Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cattle la lowing!

Today was the island stock sale. I was part of the team who were selling tea, juices, sandwiches, cake and hot dogs to the 'crowd'. As it is school holidays there were quite a few children out for the day, as well as the farmers who had come to sell, or hoping the price was right, to buy. We were a little bit removed from the actual pens, in our old army style tent, but were the only refreshments available, so we did a brisk trade for most of the day.

So there we were, 4 women stuck in a small sheltered area, with a small gas stove to heat the saveloys and the coffee water, an esky (what we would call a coolbox) to keep the juice cold and several tables for cake and money etc. Unfortunately someone had herded their cows over our piece of ground before the tent went up, but we had a piece of red plastic over the biggest pats, and having labelled that the 'red carpet' the fun began. I have not laughed so much for so long in years, and I think my cheeks will be stiff tomorrow.

The 'A' team, who usually do the work, were not available, so we were apprentices without guidance, and we muddled through, and I hope made some money, but it was more by good luck than good judgement in the beginning, before we learned the ropes, and how to make the leaky gas stove cook faster. Do you know that if you put saveloys in water and begin to heat them, and then take some of the water out of the pot, it will have become a really girlie pink??

I think every customer left with a smile, but whether they were laughing with us, or at us, is anyones guess.

I thought that the saveloys were tastier this time, but I am not sure if that was hunger adding sauce, or whether I am becoming more accustomed to island tastes. I could smell coffee all day, but dared not have a cup, as there are no bathroom facilities at all at the saleyards. Which I found really strange.

A cow got its leg over one of the wooden struts that make up the sides of the pens, and immediately our landlord and a 'mate' of his jumped into action. One running to the ute to fetch the chainsaw, and the other getting into position ready to use it. The commotion even attracted our attention, so we popped out of the tent, in time to see the burly farmer pull the chainsaw into action on the run. Except that it didn't start, first, second or third pull. He handed it over to the owner, who also failed to start it for a few pulls. Then finally, just as I was going to jog over to ask sweetly if I could help, it started with a roar, and the cow was saved. If it had broken a leg, it would have had to be put down immediately, and as we have no abbattoir on the island it would have been a total write off. I asked the landlord later if I should have come to help, but he just muttered that his 'mate' had flooded the engine, normally she starts first pull.

Still it was great to get home, and over a delicious cup of coffee, tell Dave all about it. What did we laugh at? I think it was mass hysteria, at how many things can go wrong in setting up a stall, when we found we had no water, or matches, and the first customer used one of those 100 dollar notes to pay 3 dollars for his coffee. One of the ladies car's had overheated on the way in, and she had discovered there was a hole in her radiator, and her husband was worried she had cooked the engine, which just added to the need to laugh away the tension.

It was certainly a day to remember, the company, the sights and the smells. I really hope they invite me to help again.


  1. You've taught me a new word -- saveloy. According to the article I found, Australian versions are usually battered -- but it sounds as if you were boiling them, so I don't think they'd be battered. Of course, it also talked about New Zealand having bigger ones (eyebrow lifted) but didn't mention Flinder's Island, so I'm not quite sure about your local ones. Fun!

  2. A diner told me a story the other night, he swore it was true !

    At the annual Potjie fest he decided to enter with a pigtail Potjie, a derivation of oxtail.

    Now it so happens that he had a pig that had been born without a tail, so he painted a red ring round the missing part and let the pig run around during the competition.

    The bunny huggers were appalled until the birth defect was explained.

  3. We have something very similar called a "Hot Link".

    I must say I am still amazed when you mention that you have no meat processing facilities on Flinders....the little town of 700 that I lived in before marrying Christine had one. It was most busy during deer season. The man who owns it is also a farmer and you gave him a call to set up a time. In fact, now that I think of it, the next town over (14 miles away) had a similar situation.

    Is this due to tougher regulations in Oz?

  4. We generally call them hot dogs.

    Last weekend I was at a train station, and an American couple ordered hot dogs...they were very surprised to see them then being fished out of hot water...I think they were after what we call a sausage (which you would usually grill or fry).

    The intricacies of the various English dialects ;)

  5. Mike, the saveloy here is a sausage with a red outer layer, and skin that it is necessary to split while boiling to get it to taste extra good! They are about 3cm wide, and the texture is very fine, like a Vienna sausage in South Africa, but a lot bigger. They are not battered at all, here, just served in a slice of white bread with tomato sauce added to taste. No mustard in sight.

  6. There is an abbattoir here, and there seems to be a long story as to why it no longer functions. More to do with someone needing to buy it, than not being properly licenced, as I understand it currently. It is big enough to do sheep and pigs and the occasional cow, not big enough to really deal with cattle, so I hear, and the island has mostly gone over to growing beef.

  7. Still no reason to waste the cow. Just cut it up and let folks take a haunch or other piece home. I've dressed out a deer* in my back yard and butchered it in the kitchen.

    *Ever see those shoulder patches for trophy points and weapon used? Mine would say "Whitetail Spike buck -- 1980 Pontiac Station Wagon" :D

    Hey, I can't help that he stuck his noggin square in front of my headlight...after I'd slowed down to let his buddy and him cross the road. Some critters are just too dumb to live. But that one was mighty tasty. :)

  8. I reckon it is part of 'survival of the fittest', if he is too dumb to get out of the way, his genes should not live on!

  9. The hot dog (most common name I think) is known as a saveloy (or sav) in some parts, a frankfurt in others. They come in a variety of sizes, from the large ones Barbs describes to small ones known variously as cheerios (maybe in Queensland)to 'little boys' (guess why!) in others. Little boys are greatly popular at children's parties.
    You would generally buy battered savs at the fish and chip shop.

  10. As I was reading this I had the makings in the fridge for a hotdog so guess that's for lunch.

    Saveloys, frankfurts, little boys, cocktail frankfurts, all equal a red skinned casing with a fine sausage mixture that is either boiled or microwaved. I think every Aussie kid has eaten the little boys at some stage in their life or seen them at a kid's party.

  11. Our ones in SA were a lot thinner and smaller than the ones we were selling.

    For our kids parties Dave cooked little pork cocktail sausages and attached them by toothpick to a cucumber he had made a mouth at one end of with red cherry teeth,and we served crocodile, or dragon sausage, and they were always first to be finished on the table of sweets and chips etc. Some years they even ate the cucumber!!