The Chicken Whisperer

Host: Myroodah Station
Written by Katy – Nanny, Myroodah Station.

Wed - pic 1Little Sam & I on the banks of the Fitzroy River – not a bad backyard!

Hello all! My name is Katy and I am the Nanny.  I am a backpacker from Scotland and I am spending a short time here, to help out Pam during the busy mustering season.  Before arriving at Myroodah Station, I had spent some time exploring the east and west coasts of Australia. When I got the job I was so excited to go have an adventure on a real life cattle station!

I had no idea what to expect as I was met by a man at Broome airport for my lift out to the station. I had never been out in the bush before; I am a city dweller with a degree in economics; so I was a little apprehensive! I had a vague expectation of dusty buildings surrounded by paddocks of cows and busy men on horseback.

It is now my sixth, and final, week here at Myroodah. As my time draws to a close I hope you don’t mind if I take you through some of my reflections on what I have learned about both bush and cattle station life.

Six weeks and six fun things I have learned:

Firstly, there is so much more to running a cattle station than just rounding up cows into a pen.

The reality was totally different to my expectations, there was so much more to a cattle station than I first imagined. For starters there was a swimming pool at the staff quarters! Also you’ll find that the homestead is not a ghost town during the day, as I first thought, but a thriving place of activity. From helicopters to bores to training and everything in between: to run a station effectively there is a lot of organisation that goes into the business. There is no such thing as an easy job on the station with everyone busy all day every day.

Running a cattle station encompasses subjects that at first seem totally unrelated. However they are all important. I was really impressed one day when I was out on a trip with Chris (the station manager). Conversation in the car went from politics to economics to geometry to chemistry to meteorology, and that was only discussing the building of a new fence!

Secondly, children are hilarious.

I have spent about 50% of my time laughing as I have looked after my two best friends – a three year old and a one year old. That old saying of ‘you have to watch what you say’ is true as the two boys pick up on everything. The other day, the three year-old was heard telling an elder worker to ‘cover his mouth when he coughed’.

Third, I learnt the art of how to muster young chickens into a pen for the night.

From my experience it helps if you do not run and try to catch each one individually. Those chicks are a lot faster than they look! It helps if you shut the gate on whatever pen you plan to put them in. Also child “helpers” are unadvised unless they agree to walk and not run at the chicks. I saw a dramatic improvement in my time once I had grasped these basics!

Fourth, I learnt how to open a gate properly.

Never again will I forget to look at the hinge of the gate before trying to push it open . . . !

Fifth, I have seen the impact Myroodah has as a social enterprise.

I have had the pleasure to learn about indigenous culture first-hand through Myroodah’s predominantly Aboriginal workforce. The business not only gives indigenous people an employment opportunity, but the training provided means that once completed; the trainee should have a chance at sustaining employment in the future.

Finally, like any business, the cattle station is constantly changing to keep up with modern times.

As one of the oldest industries in Australia, it is a false truth to assume that practices are also out-dated. Mustering is like a science, evidence of this is in the amount of training that goes on. The cattle station is an area of continuous improvement. I have seen cattle being immunised along with other stringent animal husbandry practices, new yards being built and bores being updated with the latest equipment.

I could speak at great length of the many different things I have learnt, however I realise we all live busy lives. So in summary, I have had a brilliant time. The Kimberley is beautiful, and is a fantastic spot to grow up in. I really do believe I am one of the lucky few travellers to have had this opportunity to learn about a wholesome way of life here in Australia. It sure exceeds all expectations I had when I stepped on a plane from the UK nine months ago!

Wed - pic 2Me with my two best friends, and Scruffy the dog.

Wed - pic 3Sam & Katy.