Written by Kylie Savidge – Owner, Southampton Station.
Easter brought around our annual bang tail muster and much planning was afoot. All our cattle were home from their various places of agistment and numbers needed to be tallied, calves marked, and weaners weaned. There were steers to be sold and heifers to select for joining come later in the year.
Ben leading the road trains to the back set of yards.
It was all systems go – gyrocopter booked, food supplies bought, bikes and trucks serviced; horses run in, tidied up, and reminded that they were, indeed, stock horses not a bunch of ferals. The branding box (this is a large grey hard plastic ute box that holds all the necessary items required for branding i.e. scalpels, metho, ear tags, and ear tag pliers etc.) was organised and all items replaced.
Meg waiting patiently on the drafting platform.
Mustering this round went rather smoothly, no major catastrophes, just one or two little incidents with two weaners and a cow not keen on coming to yards. This was dealt with quickly and expertly. One little Santa heifer decided to make her break for freedom right as we were yarding up. We let her go and yarded the cattle, our rule: always leave the breakaway and yard the main mob, deal with the runaways once you have the gates shut. Jack and Paige promptly set off in hot pursuit on the quad bike, closely followed by the Landcruiser ute (known as Trickle cause she gets the job done, she just takes her time).
Ben keeping the tail moving.
The two-way crackles to life . . .
“Yeah, I have got her down by the New paddock dam, dogs have her bailed and I have her down but can’t tie her up.”
“Ok mate, hang on, we are on our way.”
Poor Jack, what a sight he and Paige were when we got there. They had been dragged to and fro through blue burr bushes (a very dry and sharp prickly bush that is grey blue in colour) and were full of prickles. Paige didn’t have quite so many being a little more reserved about throwing her body on the line. Whilst rather resembling a prickle patches all of their own, the big grins on their faces told the story. Best fun ever!
Close up of a green blue bur bush.
The heifer was quickly haltered, tied to the side of Trickle and led reluctantly back to the yards to spend some quality time behind the posts and rails. I don’t think she will be making explosions into the led cattle ring any time soon however. I believe she still may be holding a grudge.
Heifer coming compliantly into the yards!
Upon completion of our muster when the tally count was added up, we were rather startled to find we weren’t in too bad a position cattle numbers wise. It seemed our careful management over the dry period had been successful and we were in the possession of a good number of young heifers that would be joined later in the year. “Well” said my father, John, “it appears we will need to buy some bulls and try to get our breeding numbers up again.” Good news indeed.
It was rather exciting, having to buy bulls, as we had been very concerned about keeping our numbers to a manageable level without major losses. To be on the plus side, albeit cautiously, and have to buy bulls to help build up our herd was a feeling of success. The season had been kinder to us than previous years and caution was coupled with our optimism.
Counting up the weaners.
Our cattle muster we generally have in June to wean the calves we marked at Easter had to be postponed to the September school holidays due to . . . WET WEATHER!