Foaly Moley!

This year, we only have had 3 Australian Stock Horse foals born on the property. It’s definitely quality over quantity though, they are beautiful. First born was a flashy chestnut colt with a big baldy face (lots of white) and 3 white socks who we named Coolrdige Kidman – after a famous Australian cattle baron. Next, a lovely little bay filly with a bucket load of attitude named Coolridge Karijini – a beautiful desert in Western Australia. Finally, a leggy black filly called Coolridge Khaleesi – I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones!

In case anyone is interested in Australian Stock Horses, and follows their breeding, all three are by Kooloombah Confidence, a very handsome red dun stallion. Confidence, and all of the mares are bred to Campdraft, which is an Australian horse sport with cattle, where you must first cut out a beast in the ‘camp’, then take it out into the arena and bend it around two posts and through a gate. These foals all have great breeding and we are looking forward to seeing their natural ability under saddle. I’m currently in the process of building a website for our horses and will have it finished in the coming months. Once breeding season is over I’ll have more time to get things happening.

Have a look at the photos attached, aren’t they just beautiful? I love coming home and watching the foals playing in the cool twilight. Enjoy the photos – I’d be jealous if I were you…

Playing Possum

Jackaroo took me to one of the old sheds the other day for show and tell. There was a big grey possum with beautiful dark eyes looking up at me. I quickly ran inside to cut up some apple to feed it. I wonder if it is a boy or girl, I thought. I guess this answers it! Here is the latest addition to the farm, an adorable little joey holding tight onto it’s mother’s back. I wonder if it’s a boy or girl…

FYI – ‘Playing Possum’ is Aussie slang for ‘faking it’ or ‘pretending’.

mms_20130923

Love and Loss on the Land

Everybody knows that as rewarding as life on the land is, you have to deal with death more often than folks in the city. Whether a dog gets trampled while working cattle, or a horse breaks a leg, there is always a chance something will go wrong.

It is a year ago this month that I lost two of the most loved animals I’ve ever had – both in the same week. Even after a year it is still hard to write about them, let alone talk about them in person. Although I am usually trying to put a funny twist on my adventures, I thought I’d share this story – mainly cause they were so beautiful I just want to share their photos!

Just before Christmas 2011, Jackaroo and my second Christmas together, he took me shopping to get me a Christmas present. After suggesting a couple of things that I wouldn’t mind receiving from him, he decided he didn’t like any of them and we went home empty handed. I was devastated, thinking that I wouldn’t be getting a Christmas present from him. ‘Worst Christmas ever!’, I thought, moping around. I had spent weeks looking for the perfect gift for him. Anyway, when I woke up Christmas morning, he was jollier than I expected. I walk into the kitchen to get some breakfast. Jackaroo walks up to me with his hands behind his back, his eyes sparkling. He passes me a plain envelope. I open it up, inside is a registration certificate for a beautiful little red dun Australian Stock Horse filly that had been born a month earlier on the property. I literally jumped up and down and cried, just about suffocating him with my hugs. She was the most beautiful foal I’d ever seen, and I had spent a lot of time down the paddock just sitting and watching her eat. She was the best present I have ever received and I named her Warratah, after the red native Australian flower. For those of you who have never seen a red dun coloured horse, they are similar to a normal dun in the way that they have the dorsal stripe, darker coloured points and stripes on their legs – but they are red!

Warratah was smart, and I loved hanging out with her down the paddock. When it came time to halter break her, I was very excited! I had high hopes for this little girl. She was in the yards for about a week, getting taught to pick her feet up and tie up without pulling back. After we were satisfied that she and the 7 other 2011 foals were handled enough, we led them down to the improved pasture, so that they could grow big and strong so that one day we would be able to break them in and ride them.

430991_2885260283877_953161000_n
Warratah, my Christmas present on Christmas Day.
Warratah at about 6 months old.
Warratah at about 6 months old.

