Back Outback

Some of you may have read my post on when I went contract mustering at the start of the year. Well not long ago we were called back up North to the station for the next lot of mustering. Minus the backpacker this time though, it was just the boss, Jackaroo, myself and a thousand head of weaners. Unlike last time, where we branded and marked these 1000 head of calves, this time we we weaning them – aka taking them off their mum.

Last time when the backpacker was helping out, he rode one bike, Jackaroo rode one bike and I took the cruiser round the paddocks. This time I was on the bike. As much fun as I had on the bike, I would be a happy Jillaroo if I could just stick to horses! Some properties use bikes and some use horses. It depends on what the owner wants, and what the cattle are used to. Most places you can’t just chop and change when you want. Believe it or not, a certain amount of education goes into cattle when they are weaned. They get taught to obey dogs, bikes or horses.

There was one paddock in particular which previously had a lot of trees felled and just left there. These are quite sizable gum trees that are now just laying in the paddocks. It wasn’t so bad when we went there at the start of the year when we were in drought and the grass was short. This time, the grass was covering the hundreds of logs laying in the grass. Some were small enough for you to hit at speed and bounce over, only 12 inches or so in diameter. Others… Well… I couldn’t see how big they were while I was flying over the handlebars, my apologies.

At one stage we were bringing 400 head of cattle along the fence in this paddock, taking them back to their home. The lead of the mob started to peel off the fence and run for (what they though was) their freedom. Long story short, I (attempted) to race up to turn them around, only to flip my bike 4 different times and eventually break the clutch on the bike. I was so frustrated! It takes a lot to get me angry, but I jumped up and kicked the nearest ant hill. Stupid ant hill. Haha! Next minute, Jackaroo comes hooting over to see if I was ok, and almost stacks it on the same obstacle I did. I better just add – it’s Australia, the animals are almost as crazy as the people. Ant hills are huge out west, rock hard and can be bigger than cars. This one was only a little one at just under half a metre tall and wide. I’ll get some photos next time I see a massive one.

My whole body ached, and that night when I stripped off for a well-deserved shower I could see that both of my legs from top to bottom were a rainbow of ugly, puffy bruises and scratches. Jackaroo got off pretty easily, though when I wasn’t stacking my bike, he was – and eventually ended up breaking the gear stick on his bike. I thought it was great, I got to get out of working on that paddock while I babied his bike home to get fixed by the station caretaker. Score!

I guess we were pretty lucky. No broken bones or worse! As I usually say; if I got a good story out of it, the pain was worth it.

27 Replies to “Back Outback”

  1. Thank you! I am glad I came across your blog too. I love reading farming blogs from different countries. Aw that’s really nice thanks, we certainly a different breed hah! I look forward to keeping up with your adventures πŸ™‚

  2. I’m so glad you found my blog, because it means I got to find yours! Love love love seeing strong women living a life uncommon. I can’t wait to show this post to my kids, they are going to love it.

  3. I love reading about a whole different kind of country living. I’ve never had much luck riding motorcycles and I’m sure I’d rather be in the saddle instead. Nice word pictures, Jillaroo Jess. You really took me down under.

  4. Haha! I must tell Jackaroo that someone thinks I’m tough! I’m normally a bit of a sook but working with men your competitive side kicks in – we can’t let them win! It is definitely hard work, but it’s so rewarding. Plus, it gives me dramatic stories to share mwahaha. Yes you should! Some are definitely like another world! Thanks for your comment Steph πŸ™‚

  5. Wow, Jess β€”Β great post, and I always feel like a big sook when I read your stories since the work sounds so tough. πŸ™‚ However, your awesome blog make me want to check out a cattle station anyway! Cheers β€”Β Steph

  6. Yes, it’s always the way isn’t it. Get put on the harder horses to test you out. You certainly learn to stick to the saddle quickly. Yes, I would be happy never to have to muster that paddock ever again! Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  7. I’m old enough now, this doesn’t happen to me anymore but when I used to “day Labor” they call it here in Texas…sometimes the owner wanted you to ride one of their horses. Usually, it was a young guy who needed a lot of wet saddle blankets and was humpy first thing in the morning. Seems like I always got those and I heard later it was in the plan to see what I was made of. Why do we always have to prove ourselves? Argh! Anyway, I’m glad you weren’t the only one stuck on the blasted bike. Glad you’re ok! Great story!

  8. Yeah, it does make traveling kilometers to the paddocks quicker, but I would much prefer a horse! You can’t hear cattle when you’re on a bike. Mustering big properties takes all of your senses! Glad to have taught you something lol! πŸ™‚

  9. I did enjoy your blog, but I must be sure to tell you that Calgary is in Western Canada and that I’m a very, very Canadian Canuck. πŸ˜€

  10. Sounds beautiful. I’ve always wanted to visit ranches in the USA. Yes, the hard work can really drain you, but it is worth it for this lifestyle. That is a lovely compliment, thank you πŸ™‚ I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog!

  11. Thanks Katie, yes in the country it’s either bikes or horses isn’t it! Just the same as the people with white hats, or black hats. Well it is where I’m from anyway haha. Oh that’s sad, it does seem to be like that in many cases. The kids head to the cities and have no interest in the farm. Sad really.
    Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  12. I enjoyed your post… bikes vs. horses. Long ago (!) I helped with herding in the western U.S., on horseback. The terrain was likely too rough for bikes–steep hills and deep gulches. When the old rancher died the family sold the land out of ranching. Too bad.
    Take care,

  13. No worries Chad, I love just about anything country! Thank you πŸ™‚ Yes he is such a little character. This morning he was in the yards with me and a horse put his head down to sniff him. He just rolled on his back and swatted at the horse’s nose playfully. Lucky the horse was quiet! Have a great weekend πŸ™‚

  14. When I was a youngster, back in ’65, I worked on a ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near Calgary Alberta. There were 10,000 head of cattle free range and we used horses to drive them into corrals for inoculation. The sky was big, the days were long and my ass got very sore indeed, but I won’t ever forget the many adventures.

    Thanks for this story, Jillaroo Jess. You’ve made my sunny morning even more brilliant.

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