"Just one more mob"

A joke that our techs are used to hearing, except this time it was true.

In previous years, we sent one team of techs up to Central Otago to do a round trip and teatseal our client’s heifers that are grazing up there. This year, we had to send two teams up and kick off the teatsealing season with a bang! Big days booked in across Cromwell, Becks, Lauder and Omarama; our techs were looking at big days of 300+. No mean feat when heifers are involved.

I had been sitting in the marketing office too comfortably, so decided to dust off my wet weathers and go and give one of the teams a hand and as they were only a few paddocks over from my house in Lauder, it would be rude not to right? With 380 on the cards, it looked to be another bumper day for them too.

The trailer was already set up, I popped a poncho and gloves on and tried to remember how we did this. Turns out my muscle memory was fine and it was like riding a bike. But in cow poop up to your ankles.

With 340 done by lunch, the classic joke from farmer Dave all morning about the "second mob" started to cause alarm bells to ring when the grazier brought a large mob down the laneway.

"Wait, are you actually joking?" - us

"No! I've been telling you all morning!" - laughing farmer

*techs looking panicked at each other*

Quick thinking and understanding of the mix-up (and good spirits) the team thought on their feet and after a quick scoff of some carbs and some organising... we got back into it. Just another 280 to do, no dramas!

There was a wee wobble after lunch. The first mob had been loading amazingly, 340 in under 5 hours was averaging around 68 an hour which is a bloody good pace. The second mob was not as cooperating. Maybe we were a little tired but after some problem solving and some sugar (for us, not the heifers) we regained our momentum and had 610 heifers done at the end of the day just as the sun was setting. A new record we never want to break.

The sun was setting when we decided to rinse the trailer off and come back to clean in the morning. Showers and a pub dinner were on the agenda for the evening instead. The small-town gossip was in full flow when I heard that our record-breaking day had already reached the local grapevine before we had even sat down for dinner.

So just another day teatsealing right? Well, I wanted to share how proud I was of those techs and the farmers we worked with that day. An enormous day on the trailer, and we had fantastic support from the farmers in the yards, a true team effort. Typically a job like this would of be split over two days, but with the momentum we had, we decided to push to get them all done in one.

I went to give them a hand cleaning up the next morning before they head off to another job and I was reminded how relentless this time of year can be for techs and farmers. Brains and bodies are pushed each day and the daily problem solving of how to load six heifers correctly; or what way to position the trailer; getting heifers out of awkward positions that you are never entirely sure how they managed to get into; how on earth to clean a trailer when you are already up to your ankles in mud; where on earth these yards are tomorrow...

A valid reminder of how busy it gets, it always gets done. And even better to have a beer and a laugh about it after.

- Gill Swinton


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