Thursday, July 14, 2011

horse placement

so last week i went to my horse placement out at mendooran for five days. we took a train to lithgow then a coach from dubbo and arrived at 11:15pm -_-! the couple who owns the farm picked us up from the bus stop and drove us to their property and we were dropped off at the cottage where we'd stay for the week. i was so amazed when we stepped in cos i still remembered the poultry placement with the dusty bed (& everything else) and the spider webs. it was more like a guest house than a 'cottage'. there were 2 bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, living room, tv room, lots of couches, shower, toilet, washing machines, and CLEANING PRODUCTS T__T yayy! basically it's a normal house - not what we were expecting!

the next morning we had to walk down to the main farm area since we didn't have/know how to use the ATV (all-terrain vehicle) yet. and saw the 2 donkeys, cattle (brahman cross something..) and 1 horse that the woman said was around the cottage. the donkeys were so cute (one's a boy. he tried to mount the other one once, and the girl resisted and kicked him hahahha)! it was also the first time i ever heard their vocalisations! sounded like some rusty engine starting up..

anyway, at the farm we learnt how to use the ATV which was basically just pressing the accelerator near the handles and met the stud manager and the helper (this year 12 student on her holidays) who we'll be following. the uni horse handling practicals (and the various stories from lecturers of rude horses) kinda made me extra cautious and suspicious of them, but the horses there were so friendly and calm..! the first few days we didn't really do anything but then we had to move the horses from the paddock to the day yards and the stables cos the farrier and the vet was coming, so we 'herded' the horses on our ATVs. horses are not like other prey animals, since they're more like pets ('companion animals', nowadays) and so not as intrinsically scared of humans so you can't really herd them by just moving closer to them.

anyway. we keep on getting these really relaxing placements for some reason where most of the day is just watching. we brushed the horses and got rid of burrs from their hairs (made them have a unicorn looking forelock), caught them from the yards with head collars, lead them and fed them, but that was it. didn't pick up their feet/rug/drench/vaccinate them :(

the most interesting thing at the placement was sitting on the back of the ute and going to the middle of this huge paddock to the hay shed to collect some hay bales. the shed was elevated so that the ute could reverse park to the platform in front of the shed door (which was made of flimsy-looking, half-broken wooden planks D:) so it'll be easier to load the hay onto it. anyway, so we walked onto the platform to enter the shed and started lifting hay bales. seriously they were so heavy for someone who doesn't do any form of physical exercise besides finger movements on the laptop. and thank goodness i was given gloves cos the string tied around the bales which we held onto dug into our hands so much! i wore gloves and i still got a rope burn. my friend who only wore knitted gloves cos the work gloves didn't fit got cuts which bled! but at least the weather was so cold that it numbed any sensation..

anyway, when we were loading up the hay bales, we saw this truck approaching us from the distance carrying the TALLEST HAY LOAD EVER. think the front end of a truck where the people sit in, and the hay bales were stacked so high that the guy had to climb on the roof of the truck above where you sit in, and climb onto the hay bales, so he could start rolling the hay bales down onto the shed for us to carry in & stack... (the first bale he rolled down literally smashed nearly a quarter of the wooden platform where we stood D: i felt like mario walking on a wobbly surface. the hole was patched up with some hay bales... and then they kinda made a stair with the bales so the hay can actually roll down from the truck into the shed). the view of this huge hay truck in the middle of a seemingly endless field on a blue-skied day, the people lifting bales into the shed and the amazingly cute charolais cattle which were so furry and had clean white fur surrounding the vehicles stealing hay was so picturesque! i wish i could have taken a photo with my eyes!! everything was so beautiful!

the rest of our days were spent watching tv and eating biscuits at the cottage XD the woman asked if we wanted to get some dvds from their house so that we weren't bored, and so we did. and migod that house was so warm. you open the door and felt the sudden temperature change ahhh heaven... and then she showed around the house and the art that they collect. and the closet filled with designer clothes and handbags and watches and hats etc. not your typical farmer ei! apparently the man's dad introduced the charolais breed into australia and they developed some cattle breeds like the 'square meater' (yes, they're one square metre big!), tropicana and mandalong special; and they also have cattle in Russia and China so they travel there a lot. (apparently they go overseas every month!) and the woman talked of her 'friend', benjamin netanyahu. THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL. omg.

one night we went down to their place to ask some questions about the management and husbandry of horses, and it was so nice hearing them talk about their animals
and you got the sense that they care and respect their animals and not treated them just like some stuffs (he was saying that the animals are always telling you something, if it's not working, you're not doing something right and you have to change your approach. they've got a brain this small, you have to be the one understanding them). then they told a story of how some of the cows that had difficulty giving birth would come down to the house and bellow for help! and there was one cow that was by itself vocalising to them so they would notice another cow further away that was stuck giving birth.

there were also so many different animals at their place! there were 6 dogs (1 white fluffy house dog), chickens, cats, KITTENS! to control the snakes and rodents (
they mentioned so matter-of-fact-ly how, "there's probably gonna be only a few left by the end of the year" 0_0. but anyway, they were SOOO SMALL! when we left the house, the tiny fluffy persian crosses would follow us T__T but they ran away when we started the ATVs), a fox (that they have to shoot cos it was trying to eat the kittens...) as well as the horses and cattle and the 2 donkeys. and the green tree frogs that were in the rainwater tank. i flushed the toilet one day and a green leg extended from the edge of the toilet bowl! and then the entire frog later got flushed down in another toilet session.

the ride home was another coach for seven hours since there were strong winds that week and a bunch of trees fell down and crushed a train that was on our line (we passed it on our way back and the train carriage roof was half crumpled!). and then i got home. and saw biscotti. and she seemed so large cos i've been looking at kittens all week.

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