We’re back!

Host: Yougawalla Station
Written by Jane Sale – Manager, Yougawalla Station.

Photo 1 The Green Green Grass of homeThe Green Green Grass of home.

Well it’s over a month on but feels like yesterday that I was madly trying to meet the blog deadlines at the start of March and here we are all over again. We have had to fill in for another station this week but that’s okay I hope for you, the reader, because a lot has happened in that time here and we have great new staff as well as our full timers returned from holidays, you will hear from them instead of me.

We don’t usually start mustering this early in the season but there have been boats heading to Indonesia and we had some beautiful heifers and bulls that had to go. Only our largest young bulls and heifers went as there is still plenty of grass for the lighter ones to keep growing for another month or two. If the larger ones remained on the wet season pastures, they would grow over the weight restriction for Indonesia and we would not earn the same $/kg rate for a different market, even though there are more kilograms in the animal.

Photo 2 Boys will be BoysBoys will be Boys.

Over the last month we have mustered, drafted, fixed fences, pulled and serviced bores, dropped out supplements to the breeder cattle, filled the freezer with meat from a couple of “killers”, and graded washed out roads. The crew have hit the ground running and started off the year really well. It was a bit scary paying the mustering crew wages so early in the season but this is made up for by the cattle sale payments coming in and having some early income to prepare ourselves for the breeder musters still to come.

Photo 3 Most of the 2014 Yougawalla CrewMost of the the 2014 Yougawalla Crew spectating at LSS School.

A highlight for all was hosting Jim Lindsay at Margaret River Station for a Low Stress Stockhandling School (LSS). Haydn and I have both attended these schools before starting our venture here in the Kimberley and a few years back our staff attended one with another station. This workshop is fundamentally about handling cattle with the right attitude from any position, helicopter, motorbike, horseback, or on foot and understanding the relationship between yourself and the animal. Haydn and I think it is imperative for our business and cattle’s welfare. With so many new crew this year experienced or not, for all of us to formally as a team learn or refine our cattle handling skills and start the year on the same page is very important. All of us can work as a team to help each other handle the cattle as quietly as possible and feel as safe as possible. Probably most importantly we are now all aware of what is not acceptable.

Photo 4 Jim LindsayJim Lindsay in the classroom.

Photo 5 Putting it into practisePutting it into practice.

As we were hosting the workshop, we were able to invite the members of the Louisa Downs and Bohemia Downs community that work with cattle. The outcome of this workshop and being able to practise and refine the skills learned, is your cattle are quieter, less stressed, easier, and safer to handle, therefore easier for them to gain weight when content, so it is beneficial for business, animal welfare, and staff safety and retention. As these Aboriginal owned and operated stations are handling their cattle as well as our cattle on agistment there, it keeps our cattle quiet if everyone is handling them correctly but also will have an ongoing benefit to the Aboriginal Pastoral businesses.

Photo 6 Learning on the goLearning on the go.

We all had a great couple of days with Jim Lindsay, everyone that attended put themselves out there and gave it a go and a lot of camaraderie was established between the crew and the stations. It was a pleasure to attend and to watch. Hopefully you will hear the staff views on it in the blogs during the week.

Photo 7 Portable ClassroomPortable Classroom.

The best thing about having my roots in the city is I still have all my family and a lot of my friends still there. Through keeping in touch and visiting them over the wet I don’t feel so isolated from the big urban world and still keep a keen interest in how life rolls in the big smoke. I appreciate both sides of the rural and urban spectrum keeping in touch helps me do this.

A highlight in my life is when one of these mates decides to make the massive effort of coming out here and seeing the totally different world that we live in. Over Easter I have had one of my lifelong friends to visit. She took off in the chopper with Haydn this morning to spend the day mustering and has not wiped the smile off her face since she arrived four days ago, nor have I. I am honoured for Yougawalla to be her gateway to the other world that is station life. My friend is a very successful Marketing Manager for a large Communications Company and from her advertising background is a very fashion savvy city chick. She opens her house to my loud country bumpkin kids and family every time we are in Perth and we turn her designer life upside down. Tomorrow she will let you know what her take on the station experience is . . .