Hello again!

Host: Southampton
Written by – Kylie Savidge, Owner, Southampton Station.

Hello again! It has been eight months since I first hosted Central Station and after having read through what I wrote last year I find that some things have changed and some have not.

1.1Jack pulling out a bogged calf, whilst the mother watches on.

We still have had no significant drought breaking rain but have been lucky enough to pick up a few good showers here and there. Generally just enough to get water running in the drains that feed our dams and then it stops.

1.2Drains running water into house dam.

In two paddocks we were exceptionally fortunate to have two of our bigger dams fill up to the brim, both of these dams were bone dry and we are not exactly sure how one of them filled at all but we’ll take that water thank you very much!

1.3Water flowing into the “Fifteen” dam.

Our rainfall total to date from January 2014 is 182.75 millimetres.

Jan – 24.5m

Feb – 74.5m, this total was over a ten day period of cloudy and rainy weather.

March – 17m

April – 37.75m

May – 11.25m

June – 18m

We have scored some rain every month it seems but even that has not been nearly enough.

The rain received in February was enough for us to stop cutting and pushing mulga for cattle feed and give us some respite from chainsaws and dozers.

I introduced you to Alice, my 455 Husqvarna, in my last blog. I did not however introduce you to Fred, a Caterpillar D6D hire machine, which we had to hire when one of our other dozers gave up the ghost completely.

One of our Vickers dozers blew a transmission and this was devastating as there were around 380 head of cattle being fed by this one machine. You can imagine the gut wrenching feeling when I got the phone call to say what had happened. What to do?? You cannot cut scrub for that amount of cattle with chainsaws and keep up all the other jobs that need doing.

I didn’t know what to do, we were ringing everyone and asking/pleading for help of some sort in the form of a tractor. No one had any answers, everything that was around was being used for the exact same purpose, to keep cattle alive.

I finally put a plea out on social media and a miracle happened! Here in St George, right where we are was a dozer!!! It was available to come out that afternoon to Southampton!!!! The young man who owns the dozer (aka Fred) lives not too far from us (give or take a couple of hundred km) and he was happy to help us out in any way he could.

So now we had Fred, the D6D, to push scrub for our cattle, what a relief! Fred is a most modern tractor, with air conditioning and a dust free cab!! Woohoooooo!!! No more sucking lungfuls of dust in for me!! I could even take my iPhone and earplugs and listen to music! I also learnt how to give Fred his daily service, a/c filters banged out, air cleaner catches emptied, oil and fuel levels monitored.

I quite enjoyed driving Fred after the initial mind boggling and heart startling moments of driving a machine that has a point of balance and rigid track frames!! It felt like you were climbing Mt Kosciusko, up, up, up, over the point of balance, CRASH!!!! These crashes can sometimes lift you right out of your seat and bang your head on whatever objects available! I’d then get out thinking OMG what have I driven over to find it was only a log about 6” in diameter and nothing disastrous at all!

Also learning how to use a decelerator was interesting as it really goes against all the rules of acceleration; however that little puzzle was conquered as well and onwards Fred and I went feeding cows.

1.4Always be on the lookout as the little calves don’t/can’t get out of your way all of the time. This little bloke had to be shifted three times.

Fred had only one bad habit, he liked to smoke!!! Dozers have a canopy over the top of them to protect the driver and the dozer from sticks and trees. The canopy roof on Fred was flat so any sticks, leaves or bark that would fall on the roof would all jostle about until they came to rest over the exhaust, now the exhaust comes out at about 400 degrees C, so anything sitting there long enough caught fire! The first time this happened and I smelt smoke in the cab I nearly died, what was I going to do??? The tractor was on fire!! I couldn’t find the fire!! I could smell it but where was it??? I was out on the ground running about checking everywhere and I noticed smoke from the roof, I climbed up and sure enough wedged in the exhaust was a shark tooth shaped piece of wood happily flaming away with all the other bits and pieces that were near it! Quickly grabbing out said piece of wood and throwing all the burning bits away disaster was averted. There were a few more similar incidents and I got into a routine of checking the roof every 45 mins or so.

1.5The piece of ironbark that was wedged in the exhaust.

In February when it rained, it rained enough for us to send Fred home again and I felt slightly sad to see him go as we had some interesting experiences together.

1.6Fred’s departure, note the green grass.