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!

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!

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.

The Grand Entrance Complete

The Grand Entrance
The Grand Entrance

Saturday – Warwick Sales

We attended the Warwick Sales on Saturday to watch the auctioning of our smaller heifers (23) and a few steers (7). It was only a small sale with mostly hobby farmers from around Warwick district. Interesting to watch the auctioneer. They talk so fast. We sold our stock at a reasonable price and were quite happy with the outcome. The steers (young bulls who have lost their crown jewels) averaged around $405.00 and the heifers (young females yet to experience calf-birth) about $360.00. Steers always sell for more, which I find a bit perplexing. Why are they valued higher? I know that is what ends up on your table, but they can’t have steers without cows to birth them! Mmmm … more evidence of the male domination of rural life!

I got to wear my new “go to town” hat – my Akubra.

There are always lots of jobs to do when you go to town – an opportunity to go to the shops! But unfortunately there were no fashion items on the shopping list. We drove from shop to shop picking up parts for broken machines and hardware items! Not quite what I had in mind but we did fit in the compulsory cappuccino.

Monday to Wednesday – Finished the “Grand Entrance”

I actually enjoyed the fencing this week, which was intriguing and therefore I spent time trying to figure out why. (You have lots of time to think while you are fencing). Was it because I now have a pair of my own fencing pliers (should I admit that?); or was it because I was actually making a valid contribution both to the design and construction; but mostly I think it was because I could see the end and it will be a few weeks before we have to start on the next fence! Thank goodness fencing isn’t the only job to do around here!

Thursday & Friday – Spraying Galvanized Burr

Now that the “grand entrance” is finished it is time to turn our attention to weed control. Unfortunately grass isn’t the only thing that does well in a good season – so do the weeds and the regrowth! Galvanized burr is a nasty nasty weed with burrs quite similar to the barbs in barbed wire. You can’t walk around here with bare feet and are taking a risk with thongs. It was time to fill up the 50-litre tank on the back of the quad and set off to spray some bad patches around the house and entrance. You add red dye to the mix so you can see where you have sprayed and to ensure you don’t double up or miss bits. Another job that provides lots of time to think …

When they grade the road the seeds get exposed so it is prolific on the sides of the road. Doesn’t complement our “grand entrance”!

At least it is light relief from fencing and anything with the quad bike is fun in my books!