Host: Noreena Downs Station
Written by: Kate Paull – Owner/Manager, Noreena Downs Station.
Cattle can have a great sense of humour; so far as to rattle their dags and leave us for dead or play a mystery game or show you what they are really capable of which to no ends are amusing. So I am going to tell you a few little stories from mustering and all sorts.
For those reading this, unfortunately I am not very good at telling other people’s stories let alone my own, I just straight out right suck at it, so I have stuck to my own ones, also I would feel a bit queasy to invade some people’s privacy.
For some people this story telling might seem silly but I’m just trying to give the unseen an idea of what it might be like so I am going to embark on telling you a few yarns.
JACKASS GRACES MUCHEA
So we are out mustering at Wickham’s bore, holding some quiet and some interesting cattle up when Walter and I notice the cattle keep slightly moving away from something in the mob, then I see these really long ears stick up.
Excitement gets coursed around by the blokes, occasionally donkeys hang out with cattle due to them losing their mob or they are a young male being kicked out by the older male.
So this donkey that by the way is a male stays in the mustered mob all the way to Peedonah yards, where he gets yarded up with the cattle before he gets drafted with some weaners. Mmmmm he’s quiet this one and has no bad vices – the blokes and I think (I’ve already started scheming) this was our last muster at Peedonah for the year so we trucked the leftover cattle home and the donkey much to Selby’s disgust and then pride that he carted a donkey.
Donkeys are classified as vermin in the Pilbara and all vermin are controlled. This is because they damage the environment, fences, water points, and are dangerous to cattle (I’ve seen donkeys kick the shit out of cattle and chase little calves until exhausted and then grab them by the back of neck and reef them around), but me appreciating a nice animal didn’t want to waste him.
So we have donkey back at the homestead yards and we are about to send our last mob of sale cattle to Muchea saleyards (auction sale) in a few days time. I place a call through to our stock agent saying I have cattle for the sale but will let you know final numbers a bit later as they have to know what’s what to book them in to the sale, then I hit him with it, “I have this really quite non-kicking donkey am I allowed to put it in Muchea?”
Muchea is a new beaut sale selling complex just north of Perth; it is for pigs, sheep, and cattle to my knowledge not yet donkeys. I haven’t named the stock agent in my story with respect because this may be an embarrassing story.
So stock agent goes off on a mission to find out is the donkey allowed at Muchea, what can go wrong, and what will be the consequences, I am to believe he had to jump a few hurdles.
So donkey is still hanging out at homestead yards being cool as and not kicking or biting once, we do actually have a pet donkey called Duncan that Niffy raised from one day old. Duncan remains in our paddocks close to the house and was in the yards so we put them together, the blokes and I killed ourselves with laughter. New donkey was so excited about Duncan and wanted to spend some donk time together he chased him around for a good while. Duncan was shitting himself (he doesn’t know what a donkey is) and kept running until he found an escape route. Duncan’s eyes were nearly popping out of his head!
We get the call – yay donkey can go to Muchea! So donkey gets his earmark and a tag and an NLIS (individual micro chipped tag – National Livestock Identification Scheme) tag – which I found out he didn’t really need (actually we got into trouble for this, albeit we all thought we were doing the right thing and playing it safe). Then he gets loaded up onto truck in a pen with heifers approx the same size as him and off they went to create a bit of excitement.
A donkey at Muchea hey, well that got around quick, apparently people actually went to see this donkey, one lady took him carrots – bless her. Oohhh dear Kate what have you done? I had panicked about sending the donkey before it even left and panicked also once gone was I about to get a ripping, the donkey was an absolute blast.
Donkey got sold for $500 and went to a good home, it was on the ABC wireless and in the farm weekly, geez I didn’t know a donkey would be such a talking point.
Noreena Downs have two claims to fame at Muchea, Noreena’s cattle were the first to step foot in Muchea yards (used as a transit depot for some heifers going to South Aust and they wanted to test the yards and facilities) and first and probably last to put a donkey in there to be sold.
