Rafael de Grenade was twelve years old when she quit school and soon began to work on a rough-country mountain ranch in Arizona. There she learned how to sleep out when there was no fast way home; how to track her way by familiar spires and rivers; how to survive off the water that seeped from moss hidden in the valleys. But when she read about cattlemen working the far edges of the Australian outback, they sparked a dream in her far wilder than anything she had ever known. A little over a decade later she arrived on Stilwater Station with two shirts, two pairs of jeans, cowboy boots, and some doubt that she would ever come home.
One thousand square miles of costal scrub—inundated by monsoon floods in the winter, baked dry in the summer, and filled with the most deadly animals in the world—Stilwater seems an unlikely home for a cattle operation. But in the countless miles beyond the station compound roam tens of thousands of cows, many entirely feral from a long period of neglect. Rafael has been hired, along with a ragged crew of ringers and stockmen, to bring them in for drafting. Over a season they use helicopters, motorcycles, bullcatcher jeeps, horses, ropes, and knives to win Stilwater Station back from the wild, to say nothing of their intuition, strength, muscle and wit.
A deeply poetic inquiry into our desire to make order where we find wildness, Stilwater: Finding Wild Mercy in the Outback suffuses us with salt and scrub and blood, blurring the line between domestic and feral in wondrous, unsettling ways. This is a whirlwind of men, women, cattle, horses, machines and landscape in collaborative evolution, all becoming different manifestations of the same entity—the Australian Wild.