Host: Kalyeeda Station
Written by Barbara Camp
Station work is hard work. But there’s an old saying – if you love what you do you’ll never work another say in your life. This must be true for life out bush. On a station your typical easy day starts with a 5am breakky and ends with a 7pm dinner before you roll into bed to start the whole thing again the next morning.
As the days of physically hard work roll on into each other that sense of the routine can be overwhelming and exhausting in itself. Every day there animals to be fed no matter what else is happening. Vehicles need maintained and fence lines checked. Bores need serviced and someone needs to put three square meals on the table come what may. The work is not always glamorous or exciting but it’s always necessary. Even mustering and drafting cattle; when you have a mob of 1,000 plus to process you can find yourself wondering if you ever do anything but filling yards with yet more weaners to brand.
But then there’s the little things in life – the rituals and amusements that stop routine turning into monotony. Small things to look forward to and spice up what might otherwise be a dull and repetitive week.
For example on Wednesdays we wear pink.
I would like to say there’s a great socio-political message behind this but there’s not. It started as a random coincidence when two of our four ringers rocked up to breakfast sporting matchy-matchy pink shirts. They copped a bit of a ribbing for a while then got the last laugh when everyone else jumped on board with the idea too. There’s nothing more bizarre than watching a team of stockmen that look like they’ve been taking fashion lessons from a flock of flamingos, drenching horses in the yards. Especially when someone accessorises it with cut off sleeves and a full and luscious flame-coloured beard an Amish priest would be proud of. Nice to get a laugh on hump day though.
It’s called fashion, guys. Look it up.
We’ve had various little rituals and amusing distractions though the years. The plank challenge was one I particularly enjoyed. All about the station in the most unlikely spots there would be someone getting horizontal. Have you ever seen a 6ft kiwi stockman planking on top of an ant mound? Painful looking but impressive! Sure beat my best attempt at a plank across the cattle rail.
The plank challenge.
Last year was all about the sneaky-sneaky #nakedfarmer challenge. This gem of an Instagram campaign was started to help spread awareness of mental health in farmers and was well and truly embraced at Kalyeeda. Glimpses of bare buns kept appearing all over the paddock. Doing a bore run, watering the yards, shoeing horses (um.. ouch!) – you name it.
‘Jesus’ complains the boss in a gruff voice when someone lets it slip what mischief has been going on. ‘No bloody wonder you take so long to get round a bore run’. But there’s a smile in his eyes and – let’s face it – if we were too quick around a bore run he would be at us for driving the vehicles recklessly instead.
Occupational Health and Safety approved – everyone is wearing hats and boots.
Another off my personal favourites is ‘random fact of the day’. There’s a chalk board in the Kalyeeda kitchen that – as the name suggests – is adorned with a new random fact every single day. Excellent conversation starters and the reason we usually clean up at pub quizzes. Did you know that if you spill a drop of alcohol on a scorpion’s back it will sting itself to death? Useless but interesting and something to fill in the pre-coffee silence that usually lurks firth thing in the morning.
This is something you now know.
But one of my all-time favourite rituals is one that is more saved for a special occasion and relies on the hell of a show that mother nature provides us with regularly out here on the edge of the desert – sunset drinks up the tank stand. We get some rippers of sunsets at Kalyeeda and there’s no nicer way to have a moment of pure relaxation than to enjoy a beer 30 feet up and watching the sun set in a great big melting pot over the plains (well, unless you’re afraid of heights then the wobbly ladder and flimsy-looking corrugated tin viewing platform may not appeal).
Sunset on the tank stand; the worst part is getting an open beer can up there without spilling.
It’s little odds and sods like these that turn a job into a life and a good one at that When you can work and socialise day in and day out with a group of people that you have fun with suddenly that sense of routine seems pretty good after all.