Ranchlands Down Under: Boil the Billy

June 17, 2016


Sam is an apprentice on Chico Basin Ranch. As part of her apprenticeship, she spent eight months working on a cattle station in Australia.

Around nine thirty in the morning, or later if we are mustering, the crew takes a collective break for a half hour that’s called ‘smoko’. The smoko is centered around having a cup of tea which is prepared in a Billy can. The Billy can the crew uses has been seasoned to perfection over the years. Once the fire is hot enough to send the water to a rolling boil, a fistful of ground tea leaves are chucked in and the Billy is quickly pulled off the fire using a pair of fencing pliers. Cool water is then poured over the tea to ensure all the leaves sink to the bottom, and then some water is poured on the handle until it’s cool enough to touch. Sugar is poured into tin cups along with the tea and the crew relaxes in the shade spinning yarns until it’s time to get back to work.