Frankie took us on a tour to one small corner of the station to check the water and boundary fences at Junction Well. This was a 35km drive. The ranch is 75 miles by 50 miles at its widest points, almost the size of Cornwall! There have a been a few issues with a neighbour rustling their cattle so ensuring that the fences are intact is an essential task and will probably become ours in the near future. This is combined with checking the water troughs as well, although at the moment there is actually some standing water. It has also been suggested that we borrow their swags and go out camping one night.
On the way out Frankie noticed that a heifer had got herself trapped in one of the pens at a remote stockyard. She was getting quite distressed and we couldn’t be sure that she wouldn’t charge us if we tried to herd her on foot so just left the gates open in the hope that she’d find her own way out. She may have been trapped in there without food, water or company for up to 5 days. On our return trip she was still inside so Frankie used the Landcruiser to successfully encourage her exit. We just hope she finds some of the other 300 cattle with whom to join up. Whilst on this excursion we were very excited to see our first wild kangaroos! Two of them looked at us completely unperturbed before turning and lolloping away to the next feeding ground.
Our dromedary charge, who I have named Caspar, is finally on his feet, albeit tentatively. He definitely has a painful front left leg which makes him reluctant to put it to the ground and is almost unable to weight bear on it. We had tried to tempt him out of the crush, where he has been for as long as we’ve been here and possibly longer but in the end Jake put a rope around his neck and pulled him round whilst he was still lying down. Julio was (not) helping by running around him barking as that only seemed to upset him, surprisingly!! I must admit that these dogs, including the 8 month old dachshund, Cowgirl, do not bark (or yap!) usually, which is quite a relief! We eventually persuaded Caspar to stand and encouraged him to walk into the pen with food and water where he has been ever since. He now appears to be playing that game where you mustn’t move when you are being watched but each time you are seen you are in a different place. Julio is still bugging him when no-one is there to reprimand him but will learn his lesson if Caspar decides to spit or kick him. The latter is unlikely as he’d probably fall over but we noticed that Jake and Frankie didn’t risk getting too close. Camels have very long legs.
We have also discovered the dump. We looked everywhere for chicken wire on the day we were left alone and gave up only to find that there was tonnes amongst a myriad of other ‘scrap’ metal. Nothing is wasted here where, like Canada, there is space to store everything. It was all over the hill out of sight and apparently, the vale beyond is the car graveyard. Being so remote makes it difficult or expensive to obtain parts so everything is kept, just in case. The same idea as in Canada but on a much larger scale, there are at least 9 washing machines including the old single tubs with a ringer above.
We have been left alone again today with a few tasks to willingly do. We did have an inkling that Cowgirl wouldn’t go with them this time as they were going to a meeting and so it transpired. When I let all the dogs out of the veranda this morning Banjo and Julio raced off. I took a cup of tea back to bed for Roger and I and we lay there with the door open (all bedrooms open to the outside) but the fly screen closed. When Cowgirl passed from right to left for the fourth time I allowed her in. She was obviously going round and round the whole station looking for someone, anyone to keep her company, two or four legged (Lamby is now penned in to stop him making such a mess everywhere). She is quite cute for an elongated rat but as she doesn’t yap she is almost acceptable as an excuse for a dog.
Our jobs for this day have been to clear the top of the hen run, where there are numerous branches which have fallen off the adjacent eucalyptus tree and who knows how long a build up of dried leaves. Suffice to say the whole roofing area was descending into the run with the weight. It was providing decent shade but then the tree alone would do that. I had to wrestle and cajoal the step ladder through all the 6-8 feet high shoots which created an almost solid barrier to the far side of the run which was by far the worst. This was through significant snake undergrowth so lots of shouting, rustling and stomping ensued and seemed to do the trick.
I finally got the roof reasonably clear but had deposited a significant amount of debris into the run itself, much to the delight of the inmates who seemed to think that there’d be something interesting in it. I spent the next hour or so trying to rake up all the scattered twigs and leaves whilst the hens did there best to destroy my piles. Needless to say I won.
Roger meanwhile was de-constructing some palettes and constructing a compost heap enclosure. I’m not sure how composting is going to work in this climate but Frankie, who has a degree in agricultural studies so should know, seems confident that it will provided its kept moist. I have no idea what the worm stock is out here but they do have them and its definitely warm enough. Too warm today when I had to keep my arms covered to prevent the skin from being ripped off. I think we need to get some of Jake’s thick cotton ‘Stockyard’ shirts, if we can find them, as they could prove useful at the other places as well.