From grapes to beef

Host: Anna Plains Station
Written by Jackson Scott – Stationhand.

G’day my name is Jackson Scott, and this year I’ve been working on Anna Plains Station.

I’m an 18 year old from the other side of Australia – Dubbo. I was born and raised in Dubbo growing up on a vineyard which my parents own and run together with a family cattle and sheep farms 400km north west of Dubbo near a small town.

image-2-copy“Story time with the King of the herd” on the Plains.

I completed my high schooling at St Ignatius college, Riverview in Sydney. Here I met people from all walks of life while making life long mates. Throughout high school people always asked “What are your plans for after school?”, and due to my love for agriculture I knew that I wanted to make the journey “up north” and experience a season on a cattle station in the top end as a ringer. Additionally my dream has always been to become a Vet, so what better experience to throw yourself into the industry and gain firsthand experience on a cattle station? To most boys this didn’t make sense at all. They wondered why in the world I would want to do that when I could travel the world and have a holiday. My response was always “Why travel abroad when you haven’t seen your own backyard?”.

I set off from home early February embarking on a life experience; a year of hard work, fun and hopefully at the end of the day see some savings in the bank. I made my way up in my single cab Hilux travelling through South Australia, Northern Territory and across the north of Western Australia. I can honestly say to date it is one of the best things I’ve done, seeing iconic Australian landmarks, pubs, and towns, meeting other fellow travellers and sharing some good quality yarns.

I had a small amount of experience working with cattle, working in yards a few times and some experience with show cattle. Also what I thought was basic farm knowledge to do with water, pumps, mechanics and so on. So I was somewhat prepared for the amount I was about to learn, but what I thought I knew, was really the equivalent to a grain of sand on Eighty mile beach.

Myself and 3 other first year school leavers started the season on Anna Plains, joining the rest of the crew which consisted of more individuals from different backgrounds across Australia, New Zealand, Germany and even a Pom. These are your family for a year, you get to share your passion for Agriculture and cattle with them. It’s the yarns that are spun sitting in the dirt at the yards, covered in sweat, dust and even the blood that I cherish the most. Sharing life stories and endless amounts of knowledge being thrown around.

3-2-copyAkubra, sunnies and a long sleeve shirt; classic country clothing.

Farming and life on the land does get spoken about, but it’s the humour and bullshit that keeps everyone going, from arguing about what the best beer is to just genuinely having a good laugh with each other.  From the first week we were thrown in the deep end bringing in a mob of maiden Brahman heifers in to be Artificially Inseminated, being crossed with red Wagyu. An extraordinary trial that could lead the field for future production in the north. From that first week I knew it was going to be an intriguing year ahead.

The cattle work was always the most enjoyable, whether it was out on the plains gathering a mob and observing the good conditioned cows and weaners, or going in and out of the scrub chasing bulls with a helicopter above your head, to sitting at the tail in a laneway watching calves steadily walk with their mum by their side. Even some lucky calves got the fancy treatment to sit in the ute with you and ditch the walking! Many musters can take a whole day, but it’s after that yard up when all the cattle have entered the yards safe and sound that you look back over the day and give the bloke next to you a pat on the back.

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But with the job there is more than just cattle work. It’s the fencing, standing out in the blistering sun with a pair of pliers, a sledge hammer and some wire and pickets, the blood from the barb wiped on your shirt. It’s the bore runs, checking and fixing waters all day to ensure the cattle have sufficient water both on the plains and out towards the desert. The mechanics, working on your ute to make sure it’s fit for mustering, the changing of split rim tyres, patching up punctures or working on bore motors. It’s out in the tractor cutting and bailing hay to use as feed in the yards. Or it’s the tedious cleaning of stock crates, sheds and even your room. The list goes on.

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Not every second of the day you love, but I can assure you its majority. Cracking that beer (preferably an Emu Export) down on Eighty Mile beach overlooking the sunset fall down and disappear into the distance with no one in sight but your crew is what makes it all worthwhile after a long day. Chatting about the good and the bad whilst enjoying one another’s company.

From my time spent here I have learnt far more than just practical skills – it’s the teamwork, working with those around you to solve issues, and making decisions on the spot. As well as the life lessons of working hard to reap the rewards in all areas of your job.

I will miss the simple things such as feeding the poddy calves or sneaking some pellets to your favourite herd bull. The fun never stops and at the same time neither does the learning. Surely a year I’ll never forget.

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