With some droving experience under my belt, it was time to head back to Trelawney to spend one more month with Eva. Kate had gone on a trip to Tasmania and needed someone at home looking after Eva, I jumped at the chance.
It was nice to be back for the few short weeks I returned for. Week one was back to Mini School. It was a lovely chance to see some of the other govvies I had met previously. While all the kids were off doing school all the home tutors hung out. For Melbourne Cup Day we all dressed up for the luncheon being held at mini school. It was great fun as well all drank champagne, ate a beautiful meal, and races around on toy horses. There were many laughs to be had.
I spent the next three weeks at Trewlawney, back in my old routine. It was amazing to be back, felt like I was home. The water had dropped a lot since I had left though. Dams were dried up, house water was switched from the dam to the bore, and we had to more cautious about water usage. The grass was all dead, not much green around. There wasn’t much left for the cattle to eat. Luckily, the rain came.
Not so much rain we didn’t have to worry, but enough to relive the stress of the drought. The grass turned green, people celebrated. Things started to look up. The showers continued for a couple weeks before drying off again to be replaced by a temperature rise and a clear blue sky. The rain didn’t come again for a couple months.
The weekend before I left Trelawney to begin a ringer job at Hillview was the Clermont races. I finally bought a dress and got a bit fancy for race day. I still wasn’t quite as dolled up as the majority of women, but I was doing better than my first races in cut off jeans. I didn’t however, wear heels. I really did the opposite. I wore the Australian loved Volleys… The exact same Volleys as Darcy.
The races are always a great time. Many people don’t pay much attention to the actual horses, but instead to the social factor. Everyone comes in from the surrounding properties to drink, and socialize, and drink some more. Darcy and I even made it into the local newspaper along with a few other friends. I’m pretty much famous in Australia now!
I finished my work at Trelawney just in time for Darcy’s birthday. I baked him a triple layer chocolate cake, the same cake my dad made for me. Unfortunately, because Australia is so warm, the icing didn’t harden enough to hold the layers in place, and the cake was too warm to stay together. It was a disaster! Darcy still loved it though, and it was certainly delicious.
Doing cattle work isn’t in easy job. In fact, it’s the most difficult job I have had. There’s just so much to remember. Remembering how to get to all the paddocks. Learning all the Paddock names. Learning where the boundaries fences are. Learning all the dams and their names. Learning which cattle go into which paddocks. Learning the best ways to work cattle through the yards. Learning how to load cattle. Learning where everything goes in the sheds. Learning how to mix the dip. Learning how to service a motorbike. Learning. Learning. Learning. Many of the things I learned at Hillview was knowledge I would use only once a week, then not use again for another two weeks. It’s a lot of remembering.
Because there is so much to learn and remember, this means there is also a lot you can forget. One innocent mistake can take hours to fix. My biggest mistake would definitely have been leaving a gate open. Never leave gates open.
We had been working in the yards all day with a mob of cattle we had mustered the day before. Once drafted (where you split up the cattle into different pens in the yards depending on age, gender, weight, or other factors), we had three different paddocks to take the cattle down to.
Darcy and I began walking the cattle towards a paddock across the property. Once we were near, he asked me to zip down to the paddock and cheack that the gates were shut. He asked me to check the red gate, the gate we went through before, and the steel gate. This is where things went down hill. I drove up to the red gate we had gone through a day or two prior, and it was shut. Check. I then followed the road along the fence until I hit the steel gate, which was also closed. They were both close. The red gate we had gone through before, and the steel gate. I headed back down to catch up with Darcy.
A couple hours later, the boss came by saying the gate had been left open and the weaners were in with the wet (cow in calf or with young calf) cows. I couldn’t figure out what had happened. I had shut the gates I was told to, what had gone wrong?
Well, it turns out There was a third gate I was meant to close. Darcy hadn’t meant “the red gate we went through before”, he meant “the red gate AND the gate we went through before”. I had gone the opposite way across the paddock to the steel gate and had missed a large gate that we had gone through few days before. I was so upset with myself.
Darcy and I hopped back on our bikes and drove back through the paddock. We mustered the paddock with the wet cows and walked them up to the yards where we then had to draft them all over again. Once we had the weaners separated from the cows, we returned them to their correct paddocks, this time making certain that ALL the gates were shut.
With that mistake learned from, I haven’t done it again. Instead, I rolled the four wheeler.
It was early one morning and the boss had not long come back from hospital. There was an accident with the dozer one day that has broken his pelvis. This was the reason I had come to work at Hillview. He was supposed to stay off the four-wheelers for a while, but Frank was too determined to work for that. Because he was still having trouble with walking too much, and was still in some pain, I went with him to walk cattle away, opening and closing gates so he wouldn’t have to move around as much.
