tag Archives for " grazier "

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.

June 25, 2013

For the Love of Country

 

Mustering

Mustering

 

Nicole Alexander says the inspiration and motivation for her writing comes from her desire to communicate the grazier’s deep love of and commitment to their land.

We’ve been at Spring Creek now for over eight years and although I understand Nicole is talking about generations of graziers managing, nurturing and developing their properties, I’ve had an inkling of what that feels like, even in my short time on the land.

Several times recently, when driving back from town or back from a visit

The Grand Entrance

The Grand Entrance

somewhere, I’ve had an inner stirring, a sense of pride, as I’ve driven down the road, approaching our grand entrance (it’s not really that grand but we are proud of it). It’s not that Spring Creek is looking its best at the moment. The winter cold and frosts have snuffed the green landscape. Though, thankfully, we still have plenty of grass from a good summer season, it has hayed off and gone brown.

But it’s weird, it’s that “hayed off” colour that I find so charming and appealing. It’s the colour of the Traprock.

Colours of the Traprock

Colours of the Traprock

We spent last weekend visiting friends on their beautiful block outside Kyogle. The Richmond River district is such different country to the Traprock – green and lush. Though I thoroughly enjoyed imbibing their landscape for a while, I have to say, I’ve realised there is something far more endearing about the Traprock, despite its coarse surfaces, rocky outcrops and shaly valleys.
It has a rugged appeal of its own that I have truly come to appreciate.

I never thought I would have said this. I remember driving around the block with the previous owner, checking it out, considering the purchase. I sat in the back. I was quiet. I was overwhelmed with its size and the amount of work required to make it look “nice”.

But I’ve realised you never really make the Traprock look “nice”. There will always be fallen logs, dead trees, stump holes and regrowth. That’s part of the Traprock charm. (Yet it’s amazing what a few hours in the dozer can do to clean and clear some space.)

We’ve done a lot work. We’ve made a lot of improvements. We’ve built and repaired a lot of fences. We’ve made it home and I’m starting to feel that stirring deep within when I leave and return.

I’m surprised myself to actually feel that … maybe I even love Spring Creek.

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