We woke to a sparkling but freezing sunrise. Unfortunately our newly acquired heater lulled us into a false sense of security, i.e. warmth! It is fairly effective, if a little noisy but we didn’t have it on all night, just for half an hour before we got up for which we were very grateful.
Jeanette and Rica were off to work in the stockyard and the 2 new arrivals, a French couple, were late up so the rest of the team went to collect the horses from the far pasture. Its amazing how tantalizing a bucket of oats can be, although not to 35 year old Velvet who could hardly get on to her feet. We ‘captured’ our mounts and I’d been allocated Sara, yeeeah, despite Eileen and Carolyn wanting to. Roger was riding Hyrissa so we had just swapped from the previous occasion. Before we set off we had to give the lame yearling, we’d brought in from the summer pastures, some doctoring. This just involved herding her into the headpress and hosing down her foot to inspect the foot-rot wound which is improving.
We mounted up and made our way out the yard, down the road and into the field to collect all the cattle and bring them back into a pen in the yard from where they could be sorted to isolate those who needed some further treatment or inspection. This included the 3 bulls! actually beef bulls are much more placid than their dairy counterparts. Roger and I took the right flank and were fairly successful manoeuvring our charges, helped by Sara nudging a few bottoms along, threatening to bite if she had to do it again! We crossed the road, took them through another field and over the creek into the outer pen of the yard. We still needed them to move on from pen to pen until they reached the barn where Bruce was waiting. There were two routes around a fence and most of them and us took the direct path. Roger set off after those taking the long road and soon found himself with his feet almost on the ground as Hyrissa sunk into the mud up to her brisket (local term!) Without panicking, although I could see the whites of Roger’s eyes, the managed to extract themselves and rejoin our safer side.
Once safely penned in we needed to cut out the bulls. Marilyn was off her horse helping Bruce, Eileen, the horsewoman, was teaching a green gelding about cattle handling so hanging back a little and Carolyn was not a particularly confident rider and Journey was playing silly beggars so it was left to us two to do the cutting! We’d seen it at the Langley Riders and rodeos but that was at speed, would it be different at a slower pace. Yes, actually it could be quite calm if you were riding a cattle horse like Sara, ably assisted by Hyrissa. She was quite happy to ride into the throng and let me guide her to try to isolate the target, even when it is a huge bull which we successfully managed 3 times.
By this time we were rather chilled, the sun was well up but the temperature remained low so Marilyn suggested a warm up coffee break which extended into lunch. By the afternoon the air was warming in the glorious sunshine and Roger and I continued to cut some more beasts for closer examination before returning the herd to their field, including one distraught mum who, it transpired, had made a bid for freedom at one point, leaving her poor calf with an abdominal hernia behind. We had to return and retrieve her to reunite Mum and babe, Roger on gates and Sara and I cutting her out, somewhat reluctantly but satisfactorily after which she ran all the way back to her offspring only for them and another pair to be taken back to the main herd.
It had been another super day. We felt pretty confident in our tasks and seemed to almost be taking a lead role in the job and were able to feel particularly useful for a change instead of just an add on or merely a block. All that in the beautiful autumn tones and glorious sunshine, but too intricate for me to take action-photos. We are very lucky to be able to learn such completely new skills at this time of our lives, even something which we may be able to do for the foreseeable future!