ZOE ALLEN got down and dirty when she volunteered on a cattle farm…

Seven O’clock in the morning. Unable to open my eyes from the blissful silent nights sleep in my lovely log cabin. Freezing from the country air, groggy from the fact I hadn’t been up this early in a very long time.

Still in my Neanderthal ape mode, eyes still half shut and barely able to communicate with anyone, good job its animals I’d be seeing first. I put on my jeans, gum boots, t-shirt and cowboy hat, I made my way down to the feeding sheds; chickens, sheep and turkeys and then the pigs. The morning sun glistening over the dewy grass and warming the side of the mountains in the distance.

Looking around at the farm made me giggle. Such an unusual sight compared to the mornings at home in London. No morning coffee in front of BBC News, but squealing pigs at the foot of a mountain and around a dozen peacocks jumping around on the pigsty tin roof. As if things couldn’t get any more humorous; Linda (a Wwoofer due to leave that day after 5months on the farm) comes strolling around the corner with a huge black and white dairy cow in front of her. Her name is Nora, and she needed milking.

Nora is a beautiful creature. She has huge brown eyes, enviably long eye lashes curling up to the sky and a very very big udder. It was really amazing watching her being milked. Linda had a good technique and before long she’d filled a bucket. So stupid to have to remind yourself that the milk we use everyday comes from a cow, it was lovely to be a part of a proper working farm and having nothing inbetween the consuming process. No factory, no shop, no packaging. Just Nora, and me needing something to accompany my cornflakes. Cheers Nora.

Later that morning, the farmer wanted us out with on the horses. But this wasn’t for a kiddy trail ride or a guided tour. This was Cattle Mustering! This was it. I nearly passed out from fear. A group of cows had moved into a neighbouring farm and onto a field they weren’t supposed to be in. We had to muster them back down to the grazing paddock a few kilometres down the lane. I hadn’t ridden a horse for nearly 5 years and it was a slightly different feeling to the stunningly fearless girl I used to be.

Saddled up and ready to go, my lovely horse; Flicker would hopefully be kind to me. We trotted off down the lane and before I knew it; we were faced with 20 or more cows, and one huge bull. Its horns were bloody huge, and its balls…quite possibly the biggest testicles I have ever seen in my life. It’s safe to say I was white with fear. Scarier still was that Flicker started to sense my unease, and began acting accordingly. She hesitated up the hillside, twitching as the cows all turned their heads to look at us. The cows were nervous too. What were we doing? Why were we surrounding them?

A little calf bounced over to its mother and a few other just stood frozen, big brown eyes transfixed on the four humans on horseback. I looked like a real cowgirl, I felt like a rabbit caught in headlights. What the hell am I doing? I was sent over to guard the gate and ensure when the cattle left the field that they went in the right direction. If any strayed I was told to shout at the top of my lungs and scream them away. A few “YAH YAAAAH’S” later and the dozen or so cattle were nervously trotting their way down the dusty lane and away from the field.

I trailed the back whilst a few others lead, and the farmer ensured the strays kept with the herd. The mountains in the background, fields either side, a huge group of cows in front of us, and being on horseback. What an incredible experience! How surreal can this possibly get? The dream is playing out, the real Australia, the real countryside, a real farm. And I was now a cowboy. Well, a Wwoofer at the very least!