Tacuarembo! By the time we actually arrived, it had been about 30 hours travelling by bus. But it was totally worth it.
We were picked up from the bus stop in a large ute with two others. A French girl who has been living in South America for around two years. And a Canadian bloke who is travelling much like us.
We got to the farm late Tuesday. Had a chance to get shown around and learn some of the house rules. Electricity is available between 8-10.30pm. Toilets were flushed with the buckets of water (that we filled up from the well). Three minute showers. No sitting on tables. Among some other things... The first night was a chilled affair with beer, wine, and dinner and getting to know our host and owner of the ranch, Juan.
Our first full day, we were straight on the horses. Even though I grew up on a farm - horses are not my forte having ridden only a few times, and this was gaucho style. Looking at the board with horses names, I was hoping I would end up with Unicornio... However I was totally stoked when Juan paired me up with Tormenta...
For the sake of this blog, I was hoping Justine might end up with Saddam. But she got Colorado. Anyway, we learnt to saddle our horses gaucho style and set off for a morning of riding. It wasn't the best weather - but still quite hot. Juan asked us if we wanted raincoats "just in case" - but Justine and I with our "she'll be right" Australian attitude said exactly that, "we'll be right". Well, we regretted that an hour later... As we rode off we started to see lightning and hear the low rumbles of thunder in the distance. Within a short time it was on top of us with heavy rain drops that could almost be considered hail. The horses didn't even want to move. We got back to the cover of trees and safely got everyone home.
After a long lunch which included beer and wine (we had to do something to pass the time with the bad weather) we went back out. This time we were mustering sheep to bring back to the shed for worming. Juan's instructions when we were in the pens "see the ones with tails, grab them, I'll give the medicine and someone chalk so we know which we have done."
So we set about catching sheep. I have done this before for Dad when I accidentally let out some runaways while crutching once upon a time. So I was straight in there. Followed by Justine and Ami. However the Canadian wimp preferred to leave the hard work to the ladies and chose to simply chalk the sheep... Insert eye roll here.
Day two we returned the sheep and went to muster some cattle. The weather had gone from pouring with rain one day to 40 degrees the next. Scorcher. The cattle were being treated for foot and mouth. When we got them to the cattle yard, some had to stay in the yard to keep pushing them up to Juan for the treatment. I was given the task of manning the gate once Juan had given the injections. I was quietly stoked. As much as I love cows, I didn't fancy being in the yard with the Bulls which had already charged at one of the blokes horses that morning... Juan would inject the cows and then yell out to tell me how many I was to let through to the pool for the foot treatment. In South America my name goes from Samantha to Samanta, which Justine finds hysterical and now calls me also. So Juan would be yelling out "Samanta, three cows" and Justine would be giggling, and I would be closing the gate on the fourth cows head so not to let it through as well... After a while, the Canadian wimp came up to me and asked to swap jobs because he didn't want to be in the pen with the Bulls. I politely declined. He stopped working all together though when a bit of cow s*** landed on his white t-shirt... Drama! Insert second eye roll here...
Once complete, we took the cows back to their paddock and returned for our final dinner with Juan and his family which was a hilarious affair of badminton, relationship advice and comparing us all to our doppelgänger movie stars.
Our last day we spent the morning separating a few older cows from the younger. The older cows will be going into cow retirement now. I hope you all know what that means...
Then we hopped a bus to Montevideo. I would recommend the farm to anyone who wants to experience something a bit different while on Uruguay. It was a blast. (Minus the whinging Canadian...)