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

Of course with any job there are days where things just don’t go according to plan. However, not every job promises the possibility of rolling into your swag at 8.30pm, but due to things not going according to plan you are now still walking cows and calves in the dark at 9pm in the moonlight. You still need to travel back to camp, wash and feed horses, cook a feed for the camp, shower, and then maybe think about hitting the pillow, only to wake again at 5am. It is this line of work where one has to be adaptable as plans change every minute. Sometimes lack of information may lead to a change in circumstances.

4.1 copyPotter watching over a mob of weaners during lunch.

Earlier this year we were walking a mob of cattle on Newcastle Waters. The fixed wing pilot had told us that there was a good watering point along the fence line we were following where we would be able to water the cattle. Off we set down the fence line with myself and Bronte (crew member) in the lead on our horses. We reached some mud thinking that we must be getting to this watering point soon, Potter was growing impatient wanting to know when the lead would get to the water. We had to keep informing him that there was no water in sight but the mud was getting very boggy and the horses were struggling. We persevered and when we could still see no water in sight had to make the decision that it would be madness attempting to try and walk the large mob we had through the middle of what appeared to be a simple half dried swamp.

Bronte and I attempted to turn the cattle around when we well and truly bogged our horses. The mud was up to the horses hocks and they refused to move. We spurred them, we towed them, we hit them with sticks but they just stood there. The rest of the crew were on bike and therefore unable to come to our rescue, they had to gather the mob and walk them around the swamp while we continued our mission. We pulled our boots off and did all we could to get the horses to move. Eventually Bronte was able to get her horse to some slightly drier ground where she finally was able to get out of our sticky situation. Unfortunately wherever I attempted to go, the mud only seemed to get worse.

I unsaddled my horse and was trying to tow her bare foot through the mud. She was so exhausted that I had to let her rest for 20 minutes before I got her to try another five steps. Harmony who is usually a very flighty horse was so exhausted that she let me rub her head, legs and belly without flinching (usually a very unlikely event). After about four hours we were close enough for me to walk back to the truck that Potter and Bronte had brought closer and cart some water to her. After giving her a drink and washing the dried mud from her legs she was able to move a lot better. Finally, after five hours of being stuck in a swamp we were finally freed. The horses were loaded up and taken back to camp while the bikes continued with the mob. They didn’t reach the holding paddock until after dark and no water was ever found on the fenceline.

4.2 copyPotter, Jason, and Raine Trucking Cattle at De Rose Station on the SA/NT Border.

Often the principal of ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ applies. Another incident this year began after asking one of our crew members (who will remained unnamed) to hook up the dog trailer to one of our vehicles in the preparation for departure to our next job. Upon leaving the station, Potter received a radio call in the truck that the vehicle and trailer behind him have somehow become separated. Upon returning to the scene (only approx 2km of travel from departure point) Potter has found his trailer upside down and back to front with all the dogs in a jumble. Upon displaying his temper, the crew and him have managed to open most of the cage doors to release the dogs.

Due to the resting position of the trailer a couple of them had to wait until we were able to seek help in order to tip the trailer back onto its wheels. We were very fortunate in that none of the dogs were hurt, just a little shaken up. We came to the conclusion that when a certain individual had hooked the trailer up, the catch had not been locked down and therefore after hitting a bumpy patch on the road the trailer has become detached, done a full 180 degree turn and also flipped. After a day of very costly repairs, we were able to depart to our destination the next day.

4.3 copyPotter loading all the dogs into their home on wheels.