Host: Lochon Contracting
Written by Tini O’Loughlin – Owner, Lochon Contracting.
This time last year I was pregnant. Locky and I were preparing ourselves for a new chapter in our lives, which we are in the middle of now.
Locky runs a contract mustering business, which takes us all over this part of the country (the Kimberley). It has taken us to Haydn and Jane Sale’s stations for the last few years.
Like last year, we were mustering Bulka Station when I had a little passenger on board. I was still out in the camp until just a few weeks before our little bundle was born at the start of August. Although I was on “light” duties, I was still out in the yards every day. There really wasn’t much I did differently or “lightly” (It’s hard to change one’s habits, especially when you don’t feel much different. I just couldn’t help myself.).
I stayed out of potentially dangerous situations, like getting in the yard with fresh cattle, as climbing the rails took me a little longer, and I did allow myself the luxury of having the occasional rest. I would also count the cattle that went on the truck sitting back in the bull catcher (cut-down Toyota Landcruiser), which truly made me feel like the queen of the cattle yards. From my throne I had a great overview of the truck, the race (a narrow panel lane with multiple gates for the purpose of loading and/or drafting cattle) and the yard. Naturally, I was trying to be helpful by yelling out to the crew: “Quick! Shut that gate” or “Coming back”, “Push’em up” or “Two more”. I’m sure my commands did nothing to improve the process of loading the cattle, if anything it probably just annoyed everyone. But nobody said a thing. They were kind enough to allow me to feel needed and an efficient member of the team.
Now that our precious little baby girl has hatched, there is a whole new set of things to consider. She is on the “outside” now and I can’t just take her with me anywhere at any time without having to worry about the heat, the flies, sunburn, or missing her nap time. It would be a much greater challenge now to be an equal team of the mustering crew. I am not even trying. My preferred challenge and new adventure is that of being a mother. It is the hardest, but also the most rewarding “job” I’ve ever had. The journey of parenthood is full of surprises. To watch your baby develop into a “real” person and to see her character emerge and her personality form, is such a joyous and wonderful experience. Helping her become this person is our responsibility as her parents and makes for many great moments and memories.
Moving around the Kimberley to do contract mustering, fencing, and yard building, we have always lived relatively basic, compared to the standard in town or the city. Our house was a tent. Tent + baby = not exactly a parent’s dream! So we upgraded. We now live in a caravan. It is a good shelter from the harsh elements of the outback and offers a lot more comfort than a four square metre fabric pop up home.
But apart from the luxury of a home on wheels, our girl is very much a baby of the bush. Her baths she gets sitting in the shade of a tree, listening to the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the wind. We go up to the yards and watch the crew draft some cattle. She chases cattle up the race sitting on my hip. She goes for a cross country joyride in the bull buggy with Locky; steering and speaking . . . er . . . chewing the mouthpiece of the two way radio. Her days start and end sitting around the campfire, listening and laughing (!) at the yarns everybody is telling.
However, like any other kid, it is essential for her to be with other children and babies. Our social outings take us to Bulka homestead where she gets to play with Yulia and Gazza’s little boy. Occasionally we go to the 0-3 group at the Wangkatjunka Community school. And we go back to town to catch up with our friends, children and grown ups.
All in all, Locky and I are trying hard to be best parents we can be. We want her to experience the best of the world we live in: the outback, small town Australia, Germany, my home country, and the rest of the world.
We can only hope that she likes it. She seems to enjoy life so far and that’s all we can ask for.
Thank you for reading this little snippet of our lives
Tini and Locky