After our drenching the day before, coming home and stripping off outside (benefit of living in the sticks! no neighbours) and wandering around in the nuddie if you were under 10 or in knickers if not (neighbours do call in ;-) waiting for the water to heat...no mean feat after the fire wood was also soaked (some petroleum assistance may have been liberally applied to the fire) we settled in for the night, resting up for the adventures of the next day. We were lulled to sleep by the constant bellowing of 500 odd cows and their babies - cows in the paddock scant feet from the house, and calves locked up in the yards. One gets used to the noise, like a constant flow of cars past ones door...its when they all stop that the silence is deafening!
After breakfast, then an early first smoko (another smoko being required later on still!) with the arrival of the extra manpower (brother in law) and woman power (school principal with nothing better to do, and we never turn down free labour!) we got started. Even if there was a bit of hands on hips and waiting for the rhythm and routine to get happening.
Children were in charge of finding their own footwear as we left home. Thongs and crocs is what they packed. They spent most of their time, including in the yards, in bare feet. Normally this sort of behaviour is restrained to folk from the Peninsular as those of us residing further south are meant to be a little more civilised. (although I have an uncle famous for his lack of wearing footwear, and only double-plugger thongs to town on special occasions, so perhaps it IS genetic?!)
This lack of protective footwear meant that I was the one in closer proximity to the calves, penning up, clad in a more sturdy running shoes, mostly because they are more mud friendly. The big girl helped move the calves along the race, keeping her feet away from the sharp toes of the calves. Take it from me, I know from recent experience (ie tromping around in the mud in my own crocs the day before, chasing calves) one does not want to have ones bare foot, or close to bare, stomped on by a calf. Just a heads up, should the situation ever arise ;-)
Being away from the action stations and cranky husbands and brother in laws, meant I had a few moments that I could wield camera without getting dirty looks. Miss Mac the teacher got to work up the front, although was asked if she were patting the calves instead of moving them along at one point. Miss Mac, being a teacher, has a speciality in dirty looks of her own, and is not afraid of using them, although impact on fathers of students is not as effective.
This monkey (the boy perfecting the snarly photo look for weekend) and his little cousin kept themselves busy climbing and digging and staying away from any sort of work. Smart thinkers, these two. Occasional bouts of poly pipe sword fighting with sisters to liven up the morning.
A closer look at the action, without getting too detailed about the gory bits. The calf is restrained whilst it is branded, earmarked and castrated if necessary. All going well the whole process takes about 50 seconds.
And weather wise, I had no need to implement my grand plan of attaching a sprinkler system to the underside of the roof. There was shade, overcast skies and a slight breeze that made the slightly humid conditions quite pleasant.
We were all done by lunchtime and were able to pack up and head home before dark, leaving a few of these little orphans in the yard to collect the next day.
All over til next year....well not really, there are more calves to be born yet as well as a few babies that were too little to brand. But the bulk of them are done...now I just have to look after my five new poddy friends (Ralph the original poddy at home quite pleased to have some mates of his own species!) and keep the little dears out of my garden and the hay shed. All seems a good idea until one gets them home!
Remind me to introduce you to the whole gang - Barry, Harry, Dobby (slight HP influence) Droopy and Daisy.
Forthcoming adventures in our part of the world will include The Dentist and The First Day of School. Hopefully there will not be any other events requiring capitalisation during that time frame!