We have finished work on the feedlot and are now offically unemployed! I thought it would be a huge relief not to be working and that I would be excited to go, but I actually just feel sad more than anything. For six months our lives have revolved around feeding the cows, watching over them and ensuring everything runs smoothly. So now this responsibility is someone else's, I feel a bit lost.
I've been meaning to write a post about a typical day at the feed lot but as I just mentioned, our lives have revolved around cows so my blogging hasn't been very consistent lately. Apologies, I will be better I promise!
A typical day for me on the farm starts at 7:00am. My first task is to clean out the feed troughs. It's very simple, scrape out the rubbish, keep the edible. I travel around by motorbike which lately has been torture in the mornings as its so cold! No one told me Australia would be cold!
You're probably thinking about how tricky it must be to carry around a shovel whilst riding a motorbike. Well I came up with a simple solution.
I sit on it. This causes a bit of discomfort and a cold bottom but it's only for an hour or so.
Once the feed troughs are clean and I have taken note of the left overs, I then create my feed mix. The feed mix contains grain, molasses, water, cotton seed, silage and hay. The ratios depend on which stage the cattle are on. The starter mixes for the newer cattle contain more hay and less grain as their stomachs can't digest the grain very well at this stage. The finisher mix is the opposite.
Two interesting facts I have learned about cows; a cow has four stomachs which allows them to consume the course food they eat and they are blind to the colours red and green. So cows spend their lives eating grass without actually seeing it as the green we do. Also when you think of a bull charging a red flag, they are actually more frustrated by the movement than the colour.
This is me using the loader to create my mix whilst trying not to look down. Although the ramp is only about a foot off of the ground, when you're in the loader it feels like you could topple over at any second. (This has never happened and probably will never happen).
Once the recipe is complete, I drive around the pens and paddocks and feed out. To make things simple, I feed the starter mixes and Mitch feeds the finisher. In this kind of job you want to keep things as simple as possible. If a pen is fed the wrong mix then all of it has to be dug out, this can be up to 2500kg. This has happened once and that was enough to teach us a lesson.
Once my four legged friends are fed, we usually have a tea break. Oddly Australians call this a smoke-o, even though no one on the farm smokes… Surely it should be a tea-o? Aussies love to add an O on the end of their words. Here are some typical examples I've come across:
Serv-o = Service station (makes sense)
Arvo = Afternoon (where does the V come from?!)
Thing-o = Thing
Right-o = Alright
No I didn't make Thing-o up, I've heard it many times and it always cracks me up.
After a cup of tea we then fill our afternoon with cleaning water troughs, processing cattle, mustering by motorbike/horseback (I prefer bikes as they don't have a brain) or just odd maintenance jobs. There is such a wide range of jobs, I can't really put it all into a list.
Cleaning the water troughs is probably my least favourite job as it takes around two hours to do all of them and you stink after. The cows are quite entertaining though. When I have my head down with my cap covering my face, they start licking my head. Their tongues are like sandpaper but I appreciate the love I guess!
Sometimes I have a little helper join me. Well I say helper but really they just confuse the cows and play with them, or hop in the trough for a bath.
My favourite, favourite, FAVOURITE job is mustering. It is so fun. Well it's fun when the cows go where you want them to. I love mustering by motorbike and it has improved my off roading skills vastly.
Mustering by horse back can be quite fun too. Especially when theres a HELICOPTER.
I've only ever seen things like this on TV, so once I was past the stress of trying to move young cattle by horse, it was pretty amazing. I felt like a modern day cow girl. The dogs are a great help as well.
Especially when the cows decide to go for a dip.
What I have really loved about this farm which I haven't found in a lot of places over here, is that girls can do just as much a boys. I have been able to do so much and have so many experiences. I can now drive a tipper truck, basic welding, drive tractor's, feed mixers, rake hay for the harvest, drive a loader, a motorbike and many other things. There's not much in the way of limitations for a motivated female here.
No limitations when it comes to the piling the hay as well! I was a little nervous driving this one back but I arrived with all the stacks in one piece.
I am missing this place already and have had such a great time working here. We were part of a fantastic team and I will miss my two legged and four legged friends a lot. I'm especially going to miss this little face.
We are staying in Brisbane for a few days whilst we get a few things sorted then its onwards to Vietnam. I can't believe that our two years are up already. I have had an incredible adventure and couldn't of spent my time here any better or with a better person.
Here's a few more photos of me on the farm. You can probably tell why I'm missing it so much by looking at these!