It was time to sell the male calves and Darrell organised his son to help him round them up. They arrived early in the morning on their horses with several kelpies at their heels. From the house verandah we watched them work. Whistling commands to the dogs they surrounded the cows into a bunch and with more whistles the dogs somehow knew which beast they were to cut from the mob. Once separated, the steers walked, guided by the dogs, up the road to the yards at Darrell’s daughter’s place. Here they were yarded and waited, with a mob of other cattle, for the truck to transport them to market.
Despite not having named them, I hated to think of them going to market for butchering. Darrell assured me that they would be bought by someone who would fatten them for the Japanese market. This made me feel a little better to think that they had a bit more time to enjoy the blue sky and chewing the cud.
“Yuse got to build yerselves yards.”
“Why?” I asked Darrell innocently.
“Now yers got cows you gotta drench ’em, inject ’em and it’ll make it easy to get ’em on and off the truck when it’s time to sell ’em ‘n’ it’s easier than walkin’ em up the road.”
“What do you have to drench and inject them for?” I was starting to dread my involvement in the process I knew absolutely nothing about.
“ Worms. All kinds of worms. You got hair worms. They attack the small intestine. Then youse got the brown stomach worm, and the barbers pole worm and another couple as well. Yuse know cows ain’t like us. They got 4 stomachs. Grass is too hard to digest so they vomit it and chew it and swallow it and do it over again ’til eventually it gets to the fourth stomach which is like our stomach and from there to the bowel.”
“ What do we have to do to build yards?” Rod brought the subject back to its starting point in one of Darrell’s long breaks in conversation.
“You should buy a crush and we’ll build the yards and the race ourselves. I’ll help youse.”
“Why do we need a crush?” Rod asked.
“Cause youse got to do things to the cows, and youse got to look at them regular like and if youse got to get the vet to come he won’t look at ’em unless youse got them in a crush.”
We started looking for a reasonably priced crush. In Gloucester they were all expensive and we were finding our farm was walking money out the gate and not bringing anything in. We finally located a steel one in Tamworth that delivered it to us for considerably less than we could buy one for in Taree. We paid the money and awaited its delivery.