A couple of months later, Jackaroo and I went to look at some dogs. They were 3/4 Border Collie and 1/4 Kelpie. As always, they were adorable! We picked up 3 boys – a blue and white for a friend, a black and white pup for Jackaroo and a chocolate tri-colour for me. My pup was a handsome and smart little fella, with one green eye and one blue eye. I’m a sucker for different coloured eyes (even Jackaroo has different coloured eyes)! When we got home I spent days deliberating what to name my pup. One day I was singing the theme song to a tv show that was on when I was a kid – FeralTv. I ended up naming my pup Rattus, after one of the characters. It suited him perfectly, due to his intelligence he was always up to no good and we got along great! I got Rattus when I still lived in town, not on the farm. This was also a time when Jackaroo was working away on cattle stations for stints of 6-8 weeks, coming home for a week and then leaving again. I took him everywhere with me. He helped with the loneliness of living in a town without my family or partner. I taught him many tricks, and by the time Jackaroo came home after the first 8 weeks he could sit, shake, drop, hop up and I could send him off about 10m away from me, make a hoop with my arms and he would leap through them. He was my best friend.

Rattus and I head for a station about 10hrs South West of here.
Rattus and I head for a station about 10hrs South West of here.
My beautiful boy, Rattus.
My beautiful boy, Rattus.

Now for the sad bit… The first tragedy was with Rattus. He was looking off one day, and was off his food. I didn’t think much of it, as with humans, sometimes things just don’t agree with your stomach. The next morning I went outside to check on Rattus. I called and called him, could not find him anywhere. I finally find him, still alive but very weak and bleeding from both ends – which was attracting ants. He tried to hobble over to me and I burst into tears then yelled to Jackaroo, who quickly collected his gun and took Rattus out of my earshot to put him out of his misery. We suspect that he had either eaten some dingo bait or rat bait. Although we had not baited for dingos, the worst trouble is that sometimes birds will pick up a piece of meat that has been baited for dingos and drop it into your yards. The love that he had in his eyes, despite being in so much pain is something that I’ll never get over. RIP Rattus.

A week later, Warratah and her brothers and sisters went through a fence. Being so young, when something spooks them they just float like a flock of birds. All of the foals had a few scratches but only 3 of the 8 were bad enough to require medical attention, and another one which I could handle. Mowgli had cut his leg down to the bone, Upendi had skull showing and a huge gash on her knee and Justice had a chest puncture. Warratah, however, was unable to be fixed. She had slashed her eye in half. It was so sore, and made my eyes water when I looked at her. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t have been worth much as a broodmare, not that I could afford the operation to have her eye anyway. Jackaroo was working away on a station at this time, but I called him for advice and he organised his brother to ‘take care’ of Warratah for me. He took her down the paddock and put her out of her misery. I hid down another paddock, found a nice spot by a dam and cried for hours. I’m very lucky to be building a relationship with another beautiful filly, Perserverence. Warratah will always hold a special part in my heart though. RIP Warratah.

On the Catwalk

I better quickly explain my joke. (Yes I made a funny!) The ‘catwalk’ is a part of many larger cattle yards – mainly saleyards etc where you can walk above the yards checking out the cattle – in one of my last posts you can see one in the photos I took at the sales. I can guarantee you won’t see Elle McPherson walking one of these…

Back to the point… I was browsing through my photos yesterday and came across this photo of me, on one of our mares, Cnedra (aka Neddie – don’t ask me where Cnedra came from!). It was a little while back, and if I remember correctly, we had been looking for some clean skins (unbranded cattle) for hours. This is a terrible picture her, but Neddie is a really beautiful Australian Stock Horse mare. She is currently in foal, due in November, and I can’t wait to see how her foal turns out. I’ll definitely be putting photos up of the foals later in the year!

Anyway, I thought I’d share this photo as it seems some of you like these glimpses into my world. Especially since I follow a fair few equine blogs – some of the pictures I see of manicured horses, and their equally manicured riders put me to shame! When you’re working on a station, or out mustering cattle there isn’t much style about it, just comfort. This photo of me is actually pretty good compared to the other things I rock the paddocks in. The shirt, although a hand-me-down from Jackaroo, has no rips in it and isn’t white from sun-bleaching yet, surprisingly, neither are the jeans. Might’ve been trying to dress up a bit, you know for Jackaroo. Haha!

Jillaroo Jess on Neddie
Jillaroo Jess on Neddie, with Gun the blue dog.

The Cat Who Thinks He’s A Horse

Good morning everyone!

It has been such a long time since I have told you a tale… I’ve had many adventures since you’ve last heard from me!

