Mustering feral goats is absolutely nothing new for my husband or his team of offsiders. But mustering in remote, rocky hills with a helicopter working overhead is something that only happens once a year.
The rough terrain and distances travelled mean that the crew are on the move from sunrise until the job is finished late in the afternoon with very little time to stop in between.
On a day like this every piece of prior experience counts. Handling unpredictable animals, knowing the environment, handling a motorbike, team work, patience, leadership, communication, resilience and a sense of humour are all skills and attributes that are required and tested.
As the unofficial photographer my skills were also tested. The landscape meant that I was unable to get close to the action until right at the end of the job. The end of the job also happens to be the most hectic part of the day. The goats come down out of the hills and onto the flatter ground at a cracking pace. At the base of the hills they are pushed through a fence and then through an enormous dry creek bed before they finally head towards the trucking yards.
This year I managed to get closer than in the previous muster. Although I was closer I still deliberated over the best place to be. The helicopter buzzed back and forth, the goats swarmed, the motorbikes and dogs swarmed behind the goats, the UHF radios crackled with instructions and I darted around that rocky hill with my camera in my hand and my heart in my mouth.
The kids and I could have easily stayed home and cleaned the bathroom, baked bread or weeded the garden. Instead we chose to spend the weekend supporting this family venture while tackling a photography challenge.
Next year I might find a better position to be in, the light might be easier to work with or I might hold my nerve for a little longer. I have twelve months to plan it out, all over again.
If you have recently set yourself a challenge I hope you nailed it.
Happy Friday, friends.