Sharing's Caring

Thank you to everybody who has shared this blog. Sharing is the way these things work, otherwise I'm justing talking to myself. If you like what you read please tweet, Facebook or email it to your mates. The more people outside our agricultural circle we can reach the better. Don't forget to have a look at the other blogs I'm following too. Everyone has a story to tell.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Fee For Fi Fo Fun

‘Okay, that’s pre-start finished, now everyone outside to do our warm-up stretches.’
I’m sorry, our what?!? I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto…..
Definitely not Kansas. Karratha to be more correct, at the Karratha Gas Plant (KGP) on my first day as a utility for ESS, the company that does the cleaning and catering on this site, and many many others. It’s a whole new world for me, one that we’ve had to explore in order to stay doing what we love at Gabyon.
Gap Ridge Camp

Back in December I started looking for FIFO work. A casual tweet saying I was joining the Hi-Vis crowd led to attending an information and signup session for ESS in Perth, where they basically spent half an hour telling the crowd of forty or so how shit FIFO life is. I guess they get sick of people thinking they can work in these remote sites and then realising it’s not for them. The presenter lady was saying its hot, dry, dusty, there’s flies, snakes, big lizards, there’s no phone service sometimes, the internet’s shit, the work’s repetitive, it’s long days and little breaks. All I could think was that it sounded just like home. Only with a pay cheque at the end of it.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Good Mob of Words

 This blog has been neglected of late, and for that I apologise.
 The second Hadagutful rally was a great success. It’s very rare the sequel tops the original and this was no exception, but we did ourselves proud and once I finish downloading the emails with some footage from others I’ll get another video together. With Gabyon’s net speed it should only a few more months.
 I’m sad to say the sale of our Geraldton farms hasn’t made much difference to our business position except the numbers are just are little smaller. Hopefully we can get out of the hole we find ourselves in, but it’s going to be very hard from here. So I find it difficult to write something cheery and funny while worrying what lays ahead.
However, this is not the only reason I’ve written very little for this page in the last few months.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


This is a tale of Ronnie, a kelpie pure bred
This is the tale of Ronnie, who wasn’t quite right in the head
His siblings became sheepdogs, their regard always held high
But this is the tale of Ronnie, who seemed to have far too much eye.
While the litter scrapped and ran, Ronnie would stop and stand
Watching the cat snooze on a garden seat
He’d sit there all day while the other pups played
Edging closer to that cats out stretched  feet.
Learn he never did, what secrets those feet hid
But he still bears the scar that shows
Just one little lick, make a cats feet strike quick
He’s lucky to have kept his nose

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Hadagutful 2013 - Now with more guts

It’s on again, the Stop Live Exports Human Chain across the Stirling Bridge in Fremantle.

They’re a persistent bunch, but then so are we. Last year we gate crashed their little party and it was BRILLIANT!

If you weren’t there, words can’t describe how the day felt. The huge BBQ in the morning. The inspirational speakers (we have a bigger PA system this year, so you can actually hear them this time), the mass of people pouring down the hill to line the foreshore, and then the trucks. God bless those trucks.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sterner Stuff

Work can be bloody hard out here, in amongst the dust
Heat is high, the days are long and strong fortitude’s a must.
But when things are going wrong and you’ve almost had enough
Something reminds you that those before had been made from sterner stuff.

 As we drill away at the dirt, to replace some ancient yard
The air powered rock drill jams, and the bit is stuck in hard
We swear and curse and heave and strain, till finally it comes free
But blokes who dug those holes without one, are from sterner stuff than me

Steel pipe cut to length with an electric powered saw
Replaces the wooden strainer posts that once were there before
One old jam log still stands, hand cut with nothing ‘cept an axe
Made from sterner stuff were those guys, and also, their backs

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Mustered, Pickles and Jams

So a fair bit has happened in the last few months. We got to meet the (former) Minister for Agriculture. We saw the (former) Prime Minister in the flesh. And it looks like we might be the former owners of a once thriving export depot, which while is not what we had planned, it is what it is and we move on.


