New Year – New Crew

Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh – Owner, Farrcombe Contracting.

2014 is done and dusted, however this does not mean that we get to wind down over the wet season. Although our staff have rolled their swags and headed home, Potter and I begin to plan and organise the next 12 months. This means we need to service our vehicles (cars, trucks, trailers, motorbikes). It is imperative to ensure all our equipment is well maintained and ready to start the 2015 season as soon as our first client makes contact. Within the business of contract mustering we must be prepared so that we can be available to our clients (various cattle stations) at the earliest possible date.

During the wet season we spend a month or more focussing on recruiting a great team of staff for the year. Generally we advertise for a couple of months and then spend a month or so processing applications and conducting interviews and reference checks. We don’t like to rush this process as we like to ensure our team members will cope, enjoy, and stay the season. I don’t believe that the life of a contract musterer suits everyone, there are no comforts such as aircon, hot showers, wi-fi, or evening social club – it’s the adventure and the challenge of this lifestyle that attracts certain people.

1.1 copyFarrcombe Contracting Kent Saddlery Photo.

After completing maintenance and recruitment, we also need to maintain relations with our clients. We need to discuss mustering plans (depending on the weather) and schedules on when each station wishes to commence and complete their mustering and how long we will need to be at each station.

A small holiday must be on the cards, however I cannot entice my partner Potter on a nice beachside vacation. ‘I’ll get too bored’ he says, ‘what would I do all day, there is no workshop to fix things in’, so the only holiday we can agree on is one with horses! This year we attended the annual Tamworth Landmark Horse Sale. Even though it involves window shopping of a different kind, I don’t mind. This year Potter purchased himself a beautiful three year old mare by the great Quarter Horse sire Hard Hat Henry. We have big hopes for her including a solid foundation of training, campdraft competition, and later in life breeding.

1.2 copyPotter with his Landmark Sale purchase ‘Ann Henry’.

After our short holiday, life begins to get even more hectic. This year we upgraded our gooseneck, this meant we had to ‘move house’. After we made a few personal changes to the gooseneck it was time to move all our personal belongings into the new house on wheels. Certain improvements that we added: Two new fridges, freezer, washing machine etc. We also installed a staff bathroom into our old horse float, this required a shower cubical, washing machine, freezer, beer fridge, plumbing, lights, and power to be installed into our new transportable bathroom/staff area.

1.3 copyThe new house!

Next on the agenda is stores, this involves me doing a stocktake of any pantry items left over from last year and then calculate how much food we will need for the crew for the first job. This means I need to organise a balanced diet for nine people for the next five weeks. For this I need a creative mind, trying to come up with new meals that only require basic ingredients – The best way to find new recipes is to talk with all the other station cooks, camp cooks, and managers/owners wives . . . and my mum, she’s a great cook and I often call her from the satellite phone to get new ideas or cooking instructions.