Time flies when you’re having fun!

Apparently it’s been two years since I’ve posted on my blog. How horrifying. I thank my loyal followers for still hanging around, and I’m pleased that people still drop by daily to encourage me.

A lot has happened in these two years. I’ve driven tractors for harvest season on one of the southern-most towns of Western Australia, driven road trains and had a ball. I’ve loved and lost love, lived and witnessed too much loss of life.

While I’ve kept my Jillaroo Jess Facebook page going, I felt like a phony writing as ‘Jillaroo’ Jess yet driving trucks. Recently, however, the tables have turned.

I am excited to announce that I have landed a job overseeing a cattle station in the Pilbara region of Australia. Almost a quarter of a million acres of desert located on the beach. Does that sound like paradise to you? It is. If you count the 50 billion flies and 2 snakes who live in the cutlery drawer in our 120yr old stone house.

Stay tuned for grand tales of my truck driving and harvesting adventures, as well as my new adventures working in this incredibly unique and wild corner of the world.

 

Save the Working Dog

I just read the most distressing news. Once again, a bureaucrat in an office somewhere has decided to make like even more difficult for farmers than it already is. It is concerning the keeping of working dogs in Victoria, Australia. I am not from Victoria, but all Australians deserve a fair go, and often other states follow suit with these sorts of things.

Basically, if you have 3 intact females on your property you are now a breeder and will have to follow strict regulations on the keeping of your dogs. Farmers generally do not neuter their animals as it can affect their working ability, and really, if you have a good dog – you’ll want another one day! I won’t babble on, but if you are interested in finding out more, check out the link below.

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Crikey, that’s a big one!

After feeding all the animals on the farm one afternoon recently, Jackaroo called me over to the pigeon cage. I looked inside and saw a big python curled up, with a suspiciously fat stomach. I quickly ran inside to get an old pillow case which we could use to put the snake in. Jackaroo could tell that it was a boy by the pattern on his scales. Since he was such a beautiful snake, and not overly poisonous, we decided to relocate it. It took a long time to get him out of the cage as he had barricaded himself between the roof and the chicken wire. He snapped at us as we tried to pull him out from his hiding spot. Since he had eaten one of our pigeons, though, he found it quite hard to get away – his stomach was just too round. Unfortunately, when snakes are stressed, their bowels are too… and therefore our noses. Man, snakes are putrid! I have attached a photo of me releasing the snake about 10 minutes down the road. You can see I’m trying to hold it away from my body so I didn’t get covered in his poo, as he was trying to wrap around my arm. He was about 6ft long, which is a fair size, but this species can grow over 10ft long! mms_20140102

Introducing – Kora!

After months of much anticipation, I’ve finally met my new pup! Her name is Kora, and she is a beautiful Border Collie. She came from a Border Collie stud called Mukkerdowns, which is located near Orange in New South Wales. Kora has so much personality. The more time I spend with her, the more I love her. She is around 5months old, I think, I’m yet to find out her birth date. Over the weekend, I took her for a walk down to the creek, which winds itself through the property. On the way down, we came across a small mob of cattle. Kora looked at them and within seconds was trying to run around behind them, before I called her back. We will start her on sheep or calves, so that she doesn’t get hurt for her first time herding. It is amazing how much the instinct is in these dogs, despite the majority of her brothers and sisters being city dogs. When we got to the creek, to my delight, she dove straight into the water. It seems she loves the water as much as I do! She hooned through the water, and mud, taking in every new scent and sight as she could. She rolled in the dirt and leaves on the side of the creeks and dams, each time falling into the water. She makes me laugh!

Then yesterday I took her for a drive down to the river. She swam after me as I floated through the slow-running water. Every time a leaf or stick floated past she would be after it, snapping her jaws as she swam. The funniest bit was when the leaf went underwater – she stuck her head underwater too! I was amazed that she knew to breathe out while underwater. Such a strange dog! Love her to bits! Anyway, I didn’t have long to write much of a story for you, apologies, but enjoy the photos 🙂

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…

Working Dog Fashion

Hi everyone! I am so sorry that it has been so long since I have last posted. Breeding season is always busy on the farm, before and after I go to my full time job, I’m breeding next year’s foals! Well, assisting – I don’t do much. Hah!

I will put up photos of our Western Australian adventures soon, but firstly I thought that I would show you photos that Jackaroo has sent me of some of his dogs in the high-vis jackets I made them. They look great, I am very proud of the effort. In one of my past posts, I wrote about how bad a lot of drivers are around working dogs and cattle. There’s no chance of not seeing these dogs now! I wonder what the cattle think? Enjoy 🙂

Edge
Edge
Gemma and Edge
Gemma and Edge
Gemma
Gemma

Bridge Over Untroubled Waters

All is well on the stock route, Jackaroo sent me these photos last night. They’re currently stuck in a stock reserve for a couple of days while, one again, mobs ahead sort themselves up. Normally you have to move 10kms per day along the stock route, so a stock reserve is a designated area where you can rest your cattle for a day or two. It has water there, but no cattle yards there. This one that they are in at the moment, is fenced on two sides, with a road and the river as a natural boundary.

