Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tales of Dust and Dirt

We spent the weekend at the "weekend cottage" (snort) that is Lyons Creek, mustering, drafting, and branding.

IMG_1686These two ringers were given the task of following cows down a laneway (not unsupervised, we were following in the ute) however Mum and Dad had to step in when a couple of calves decided to run back on the kids.  Funnily enough, mum ended up on the new bike, which had dad a little worried that he would never get it back (he may have a valid concern).

IMG_1696Calves were restored to the mob, and laneway walking continued, down the most infernal narrow laneway ever constructed by man (but as evidenced, we obviously don't hate it enough to rebuild the darned thing and have put up with it ever since we bought the place). Ringer #2 found it more fun to chase on foot and pat the poddies. Luckily no mother cows took offence to this patting.

IMG_1701Ringer #1 wasn't giving up the recently permitted privilege of solo bike riding for love or money, but did take on hitch hikers.

IMG_1702And this one obviously was finding the dust an issue. I should have borrowed them myself.

We finally got every thing yarded and into drafting after lunch. Its hard to show you how FULL the yards were, every yard bar the calf yard and "bush gate" yard was full to the brim (the shed section in the photo below is like Switzerland, neutral, doesn't contain livestock!) and the noise of a yard full of cattle is indescribable. Maybe akin to a large crowd at the football?

IMG_1704We got about 2/3 of the mob drafted and let out before dark and before I called quits, needing to light the fire for hot water, wash off some dust and get some dinner cooked.

This urchin was still revelling in solo bike riding, along with her little offsider there, who was having the BEST weekend. No fear shown, he wandered through the bull pen, licking noses, and going on all sorts of exploring adventures with the kids.

IMG_1712 Drafting recommenced the next morning and after smoko and the arrival of troops, including the 12 year old head stockman from next door, we got stuck into branding. I've shared branding photos heaps before, and suffice to say, nothing changed this time.

I thought I'd be able to sneak home well before dark, we finished branding by lunchtime, but no! With a captive workforce, The Husband wanted to "quickly" lay some poly pipe and hook up some extra troughs for the cows, as all dams in their fresh paddock were dry.

This entailed the need to take Toyota and pipe spinner, tractor AND grader to the site, to lay about 25 metres of pipe. (I really don't know what to say about the amount of equipment required, I really don't).

IMG_1725I think I drew the short straw with the tractor. Not the fastest, or smoothest vehicle ever invented.

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Enough of that boys and their toys nonsense. Dig trench broom broom etc etc. Drag pipe off spinner, put in trench. Join B to C, take a T section off the middle and join to D. And lastly, join A to B, the bit the kids were hoping would be really wet and messy. This was as messy as it got.



And finally, we were allowed to Go Home. This is pretty much how we all felt.

And the most profound observation of the weekend? My cough-y cold and snotty nose, combined with a super dusty yard = quite unpleasant result.

The end. (you're welcome)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

All quiet on the northern front

No rain to report, but lovely cooler mornings, but I guess it is Autumn now we are in March.

Nothing of great excitement to report, just buckling down in the school and working year.

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I got a new Heavy Duty sewing machine to take the old one which seems to induce the use of much bad language when using it. Its unpacked, but to date, not threaded or used. I started pinning together a doily bunting to make as photography prop, and that's as far as I got. I made plans to make a simple baby quilt for one of our lovely teacher aide's who is has only a few weeks to go.

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We had Crazy Hair Day at school (much hair product was used, apart from hairspray, of which I own none). I did a quick drive into the national park (the one that burnt recently) to drop off a neighbour working on a fence, and had to stop to admire these beautiful blackboys. Tealeaf got himself into a spot of bother, has there ever been such a sad face on a calf?

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A week of heavy colds and school and big swimming lesson took its toll. We branded a few "small" calves to tidy up a mob of cows and weaners. The kids proved to as useful as mad blue dog puppies in the yards, spending a great deal of time up that tree squawking like parrots and baulking any beast we wanted to go in that direction. Their usefulness did not improve as the day progressed, their attention span short and confidence in handling the big fat calves low. (although I've found it useful to never look back when the kids are penning up behind us!).

We have more cattle work to do, and move about, and in the meantime waters keep breaking down (not my department to repair, I am more of the Reporting department) and of course, plans keep changing and developing and changing as it continues to not rain. But we are thankful, we are not in as dire situation as others and so have, at this stage, options.

I hope I manage to find the desire to play with my new machine this week, although possibly not as my husband would wish, mending shirts and pants (devils work in my opinion!!)

Wish me luck ;-)

PS and is it me, or is Easter sneaking up on us rather fast this year?!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

moving on

Thursday was another day for a marital bonding exercise, when we had to muster and move away our cows that we had on agistment.  We're sad to have to move them as they are doing so well, being first calf heifers and on good feed. But with the season - or lack thereof - shaping up the way it is, the owner of the property is taking steps to protect himself for the year to come.

It wasn't an early start, having to get kids to school and husband other jobs to do, but we finally got to the paddock after morning smoko.

IMG_1571Those black calves, by old Rainbow or some young senagus bulls, are very healthy, and very quiet natured. Nothing was in a rush to go anywhere. Unfortunately, a little faster walking would have been appreciated.

We had a spare critter in the mob too, which at least proved to be distraction on the long walk back to the yards.

IMG_1588Obviously separated from her own herd by dingoes, this little goat was sticking with the cows right or wrong. Mostly the cows weren't bothered by her presence, especially if she were in amongst the calves. Occasionally they would notice her and push her away.

IMG_1592It was a long walk back to the yards, and it was HOT. Not 46 degrees hot, but more of hot and humid-er sort of day. Fun for all parties. Especially riding a bike that even in the husbands words, was "a bit stiff" in the steering. Oh my aching shoulders.

IMG_1595Goat and cow babies (on the wrong side of the fence at this point) alike were feeling it, but with only one short spell on the way, they all made it. Hot and bothered for sure, but without too much stress.

I was feeling a bit hot and bothered myself, possibly not having enough water during the day so was quite happy to have a spell as we had a late lunch in the yards. A very thoughtful and mindful person had planted a raintree in the drafting yard many years ago and it was just beautiful and cool underneath.

IMG_1600 And it made the process of drafting SO much more pleasant.

IMG_1617It was late in the afternoon/evening before we got to the calves, which had to be tagged with a NLIS ear tag from their property of birth, to comply with the National Livestock Identification Scheme (which quite frankly, is a pain in the butt). After a couple of trials it was identified that the easiest and fastest was to undertake this was to squeeze a heap of calves into the crush and The Husband would one by one, working from the back and pushing the tagged calves out behind him, tag the calves in the crush with them. One thing we've noticed about these cross bred calves, different to more Brahman or Droughtmaster types, is they are SO placid, and rarely kick! So they job of tagging was fairly event free, although I wouldn't have wanted to be the one wrestling with the sappy little suckers.

It was about 730 pm before we let the calves back with their mothers and chained the gate shut. I attempted to round up the little goat, thinking I'd bring her home, but she wasn't that silly. She was quite happy to be left with the cows! (cows were trucked away the next day and the little goat went off with a mob of the property owners cattle that we let out of the yards). We got to see the moon rising as we drove home, and by the time we collected the kids from granny and grandad's and got home, it was 10pm.

I would call that a long day.

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