As we were walking the cattle through an occupied paddock Frank said he would go up ahead to turn away any cattle that may try to join our mob. I was to stay with the mob and continue to walk them up. Very shortly after Frank zipped off things took a turn for the worse.
I was leading the cattle through a dried up creek and unfortunately had no dogs. The majority of the cattle crossed the creek bed no problem and continued to come up the fence, the tail however, is another story.
Instead of sticking with the mob, the cattle on the tail decided to turn and follow the creek which ran perpendicular to the direction we were headed. I waited to see if they would turn to follow and catch up with the rest of the mob but had no luck. With still no sign of Frank, I decided to take action.
I first slowed up the cattle in the lead, making sure they wouldn’t get too far ahead, but didn’t pull them up completely so they would try to head in a different direction. I then headed back down to cross the creek and turn the strays around. Unfortunately, I didn’t hit the slope straight enough.
Before I knew it, my bike was rolling. I had a feeling it wasn’t quite read to stop, so I took a diving leap off the bike and onto the sand in the bed. The bike landed beside me, completely upside down. Uh-oh.
I pushed and pulled, and pushed some more, but the bike didn’t want to roll over. Frank was still not back, and the cattle were still walking, some in the right direction, some in the wrong direction. I knew I couldn’t just sit and wait, so I decided to work on foot. What other option did I have?
Luckily, the day hand’t heated up much yet. It wasn’t easy jogging along in jeans and a long shirt, but I did it anyway. I ran up ahead of the stray cattle and managed to turn them around. They were a little puzzled by the stranger on foot so they headed back to the mob where things were more familiar. I then ran back across the creek, and jogged along side the mob, making sure the cattle all stayed along the fence line.
I hadn’t made it too far before Frank came back. It felt like I had been running forever. Although it was morning, I was still jogging in jeans and a shirt, in weather that would have been considered a heat wave in Canada. I felt like I was dying. He gave me a puzzled look before I hopped onto the back of his bike. We finished walking the cattle away then returned to the house to fetch Darcy. We agreed that He would be able to flip the bike back over much easier than myself and him with a broken pelvis.
Darcy flipped the bike back over without a problem. As well as making sure all gates are closed, and I’m cautious with crossing creeks, I also only fill the lick pods from the tank on the right.
My last mishap story for the day was a rather sticky situation. No, not even rather sticky, it was VERY sticky.
When the going get’s tough and there hasn’t been rain, there isn’t much nutrition in the grass. When there isn’t much nutrition in the grass, the cattle aren’t receiving all the nutrients they need. As a supplement, they get “lick”. There is dry lick, which I have mentioned in previous posts, and then there is wet lick which is called quick lick. Wet lick is much like molasses. It’s the same colour, very sticky, but not quite as thick.
At Hillview we have two big tanks filled with quick lick. They look like large, plastic rainwater tanks, but instead are filled with the liquid supplement. The first tank has a new hose on it. It’s easy to switch on and off and the hose isn’t too difficult to manoeuvre. The second tank is my enemy.
My war with tank number two all began with Darcy asking me to fill up the lick pod so we can do a run to some of the paddocks. Of course, I saw this as no problem. I headed down to the shed and grabbed the old rooshooter ute we use for lick runs, then drove up to where the tanks are. I parked, hopped out, opened the pod, put the hose in pod, then went to open the valve to fill the tank. Things were all running smoothly until it was time to turn it off.
There is a valve located on the hose nozzle, as well as one at the main tank. I decided it would be easiest to turn off the hose nozzle first, then the tank. This was the wrong decision.
The tank was too full to reach in to turn off the nozzle. The hose got a bit stuck inside the pod. I was standing on the edge of the ute, trying to pull the hose out, when it finally broke free.
You know those scenes in cartoons where someone grabs the hose while it’s on full force and they go flying through the air, propelled by the spraying water? That’s exactly what happened, but instead of water, it was quick lick.
I was shot off the side of the ute. Still clutching the hose, I fell backwards onto the ground, landing on my back. The hose, unfortunately, was then pointing straight to the sky. The molasses-like substance was raining on me.
I managed to get control of the hose and shut it off, but not before making sure everything was covered in quick lick. The ute, which is normally white, had turned completely brown. The windshield was impossible to see through. I was drenched, from head to toe. Everything was sticky. But I had to go meet Darcy.
I shut off the tank and scrubbed a big enough patch on the windshield to see where I was going, then headed down to the yards where I was supposed to meet Darcy. He couldn’t help but laugh when he saw me. The sun was drying my clothes, but they were drying solid. It was difficult to move, but we had to draft cattle. I put my discomfort aside and continued to work. The shower I had that day was one of the best I have ever had.
I still have not decided who won that war- myself, or the lick hose? Either way, I now only fill the pod with the first tank, avoiding the second tank as much as possible.