My Days as a Cattle Station Cook

The buzzer goes off and I groggily swing my legs off the bed. Ouch I smack my feet on the plastic box, our make shift bedside table and clothes storage. It’s pitch black outside and as I step out into the fresh morning air I gaze up. The sky is clear bathed in a million stars. I hate mornings but out here it’s a whole different story. I walk into the corrugated dshower block that I share with a myriad of boys so it’s messy but in the mornings I don’t care. The concrete is cold on my feet but I brush my teeth and take in my reflection. It will have to do. I haven’t used a brush since my arrival I can’t find it but it doesn’t matter. I pull my hair into a pony tail, Β  pull on my jumper and walk across the homestead lawn. I can feel the dew between my toes and even though I am wearing thongs I can feel the ground soggy beneath my feet.

Now in the kitchen I fill and boil the kettles and turn on the frypans.I pull out all the nice cuttings of cold meat, the containers of salads and left overs for sandwiches. I line them up along the counter like a buffet and set the table for breakfast. I pop the bacon into the pan and when cooked slip it into the oven to keep warm. I pour in 20 eggs and put the lid on. While they cook I make mental notes of the days cooking. What is for dinner again? Do I need 5kgs or 10kgs of meat? At 5.30am the first weary eyed ringers make their way into the kitchen. As they prepare their lunch I place the fried eggs and crispy bacon on the table and they dig in. They are sure to have a big day ahead. By 6am the kitchen is packed and by 6.30am the last stragglers head off to work.

From there I clean up the mess they left behind. Wipe benches, sweep, mop and prepare the kitchen for a busy day of baking and cooking. With thirty workers to prepare hearty meals for the oven gets a workout and it ends up being quite a juggle.Β  Planning is key although I always end up winging it. By 9am I have all the chores done including checking on the caravan park, restocking the shop and social club, tidying the bbq area and the rec room and feeding the chooks, pigs and poddy calves. It is then time to start baking. I try to cook at least two cakes a day and biscuits and then start with the dinner prep. This means I can have the afternoon off and come back an hour or two before tea to finish it off.

My time off is spent relaxing, researching recipes, watching a movie, going for a walk or hanging out with the workers in the kitchen as they come in for lunch. There is a mad rush just before dinner setting the table and finishing off the cooking. When everyone sits down and enjoys their meal it is worth every minute. We all sit down, talk and laugh over dinner and a few drinks. Then its wind down time, a game of pool or ping-pong or movies and then off to bed.

Waiting for the buzzer to go off again.

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