Friday, March 23, 2012

Cattle trucking adventure

Do you have moments in your life when an opportunity crops up that seems like a brilliant idea at the time? I do. Frequently. I think it’s what helps to make life so interesting.
Towards the end of October last year I was presented with an opportunity to purchase a small herd of registered Angus stud cattle. Under normal circumstances I would have reminded myself that I was currently a remedial massage therapist and column writer living in the picturesque town of Barham on the banks of the Mighty Murray. I would have paused to reflect that I didn’t actually own a cattle station and Rosedale, my eight and a half acre miniature farm at Hay was not quite big enough to support this miniature cattle stud. I may have even looked at a map and figured out that where the cattle were (Glenisla in Victoria’s Western District), was not all that accessible to Barham or Hay.
Well, I like to think I would of… however I was recently home from a lovely trip to visit Reg and Judy and their equally lovely cattle near Wagga Wagga. Their cattle looked superb; fat and shiny Angus cows with well-grown Blonde d’Aquitaine cross calves at foot, all standing around in the sunshine munching foot high grass. I started imagining what it would be like to own a cattle station.
There’s nothing like a bit of enthusiastic visualisation to start manifesting opportunities… cue small herd of registered Angus stud cattle. I bought them sight unseen without the slightest hesitation. I hate shopping with a passion, but this type of retail therapy (when I’m envisaging a small scale global empire) really does appeal.
They were on good feed at Glenisla and there was no immediate need to move them so I pushed the job of “find a place to run my cattle” to the bottom end of my list of priorities. Life then took a few unexpected twists and turns as it often does but by the middle of February I decided it was high time I did something with my cattle. Luckily for me Farmer Bill and Granny’s property up towards Hay was experiencing the best season since 1989 and so long as I freighted them up and covered all costs involved with the cattle, I could keep them there while they had surplus feed.
My next step was to work out how I was going to get them from A to B (or G to H as it happened). I soon discovered there weren’t any big livestock carriers heading towards Hay from Glenisla anytime soon. Having driven five and eight tonne tray trucks in my former life as a rural contractor I was more than happy to see if I could hire a truck and drive down and pick up the cattle myself. I planned to take Farmer Bill along for the ride and we would have a father/daughter cattle trucking adventure.
Alas, my powers of manifestation faltered and I couldn’t find a truck to hire. My plan for a small-scale global empire was turning into a logistical nightmare. As my enthusiasm started to ebb away, I sadly began contemplating cutting my losses, selling the still unseen cattle and putting the whole experience down to a life lesson on why it might pay to think things through thoroughly instead of my preferred modus operandi of making decisions based on a whim.
Then along came Lee Sutherland and his ten tonne Fuso with bright red stock crate (and electric windows – most impressive). My optimism returned and early last Tuesday morning with Lee at the wheel we headed south to Glenisla and my cattle. It was a relief to discover that the cattle I had purchased sight unseen last year did actually exist and were in fact magnificent animals with sleek coats, good conformation and beautifully quiet to handle.
It was a long day travelling but as we unloaded them onto Red Hill Station in the late afternoon sunlight and walked them over to water, I felt a sense of quiet satisfaction and achievement.

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