Meet our new baby – Topsy (short for Topside).

We’ve always been a bit fascinated with cattle and I often ask Shannon questions about TBone and cattle in general.

One day as we were talking he told me he was contemplating getting a few more calves because the price at the moment was so low.

I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind getting one also and did he think Toby would mind if I kept one in the paddock?

I was going to speak to Martyn who’s an expert (His father was a cattle buyer) and maybe go to the Goondiwindi sales at Boggabilla to get one.

I told Shannon that of course I’d need to convince Kerrie first and that may be a bit hard.

“Don’t worry about her”, he said, “Just buy it as her birthday present. Stick a bow round it’s neck and she’ll be fine”.

Well anyway two days later Shannon turned up at the kitchen looking for Kerrie.

In the back of his ute was this beautiful little female Hereford Poddy calf.
I rushed over and found Kerrie and I think she loved it as soon as she saw it.
“What are you going to do with it?” she asked Shannon.
“It’s yours,” says he.

Now a “Poddy” is an orphaned calf and usually they are “saved” by cattle farmers feeding them milk from a bottle.
Topsy had somehow managed to survive past this stage, probably by feeding off a number of the other stray adult cows. She seems to be about 6 to 8 weeks old.
She’s able to eat grass by herself and although we give her milk diluted with water she is just as happy with pure water.

Shannon and Josh had found this little orphaned calf down on the back paddocks and Shannon had chased her down on the quad bike and bought her back for us!

Shannon and Cow

Shannon delivering our new baby

Well, we got her off the ute and stood her up and amazingly she just seemed completely unphased with all the humans standing around patting and stroking her even though we would have been the first humans she’d ever seen.

She is absolutely beautiful!

So Beautiful

So Beautiful

Her coat is shiny red with splashes of the purest white. She has that distinct Hereford face, flatish and strong looking and her teeth are perfect.

We housed her for the first night in Shannons Cattle cage and in the morning we led her around various spots on the camp grounds to find the best combination of grass and shade.
Kerrie did some research to learn the best way to handle her in the first few days.

In bed

Comfortable on her bed of hay

Even though we had a makeshift halter and rope on her she just followed us as if it were the perfectly natural thing to do.

The whole farm seems to have been enchanted by her and even Shannon, who has been bought up with cattle from a baby, can’t believe how easily she has taken to humans.

She just adores being petted and rubbed and will actually trot over to us when she sees us approaching.

Merlin, one of the Estonian backpackers, wanted us to name her something “cute”.
We were going to call her Topside so the shortening to Topsy seemed to fit.

I can’t seem to keep my hands of her and she appears to not want me to.
She’s so soft and placid and her eyes would melt the hardest heart.

Topsy 1

Eating good pasture around the camp

She’s very noisy when she can’t see us, bellowing and calling out, but as soon as someone is there she’s quiet.
Kerrie is soaking some wheat for her and Toby’s told us of a pile of cotton seed down the back of the property.

She has lots of soft juicy grass around the garden and she appears very content to be here.

Shannon believes that being as placid as she is she won’t need a lead for long but she’ll be content to just wander around the yard.

As I said she’s just beautiful!

Topsy’s been here four days now…

After four days she’s almost completely stopped bellowing except for when we first walk away from her.

She just walks to her bed at night and plonks down on her pile of hay in the Stock cart and goes to sleep almost immediately.
In the morning we go and open the door and she leasurely wanders out and follows us over to one of the many grassy spots at the camp where she eats for the next 2 hours almost non stop.

The animal show

Chris walks Topsy to the yard from the stock cart. Mongrel & Idjit always want tobe involved.

Last night I witnessed something I thought I’d never see.
Now Kerrie loves Roxy, David & Lacey’s dog, very much but even Roxy can’t get to lick Kerrie.
Well last night as Kerries saying goodnight to Topsy, bent over hugging her round the neck, the cow turns it’s head, rubs it along Kerrie’s face and sticks it’s big toungue out and licks her – on the face – AND SHE LET IT HAPPEN!


This morning I took her off the lead and let her explore of her own accord and she had no interest in wandering away.
She just kept close to the camp and finally planted herself outside my office door where I was working.
Every now and then she looks up to make sure I’m still here and then goes back to sleepily chewing her cud.

Outside office 2

Relaxing outside the office

The guys over at the workshop are ragging Kerrie as she tells them how Topsy prefers this type of grass over that and how she lets us know when she wants water.
They’re asking her how she’s going to get the cow up the steps of the workshop while she’s at work when she’s 300 kilos!

Outside office 1

Ahh this is the life

Even Martyn is amused by our city slicker approach to cows.

His comment was, “You wont be so F—–g soft when she’s 300-400 kg and running through the caravan annexe!”

Sarah, Martyn’s wife, on the other hand fully understands.
She’s a farm girl from St George and has grown up with cows but loves them as pets.
She has a pet steer called Solly (Solitude) that’s now huge but no matter how long she’s away from the farm Solly will spot her and come running over and try to wrap himself around her.

I get the feeling that the country people are more amused at us than at the cow.

Quiet contemplation outside the caravan.

Work was finished for the day and I was enjoying the peace and almost absolute silence.

So peaceful over the Reservoir

So peaceful over the Reservoir

The setting sun cast colours of blazing fire over the treetops and the fence beside the caravan was alive with Fairy Wrens and flocks of Finches.
Apart from the breeze rustling the leaves of the big old Iron Bark tree beside the van all was quiet.

As I soaked up the quietness and the magnificent display of colour it suddenly struck me that I was immensely satisfied with our life on the farm.
I felt truly happy and content.

