Pit and Peak

Host: Yarrie Station
Written by Martha Lindstad – Stationhand, Yarrie Station.

Most nights during dinner we do Pit and Peak at Yarrie. Some love it, others aren’t overly excited about it, but it’s a great way of getting a conversation going around the dinner table or camp fire, and no matter how dumb you feel, it’s good to have a laugh about it at the end of the day. The rules are pretty simple. The pit of your day is the worst, or most challenging part of your day, like a pit in the ground basically. The peak is the opposite, the highlight of your day.

Everyone around the table has to do it, visitors included. With my Kiwi/Norwegian/Australian accent, not everyone understands what pit and peak means when I say it. Some thought it was “pet and pig”, others haven’t understood at all. However, after they’ve spent an evening with us, they all know what it’s about.

Pit and peak is a great way to get the conversation going, no matter how challenging or not your day has been, or if there’s been a bit of a tension in the team, pit and peak always loosens it up a bit. Some struggle to find a pit and peak of the day, and then you have other people (like me), who always have multiple ones, mainly peaks, but also some pits. I always get told I can only do one, but I just can’t help myself. Then you’ve got those that say “I don’t have a pit of the day” and that’s not possible, you always got to have one. You’re not allowed to have the same pit or peak as someone else, that’s cheating! It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a negative or hard day, but you just have to find the biggest challenge of your day.

I remember one day in particular being very “pitty”. The day had been pretty good, we were out camping at Annabelle’s yards, but we’d spent the day handling weaners at our main yards at Jinacarlie. We got back to Annabelle’s mid-afternoon, and as my horse Scandal had lost a shoe in the muster two days earlier, I had to put it back on. That was easier said than done. I find shoeing very interesting, but it’s also bloody challenging at times. After a lot of swearing, in both Norwegian and English, I finally got the shoe shaped right. It was getting late, and the others had knocked off and came to feed the horses. That made the job even harder. Eventually the shoe was on, I was tired, frustrated, and over it. I had kept a can of Solo in one of the chilly bins (esky) at camp, and really needed some sugar after this frustrating afternoon. Just as I came down to camp, I saw Thomas (Annabelle’s husband) drinking a Solo. “I’m just about to have one of them too”, I said, only to open the chilly bin and realising he was drinking my Solo. Poor Tomas must’ve felt bad, because he brought a whole carton of Solo out to camp a couple of days later.

Before we started mustering, Mr David Adamson was here to have a few flying lessons with Annabelle and our other chopper pilot Stuart. Annabelle mentioned that if any of us others in the team were serious about getting our license, we could have a lesson with him as well. Flying a chopper had never been anything I’d thought about doing, and definitely not getting a license. However, you only live once, and why not take an opportunity you might never get again? So up in the air we went. It was all very basic of course, but I managed to fly straight for a whole 30 seconds or so without help, and what an adrenaline kick! It took a few days to wipe the grin off my face after that, and it’s definitely one of the best peaks through my time here at Yarrie!

A peak doesn’t necessary have to include flying helicopters, most of the times it’s way smaller things that brightens your day. Like when our truck driver “Woggle” brings us ice coffee and chocolate from town, or when Trish cooks up a great feed (which she did every day), or when you’ve had a challenging bull that you managed to get back to the mob. Seeing all the water and grass that’s been around after a good wet season has been a peak, and watching calves find their mums during and after mustering always melts my heart. One of Annabelle’s pits towards the end of the season was not being able to drive the V8 without hitting the steering wheel with her belly (she was 8 months pregnant then though).

Another peak that I often brought up was my shit holes. Out at camp we all have to dig our own toilet holes, and I must admit I find it very satisfying digging holes. You probably think I’m a bit weird, but especially when the ground is hard and you struggle to get the shovel in, it’s satisfying when you’re finished. I don’t know why, but out at camp you share most things, and you’re around other people all the time. Toilet time is your only private time, and for some reason I’m very proud of my shit holes. The peak of the shit holes was definitely at our main camp Jinacarlie where we could use the Kanga to dig our hole. I can operate basic machinery, but I’m always scared of breaking something, and always ask a lot of questions before operating anything I haven’t used before. That’s why I also get very proud when doing a good job, even if it’s just digging a shit hole. The Kanga is a handy little piece of machinery that we use a lot. And digging my shit hole with it was definitely a satisfying peak!

Another pit happened in the yards one day we were marking calves. We’ve normally been doing them in the crush at these specific yards. On one of the bulls we were castrating, we struggled to find the nuts, so we decided to scruff him (lie him down on his side). This involved getting him out of the crush and then lifting him over on his side. I was at the back holding the tail, and was gonna grab the hind leg when getting out of the crush. The only problem was that Annabelle accidentally shut the head bale before we were out. It caught my leg, and I just about face planted on top of the calf. Once I got on my feet we managed to finish the job properly. A funny pit which resulted in a couple of scratched knees.

I think Pit and Peak is a great way to reflect on your day, and it actually gets you to think through what you’ve achieved, what you need to work on or not do at all. One of my first pits was getting the ute bogged by the river, after not knowing where the actual road went on the other side. Then I learned that we always have to know where we are going, before attempting (and failing) it. It hasn’t happened since.

Stewie’s morning stretches has been a popular way of starting the mornings at Yarrie this season.

One of the teams definite peaks towards the end of the season. Dress up in Annabelle’s old clothes.

Part of the Yarrie team 2017.

One of my first, and worst pits, getting bogged in the river. We didn’t know where to drive and ended up stuck in the mud. First and only time that happened.

One of my top peaks through the season, getting a flying lesson with instructor David Adamson. I had never touched a chopper before, but managed to fly it for a whole 30 seconds by myself. Can only get better. What an adrenalin kick!

The evenings around the campfire are hard to beat.

Another peak of the season was the amount of rain we got. While last year was dry and challenging, we got an amazing amount of rain this year. This photo was taken during the second time the river flooded after I came up.

Flooded rivers we couldn’t cross meant that we had to get flown across some days for work. A highlight for most of the crew members.

At the end of the mustering season, Annabelle took us all to Eco Beach for three days. What a treat and a big peak in the end of the season! We are truly lucky, and it was an amazing little holiday for all of us.