A few months ago I got a kitten. He is the only kitten of a Manx litter with a tail – go figure hey! He also has a lot of attitude. He was named Cash, though I just tend to call him Kitty. Very masculine, I know!

Although he was kept inside for a couple of weeks, he generally lives in the old dairy which backs onto the horse and cattle yards on the property. Since there is often horses in the yards, he tends to hang out with them during the day. He must hang out with the horses more than I realised, as it now seems he is turning into a horse.

One morning I walked out to feed the horses. At this time there was 3 weanlings (foals that are being weaned and halter broken) and my riding mare in the yards. We hadn’t had a beautiful sunny morning in a while, they were all laying flat on their sides lapping up the lovely warmth. I take a bucket of feed to my mare. I find the cat sunbaking with the horses! He lifted his head nonchalantly to look at me, as if saying “So what?”. I stood there laughing at the scene.

That same weekend we were halter breaking the foals. He strutted around them without a worry in the world. These were 6month old foals who had never been handled before. He is one brave little cat. Or maybe stupid… I guess it depends on the outcome! Haha!

The next week, I had brought in a two year old grey gelding named Comet to start breaking in. He had been caught every now and then to worm, but apart from that hadn’t been handled much. I washed him, put a rug on him and led him to his yard. When I brought him a bucket of feed not long later, Kitty followed me to the yard and immediately ran under the horse, swatting at his tail. Amazingly, Comet just stood there without a care in the world! The following day I started to teach Comet to walk up beside me. Generally when we lead horses, they follow behind us. Comet might end up being shown though, so I was teaching him to lead differently. With a lunge whip in one hand, I walked around the yard lightly flicking him on the hindquarters each time he fell behind. The flicking whip obviously caught Kitty’s attention as in a flash I started to feel something on the end of the whip. Next thing I know it, Kitty has taken off under Comet’s legs with the whip! Lucky Comet is quiet I tell you!

He’s a typical little boy this cat, he’s so small but has got the biggest amount of attitude. I think he’s going to handle life on the farm just fine. As for the horses, it’s not a bad thing having a little bundle of fur dodging around them – sure keeps them quiet!

Watch this space, I will be posting more stories of working adventures on cattle stations soon!

Work Like a Dog

I remember when I first heard the saying ‘working like a dog’. I was young, naive and from the city. ‘Work like I dog?’ I’d think, ‘Dogs only laze around, eat and pee on things.’

How my world has changed.

My first introduction to working dogs was when I visited a soon-to-be neighbour’s property, where a handful of collies were tied up to trees around the house. I was told not to pat them… So I went and greeted each personally. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to play with them, and definitely couldn’t understand the rule of not keeping a dog who didn’t earn his keep. Now I do, and have to run, and feed, hoardes of the critters each night.

Some people would have you think dogs who don’t sleep inside and eat scraps off the table are mistreated.Β Hearing ads from the working dog rescue programs on the tv makes it sound like working dogs are mistreated and unloved. They certainly aren’t desperate for attention, they get to play with lots of other dogs twice a day – numbers of city people pay for their dogs to go to ‘daycare’. These dogs do what they love and were bred to do- work livestock. No heart attacks from being fat old house dogs here, they are athletes and kept in prime working condition.

I’ve been thinking about this all a lot lately since I’ve been looking for an Australian Shepherd puppy. There are few breeders in Australia who actually work their dogs on sheep or cattle. Most seem to be show dogs or house dogs. There are so many rules when purchasing one of these dogs. Some breeders insist that the dog be sold within so many km’s of them, so they can take them back and breed or show them. There are breeding contracts, registration contracts etc. It does my head in! When I buy a dog, I want it to be mine. I want to breed puppies from it if it’s a great worker, I don’t want to send it back to the breeder to show. I just want a dog, a good worker and a friend. Better just stick with collies I guess!

Edge & Dodge
Edge and Dodge are two of the working collies on the property. Waiting patiently (and keenly!) for their turn to work some cattle.

The grass might be greener, but it’s just as hard to mow!

What colour is that in the back of my photo? Is that grass? GREEN grass? For the past 8 months or so, the paddocks have been bare. Then in January the flooding rain came. The grass grew like the clappers! Day 2 of the rain and the grass was longer each time you walked outside. Now look at it! Tall, green, lush grass. Lucky I don’t have to mow the lawn. If I did, I’d just put a mob of horses in the yard. There’s much nicer things to do in this lovely part of the country than mow the grass.

