Les Ingram remembers the time where he was offered a load of pigs free of charge by an old bloke at Parkes, NSW, - the only catch was he had to help muster them.
"I went out to his farm and chased the pigs around for about two hours in the 40 degree heat," he said.
"We finally got them in the trailer and went and had a cold drink, and when we came back, the pigs had escaped because he'd forgotten to put the pin in the trailer so we had to start all over again."
After 51 years on the rail, Mr Ingram has retired as a stock and station agent in a career which has taken him from Gippsland to Goondiwindi, Queensland, and many places in between.
"It got to the stage where the mind was still willing, but the body was telling me to give it away," he said.
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The 67-year-old started as an office boy and booking clerk at the age of 16 under agency VPC, the Victorian Producers Co-Op, and before long he was elevated to the role of auctioneer.
"At that stage, I was probably the youngest licensed auctioneer in Victoria," he said.
After a few years, Mr Ingram worked for Dalgety at Swifts Creek where he covered the Tambo Valley from Benambra to Ensay, before he was posted to Walcha, NSW, along with stints at Goulburn, NSW and Parkes.
"From there, I went to Goondiwindi for the next 10 years with Elders where I did a lot of the circuit sheep sales right out as far as Dirranbandi, Qld," he said.
"Working in Queensland was big scope, vendors would ring you up and order trucks for deck loads, whereas in Victoria it would be a tray truck load."
He returned to Bairnsdale with Elders and later worked for Goodman and Donohue and when that agency was taken over, he became a partner in Bill Wyndham & Co for several years.
His time in Bairnsdale followed a stint as an independent agent, operating under the guise of Ingram Livestock and Real Estate, as well as a period with Landmark at Warrnambool covering down to Mortlake.
For the past 15 years, Mr Ingram has worked for Pakenham-based agency Alex Scott & Staff.
"The biggest change I saw was the introduction of live weight scales, computers and mobile phones, and the diversity in the saleyard system with stock going over the hooks and online in later years," he said.
His journey throughout eastern Australian saleyards was not without its hardships, and was often challenging for his wife, Helen, and their two adult-aged children.
"I dragged my family from pillar to post and that wasn't always easy for my family," he said.
However, he said the opportunity to get off his own "dunghill" and to experience other parts of the country taught up the foundations of a good livestock agent.
"You have to be able to sleep at night so there is a lot of honesty in this job and your reputation means a lot to you," he said.
Among some of the most impressionable characters Mr Ingram recalled was the late Gippsland auctioneer and booking clerk, Alan Potter, who would often be talking about the bowls game on the weekend on the rail as Mr Ingram was attempting to sell cattle.
"I'd say to him occasionally, 'Do you have that, Pots?' and he'd just say "You sell, I'll book"," Mr Ingram said.
"Another character that always stood out was one of my bosses at VPC, Ross Bennett, who probably had one of the loudest electioneering voices I've heard in my life.
"It could just about blow you off the fence."
Mr Ingram said his plans in retirement were to spend more time with his family and to tend to his small crossbred ewe operation.
"We've got a little farm at Bairnsdale and a caravan sitting in the shed so we want to do some tripping about and spend some time with our granddaughter," Mr Ingram said.
"I think to a certain extent, I'll miss being an agent because it's been all my life, but you do have to adapt and move on and I'm looking forward to the future."
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