This sense of contentment and peace is quite new to me.
I’ve spent much of my life chasing visions and goals.
Some have been elusive and some seem to have always been in a state of change, sometimes slightly sometimes momentously.

Through it all I’ve had precious few moments where I just enjoyed the here and now.

I realise now that this was a bit of a waste.

What’s the point in living only for what the future may or may not bring while failing to delight in the numerous blessings of right now.

I think a number of things have contributed to this contentment – The farm, the refreshingly real people that work here, this area, living as simply as we do in the Aussie Wide, and of course (and most of all) Kerrie.

It wasn’t like this a few weeks ago!

We’d had a long stretch without time off and we let our attitudes deteriorate a bit.

It would be easy to blame a couple of the backpackers who were of the “needy” type and the couple who leaned toward a tendency to complain, but alas that would be a cop out.

We were to blame and us alone!

Our boss, Martyn was perceptive enough to see that we were having a bit of a struggle and asked us to come into Goondiwindi for dinner – in fact he demanded it.
We had a wonderful night with him and his wife Sarah at our favourite Chinese restaurant and just to realise that he completely understood the issues that can arise on these fairly isolated properties was a tonic in itself.
He talked to Toby and it became clear that they were both 100% behind us.

I think this did us so much good that it made us feel like a couple of drips for allowing our attitudes to drop especially when one considers the immense challenges that people on these farms face every day.

Of course the week back in Brisbane also helped and by the time we got back to the farm it was as if we were more like the people we were when we started work here 18 months ago.

Seemingly in unison with our attitude change the camp is back again to a happy kind of place where there are plenty of people laughing and joking again and (at least to us) there a no whingers.

What does this all mean for the future?
Will we continue to travel?
Will we look to set up a more permanent base out here?

Don’t know! I’m sure we’ll hit the road again because we love it so much but at this stage I don’t really care.

It’s enough to take life as it comes and enjoy the journey each day.

T Bone

One look at me and run

One look at me and run

We often get requests from people who read the blog for follow up stories.

One story they ask about is “T Bone”, Shannon’s steer he acquired as payment for a job.

T Bone, as his name suggests, wasn’t meant to be with us for long, but he’s still here.

When Shannon first got him NO ONE ventured in to his enclosure.
He was as mad as a cut snake. He would rake the ground furiously with his hoof and charge you, even hitting the fence (which was the only thing that stood between you and him) so hard that he would bleed. Over time he stopped doing that but he never got friendly enough to pat.

When T bone first arrived it was a matter of setting up a quick enclosure. This was done securing fencing and gates together but it was never the ideal scenario, it was never meant to be, he wasn’t going to be with us for very long.

Now they say tender juicy meat comes from carefree, stress free cattle. Once you’ve eaten meat from this source you’ll never shop at Cole’s or Woolworth’s again for your meat.

In hospital Chris was chatting with one of the nurses who has a farm outside Goondiwindi. They don’t even let their cattle see a gun before they kill them, they take their shot from a distance. She raved about her meat.

T bone didn’t fit into this category. He was one stressed out steer.

Shannon has a 20 acre block beside his house, with good fencing which only needed fixing in a few places. So he and Steve set about getting T Bone’s new home in order.

While I’m on fences…
During a quiet spell Shannon, Steve and a few of the backpackers fixed the fencing around the camp.
Now this was done farm style, none of that time wasting hitting star pickets in with a star picket hammer.
This was done with the large excavator!

It was so funny to watch the little slim star pickets being driven into place with the excavator bucket which is almost the size of our caravan.
Our urgent question was “Who was driving the excavator?” You see the fence that was under repair runs right beside the caravan, and I mean RIGHT BESIDE.
We asked this question because one of the backpacker,s who will stay nameless has the nickname of “Butterfly” as in “Oh look a butterfly” as his mind wanders easily to other things. We hoped he wasn’t in control of the excavator but luckily it turned out to be Shannon.

Back to TBone…
The next job on the agenda was to service the cattle grid on the entry road to our area. It’s there for one reason, to stop cattle walking either out or in to the property.
The grid was lifted up, the ground under was cleared away so now, theoretically, T bone wouldn’t escape out the front door so to speak.

Now the problem was how do you move him into a near by paddock without having to shoot him or lose him in the process?

Shannon watered a nice grassy spot at the entry to the paddock hoping this would entice T bone just to wander over.

Noooo that would need brains.

Open the door and what does T bone do?… run straight OVER the grid down the road heading towards Boomi.

By the time Shannon had walked over to the workshop and got his quad bike, and Steve got the ute, T bone was half way to Boomi. They then had to herd the stupid steer home with the erstwhile help of old mongrel the pig dog (who did a sterling job by the way).

Now we often see unusual and fascinating sights from the kitchen window so this time we were treated to the display of TBone trotting around the camp followed by Shannon on the quad bike, Mongrel – looking as good as any cattle dog and Steve in the ute all trying to get the mad steer into his new home.
Shannon’s quick response to our questioning look was, “Just takin’ him for a walk”.

Mongrel, who is brilliant at catching pigs learnt not all techniques are the same with all animals. Trying to pull on T bones ear earned him a swift kick but he very quickly learnt how to keep him on the right track for home.

As soon as T bone was in the paddock he headed for the scrub. Shannon still believes that he is from the top end and is a scrub bull.
No one saw him for weeks as he hid away in the bush but eventually he came out to munch his way around the grass in the open.
I went over to take his photo the other day and got as far away as 200 metres before he took off.

We still pass several herds of cattle along the road to Goondiwindi and they might move a couple of steps when a truck goes past but never gallop away. Not T bone! He’s “Special”! He runs at full speed back to the trees.
He’s still as mad as a cut snake.

Runs and hides in the scrub.

Runs and hides in the scrub.