Meanwhile, some serious work has been done to get our type of sheep in to local processors. Now I could write a thousand words on this, but here is the short version. Yes, the ones that make the grade are worthwhile, but the eighty per cent that don’t still need a home to go to. It is a lot of work for less return overall and no matter what we are still stuck with the older sheep. So this is where this particular story starts.


After an initial trial into processors, much discussion and more to the point, no ship orders for damaras, we arranged a booking for light ram lambs to an abattoir for mid-August.  To be frank, the price was shit, as a light lamb weighs not much (the clue is in the name) and when you’re paid by the kilo, there is not much you can do about it. But cashflow is king in any business, and things need to keep ticking along. So three weeks ago we started to muster.


I haven’t yet explained how the muster process works out here at Gabyon.  That’s a tale for another day, but it involves an aeroplane, four motorbikes, two sheep dogs, portable sheep yards, a semi-trailer and some (cough) swearing. It’s not easy, but if you’re working towards something, its good fun. We see the mob of sheep in a paddock we haven’t seen since last muster, we see the lambs, and we see the weaners. It makes a nice change from driving around not seeing a bloody thing for six months or more.


So we mustered. Then we get a phone call a week into it. There’s a ship order out. They’re taking all the things, including damara’s. AND they can take the older rams. Hallelujah, about bloody time, pull out all the stops people we need to get some sheep rounded up and get them gone NOW. Needless to say we felt heartened, after 18 months of nearly nothing we had a good order to work towards.


However, this put us in a pickle. We’d arranged a delivery of light lambs to an abattoir, which coincidently was roughly the same delivery date as the ship order. There wasn’t much to think about though. The ship would take all ram lambs, and all rams up to white tag, whereas the abattoir would only take light lambs. Bugger the meatworks, we need to move sheep off the place and money into the account ASAP.


A week and a half later, which was yesterday, with some five hundred rams lambs and rams in the yards, on VERY expensive feed, we get a call. “Job’s off. They’ve cancelled the order. My guess is they can’t get ESCAS approval.”  Now it’s probably a good thing we live so far from Perth, otherwise one or two of us would be up on murder charges and I’d be writing this from a holding cell somewhere.  


So now we are in a jam. We have a holding paddock full of sheep too old for  the domestic processors, with no idea if any ship order is going to be forthcoming for them, and last I heard the next available kill space is Christmas, with this year’s new drop of lambs about to be ready for sale. Sheep need to eat, and either we let them go again into the main paddocks, after three weeks of work and expense, and hope they stay away from the ewes which we don’t want mated to them, or we try to find some way of feeding them, which will be nigh on impossible with the dry season in the Northern Ag zone all but exhausting any spare hay supplies.


You all may or may not be aware we’ve started a station stay. Perhaps a few of the do gooding brigade who so adamantly campaigned against our trade would like to come visit and witness firsthand the mess they have made. Hell, they can even take a ram home with them. Strangely, that’s only not allowed if you’re an Arab in the Middle East. Try explaining that one to the two French backpackers helping. They think we’re nuts enough with vegemite, giant jumping rats and running birds who don’t fly. When we explain we now have to control what another country does with an animal we’ve sold them, they think we’re mad. Strangely enough, so did the two German girls, the Taiwanese girl, the German guy and the Austrian girl who have all graced us with their presence. There’s a lesson there somewhere. I hope whoever is in charge in the near future wakes up to this, or it’s going to be a bloody mess.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ding Dong.

Dear Mr Ludwig, former Agricultural Minister for Australia

Congratulations on your early retirement. We trust you found your time as Agricultural Minister an enlightening one, and that after a few years in the job, you are now able to tell a sheep from a cow from a horse’s arse. We also hope you have learnt that livestock are not like iron ore, and that they cannot sit idle at wharf side while you attempt to appease some 18 million voters on the Eastern seaboard.

Did anything you heard at any of your meetings with any producers actually sink in at any point? We would hope so. We are sure any future employers would expect the ability to listen and learn to be a prerequisite, and to this we hope it has improved should you get bored of tax payer funded pension benefits, benefits which those left decimated by your few years at the reins (reins are the things which steer horses, at the opposite end of the horse’s arse) would greatly appreciate.