Following on in the series of my non-farming career is my disastrous folly into “drafting out”. To be fair, I was a very willing participant and eager to add to my skill set. So, I marched off, keen as mustard, to the sheep yards full of hundreds of sheep. I can’t handle dogs, so I was appointed chief drafter with the very brief rundown that I had to stand at the end of the race and draft off the fat lambs with the first gate and then, with the other hand on the next gate, split them up into dirty bums and clean bums for crutching.
To be honest, the position of one hand on each gate opening in different directions seemed ridiculously awkward, but I thought I’ve had five kids so should be able to spot a chubby baby with a dirty bum a mile off and breeze through the task. Then, oh my lord, they started running through the race. I think I had a complete handle on the first gate, but the split decision on the second gate to pick out the dirty bums quickly was too mind-blowing for an expert overthinker. Suddenly, the look on my husband’s face changed from pride to anger and then he just started yelling at me. Not being one to respond well to being yelled at, I was stuffing up more and more because I was getting so flustered. In an instant, I seemed to have lambs going every which way but loose. Now keep in mind that this mob could easily have been 1000 lambs and having to run them back through the race would be a monumental cock-up, which I was slowly achieving. My husband was screaming at me, “What the hell are you doing? Those don’t all need crutching”. Pfft … is that right Captain Underpants? Well, who made you the gatekeeper, judge and jury of dirty bums? Clearly my idea of a dirty ass is different to yours? Man, that was a doozy of a row, God knows what the lambs were thinking. When all the lambs were mixed up, the event culminated in the whole “get back to the house you’re bloody useless”. All of a sudden, I went from willing farm apprentice to most hated woman on the planet. “Oh dear, I’m in the sh*t here,” I thought. “Better crawl back to the house and bake a cake, LOL”.
Nope, these sorts of technical jobs are best left up to the experts. Our loyal stock agents could do this job blindfold. I just know they always went over and above on these sorts of jobs for us. In fact, without these two men we would not have had a farming business. They bought and sold all our stock over the years and, with the upmost respect and trust, they had our farm’s financial wellbeing pulsating in the palm of their hands. I cannot begin to tell you all how much responsibility these men had and how much they put up with the Cottons’ shenanigans. Their job is difficult, stressful and perhaps at times thankless. So, I will get you all to raise your tall glass to the local lads: the officer and a gentleman Mr Brett Innes and Captain Kelly Graham – thank you, men. In my next column I will be talking about shearing and rousing and how it is that a fine woollen coat is so much more to me than a warm body and a shallow fashion statement. Drafting out scorecard: one out of five for trying, which is technically a fail. However, that still doesn’t seem fair.