The phone was ringing, ‘ checked the caller id and sure enough it was Kelvin. His best mate, Darryl, had been telling me about their recent feral goat mustering attempts and to expect a call.
“How are you mate? I’m sitting on a hill watching some wild goats flogging my rye grass” “Can’t be good” I replied. “Do you reckon you and your dogs could get them in for me?” “As soon as I fix this fence I’ll be there. I’ll pick up Darryl on the way and we’ll see you in about an hour.”
I rang my wife, Tracey, to let the dogs out for a run before I got home to save time, and I contacted Daryl to put him into the picture.
I found out it takes a 5 km trip on a slow road up a mountain to hear all of the dramas associated with this particular mob of goats. And it is a worry when the most successful capture was of three goats at the expense of one of Kelvins young sons falling from his horse through barbed wire and Kelvin rolling the quad onto himself and the three hapless goats.
Psalm 104 v 18. The high mountains are for the mountain goats and the crags are a refuge for the rabbits.
Not according to Kelvin, we couldn’t see any rabbits but those 86 ferals were a threat to his livelihood and we needed a plan to capture them. And plans we had plenty of them. Kelvin, his son Brett, another of our neighbours, Harold, his three dogs, Darryl, me and my two dogs, we all had at least one. We were overlooking a truly biblical sight featuring a big open valley dotted with enough multicolour to make Joseph envious. To be honest, most of the plans were going to require some divine intervention to succeed. As I was the new blood on the mountain and due to the abject failure of previous attempts the group decided to send Neon, Gillette (Jilly) and me into the fray while they sat back with the binoculars to “watch the circus”
Checking the breeze set us on a course downwind for about a kilometre out of sight and when we next spotted the goats they were making good progress towards a thick tea tree scrub on the eastern side. I was aware that Jilly was on heat, and with the witnesses on the hill, the last thing I needed was two dogs becoming one with the wrong sort of cover, hold and drive, so, Neon set off on a 500 metre cast, downwind. The foe was unaware of his presence until he approached them head on. They initially stopped in disbelief, then mobbed up for relief. Memories from past experience encouraged them to try to split and bolt for the timber but Neon had their measure and, although working hard, he was able to offer them relief only when they traveled in my direction. When the herd was about 200 metres from me I cast Jilly to assist with its education especially as a couple of Billies were offering some substantial attacks in an attempt to discourage the dogs from dominating them.
Gillette reveled in this job as she took a couple of hits with hardly a flinch then held her position until the Billy capitulated and changed direction. Again Jilly was there square on his head. This was too much for the goats and they yielded to the pressure and relief offered by the dogs.
After ten minutes I approached from behind driving the goats towards the yards, Jilly out in front steadying the lead, Neon working the sides to affect a calm walk until they were safely captured and held by the dogs as I closed the gate.
The boys came down and the big grin on Kelvins face said it all. “Well that was easy” he laughed.
“How much are those dogs worth” asked Brett.
I replied “Well there are around 75 saleable goats in the yard at $3.50 over the hooks. I’m guessing 15kg average weight, that’s just shy of $4000 for a few hours work. However, the opportunity for us to witness the miracle of well-bred Kelpies applying their trade, that’s priceless.”