The photos attached are of a property we were going to muster over the weekend. The rains interrupted our plans, unfortunately. Maybe next weekend πŸ™‚

DSC_5037
Avagogully (have a go gully), a nice boggy little spot we put cattle through when mustering this property.
DSC_5040
Mother and child. How sweet.

Man Flu

So I’m sick. Last night, I came down with a fever. Nobody else in the world could be feeling as sick as me right now. Despite being a woman, I believe that I, Jillaroo Jess, have come down with a dramatic case of Man Flu.

I had planned to wash and move around a few fillies who are going to be broken in, but this put a spanner in the works. Instead, I moped around watching Parks and Recreation and did a few loads of washing. Also, as per usual, I gave the dogs a run in the morning and afternoon. It’s amazing how much better I felt when watching the working dogs running around like lunatics. They are hilarious, and it’s hard not to smile at the sight of them playing in that magic time of the afternoon. One collie pup named Opera (named for her Phantom of the Opera shaped white face) loves to play catch with herself- throwing and catching whatever she finds. At the end of the day when I come home from work, there are 17 furry faces grinning at me, waiting for me. What could be better? You certainly don’t get greetings like that from family or your partner! Haha!

20130323-200757.jpg

Horsing Around

What do you do on a Saturday afternoon when you’re bored as batpoop? Teach your horse to lay down on command of course!

This is Percy (Coolridge Perseverance), a smart little Australian Stock Horse 3yr old filly. I was given her by Jackaroo, who bred her. She was a weanling when I first started visiting the farm, and was the first foal I named of his. Her name doesn’t seem to suit her sometimes, as you don’t have to persevere with her much to get the desired result. It literally took 5mins to get her bowing and then laying on the ground – despite hoards of pups running about. Great little horse! Can’t wait to start Campdrafting on her this year!

IMG_6836

Our Land of Flooding Plains

Once again, the Gymp has been inundated with cloud tears. The river swelled up and flooded the town and approximately 130 homes and businesses. After 4 days without electricity, we just got it back. How did people back in the old days survive?! Though it was quite a novelty showering like a hippie – lathering up with soap in the rain, then having a bucket of water tipped over you!

On Saturday, we headed to the local pub in the courtesy bus for the Australia Day festivities at about noon. When I was ready to go home, my jackaroo borrowed a ute to drop me 2kms home. In 6 or 7 hours the water had risen to a height which was unable to be passed in this ute. I then had to hang out at the pub until closing time – thinking we would have to stay at someone else’s place. Let me reiterate – I was stuck at a pub for 12 hours. 12 HOURS. Tyra Banks would’ve been scared of my fierce! Hehe. Anyway, luckily just before the pub closed, someone turned up in a cruiser, so we chugged our way through the flood waters. (I am not encouraging driving through flood waters. There was 10yrs of flood driving experience behind the wheel).

The waters have almost receded, and the clean ups have begun. The grass seems to be growing before our eyes! Which is good, as the horses are look very hungry! The dogs love the rain though, especially when they plant their muddy noses or paws on my clean work skirts. I’m sure I get some looks sometimes, with foot prints on my uniform, or lucerne in my hair.. Ah the trials of being a bumpkin. Wouldn’t change it though! πŸ™‚

I’m hoping to have some more interesting stories for you lot soon. This weekend I will be heading up to Middlemount, QLD, to muster on two different stations. It’s been postponed for a few weeks due to the rain, but finally we’re going! I’m so excited! Even bought a few new work shirts to go. How’s this?: I tell jackaroo that there’s some pretty work shirts at Saddleworld for sale – $40ea. (I know they are pricey, but they were so pretty for work shirts! :D). He looks at me with raised eyebrows.. “What? As if you’d pay $40 for a work shirt.” I slink away.. Feeling slightly chastised for being so easily conned by pretty colours.. The next day I go and have a look at St Vinnies and Red Cross. I pick up 2 work shirts for $12, barely worn! BarGOOOOON! I take my proud purchases back to show jackaroo. “Eww, you’re going to wear other people’s old shirts?”. Men, hey? *shrugs* πŸ™‚ xx

Our Flooded Road
Not quite at the peak of the flood – somewhere under there lies our road.