Tuesday, September 9, 2008


After putting a few more days in up the the rough Mali country, old Burt decided to drench a few of his beef cattle. It didn't take very long to muster the beef because there was no roos for the dogs to chase that day and the cattle were not far way from Burts' house paddock. Once the stock were in the yards, my job was to hunt them into the race and close the gate behind them. Burt waited at the other end of the race and pulled the lever across that trapped their heads so he could administer a good dose of drench. It was quite a dangerous job because old Burts' steers weren't polled, meaning they had quite long, sharp, pointed horns. Rarely do the steers want to go up the drafting race on their own so the dogs and I had to give them a bit of gentle persuasion. The dogs used their teeth on the steers heels for this job and seeing as my teeth were not in as good-a shape as theirs, I used a big stick. Sometimes they would back out of the races and swing their heads around really fast so I had to have my wits about me so as not to get gored. The bush flies were terrible that day plus the heat and the dust from the dry dirt in the little-used stockyard and by the end of the long day I was ready for a good shower and a long rest. Burt had an old bull which he called Barney. Although Barney was about 9 years old he was still quite active at his job. His toenails were all curled up at the ends which made it appear like he wore Arabian shoes on his feet. "D'ya think ya could ride old Barney?" said Burt as we walked the steers back to their paddocks. "I don't see why not. He's all crippled up and he can hardly walk by the looks of him." "I'll bet you can't stay on him for 5 seconds." "OK, you're on Burt!" "Away ya go mate. Show us ya style." I had seen the cowboys on the TV run up behind their horse and handspring over its behind and land in the saddle, so I said to Burt, "I'll just run up behind him and spring up over his arse-end." "What a great idea." said Burt with a mischievous grin on his whiskery, weather- worn face. "Don't let him see ya coming 'cause he may side-step ya." "That crippled-up old bastard couldn't side-step his shadow. Why don't ya buy a bit more active, younger bull?" "Oh old Barney's not too bad mate. He's got a few more years left in him yet." "Alright Burt, here I go!" I let Barney get a few more feet ahead of me then I took a good, deep breath and ran towards Barneys' big, wide ass. As soon as I got within springing range I put mi hands on his arse and at the same time, I sprang upwards. Barney let out a great bellow just like owner did on occasions. I was halfway up on his arse-end when he kicked both of his huge back legs high up in the air. Old Barney knocked me to the ground before I even got mi legs around him. I felt the whistle of air go past mi ears as Barneys' back, crippled toes shot up in the air at each side of mi head. Burt just stood there in the middle of the track, bent over double and laughing like hell. "I thought you were gonna ride him, ya pommy bastard? Don't tell me ya let old Barney throw ya before ya got on?"" He roared between laughs. I was really pissed with Burt now 'cause Barneys' feet just missed mi ears. "I supposes ya think that's clever Burt, ya silly old bastard! He could have kicked mi head off mi shoulders and broke mi neck!" "Yeh, suppose he could but ya must admit he fooled you, ya pommy bastard. There's better men than you haven't been able to stay on him." "Next time we've got the cattle in the yard Burt I'll show ya how to ride him, mate. I'll mount him off of the fence-rail and that'll fool him and you!" A couple of weeks later Burt was selling off some steers to market and old Barney was back in the yard again. It took me a few goes to get on Barneys' back from the high, wooden fence-rail but before the day was out I'd ridden Barney around the sock yard for more than 5 seconds and on more than one occasion! Burt had to concede in the end that I was the only pommy that had worked on