Hours Of Work
In farming, working hours are often variable depending upon the tasks at hand. For example, it is essential that stock have good access to water and feed at all times. With this in mind, it is important to understand that at inconvenient times troughs and windmills may break down, or there may be a wind drought. It is essential that such issues are resolved as soon as possible, in which case staff may be called upon to attend to such matters after hours. There are both busy and quieter periods of work in farming and time-off may well be granted in order to compensate for particularly busy periods.
A positive attitude to work is invaluable in farming, like most things in life, where individuals benefit most themselves when they strive to do their very best. All staff are encouraged to be enthusiastic and willing about all tasks, whether enjoyable of menial.
Being honest and admitting to one’s mistakes is a positive attribute expected of all staff. It is imperative that individuals learn by their mistakes to ensure that they do not repeat them.
It is important to establish a habit of being neat and tidy at work. With this in mind, staff are encouraged to replace all tools where they belong, clean and free of grease and grime, for future ease of use.
Being punctual is essential. This is a good habit to establish which will enhance an individual’s reputation for reliability. Reliability includes staff ensuring that they begin the day with the correct equipment for the day’s tasks as well as properly fed.
Being observant is a skill essential to the field of farming. Staff are encouraged to take note of their surroundings; observe stock movements around water, look down in gateways and observe any tracks and their direction, learn to recognise the tracks of sheep, cattle, foxes etc., recognise tyre and boot tracks. Being observant includes learning from methods others may use in tackling the day’s tasks, such as fixing fences, running stock through the draft, cleaning up flyblown sheep and castrating bull calves etc. If ever unsure, all individuals are firmly encouraged to ask questions. No question is ever too simple.
Staff are expected to take due care of all work vehicles. The well-being of all staff is dependant upon work vehicles being in good condition and operating well. The day’s work is not completed until used vehicles are refuelled, any punctures mended and puncture kits and the like replenished.
Individuals are expected to clarify and understand their instructions for each day of work. If in any doubt, staff are encouraged to ask questions at once and to clarify how to perform any tasks that they may be unfamiliar with. The most efficient way to learn is to ask questions directly as they arise.
Learning to prioritise tasks is an essential part of working within any farming enterprise, as there will always be numerous jobs at hand. If at any time individuals are faced with a task that they find overwhelming they are encouraged to reconsider the requirements of the job and approach it in terms of smaller manageable parts. Such an approach makes it considerably easier to tackle significant tasks by approaching them one stage at a time.
Once staff are familiar with the properties they will be sent on water-runs. Water is the lifeblood of any farming enterprise and it is imperative to ensure that all stock have good access to water at all times. When undertaking a water-run both tanks and troughs must be checked to see that they are full and clean, in addition windmills and pump-jacks must also be checked to confirm that they are functioning correctly. Dams must be checked and any stock that have become bogged must be removed and aided to walk away. It is essential to be observant: individuals must check for any leaks, check the water level in all tanks and troughs, check that windmills are pumping, and if there isn’t sufficient wind to confirm this then individuals must climb the windmill and turn the fan around to check the function. Staff should always carry a notebook and pen, enabling them to take notes on tanks levels, stock at the water and any issues that need to be resolved. Unusual operational rattles, or loose and broken parts should be reported immediately.
Once stock have been mustered they will typically need to be droved to a set of yards, or another paddock. It is important to acknowledge that the group can only travel as quickly as the slowest animal and with this in mind the leaders may well have to be turned back or blocked regularly to ensure that all stock are relocated accordingly.
Helmets are provided for all motorbikes. It is entirely compulsory that such personal safety equipment is worn at all times by all individuals, on all motorbikes.
3-4 pairs of jeans
3-4 work shirts, preferably cotton with long sleeves and button-down pockets
2-3 pairs work shorts
2-3 short sleeved shirts
Gumboots, for winter months
Warm jumper, for work
Hat with full brim
Casual clothes for personal use
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Reliable alarm clock
Paracetamol, or other medications
Clothes pegs, and washing powder
Small personal first aid kit
There are a number of small local towns nearby to all properties, where individuals will be able to purchase most of their requirements.
Daily Clothing Requirements
For all staff working on the properties, it has proven useful to typically wear long sleeved shirts with pockets that have button-down flaps. This enables individuals to keep a pocket notebook and pen secure at all times as well as aiding in restricting sun-exposure to the arms and neck. A robust pair of elastic sided work-boots is essential and for comforts sake staff may consider buying the ‘Airsole’ versions of such boots. A sewing kit with needles, thread and buttons typically proves to be useful, as staff are required to do their own clothing repairs. For those frequently working with motorbikes, a pair of gloves may prove to be a good investment. A waterproof jacket is a must for all staff, as is a hat with a full brim. A pocket notebook and pen are required in order to make notes during the working day, to write instructions and annotate any issues with the waters on the property. Tank levels, stock numbers and other details may be recorded therein. A simple two-bladed, stock pocket-knife in a belt pouch may additionally prove the be very useful.
Accommodation and Bedding
Accommodation may be arranged for staff where required. Some bedding may be provided, although it safest to assume that standard bedding is needed for those in accommodation on site. Sheet sets, pillows and at least 3 blankets, or a warm doona or sleeping bag should be sufficient in all cases.
A reliable alarm clock is an imperative requirement. It is important for all members of the team to be punctual to work.
For working purposes staff are not required to have their own vehicle, however most individuals may find that having access to their own vehicle may well prove preferable as it offers individuals a degree of independence, especially on weekends.
Under the Landlords Insurance Policy, on all properties personal possessions are not covered for loss or damage. If individuals have valuable items, or cannot afford the loss of or damage to their belongings, they are strongly advised to arrange for independent, personal insurance on their possessions.
GPC understands the importance of a balanced life for all staff. With this in mind, barbeques and other social events may be organised on occasion for all individuals to enjoy in their spare time.
Wages are paid by direct credit on a fortnightly basis. Upon beginning work with GPC all staff are required to provide their current banking details, in addition to supplying their superannuation fund details and tax file number (TFN).
What to expect at GPC
While exceedingly rewarding in many respects, working in farming in Victoria's Western District can at times be trying and tiring. The weather extremes and environment may well be quite different to those conditions which staff have previously been accustomed. It is imperative to understand that, like most things worthwhile, farming life will at times prove to be challenging and testing. Nevertheless, if individuals apply themselves to the best of their ability, and work through the initial stages of acclimatisation, it is typical to find the work very satisfying and rewarding.