Our crew is exhausted at the moment. For the past couple of weeks, we have been having 4.30am breakfasts in order to finish our bangtail muster for the year. We've been very lucky to have had rain which has pushed some of our operations back.
At this time of year we could say we are going to bangtail 2021 - cut it and chalk it up. It's an opportunity to reflect on the year that was.
At Isis Downs we have had long hot days and freezing cold mornings that have tested the mettle and character of our staff. One of our great pleasures is to witness the growth and development of our team as they learn new skills and handle challenges together.
At times we've pushed our team out of its comfort zone: they've participated in suicide prevention and prostate cancer workshops and a paint'n'sip afternoon as wellbeing activities.
We've had Mexican nights, Chinese food nights and a few rounds of trivia. We've welcomed work experience students and families from Brisbane to give insight into what really happens on a cattle station and do our bit for the future of our industry.
We've had some shaky moments where we've questioned our management skills, particularly at the end of October when feed was getting short and we'd chosen to hold rather than offload.
We've had monumental failures where we've had to question our practices - like having 2000 head in the yards and forgetting to check the gates were latched; and, a worrying series of workplace health and safety scalpel incidents for which we implemented a "stop work" until we could establish the underlying system failure.
This year we've managed dozens of contractors to get projects completed, stretching our capacity to manage time and teams. We've used water diviners (old technology) and predictive AI (new technology).
We've welcomed and farewelled staff, we've let some things fall by the wayside, and we've had lots of honest conversations, lots of laughs and a few tears.
Our 2021 has been fulfilling and full of learning opportunities made great by the people we work with and the industry we work in.
I hope your 2021 bangtail reflection brings you great joy and perspective about your accomplishments and your failures this year.
I hope you are better for it as we step into 2022.
- Anna Cochrane, station manager
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