Written by – Kylie Savidge, Owner, Southampton Station.
Every now and then we meet people who think that we are driven by our dollar line and don’t care for our livestock. We feel that they are so far removed from reality it isn’t even slightly amusing. Money does help but that isn’t why we do this. I love my animals and it really gets to you seeing them in the state they are knowing you are doing all you can and knowing that all you can do is not really enough.
Our last cent goes into our stock. I have a motto when it comes to orphan animals of all descriptions and that is “give it a chance” some you win, some you lose but at least I can look myself in the eye and say “yeah, I tried”.
Compassion and common sense at its best.
To that point I have quite a few pets, poddies, and mates. I will introduce you to a few of them but not all as that would take weeks! Before I do I will just tell a little story of a mob of steers we sent to feedlot . . .
I was walking the buyer through the steer mob and I said to him “just talk to them, they are used to people moving around and talking to them”. (We have an intensive weaner “school” that all our weaners go through, handling them and training them). I am sure he thought I was a little strange judging by the look on his face! He was a believer when he left though as when loading these steers on to the truck a very big rangy Santa steer got turned about on the truck and came flying back down the loading ramp due to truck driver error.
This could have caused big dramas so I ran up to the ramp calling “steady, steady there” and blocked him with a gate from trampling the others in the loading race. Geoffrey very quickly opened the branding pen gate off the race which opens into a triangle shape pen that holds about 20 cattle at a time, we let him into there, turned him around, and he walked politely back on to the truck. The buyer just looked at me and said, “I wouldn’t have believed you except for that”.
When we went to see these steers in the feedlot three months later I walked into the pens where some of our cattle were and called out, “Hello boys, what are you doing boys”, and ten or a dozen lifted their heads and called out to me. They don’t forget and they, all cattle, are by no means stupid!
Penny cow – Penny was a calf I pulled from a cow that was bogged in a dam and was calving mostly under water! This was in June/July 2007. I had to pull the cow out of the dam, deliver the calf, and keep an eye on three children as they had come with me on a cotton seed run. I realised that the cow would be very unlikely to get up again but I sat her up, gave her a drink and some hay that I had for the horses and left her hoping she would get up. Sadly she didn’t even after our best efforts and she had to be put down. This is a job I HATE with a passion but do as it is the kindest thing you can do.
Penny was a little Hereford Brahman heifer cross and was named Penny as on the ABC radio that morning was a gardening show with Penny McKinley. That started the “P” names and we ended up with Priscilla, Peggy, Polly, Petunia, and Pete that year. Penny thinks I am her mum still at the grand old age of six, and comes to see me when I am home. She loves her bread and carrots and brings me her calves when they are born. When she had her first calf I was like an expectant grandmother!!
Fitzy – so named as the bloke who carried him into the yard was called “Fitzy”. Fitzy was born in the yard and his mother abandoned him, all efforts were made to get her to take him but she was not having any of it. Fitzy, Gyro, Wee Rab, Jean-Pierre, Jean-Paul, and Nibbles are my latest house yard guests. Just let me add that I am not responsible for the names of the Scottish or French calves!! The rest of the boys are cute but Fitzy is the standout character. He loves affection and never lets a moment pass if he thinks there could be a pat waiting to happen. When I weaned Fitzy and Gyro out of the house yard a few weeks ago, the noise was deafening!! They did not approve! They sulked, they followed me EVERYWHERE they could bellowing that they were not happy and would I open the gate into the house yard IMMEDIATELY!!
They tried to sneak in, plan foiled, they tried to jump in, foiled again and in the end both moved themselves over to the cattle yards and snuck through when the gate was open while I was taking hay to the other calves. They seem happy enough although Fitzy still tells me what he thinks when he sees me.
Our working dog fleet and my horses also deserve a mention in here because they are not just tools of the trade but mates who stand by you and see you through a tough days work and do so happily.
Our dogs consist of border collies, kelpies, a bull Arab, hunterways, and a few of these breeds crossed plus a Kelpie x KCC spaniel (more on that later). We mainly breed our own working dogs but we also have bought a few dogs to keep these lines going and to add to it.
Zoe is my main working bitch and she recently had pups that were very eagerly awaited. Unfortunately out of nine only three survived and this was put down to the pups getting cold when they were whelped. I was devastated at this but it was out of my hands.
Zoe does it all – bites, barks, blocks, and pushes and is a great all-rounder and very, very spoilt if you listen to Brian!
Dixie is a purebred Kelpie bitch and was purchased from Arabanoo Kelpie stud in 2011. She has proven to be vital to our pack. She is first and foremost a lead dog and she has a great cast. A Kelpie is sent to ‘cast’ or ‘gather’ a mob of sheep when the farmer wants to bring his sheep to a certain point, such as the yards. The dog’s ability to cast long distances is invaluable and the best dogs will have a natural ability to do so. She is Brian’s main bitch and not spoilt at all according to him!!!
Then follow Ruby, Gidget, Larso, George, Cindy, Axle, Jones, Sprite, Minty, Spot, and last but not least Zoe’s three pups, Ziggy, Zach, and Basil. These three are crazy keen to work and drive me round the bend regularly!
So on to our Kelpie x Spaniel! This is Jack’s dog and was given to us when Jack lost his working pup in a sad accident whilst mustering. Mack was going to the lead of the cows and I was turning my horse back to the other side and he was trodden on. He died in Jack’s arms and is buried in our pet grave yard. This was very sad and Jack was heartbroken. A friend of mine had a “little” accident when her mother’s spaniel and her husband’s kelpie bitch became more that just good friends, and so in answer to my phone call she brought in the tiniest black puppy with the floppiest ears for Jack. It was love at first sight for Spot and Jack. They are the best of mates and Spot does it all. He works cattle, goats and sheep, catches pigs, and in general does anything Jack asks him too! He missed Jack badly when Jack went away to school but he seems now to understand that Jack will be back.
My horses, well our horses, as Meghan says, are our mates too. It is just Meghan and I who are the horse people, the boys are all about bikes. I have bred two foals in the last two years to add to my horses and am very happy with these foals. I just need spare time to handle them now and spare time I don’t have.
We have 13 horses as I said earlier. Most of these are registered ASH (Australian Stockhorses) or are eligible to be registered.
I will mention Wilbur, who is Meghan’s old horse and a fantastic old man he is for her. He was given to her by a neighbour on the condition we look after him until he passes away. He turns 23 this year.
Shine is my old retired stock horse and he is the same age as Wilbur and they are the best of friends.
Also in our plant are Actress, Commodore, Serena, Legionnaire, Whisky, Bonna, TJ, Charlie Horse, Chance, Castlemaine, Katy Horse, and of course Wilbur and Shine!