Host: Country Downs Station
Written by Nikki Elizovech – Owner, Country Downs Station.
Once again another year has passed and, along with everyone else we know, I can never seem to get over or understand how quickly time flies by. 2016 brought us a wonderful sense of relief in our business and also on the station. We had no out-of-control bushfires, thank goodness! The cattle prices were the best anyone had ever seen. By the end of 2016, the previous years of hard yakka, blood, sweat, and tears in developing the station had finally started to become obvious. The land system is looking the best it has, the cattle are looking fantastic, there are heaps of calves running around and the pressures of just trying to keep our head above water seemed to be easing, enough so, that Kurt and I, at some point in the last few months of 2016, were actually discussing whether or not we had the time/money etc. etc. to take a holiday as a family over Christmas! Whilst that didn’t actually eventuate, the simple fact that it was actually discussed in a serious (and not in a sarcastic/joking) manner indicated to us that we were actually starting to become comfortable with where we were at in our business and our lives.
After ten years of struggling with so many hardships like bushfires, no govie, no employees, no market etc., we were a bit hesitant to not only accept, but enjoy, our newfound sense of fulfilment. And I am happy to say, that it still seems to be that way even today, early 2017. 2016 really ended up being the year for Country Downs. I found an awesome governess, Samara, who has not only fit into our family like another member, but has even committed to spending 2017 with us! Now this, as every single mum/dad in the outback can attest to, is the ultimate in feeling relief, security, and sleeping well at nights! We also still had our full-time employee so the pressure to keep up to date with both the operational and the business management side of things was, for the first time since Kurt took on the station, not so intense. In addition, the cattle numbers had reached that critical mass point where the momentum of the herd growth was on the exponential phase of the chart. Yes, 2016 really was the year for us and by crikey, we needed it.
2016 was very busy, not just in terms of station work but we attended many conferences, functions, forums, and workshops to expand our knowledge and experience. But we super busy on a social level as well. For the first time in many years, we had a social life. We attended race days, birthdays, weddings, luncheons, a fishing charter, and many other meetings with a social dinner or get together that followed. I even managed to squeeze in a week to myself early in 2016, before the season got into full swing, and for a self-confessed introvert, it was a holiday well overdue as I had not had any time to myself since our first born entered the world, way back in 2009. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Back on the station, both when we were there and not, we continued development by expanding our main yards, due to a bull trying to jump out and just about pulling the yard down. We put in new dams and watering points (the usual), and also purchasing more Senepol cattle to continue down our path of producing a highly robust, environmentally adapted cattle breed, which Kurt will discuss in more detail in his blog later this week. Other interesting and fun activities included myself attended a snake handling course where I learnt how to handle, capture, and relocate a variety of snakes . . . and yes, there were some very poisonous ones involved. A couple of good shindigs at our place around a pig or goat on the spit celebrating milestone birthdays and just celebrating really. We conducted a full scale helicopter muster, which is a little different for us but went really well. We renovated an old donga into a kitchen and two rooms so that our staff didn’t have to put up with our noisy boys at each and every meal of the day. Mind you they still haven’t moved out of their original accommodation, so it mustn’t be that bad after all!
All in all, we were happy with where we are sitting entering into 2017 season and we hope that it continues to go well for us. We feel that if we are mindful of the lessons learned during those hard times and we work on ourselves and our business with a mindset of continuous improvement, then we can only succeed with whatever endeavours we decide to take on.
I hope you enjoy our week of hosting and would like to think that they are a bit different and thought provoking. I will leave you today with a couple of photos of what was happening in 2016.
Some light reading on my holiday . . . never too light when you have a cocktail in hand.
Expanding the homestead yards.
A black-headed python I “rescued” out of the chook house. Whilst it was not dangerous it was a great opportunity to practice my skills with catching snakes, in preparation for those of the poisonous variety.
One of the resulting yard ups from a helicopter muster mid-year. The cattle ran into a yard that already had food and water and as such settled down much quicker than we even thought they would.
A scene driving home one afternoon after a full day of fencing. It is not an easy task to try and manipulate a 4WD with no power steering, along a newly graded (therefore soft) fence line, with two kids sleeping on you, through shin deep water running down the road in pouring rain! I made it though.
A beautiful sunset after a long day building a set of portable mustering yards. It is enough to make you fall in love with your job again!