The only things I don’t regret about this donkey going to Muchea was the lower WA farmers and pastoralist got to have a laugh on it and it went to a good home (It was bought by a bloke that had a young horse who’s old mate had died and the donkey was to be a companion to the young horse).
BLACK WITCH WANTS A RIDE
We are in our Tubs paddock doing a muster without the chopper as an experience and education for the crew. On this sort of muster we use tracking, understanding where the cattle are going and will be, we pick where we ride taking wind etc. into consideration so the cattle will either stay in a certain area or go to a place away from the noise. Depending on the country cattle can here up to from nine to 20km away once we are in place we work our way to one or two bores. Helicopters and planes haven’t always been around so people would have had to utilise other techniques in order to muster.
The crew and I come into Scotties bore with our mob and I go for a lap (circle) around the area to see if there were any cattle that had taken off from the bore while we were still getting there. The previous day we had already swept this bore and were just picking up stragglers, nothing at the bore but going around I land on a bull track so I follow him along for a bit to see where he’s going. Yeah he does a big sweeping bend into the creek and starts weaving up stream then out onto sand plain. By then Walter has joined me with a big grin on his face and the rest of crew are resting the cattle, so we go on a meandering little tour, then bully boys’ track meets up with someone else’s track- a cow as if she was waiting there for him all the time and into the scrubby ass creek they go. After a while their track starts to get more visible they got the trot on they know we are onto them.
Walters grin gets bigger (like giving a little boy a lolly) the two heads start messing their tracks up cuting over them doing circles stepping on grass all to throw us off their trail while they elope up this dirty ass scrubby little creek full of mulga thicket and other tightly knit scrub. Then we have a break – they go out into open mulga and spinifex country and this is where Walter and I pick up our speed whilst they are still trying to throw us off, then we spot them 500 metres away trying to hide behind a scrubby mulga tree. The bull and what do you know the naughty black cow that at one stage the day before down the other end of the paddock had “houdinied” us.
They don’t even flinch until we are ten metres away and then the mutt of a cow burst into a gallop. So Walter and I work together to keep them as a pair but to start settling them down well how now black cow I don’t think so . . . black cow makes a run for it! Due to Walter being the faster and way better rider than I over sand plain and Spinifex (I have a fear of whats in the Spinifex such as ant mounds – same paddock nine years prior I hit a hidden ant mound and was sent flying in the air several metres to land on my hip on bloody hard ground, I am a bit of a sook but I got back on my bike and kept riding but that shook my confidence on Spinifex forever) he takes the black tart and I am pulling off her but Walter hits an ant mound doing about 70 clicks and his bike (4 wheeler) side slams into mine (4 wheeler) and we just keep going “we were meant to do that Walter RIGHT!”
So Walter’s playing disco party with the cow and I’m playing stop and go with the bull, eventually the bull runs into a tight knitted baby mulga thicket, I knows he’s in there that’s good he’s pulled up while Walter gets fruit loop under control then we can bend the cow into him and work them as a mob. I go on security patrol doing steady laps around the trees where he is hiding checking for tracks making sure he is not leaving.
Then I hear Walter over the two way “Kate you got a copy there?”
“Yeah Walter I can hear you.”
“This cow’s trying to kill me, she’s trying to hitch a ride and climb up on this bike!” (Walters 4 wheeler is big) “She just came straight at me and climbed on,” I have my giggle and imagine the black cow doing just that.
So Walter zaps back tells me again “She mad that one she wanted a hug.” and we flush the bull out and eventually we put him on the fence were the main mob is shortly to pass.
Well that was fun!
My crew and I got that black smartass out at a later date, the blokes did a wonderful job with keeping her in the mob and blocking her attempts without too much pressure on her, unfortunately for her she won a one way ticket travelling Greenfield Contractors express (cattle truck) to Muchea.
Tomorrow’s blog – what it’s like to be jumped by a bull and cyclone poddy.