My bucket list

Host: Yarrie Station
Written by Lauren Balfour – Station Hand/Record Keeper, Yarrie Station.

Yarrie, the place we call home, for six months at a time, for some longer, means the world to us.
A place you can learn, live, and love, with amazing company, who appreciate you no matter what.
Real life experiences, something not everyone has the privilege to do, and we are blessed to be a part of.
Racing through shrub after cheeky bulls, the adrenalin pulsing through your veins, excitement pushing you towards the finish line of yard up.
Icy cold morning feeding the horses, and hot days at Annabelle’s Yards, spent under the shade of the bloodwood trees.
Every day is a new adventure – I cannot wait for tomorrow!

11012617_907517382625255_4405491117637736323_nLauren Balfour (Second year station hand and assistant record keeper).

Hello from Yarrie! I came here to tick something off my bucket list, to muster on horseback! I am from a farm in Ireland and have dreamed of mustering since I was a tiny kid helping to “muster” in our cows, and by that I mean trotting around the paddock on my pony! I have been in Australia for a couple of years and have worked on other stations but they used bikes to muster so as time is running out on my visa it was now or never. In a typical Irish fashion, a friend of a friend knew the Yarrie crew and next thing I knew I was in Port Hedland on a cold and wet day, thinking to myself, “it’s supposed to be hot, hope I have enough warm clothes”- but it was ok! As it soon warmed up after we eventually got in to a beautiful wet Yarrie.

With everyone at the station so happy with the rain, it gave me time to settle in and meet everyone. The two previous stations I had been on were in the Goldfields so were very different to here. I could not get over the hills and the greenness compared to the red dirt I had become so used to. I got to meet the horses and to see all the connecting bloodlines here is amazing. Ann has done a great job over the years building up the horse team and after mustering on them I feel that being bred and born here gives these horses an extra edge.

For my first “mini muster ” we had to move cattle from one holding paddock to another. But for me this was so exciting as the holding paddock was as big as my family farm and the helicopter was in the sky too. Poor Kelsie got the job of babysitting and showing me the ropes but she is a great teacher and I think I did OK. The helicopter for me was amazing to watch how effective Annabelle can be by both moving the cattle and directing the horse team into position like we were chess pieces.

1.2Amanda and Quinella.

So after some yard work and some more paddock moving, it was time to prepare to leave for stock camp. I felt like a kid getting ready to go away to camp as I was so excited! My two horses assigned to me were Quinella and Tinkabelle, so I packed their saddle, my swag and clothes, and off we all set! Ten horses, two bikes, two bull buggies, two helicopters, a tractor, numerous trailers on utes, food van, and 12 people – we probably looked like a travelling circus!

Luckily some people had gone the night before and had started to make camp. It is always difficult to decide where to put your swag but I settled for between the horses and the food caravan, that way I couldn’t sleep in as I would hear other people up! After a busy first day of making panel yards we got shown the muster plan and my dream was starting to become reality. After a lovely meal at the camp fire, off to bed for a early night I went.

The next morning, we headed out to our drop off points with the horses and we started to gather up cattle. I am very glad I was on Quinella as she knows her job and how to deal with a little clean skin bull that got a little too close! She will always be my favourite horse here. With the helicopters in the sky above us, we moved in from two sides and gathered up a large mob. I know a lot of the scrub trees up here a little too well as Quinella and I battled through it to find sneaky cattle hiding, she is like an equine bull buggy! We yarded the mob in a temporary panel yard over night, we still had a long way to go!

1.3Mustering on horseback!

The next morning, I was on Tinkabelle, it was time to open the panels and start our day. It was nerve wracking opening the panels and hoping the mob wouldn’t disappear! After a quick exit, we steadied the mob up and started on our way. With the helicopters and other people mustering, we added more cattle into the mob as we travelled, stopping to rest and water the cattle along the way. It is a little scary to be in the lead and look behind you and all you can see is a sea of cattle! But like Quinella, Tinkabelle knew her job and all went well.

When we finally got to the yards, I was very happy when those panels were closed and wired. It took great teamwork and communication to yard about 1300 cattle in one go! It can be easy to forget about all the yard work, drafting, etc that has to be done the next day but that night I was still on a high. My first muster is something that I will never forget and it is the reason we all get the yard work done so we can move on to a new area to muster all over again. The circus moves on!

1.4Yard up – everyone home and the cattle safely in the yards.

My time at Yarrie is coming to an end as I have to return home but I will struggle to explain in words what mustering is. It amazes me how people did it years ago with no radios, bikes, buggies, or helicopters. I have my memories, stories, and photos to bore all my family with. I was very lucky to get to do this with a great team. I also got to tick another thing off my bucket list here too, Annabelle brought me for a quick flight in the helicopter!

Yarrie will always be special for me as it is where I finally got to live my dream for a while and meet some amazing people too. Everyone should go mustering at least once in their life, trust me it’s something you won’t forget!


1.5Thanks for having me Yarrie!