September 20, 2011
After graduating from high school, I traveled to Australia for the summer and spent some time on a cattle ranch. It wasn't some tourist type thing; it was the real deal. It was as if I thought I were actually cool enough to do something of this nature. Turns out, I wasn't.
The flight was about a million hours long and I sat next to a lady who lost her glasses about 15 minutes into the trip. She made me help her look for them the entire time.
I was really excited when the plane landed, both to see Australia and to get away from the lady.
Once on the cattle station, I became entranced by the differences in Australia. For one thing, the birds in Australia don't exactly chirp. They kinda sound like a human laughing.
Also, they put beets on their burgers unless you request otherwise.
There really were kangaroos just like, living there. All over the place. That didn't stop the zoo from having them as an exhibit.
I learned from the zookeeper that a kangaroo's pouch is not just an exterior fanny pack type deal. It actually connects to their insides at the bottom.
Thus began my complete aversion to kangaroos and marsupials in general.
On that cattle station, I helped with a number of ranching activities that were foreign to me. One of these tasks was to help drive the cattle along the many acres of the farm. There I was, in the outback, driving a horse and corralling steer. I would have felt really tough and rugged were it not for my horse. Because I was new to the whole equestrian thing, the ranchers decided to put me on Old Denim, a horse that was about a zillion years old, partially deaf, a bit slow and a lot unsteady. He was loyal at best and at least alive.
Old Denim actually did a fairly good job of keeping up with the herd, but the experience of riding him wasn't without incident. At one point, Denim charged up a hill to make sure he could make it to the top. He didn't care that there was a low hanging branch in our path.
He was also prone to dozing off at unpredictable times.
The biggest challenge for Old Denim and me came after a long day of riding. The ranchers had dropped the cattle where they needed to be and we were riding together back to the station. I started to feel Old Denim's legs buckle and tremble a bit, but he kept going. I figured I was just imagining things. Just as I was starting to feel a little guilty for doubting the old horse, he reached his breaking point. Old Denim very quietly fell forward onto his own head.
I didn't know what to do, so I leaned back as and squeezed my legs tight to stay on his back. It actually kinda worked.
Silently, Old Denim got back to his feet and ambled on like nothing had ever happened. No one seemed to notice.
Also, being on a cattle station, the meat was always super fresh.