Twenty minutes later, with the two horses saddled, I walked out of the stables leading the horses out, Bryce approached with two saddle bags, which he strapped one onto each saddle. Once mounted, we started heading down the central laneway. “So, what is it that you have planned for us today?” I asked with interest, “Work of course, we have two mobs of cattle to move into fresh paddocks” Bryce replied as he broke into a trot, and Sparkles followed suit.
When we arrived at a gate, Bryce dismounted and opened the gate, leaving it wide open, before walking across the laneway to the paddock opposite where he did the same, before remounting his horse. “Ok, now the aim is to move the cattle slowly and quietly, as we don’t want them to stampede, we will probably find the mob on the back fence near the water tank, I will help you to get them moving towards this gate, then I will let you slowly push them on, while I clean the water trough” Bryce said to me explaining what he wanted done.
Although I had been working for nearly two years, this is the first time that I have been involved in mustering cattle, so I was a little unsettled about doing as he explained. Fifteen minutes later we located the cattle just where he said they were, and we calmly moved the cattle away from the water trough and towards the gate that we had left.
Half an hour later I had the gates in sights, as Bryce came trotting up behind me, “Well done Gres, we will make a cowboy out of you in no time” he said with a grin, I gave s short laugh and continued pushing the cattle forward. Once we had the mob moved into the fresh paddock, and the gates closed, I sighed loudly, pleased that I had achieved a new challenge.
As Bryce remounted his horse, he looked over to me, “So tell me the real reason that you have started this fitness programme”, I was caught by surprise by this statement, and I thought about it for a few moments, before telling him the truth. “I saw an amazing documentary about the Kokoda Trail the other week, and I have been reading this book about it, I am hoping to be able to try the Kokoda trek next year in about May or June” I admitted.
“Ok, well that is a good thing to achieve, and I think it will be good for you” Bryce said as he kicked this horse into a trot down the laneway. When we had finished moving the second mob of cattle, I stood beside my horse Sparkles, while Bryce closed the gates. “You know I have been thinking about this plan of yours, and I’m wondering how you would feel about taking Ethan with you, it would be a great opportunity for you both to get to know each other,” Bryce said to me with a smile.
“I will think about it, and it depends on if Ethan wants to take the challenge?” I said to him as we started the ride back to the homestead paddock. Sometime later as we could see the buildings in the distance, “So tell me more about the farm, this is the first time I have worked with the cattle in the two years I have worked here” I asked.
“Well, as you know it is 2650 acres in area, the homestead paddock is 15 acres in area, the central laneway, bridle paths and other laneways take up another 10 acres, we have 13 paddocks that are 175 acres in area, and the natural bush back paddock where we were recently, is 350 acres in area. We have 3 mobs of cattle, each mob is about 200 head, and we move them to a fresh paddock every 5 weeks” Bryce informed me.
When we arrived back at the stables, I unsaddled both horses and washed them down, before placing them back into their stalls, and giving them some feed. Just as I had finished, Bryce appeared and announced that lunch was ready. As we were eating, Bryce cleared his throat, “I have managed to speak to Ethan while I was preparing lunch, and he is very thrilled to be given the opportunity to do the Kokoda trek with you next year”, he said to me, and I smiled and kept eating.
After lunch, Bryce said that he wanted me to come with him for a short road trip, and so we packed some snacks and water and we drove out of the farm, a few kilometers out from the main gate, Bryce turned onto a gravel road, and about ten minutes later onto a rough track.
This track was very narrow and winding, and I was getting a bit worried where exactly Bryce was taking us, until finally we came across a fence line, and Bryce turned left to follow the fence on a rough fire break track, till we reached the corner, were there is a locked gate. Bryce stepped out to unlock and open the gate, and after driving through he closed the gate again.
We travelled along the inside boundary fence away from the gate, with state forest on the outside of the fence, and woodland on the inside, and suddenly Bryce turned away from the boundary fence, along a narrow track, and just a few minutes later we entered a small clearing, where a wood cabin stood.
“Is this the same cabin we saw in the ride the other day?” I asked Bryce, who smiled and nodded his head, as he stepped out of the vehicle, and I did the same and followed him towards the cabin. Bryce unlocked the front door and walked in, while I had stopped just before the one step that leads up to the small veranda, to have a proper look at the cabin in front of me. The cabin was quite high, with a tall but narrow window in the middle, giving the idea that there is an upper level inside, eventually I stepped up onto the veranda and through the door.
Bryce had opened the curtains and was using a rag to clean the windows to let more light in, and as I looked around, I saw just to the left of the front door, a kitchen along the front wall, including a large wood fireplace, with a small dining table and four chairs in the middle, to the right of the front door there is two lounge suites and a coffee table between them.
In the center is a set of steps leading up to the mezzanine level, below this level there is a bathroom to the left, with an adjoining toilet, to the right of the stairs the back wall and half of the side wall there is a large bookcase full of books, with two lounge chairs and a small coffee table, in the middle of the back wall there is a back door, that I presumed led outside.
