Life in weaner camp

Host: Lake Nash Station
Written by Indiana Latcham – Headstockman, Lake Nash Station.

My name is Indiana Latcham and I am the head stockman of the weaner camp here at Lake Nash Station. Before weaner camp can spring into action, our stock camp need to do their thing – stock camp usually spends weeks at a time camping out on the property mustering all the paddocks. Once they have mustered a paddock, they walk cattle to the yards and draft (i.e. sort out the cattle into groups such as pregnant cows, dry cows, calves, and bulls etc.). Once the drafting is done and the yards are empty, the weaners are loaded onto the Lake Nash road train and sent to the Georgina yards (the weaner yard).

photo-2-1-copyThe Georgina weaner yards at sunrise.

Georgina yards is where Lake Nash’s weaner camp is based and it is there where we educate and brand all of the weaners. For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “weaner”, it is a young mickey (unbranded male) or heifer (unbranded female) that is at the right age to wean off of it’s mother. Once the weaners arrive at Georgina we run them through the yards to get a tally on what we have received. After tallying we put the weaners in to the big back yards and jump on our horses and start getting them used to pressure. The idea of keeping the weaners in the yard for this education is so they can’t get away, and you have a better chance of educating them.

photo-2-2-copyThe Georgina yards full of weaners ready to brand.

The next step is to let them out of the yard for the first time, which can be a really interesting event. It really puts our education to the test to see whether or not the weaners will stay in a mob or not. After we have tailed them out (taken them for a graze in the paddock) for a day it is then time to process (brand etc.) them. For the mickeys, we have to ear mark, ear tag, brand, and castrate them. The ear mark, tag, and brand are for identification to show that they are indeed Lake Nash cattle. For the heifers, they only get ear marked, tagged, and branded. If the weaner needs to be de-horned we will do that too, mainly for safety for the ringers while mustering and in the yards. We also give them an injection of Singvac to help prevent disease and sickness. Once all the branding is done we turn the weaners out to their paddocks so that they have time to heal before moving them on to another paddock.

photo-2-3-copyMustering some heifers back to their paddocks after a long day in the yards.

The weaner camp is a great place to educate young and old horses too; I am a horsey kind of person so I love having time to work on my horses while also being paid to do my job! We do a lot of horse work here at Lake Nash, we also use bikes, but majority of work is done with horses. There is a lot of maintenance done to our horses at Lake Nash; shoeing, worming, trimming, and educating. We attend local campdrafts and rodeos if we have time in our busy schedule – it is a lot of fun to see if our training has paid off. There is also a chance that you get given a breaker to educate – a breaker is a two-year-old horse that has been broken in to the saddle and bridle. It is a great experience to be a part of the horse breaking and training, and I’m very lucky to be given the opportunity to help train these breakers, which will be the future station horses for years to come.

photo-2-4-copyOut at one of our local campdrafts, Camooweal – I’m riding my main mare Harlow.

I have been at Lake Nash for two years now, but before coming to Lake Nash I did two years at Keeroongooloo station, which is another Georgina Pastoral Company property in the heart of the Channel Country. It is managed by David Cross (Crossy), and it is there where I learnt all the basics of station work, and I’m very thankful that Crossy had a lot of patience to teach me because none of it came easy to me being a coastal kid and all. After my two years at Keeroongooloo I decided it was time for a change of scenery, so I asked for a transfer and headed to Lake Nash.

Lake Nash is a great station, with wonderful people and so many great memories and so many more good times to be had in the future. I feel very lucky to be a part of this little community we have here and couldn’t ask for anything more.

photo-2-5-copyMe and one of the ringers, Lily, outside our local Aboriginal Community while walking Heifers.