Thursday, May 13, 2010

Helicopters Aren't Just For Joy Flights!

Some days the boys face a mustering job that is quite big, or perhaps involves some poorly educated cattle. So in addition to having the horses saddled up and on the job, we have the luxury of adding a mustering helicopter to the mix. This groovy yellow bubble drops down in to our backyard (which, admittedly, is larger than your standard suburban backyard) and picks up the lucky jackaroo (that's 'cowboy' for my friends in the USA) whose job it is to accompany the pilot, show him where to go, and keep an eye out for cattle.

Now because this is a highly sought after job around here, the only photo I have of chopper mustering is one I took when we went up to check out the floodwater a little while ago, but the vision from the air of cattle moving away from the chopper is much the same, just without all that water! The helicopter is very effective in pushing a lot of cattle together pretty quickly, making the task for the men on horseback much easier. What this means in real terms, is that they're back at the house sooner looking for 'smoko'. Is there anyone out there who still uses that expression for morning tea? I'm certain the boys would tell you that isn't the reason they ring Jack and get the 'bird in the air', but it's definitely the biggest impact of the job from my point of view (seeing as how I am the producer and provider of cups of tea, scones, cakes, biscuits etc. etc. etc...I'm just so happy to have discovered the recipe for the orphanage sized chocolate cake that thay all love. It even lasts longer than two days!)

If you're fascinated by all this, and would like to discover more about helicopter mustering, I can recommend Fiona Lake's website. She travels the northern parts of Australia, photo-documenting work on the big stations (Ours, at 27,000 acres is quite small by comparasion!). Her website has fantastic photos and plenty of interesting information, including some sound explanations of the various terms used in different countries to describe the properties where cattle are raised, and the people who work on them!

8 comments:

lynnbridge said...

Tracey, this post is waaaaaay fun for me, since I know the Texas terms. I've never even heard of mustering, but the meaning is immediately apparent.

Meg Mitchell said...

This could be a movie Tracey..... you could do an updated version of "City Slickers" with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman as the cowboys and Nicole Kidman piloting the yellow bird....

merci33 said...

27,000 acres. booooiiinnngggg. I can hardly fathom that as a 'backyard' much less the rest of this share ;-)

This post is all about an alternate reality. I have no knowledge whatsoever regarding what you describe. For me that's a gift.

To look through this window is quite mind altering...I imagine I'll see the day differently. The park (the most visited state park) where I hike is 23,000 acres.

Enjoy whipping up that 'smoko' and scones and chocolate cake for thos e jackaroos ...love it.

Tracey said...

You girls have no idea what a kick I get out of your sharing your responses to these ramblings! I'm fascinated and a little amazed that our ordinary daily existence is of interest to anyone! Iona, you mentioned this being mind altering - it is for me too...I'm beginning to look at our 'lifestyle' in a whole new way - and that's thanks to each of you.

Lyn, I think I might be on a crusade to introduce the world to the term 'mustering' to replace 'gathering cattle in the field' or 'rounding up cattle' or whatever other terms exist out there- it's very efficent - one word!

I love the movie idea Meg! That made me laugh! I could handle Hugh Jackman floating around here for a while! But would we need to change the colour of the bird for Nicole? I don't know if yellow becomes her!

Lynn A. Fraley said...

I can't wait to carve out a bit of time to visit Fiona Lake's website, thanks for the recommendation.

Like your other American friends, I'm fascinated by the glimpses into life and art on a station down under. Thanks for sharing!

Tracey said...

Thanks Lyn...You'll enjoy Fiona's site - she has some great information and images - and she takes things a little more seriously than I do - makes it all sound very important! Which I guess it is...producing food is a pretty fundamental activity to be engagaed in. We have both her books, and they are always devoured by our guests - especially the odd internationl visitor.

Hannah said...

Tracey,

What a hoot to read about this Tracey! You've introduced me to a whole new world. I especially liked the photo taken from the air--seeing as how here in Davis, home to an "ag" school, we have plenty of cattle down on the ground, settled smack dab in their barns in the middle of campus! Have you thought about a post about smoko? That would be great fun to read!

Tracey said...

Hannah! A whole post about smoko?! That would never have occurred to me! But what an interesting idea...so much I could do with that! I've been having a think about future Country Life post topics - I could certainly work 'smoko' up into something entertaining to read... Watch this space. All that remains is to get the food photographed BRFORE it gets polished off!