“This is the cabin that my grandfather built and spent a lot of his free time often reading the many books that he had collected over a long period of time. Some of these books are very old and some of them are rare” Bryce said to me as he sat down in the lounge chair, and I sat down opposite him. “So why is it that you have rarely come here, since the death of your parents?” I asked him, as I was curious that the place had been left abandoned.
“I guess because it brought back so many happy memories as a child and teenager, I guess I was too scared to come back because of that” Bryce said sadly, and we remained seated and silent for some time. Eventually Bryce stood up and I did the same. “Come, we better get a move on if we are going to get back in time to put the horses to bed and get you home”, Bryce said as he headed out the door.
Half an hour later we arrived back at the stables, and I got to work to feed them, and make sure they were covered for the night. Once I had finished, I walked up to the house and knocked on the door. Moments later, Bryce appeared, “Right, are you ready to head home, grab your gear and I will drive you into town” he said to me, and holding up my backpack in my hand, Bryce nodded and stepped out of the house, locking it and heading towards the vehicle.
For the next two days, I was kept busy at the vet clinic, and I was asked to stay the full day on the Friday, to attend the staff meeting at the end of the day. It was during the meeting that Marie announced she had plans to extend the back of the building to have a bigger hospital recovery area, and a new and bigger surgery, allowing room for another consultation room, and an extra office, to cope with the increased demand.
Marie said that as of three-weeks-time, building work will commence, which may have some affect to operations during clinic times, so we would have to all cope as best as we can. After most of the staff had left, with just Marie and I left, I decided to let her know of my plans for mid next year. “That is great to hear Gres, I’m glad that you have set a goal, and I look forward to hearing all about it when you return”, Marie said, and she gave me a big hug, and I turned to leave the room.
“Oh, and by the way, Amanda has tendered her resignation, as she is 2 months pregnant, and wants to concentrate on home duties for the next few years at least, so in 9 weeks-time you will be the senior practice nurse, we will need to adjust your work hours here, before we get a replacement in” Marie said with a smile.
I was totally shocked by this news, but happy for Amanda too, and I thought about what Marie had said as I walked home. Once I had arrived home, I quickly changed and set off on my late afternoon run, which would have to be shorter than usual due to the lateness of getting home from work. After a quick shower and change into fresh clothes, I noticed a message on the answering machine, and I hit the replay button as I looked at the pile of mail.
“Gres, this is Lucas Patterson, your lawyer, I received a cryptic email from a lawyer representing your uncles and aunts, have you received anything from them? Call me when you have”, and at that moment I spotted an envelope with a law firms address in the top corner, and I froze staring at it for a while, before opening it.
It was a copy of the waiver document, and a note was attached to the front, “As lawyers for the family trust, we highly recommend that you sign this document and return it as soon as you can”. I picked up my phone and dialed Lucas Patterson’s number, and he answered it on the second ring. “Lucas, its Gres here, yes I did get something in the mail, it is another copy of that waiver document, and a strongly worded note attached” I said to Lucas, and I read out what was written on the note.
Lucas recommended that I send the document and note to him, so he could file it away for use in case something happens, I agreed to do that and ended the call. The next morning, I took an extra-long walk, I was still fuming at what my so-called family were trying to do to me, and when I returned home I noticed that the two rear tires of my car had been slashed.
I took photos of the damage to the tires, before calling a tow truck to take my car to a tyre repair shop to get the tyres replaced. Having a later brunch on my balcony, I thought about what to do with the rest of the day, when I heard a car stop out the front of my apartment. The door-bell rang soon after and I opened it to find Ethan standing there with a big smile on his face, “Hello young Ethan, what brings you into town” I said as I looked out to see Bryce sitting in his car waiting, and I stepped out to speak to him.
“What has happened to your car?” Ethan asked me as we approached Bryce’s car, “Some idiot slashed two of my tyres, this morning or last night, they are getting fixed now” I replied after I had reached the car, so Bryce could hear. “That’s not good mate, any reason why someone is targeting you?” Bryce asked me, “I have my suspicions, but would rather not say just now” I replied, “Come, hop in, we are going to go to the park and maybe an ice-cream” Bryce said, and I dashed back to the apartment to grab my wallet and keys and lock up before joining Bryce and Ethan in the car.
As we sat at a park bench, eating ice-cream, Ethan asked me about this trek, he was wanting to know as much as possible. I recommended that he find the Field Guide that I had been reading, and that he read it too, plus I suggested that he start doing extra exercise, to get super fit for the trek. “Ethan and I have chatted a fair bit already, and he is wanting to do it as soon as possible, he already has a passport, and he does plenty of sports at school, so I guess it’s up to you” Bryce said to me.
“Well I do 15 kilometres of running and 10 kilometres of walking most days, I’m not sure if that is enough, also it depends on if there are any vacancies open for any treks” I added, and I picked up my phone and dialed the number for the Brisbane based Kokoda trek company. “Peter, this is Gres Langton, we spoke a few weeks ago, I have a friend’s son – Ethan who is interested in joining me, and due to some changes with my work, earlier would be better than mid-next year” I said to the tour manager.
Copyright May 2018 Preston Wigglesworth, All Rights are Reserved