All stock on the property I am looking after can access the boundary fence of the residence even though they may be in different paddocks. This is helped by the cattle and horses sharing the same paddock.
At about 6.30am this morning, the was a distinct uproar as cattle, sheep and hens joined in a not particularly coordinated chorus of sound.
All the animals were essentially in the one area. The sheep were up against the hen enclosure and the cattle were a few metres away be it separated by a gate.
The next sound was that of galloping hooves and the two horses were effectively rounding up the final few cattle and driving them in to the same area.
Each time a cow sort to leave the area, one of the horses prevented them from doing so.
The was an obvious feeling of tension in the air. The usually relaxed dogs were on edge as they moved, stopped still, sniffed the breeze and repeated.
I have no idea what happened to concerned the animals. They felt threatened and uncomfortable and responded accordingly.
The two horses are experienced in working a muster and it appeared they had acted to herd the cattle to an area they considered safe and then held them there.
After about 45 minutes the horses stood down from their guard, the noise fell away and they all returned to grazing. The gradually dispersed too.
It occurred to be the animals on a farm are effectively like a work place with all having a job to do. The sheep grow wool, the hens lay eggs, it is their place of work.
An effective human workplace is one where each team member’s skills and abilities are respected and supported and where colleagues combine to ensure a safe environment.
Ideally, when someone feels threatened, unsafe or uncomfortable at work, the first line of support comes from colleagues. A great work environment is one where all team members feel empowered to provide necessary support and encouragement and can do so with the courage born from knowing their will be no victimisation or retaliation.
I have no idea if it was a pack dingoes, angry adult kangaroos or even someone hunting wild dogs (legally) that caused the animals to be concerned.
It did however appear very obvious that the horses took the initiative, used their mustering skills and took the cattle to safety.
I feel privileged to have worked in several safe, productive and cooperative environments, and hope I may have built one or two such workplaces myself.
More so however, the scene I witnessed this morning was quite moving and an interesting physical representation of a safe and supportive workplace.