STOCK work is one of the jobs I enjoy about my new lifestyle. I'm not sure if it's something about identifying with the romantic image of a jillaroo or because it's such a radical change from pushing paper around a desk.
We were on a steep learning curve when we first started.
For example, there is nothing worse than holding a wild young bull in the head-bale while you're trying to prime the needle for his injection.
They just get more upset and frustrated ... pretty much the same as Chris does when he is trying to get a syringe working that is sucking air.
Stockman's Tip #1: Check syringe is working before bull is in crush.
Some mornings it is very cold when you set out for an early muster. You peel your frozen fingers off the bike and scrape the icicles off your nose but there is nothing more frustrating than braving the frost, getting the stock in the yards ready for work only to turn on the weighing machine and find out the battery is flat.
Stockman's Tip #2: Check the charge on the scales before use.
Castrating young bulls was another skill we had to acquire. My job is to hold the tail and bend it back, in the opposite direction to the way it wants to go. It numbs their bums. One day, I remember having to hold the tail for a particularly long time - so long that my biceps were numb.
Chris was struggling to use the new banding apparatus. In the end we had to abandon the job and run inside to re-watch the training video.
Stockman's Tip #3: Find scrotum-like object and practise, practise, practise.
Last but definitely not least, probably one of the worst days I remember in the yards was while branding. We were applying a parasite drench down the back of the cows.
Chris applied the brand and the heat set the drench alight. The poor cow was on fire with flames licking up and down her back. After watching briefly like stunned mullets, I grabbed my jumper and put it out with no damage done.
Stockman's Tip #4: Always apply drench after branding, not before.
I'm sure we've lots more to learn ...