Posted by: 347bennetrd | February 9, 2010

Toughening Up

Phew what a busy day today. Only a 7am start (which is chickenfeed), where Marty sent me off to do some shifting round of stock.  9 heifers went from Humpy Flat (ooh there’s a good oxymoron!) to Falls Creek Trees and then I had to shift 2 lots of hinds and fawns into Far Mackintoshes.  I haven’t shifted deer before and it’s quite a delicate procedure.   You have to drive around the outside of the paddock until you see the mob (they always collect on the fenceline) and usually the sight of you sends them running.  Then as they run around the outside, you make a beeline for a spot where they’ll see you and hopefully swing through the gate.  The hinds have got such an unusual cry – a kind of a chirping noise to find their fawns.  I tidied them up and popped the cull ewes back to nibble on some ragwort (poisonous to deer and cows, but sheep can eat it quite happily).

When I got back to the yards, Marty was in mid-flight crutching wether lambs.  He set me up on the handpiece, showed me how its done and away I went…   Boy oh boy talk about a full body workout!  Grab a lamb, flip it over and drag it out, wedge it properly between your knees in what looks to be a most uncomfortable position (though they kick less when you do it properly so looks can be deceiving) grab the handpiece in your right hand and pull on the cord with your left.  BRRRRRMM!  As the combs scissor together the whole handpiece moves and man its also quite heavy.  The left hand first knuckles against the lambs leg somehow and it pops out straight so you can start with the first blow.  We were doing a ‘buttonhole’ crutch – one sweep down past the tail stub, one sweep under the tail and one sweep over top to tidy all the wool around the poo-hole.  I however was doing a large wellhole crutch, a number of sweeps on all sides, trying not to slice the skin open or chop delicate bits off.  And not leaving hairy tufts everywhere. Exhausting work.

I did think that this would be a really great photo opportunity, but then disaster struck and I cut my finger.  Oooh yuck blood went everywhere and I’m such a wuss even though it was a totally superficial cut I had to call my mummy and get her to put a plaster on my finger cos I was feeling queasy and faint from seeing my blood gush.  By the time I had recovered and returned with a large and imposing finger bandage Marty had finished the rest.

After lunch there were some male lambs that had missed the obligatory rubber ringing and had to be done.  I actually started describing below what happens, but I’m not sure its really suitable for a blog.  Anyhoo, once again I was a total weakling and had to use two hands to open the rubber ring stretcher thingy.  Once all the lambs were jetted with anti-flystrike stuff, I sent them on their way down the lane towards their paddock.

Dad then came up to the shed and we revved up the tractor and put the front-end loader on.  Jeepers, now there’s an art I would be very happy to master.  You have to drive straight on (no room for error) between the arms, and once you’ve hooked up the hydraulic cables, use minute adjustments to lift and drop the arms, and tilt the bucket to get forward and back movement.  I did have a go, but Dad had to take over.  Once set up we set off up the road to Kopje.  Marty had gone up to kill a cow that had an irreparable bearing.  We were to tow it and roll it down a gully.  Man, I had a bit of a pang though – seeing this big beast lain out on the grass.  The other cows were milling about and lowing.  Marty had shot it in the forehead, then cut its neck to finish it off and as we dragged it, it’s head was lolling about.  Got to toughen up when you’re faced with realities of life and death.

Once that was done I finished following the wether lambs down to their paddock.  As I’m not yet toughened up I put on a little trailer behind my bike so I could pick up any crippled lambs who were struggling.  There were about 4 of the 360 or so that had something wrong with them (one had real bad flystrike, two had something wrong with their lambs and one little weenie was a total spastic and looked so sad when he tried to run) and were limping and looking most pitiful.  The thing with animals though is that they never complain, they just kept on limping and trying to run.  So I caught them, popped them in my little trailer and let them go in their paddock.

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