Festival on the Hill (part 1) – Cocktails at Sunset

A couple of weeks ago we held a little gathering at the farm to say a big thank you to all our friends and family who have made our first two years at Binalong such an amazing experience for us.

It has been the adventure of a lifetime and we are so glad you have been able to share it with us.

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We were very lucky to have talented local musician, Bec Willis, make an appearance. Bec kept the great and the good entertained, whilst cocktails and a few cold beers were partaken on the hill.

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Fortunately, the weather was spot on and, as usual, the view did not disappoint.

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We even managed to get Rowdy in a tie…

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And whilst our photographer went for the open necked look, he eventually smartened up (sort of). Great snaps Norton. You are a good man.

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Our jackaroo, Nick and his lovely wife, Teresa

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The prettiest waitress in Berrico!

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Half of the Kessler-Dowd clan.

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The Berrico ladies. Outstanding!

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My gorgeous wife, who pulled it all together. Love you, honey.

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The men folk. The pants may be a little tighter but a handsome bunch nonetheless…

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Big Rich (or should that be Elvis?). Love your work mate.

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Friends forever…

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For Whom The Bell Tolls…

So, for the last six weeks, we have been busy getting our Black Angus steers ready for sale.

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This has meant making sure that the cattle have plenty of feed and putting them through the yards to check their weight and teeth, as young cattle of around 400 – 450 kilos, with only two teeth, fetch a higher market price.

Now, checking an unwilling steer’s teeth is not as simple as it sounds, particularly when it weighs half a tonne. It involves putting the beast into the cattle crush, levering its head upward with your shoulder and prising open its mouth to check the molars. Rest assured, it was much more painful for me than it was for them!

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We have also been checking ear tags and NLIS numbers (basically, cow registration numbers) to make sure that when the steers are sold, the authorities know where they have come from and who they are going to. This means completing a bunch of forms in triplicate and electronically transferring the cattle on the NLIS database. You gotta love bureaucracy.

Unfortunately for the steers, however, “sale” in this instance does not mean the boys will be heading off to another farm to frolic in the fields. It entails a one way trip to Wingham abattoir where they will ultimately end up on someone’s plate in Asia. At the same time, our old bull, Daz, will also be leaving us as our breeders will join with a new bull in the not too distant future.

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I guess this brings home the nature of raising cattle. As much as we have grown fond of the Angus steers and Daz, when it is all said and done, they are not pets. They are farm animals and their journey is near its end.

I am too old for a baby….

Except if it is a newborn calf, that is.

Meet our first born. A baby heifer calf, daughter of Daz and proud Brangus mum.

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As we were not expecting calves until early October, imagine our surprise when we drove into the farm on Saturday to see the little lady running around.
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Cue much excitement and girly squeals, at least from me anyway.

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Of course, this meant sitting around on the hill, with the neighbours wetting the baby's head.

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Life is good.

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New Family Additions

Our family is expanding rapidly!

After sending our misbehaving ‘mickey’ Galloway bulls (steers that had not been properly castrated) back to the orphanage, we took possession of 5 Brangus cows in calf yesterday.
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Brangus are Brahman Angus cross cattle, with big frames that condition well on hilly country like ours.

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Daz, our bull, is extremely pleased although slightly disappointed that is harem is not larger. I think he should be thankful for what he has….

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Say G’day To Daz

We are very pleased to announce the arrival of our little baby boy, Daz.

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Actually, at 1,700kg and with, ahem, enough manhood to make the best of us feel inadequate, he is anything but little.

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Daz, an 8 year old Devon-cross bull, arrived on Sunday from our neighbours. He is the proud father of numerous, beautiful Devon Brangus calves in the area and we hope he will be as prolific at Binalong.

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So, all he needs to do is sit back, relax and entertain the ladies.

I do believe he is living my dream.

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ODE TO OZ (by guest blogger Pete Cross)

Sydney is a riot of sun, sea, space, wealth and waste, steep hills, bendy roads, exotic trees and pretty houses.

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Three hours north, the farm is a different kind of paradise, a rich slice of planet earth, with its pastures, forests, even steeper hills, creeks and ravines. Instead of the whooping and crackling of city birds, the sounds of a trillion cicadas in the distant forest come in waves.

But night time is the most magical. Frogs and crickets sing a different song. A million stars stab the eyes from a sky black as bitumen; a sight seldom seen since street lights came to dim and dull the heavens.

At first, the illusion of divine seclusion. The nearest neighbour a half hour’s walk away. Even longer to a hidden clearing, inexplicably, the only place where a mobile phone works. Here, it’s just you and nature.

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But the fantasy double life is real. The great escape! On Friday afternoon, Lieske piles food, drink and clothes into the Ford, and whisks the children out of school. At the farm, the children play more natural games, riding “bareback” in the UTE, manning the gates, hurling bread and hay at the ravenous cows. Justin, a gentle giant of a man, casts his city garb aside, dons his ANZAC hat, grabs his keys that dangle with world war one bullets, thrusts a nine inch machete into his belt, and thunders off into the fields in the Massey Ferguson to fight the weeds.

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Just now it hasn’t rained for weeks. The grass is brown, the leaves are shrivelled, the creeks are dry, the springs struggling to feed the ponds.
A cow’s gone missing. Little hope of finding it. On the quad bikes we search miles of precarious lanes, among the forrests and fields, skirting sheer drops of hundreds of feet. To tumble there is never to be seen again, rotting in the reeds in the depths of the ravine.

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If the illusion were real, you would have to travel back through time, begging and praying for rain, or that blights would fade, animals thrive enough to feed the family, and the spirits of the forest be kind.

As it is, Sunday is a scuttle back to Sydney, where it’s easier to turn on the tap, fetch frozen food from the fridge and watch the kids gazing helplessly at the frightful fodder on the goggle box.

So be it.

Peter Cross
February 2014

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