The cattle moved really well over the bridges apparently. As you can see in the first photo, when working cattle, you push smaller sections at a time rather than try to push the whole mob at once. If you are trying to guide more than a handful of cattle into yards or over a bridge, pushing the whole mob won’t work as you don’t have control over the front. The front could head off to one side or plant themselves in one spot, sending the middle of the mob back around you. It’s hard to explain, but there really is an art to working cattle – it can be tough!

I’ve also attached a photo of ‘Kitty’, the cat that thinks he’s a horse, walking along the old cattle yards at home last night – since I have nothing too interesting to say haha!

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A horseman pushes cattle across a bridge.
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Cattle take a drink before they move on.
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And this is the best photo I can offer from my time at home. Lol!

Latest pics from the stock route.

I have got a couple more pics to show you! Jackaroo sent these yesterday. Storm got himself lost the other day and spent the night at the yards, back up the trail a little bit. Luckily, Jackaroo found him the next day.

He had few stories to tell, it’s been pretty slow going so far. However, he did mention how stupid some people can be around mobs of cattle and horses on the road. Any horse rider will know, if you’ve ridden on the road, some people just don’t understand how dangerous it is when they screech past you, or slam on their brakes just before they get to you. Make sure you take it easy on the road with horses and cattle. For your safety, and for the riders.

On a positive note though, Jackaroo was telling me that some older man drove up to them when they were stopped onto the side of the road and offered him a Country Life newspaper. Unfortunately, Jackaroo was on a young horse and it mightn’t have ended well if he opened the newspaper up while riding him! Still, it’s nice to see that there’s good people out there.

Sunset on the stock route.
Sunset on the stock route.
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The collies settle in for the night. From the left, four are ours – Storm, Zyrtec, Edge and Gemma.

Jackaroos Only

Hi everyone. I received these photos from Jackaroo yesterday. They have been stuck in the same area for a few days now, and will be for a couple more while they wait for a big enough gap between them and the mob ahead. (You can read more about the history-making drove here). Having such large groups of cattle moving down the stock route, food is becoming scarce. So they are trying to create bigger gaps between the cattle. Not that it probably makes much difference since we’re currently in a bit of a drought! Then again, when isn’t Australia in a drought? It’s either flooding or dusty haha!

Anyway, there have been few hiccups along the way, apart from earlier this week when a few horses escaped. The horses are currently having to be hobbled during the night, as the other morning they were found 8kms from camp! Naughty nags. Apparently one of them was my beloved Perseverance. No… That can’t be right!

Enjoy the photos, I hope to have some more photos or stories soon 🙂

The cattle graze as they walk.
The cattle graze as they walk.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Morning on the stock route.
Morning on the stock route.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
A drover on his horse.
A drover on his horse.
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would've been some major dramas!
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would’ve been some major dramas!

The First Time I Visited a Cattle Station

I was looking through the photos on my phone this weekend, and came across some old photos of a station I visited a while back. It was the first station I ever visited, and is about a 8hr trip from where we live. (Or 10/11hrs depending on whether you get lost… Whoops!)

When I visited, it had been raining for the past few weeks, which meant the roads weren’t always passable. I had to park my car at the closest pub (about 1hr away) so Jackaroo and his mate came and picked me up in one of the station cruisers (Toyota LandCruiser). Jackaroo had already been working on this property as a contract musterer for 6 or 8 weeks, so I jumped at the chance to go visit. It’s not in me to turn down an adventure!

I stayed for a week on a soggy cattle station where the freezing winds bit at whatever skin was left uncovered. For most of the week Jackaroo, the rest of the mustering team and the station hands were unable to work due to the rain. They worked in the shed, building and fixing whatever they could, to pass the time. In case you’re wondering, the difference between ‘contract musterers’ and ‘station hands’ is that mustering is all that contract musterers do. They are called in for 6 or 8 week stints a few times a year to assist with bringing in the thousands of cattle at branding or weaning time. Station hands are full time on the properties, and help out with all farm tasks such as fencing or fixing bores etc. I seemed to have been given the role of camp cook, baking scones and other meals/snacks for the crew. I didn’t mind, I was happy as Larry inside in the warmth, playing guitar and eating butterscotch scones. Station life was easy, I thought. Little did I know…

Anyway, I thought I’d share these photos with you. My favourite is the one where the boys are surfing on the hay bale!