Right I am now back in Brisbane and should tell you about the rest of my week at the ranch! On thursday we started bright and early as always with fencing, which was just about as exciting as it probably sounds! We had to make gates out of barbed wire etc, so everyone ended up with scratches all over their hands and arms. It was pretty hard work really, and were standing up outside for a good 5 hours, but I suppose it is a pretty important part of farming to make sure the fences are good!
After lunch it came to the mustering, which is basically moving the cattle frp, pne paddock to another. I ended up choosing to go on a horse again, as that's what my job will be (I'll tell you more about that later!). It was really exciting working in a team with the quads and bikes to try and get the cattle to go where you wanted them too, especially charging after the cows that tried to escape the mob. One of the people fell off as we were galloping up a hill, but amazingly she was fine and jumped back on. It took about 2 hours but I enjoyed it so much that it only felt like 20 minutes had passed by the time we got back!
The next morning we had to draft the cattle in the yards, which basically meant separating the cows and their calves, which they weren't very happy about! All we had between us and the cows was a pole/stick thing, so you just had to be ready to run and scramble up the fence if one came for you! The funniest bit was separating specific calves from the group, which basically involved me running in and getting one in a headlock whilst the others tried to push her through the gate from behind. After that we had to brand, vaccinate, tag and castrate the calves, which was all pretty quick. Once that was finished we lead the cattle back into the paddock, which meant that I did get to go on a quadbike again luckily. In the afternon we were meant to be doing something with one of the neighbouring farms cows, but they backed out so we just got to go for a quadbike ride round the farm, which I obviously loved! I hope I get to do some work on quads before I come home now!
In the evening as it was the last day we had a little 'presentation' before dinner, and they let us know that we'd all passed (which was a massive relief!). Before they gave you the certificate they made you take their 'traditional' shot of Sambuca. Its disgusting stuff, but after the third one my opinion seemed to be changing... I was pretty sad to be leaving as I've had such a great week, the trainers were hilarious and gave us all mildly offensive nicknames (dicko, clyde,bones, stretch, string bean, the italian, sweats, jaws and stretchy p**** Oh and we were all townie p**** as well of course!)
As I said I'm back in Brisbane now. I've been given a job on a small (well 63,000 acres, but that is small for Oz!) mustering cows on horseback and doing other general farm work. I don't know when I'm going to start now though, because at the moment Australia is getting far more rain than normal and the ranch is so isolated that the man I'm working with won't be able to drive out and get me if it's at all wet. It sounds pretty daunting, as it's just me and the one man for 5 days a week, with his family coming at the weekends, and there will be no internet or mobile signal, but hey, that's the experience I came here for! In the meantime whilst I'm waiting for the go ahead I think I might go to the great barrier reef with a few of the girls from the course. I'll let you know when I'm about to disappear into isolation!