On Friday, The Husband decreed that our assistance was required at the prickle farm for the weekend. Cattle had to be mustered, drafted, and preg tested. He also decreed that enough of this driving home to your warm beds, heaters, hot water systems, and TV's, stop wasting fuel and camp down here.
He forgets that there are animals at home to be fed by someone, so Saturday morning was spent packing up lots of warm clothes, and swags, and eskies of food, catching two of the black ninja kitties (always having been earmarked to go to the prickle farm to keep the rats and mice down to a dull roar), along with the cheeky stray cat Kevin (trapped Friday night) and the two dogs, and stuffing all of that and the kids into the back of the car (not to mention watering and rationing provisions for the animals remaining at home).
Needless to say, the drive home that afternoon, requiring none the above to be actioned, would have been very attractive.
By the time we arrived, Husband had the cattle yards, with a small mob yet to be yarded. The kids spent the afternoon doing kid stuff, getting dirty, and trying to pat calves. Akin to a trio of lion cubs trying to pat a gazelle, they weren't entirely successful in their endeavours:
The Broken Kid not being slowed down in the slightest by his encumbrances, I think we might be going back sooner than expected to get a new cast. This one seems to be getting a little..."well used"...around the edges!
The next morning, after a chilly night with no one moving out of their swags until they really had to (and two surprisingly heavy kitties sleeping on my feet all night, and Kevin the stray hiding out under the back corner of the bed, apparently very traumatised by events. Better than the trauma of me chasing him around the house with a broom at home, from him stealing food from the bench!) we were back in the yards. The purpose of the day was to preg test the cows, in order to plan for the next twelve months. Knowing roughly the number of calves to expect allows for forward planning. (however, astute readers will note the number of small calves above, which means 1. the neighbours bulls were very busy having a grand old time, helped by a fence crawling bull of our own and 2. the mothers of those small calves will not be pregnant)
Cliff notes for the video, if you will.
1.It really is all about repetition. Doing the same thing over and over, developing a routine. The cows, all going well, wait their turn and step forward when the gate opens. The only way out is through that gate, and they ALWAYS go out that way, preg-testing or not (when not, the gates are all opened straight through).
2. preg-testing is carried out through (how can I put this delicately) poo part (foetus or lack of felt through the wall of the bowel)
3. Each cow is needled (husband at the front does this) with Botulism Vaccine, and Bangtailed to show that she has been through the yards. Bang tailing is where the bottom end of the tail, the hairy bit, is lopped off neatly and straight. It doesn't hurt, very much like chopping the tail off a plait :) So, if we see a "long tailed" cow out in the paddock we will know she hasn't been vaccinated.
4. Obviously my children are very obedient, as you can see they followed my instructions to the letter.
And that's it, the processing and preg-testing of near on 500 old dears, took all day, allowing for smokos and lunches and the delays in dealing with some of the naughtier ones (there's always got to be a 1% in every mob, whether it be bovine or human!)
Today: the aftermath - washing.