They’re not big breakfast eaters and they don’t take huge lunches, but they all have a hearty appetite by 6:30 pm dinner time.
We had a great time over the last few days as we were visited by Dennis and Margaret Gore, the founders and owners of Gore Earthmoving.
They spend a lot of their lives travelling in their off road caravan these days and are not afraid to tackle the most remote places.
They seldom have firm plans as to where they’re going and can likely end up anywhere in the country. This time the general plan is to head for Cape York.
Dennis and Margaret are amazing people.
They’ve built a business that’s strong and respected amongst their many customers. You can see their guts and determination in the wide range of expensive machinery they own and in the quality of the projects they complete. This all didn’t just “happen”. It required risk, commitment, dedication and planning.
Although on the road most of the time they keep an active role in the company while Mick, their son runs the business. Mick also visited the camp and stayed a couple of days.
Dennis and Margaret were travelling with another couple, Des and Margaret, and they also stayed at the farm.
They were a lovely couple, the sort you felt you’d known for years and they seemed to really enjoy their time here with us and the crew.
We also had Tim Kirkwood, the owner of Disney, and his daughter Jane dine with us and they added to the lovely atmosphere in the mess hall.
Now we’d met Tim and Alison Kirkwood and Jane a few days earlier when they came and introduced themselves and had a tour of the camp.
Kerrie summed them up perfectly with her comment after they left, “They are lovely people.”
The mess hall is never a dull place but having these visitors made it extra special with lots of laughing, talking and joking.
Tuesday found us off to Clermont by 6:30 am for the weekly supplies. This was a particularly big shop as we’d depleted the stock to almost nothing with the visitors and in addition, we picked up the week’s supplies for the Disney kitchen where they feed the stockmen.
Now, anyone reading this who comes from a cattle station background will grin to themselves at our insights but for folks who’ve lived most of their lives in the city, everything that happens here is an exposure to a way of life that very few city people ever experience. It’s so completely different but it’s an experience that offers a huge benefit for those that delve into it.
I’m intrigued by the size of even the ordinary projects that make a farm of this size run.
Just like at Koramba, Belah Park, South Calandoon and the other farms, we could never go out onto the property without feeling deep respect for the people that carved the fields out, built the fences and the mass of infrastructure, committed to the huge financial burden of purchasing machinery and stock and subjected themselves to the fickleness of markets.
Everywhere there is evidence of insight, planning, attention to detail, commitment and risk.
We have the head stockman, Scotty, his wife, Farren, and their 8 weeks old baby Bailey, living in the house close to the camp.
Right from when we arrived Farren and Scotty took us under their wing.
You couldn’t help but be impressed by the way they talk about Disney. They are in love with the place. There’s an unmistakable passion about them whenever they talk about the farm and we’ve learnt so much from them.
Farren came over and informed us that some cattle were about to be mustered and wieners branded and the bulls castrated. Did we want to go out and watch?
She picked us up and off we went and were surprised to find that the yard was “over the road”. We thought Disney was big with its open spaces stretching almost as far as you can see but “over the road” is another part of the farm that ALSO stretches as far as the eye can see.
After a ½ hour drive that our Everest probably wouldn’t have survived, we came across the cattle yards that were a scene of great activity.
The Santa Gertrudes cattle (a tropical beef bred in Texas from a cross between Brahman bulls with Beef Shorthorn cows) were kicking up clouds of dust. Cows, calves and wieners were being herded through gates and yards and stockmen on horses were riding fast to and fro.
The only thing that could be heard above the noise was Scotty’s voice as he yelled orders to the other stockmen, Eli, Heinrich and Jane.
Farren lead us through the yard to the shed where the wieners had been drafted and would be tagged, branded and the bulls castrated.
Castration is carried out to:
- Prevent undesirable bull calves from breeding, enabling mating of bulls only with desirable traits.
- Control behaviour. Castrated male cattle (steers) are generally less aggressive and easier to handle, are less likely to fight (causing injury to other animals) and are less likely to damage fences.
- Reduce the toughness that bull meat has which makes it less attractive to consumers, especially for the higher priced cuts.
Scotty was again everywhere. It was like he was watching everything at once, even us, making sure we were out of the way and safe.
The cattle were first sorted into the correct groups and then sent down a chute to the cradle where they’d be held fast and laid over to expose their underbelly.
Timing is important so that the beast is clasped in just the right spot to immobilise and turn it.
During the process, two beasts escaped. One was a smallish heifer which Scotty immediately run after, grabbed, wrestled to the ground and held while the others tagged and branded it. The other escapee was much larger and ran off to mix with the other cattle.
We had no idea which of the herd was the escapee but Farren jumped into the yard and amongst all the other cattle isolated the escapee and rounded it back into the chute without the process missing a beat.
We were amazed to see one large beast actually climb the approximately 6-foot sides of the chute and jump clean out.
In the middle of the process, Scotty turns to me and says, “You can do the next one!”
He patiently showed me first and then, while Jane held the beast’s leg, Scotty guided me through the process of castration.
The toughness of the hide, the feeling of the strength and the warm, almost hot temperature of the beast were the impressions I was left with.
The speed at which each animal is processed is impressive and Scotty is constantly aware of this to minimize the human handling of each animal.
I was impressed also with the speed with which the animal would kick itself upright, run into the yard with the others and within a minute or so would be calm and begin eating grass.
The quick recovery was probably due to the care taken on each animal.
Each time a brand, tag or cut was performed a liberal amount of Tri-Solfen was applied.
The Kirkwoods explained to us how this revolutionary product is an anaesthetic, an antiseptic, a painkiller and blood clotting agent all in one.
Jane, the daughter of the farm owners Tim and Alison Kirkwood, was right in amongst it.
Kerrie was particularly impressed with how this slim, petite young lady held down the powerfully muscled leg of the cattle. Even a small wiener’s back leg was as big as her, but she would dig in with her heels and that leg would not move while she performed the castration and applied the steriliser/anaesthetic.
This whole process is hard work, but the professionalism of the team made it a fast process. They also made it look easy.
Kerrie was so excited she couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day and recounted the experience blow by blow to the Gore crew later at dinner.
We went over to the stockmen’s quarters to watch the State of Origin and all Kerrie wanted to do was fire question after question at Scotty which he patiently answered in detail.