Fate and a pair of arm length gloves

Host: Anna Plains Station

I landed up on the Plains as a matter of chance, of luck, but sometimes the events that led up to my arrival feel like fate. I’m a vet student from Edinburgh, Scotland and in June 2015 I traveled to Western Australia with the dream of working on a cattle station. When I left home my “vacation” was all planned out – a few weeks staying with a vet in southern WA, followed by a couple of months mustering up north, but it didn’t go to plan.  A few weeks turned into more than a few as the station I was due to go to had rain and weren’t able to muster, and there was no point in me going there. We set about finding somewhere else to go, to make traveling half way round the world worth my while. After many phone calls and dwindling hopes, that call came through; Anna would have me.

Anna Plains is amazing. My time there felt like it would last forever, but at the same time it went by all too quickly. The first thing I felt was the heat, the sun, the dryness, and everything that wasn’t like home. The red dirt that blew into your sandwiches and the grey dust that coated your hair. Parts of the Plains were where you could stand and turn all around and see nothing but grass and the horizon. The sky that was full of the sun during the day and full of the Milky Way at night. The sun that rose to warm the morning dew, and turned the sky a fierce red as it set over the ocean.

The days weren’t easy. Breakfast was usually at 5.30, and then we packed our water and our lunch and headed out. We were mustering at the start of pretty much every week, and processing the cattle and trucking for the rest of the week. The days were long and hot and dusty, and it took a while for me to get to grips with the work – the learning curve is steep.

I can’t deny I spent much of the time with very little idea of what was going on, and even less of an idea of how I could help, but as soon as I plucked up the courage to get involved I didn’t regret it. The team were amazing. They were all so supportive of each other, helped if you were struggling and didn’t make an issue if something went wrong. I never felt like a burden, even though I was new at this, and so quickly felt like a part of it all. We fished at the weekends, and chatted over great dinners in the evenings. The crew were faultless, and I do believe it was the people who really made the Plains for me.

As a vet student I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Just seeing such a different way of farming is so valuable, opening my eyes to the struggles faced by farmers in such a different climate to the one I’m used to. Working with more cows in a day than would be kept on one farm at home. The best bit? Dozens of cows to pregnancy test. Pregnancy diagnosis is a skill that can only be improved through practice, and I was lucky enough to be allowed to preg test in a few of the mobs we mustered, which is an opportunity I would never have had otherwise.

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I have to be honest though, it didn’t always seem brilliant. I missed Scotland, with its hills and streams and green grass. I missed the feeling of cold rain on my face, of dark and heavy skies. At times I felt lonely, lost, confused, and found myself counting down the days till I got to go home. But being homesick is inevitable, and those feelings were quickly forgotten. The feeling I will never forget is one of not wanting it to end. Not wanting the road to finish, the tide to go out, the sun to go down. For the days to last forever and my time on Anna to never be up.