Monday, 5 August 2013

the humming of the bees ....

by Simone McPherson

For the past few mornings we have had a visitor at the front of the house, early catching the morning sun and the new sweet grasses that have come up overnight.  It’s a female Wallaroo and her little joey another little female, though still very shy and not out of the pouch quite yet.  

A few years ago I was very fortunate to find along the side of the road a female Wallaroo that had been hit by a car.  I stopped to move her off the dirt road and from beside her came his little thing hissing and carryon!  It was her joey a little female Wallaroo. 

I had no intentions of taking care of this tiny little creature that just ‘plopped’ into my arms when I caught her and took her home, “What do I know about Wallaroos?  Not a thing”!

I organised with a couple who took care of Native animals that had been injured in road accidents, for them to take care of her.  Only to find that when I drove for an hour and a half to reach where the couple lived I could not let her go.  So the elderly couple instructed me as to what I needed to do and they also advised me that these creatures are very sensitive and generally do not survive without their mothers, she weighed just on 478gms.  

Luckily this little joey had fur on her which meant that she was about to be turfed out of the pouch which meant that she may have been two or three months old anyway even though her little paws had never touched the ground they were velvety and so soft – they were brand new.

So that is how my journey with ‘Miffy” started.  It was very trying to start with, as I had no idea of their habitat even though I see these creatures each and every day – how terrible.  Then to the fact that they are NOCTURNAL – God I did not sleep for months as Miffy crashed around in the bathroom at night trying to get out and do her thing. 

And then when winter came it was freezing so I negotiated with Miffy and she sleep in her pillow case with me in bed to keep her warm.  

But it was Maxi the black dog that taught me the most.  Maxi would have been about three of four back then and still young at heart but not stupid

He became her Guardian and followed her everywhere and all I had to do was ask “where is Miffy”?  And Maxi would take me to her.  I would catch them in the garden playing chasey together – Miffy chasing Maxi, they would be snoozing together and then when Miffy crawled into her ‘Pillowcase’ – her little pouch – it was sleep time for her so I would hang her in a tree somewhere quiet in the shade while I kept working – I was a ‘Landscaper’ at that time.  Then a few hours later when she started to move around in her pouch and wanted to come out – well Maxi would come over and get me and I would let her out.  Miffy showed me her beautiful coat as she preened herself, she showed me her paws and her claws when she played with me and she also showed me her tail and its strength.

I purchased a little cat collar with a bell for her as she was so quiet that at times when I was in the kitchen preparing her milk, she would be so hungry following me everywhere,  I would accidently tread on her.  And at night when she got older and did go out at night I would call her and I was able to hear her coming.  

I would take her shopping with me in a shoulder bag – you see she slept during the day so that was perfect – and not a soul would know that I had a Wallaroo in my bag.  Then as she got a bit older she would stay in the cab of my Ute chewing on grass and that certainly did bring some stares and even ‘shock’ from passer-by’s.

Then as she became more independent – I did not allow other people to touch her and I even had to wean Maxi off her as I wanted her to return to her natural habitat and I did not want her to trust People and Dogs – as we have a lot of poachers, men who go out hunting native/feral animals under the cover of darkness with dogs here.  

I would have hated anything to have happened to her, it would have broken my heart.  She would come in at about 9am and get herself all curled up on my bed ready for her sleep tossing the pillows in all directions until she was comfortable – then she would wake at around 3pm give a big stretch hop of the bed, out the door and start foraging into the evening.

I would feed her a ‘wild parrot’ mixture of seeds – sunflower seeds, millet and some other grains that she enjoyed early in the mornings as she would come and wake me.  Then one day I didn’t see her for two days.  The following morning she showed up with a very handsome young male Wallaroo.  Miffy had showed him her stash of ‘wild parrot’ mix and they were eating together on the verandah it was then that I knew my job had been done. 

I no longer live in that part of this district, though I still know that Miffy and her babies are out and about in their own habitat, which gladdens my soul.

The little joeys are so adorable and it is lovely to watch them as they go out and explore their new world.  We call them ‘Learners’ as they have these wonderfully strong leg muscles and a very strong tail yet they do not quite have control over them and end up bouncing all over the place and even crashing into things! Hilarious!

We have also had a beautiful young male hanging around the back of the house.  He looks very strong and nearly in his prime.  The male Wallaroos are a dark charcoal colour while the smaller females are more of a blue/grey colour and they always have their winter coats on, even in summer! 

In the summer time where our temperatures may reach over 35 degrease Celsius – you will find them – all Kangaroos, Wallaroos and rock Wallaby’s – licking their arms, this is how they cool down underneath all that fur.

There is an old Wallaroo that we call ‘the old bloke’ who lives around the horse shed he is quite used to us now and does not bother to go far when we turn up, you can see he has been through the ‘wars’ as his ears are now flat as they are all cut up.....

 ......We also have had visits from another type of Wallaby called a ‘Pretty face’ they too, are a lovely looking creature that ....

 ...... co-habitat with the cattle, the horses and us here.

We have on occasion come across the .....

 ........spiny ant eater – the Echidna – and of course we have Snakes and quite a few of them and they are not very nice at all.  The ‘King Brown’ is deadly and in summer we have extra eyes in our heads. 
Then there is the ‘Red bellied Black’ still a venomous snake though not as aggressive as the ‘King Brown’ .....

 .....they will chose to go in another direction – you generally find them living in the long cool grass down near the damp creek beds waiting for all the little frogs to come out, to feed on.  Like this beauty that was crossing the road one afternoon. 

My little gardens have just started to grow again as the days get a little warmer 

– though the air is still like ‘Ice’ and it is lovely to see those smiling velvety faces.....

....... they always look so happy .....   

And with the warmer days by a degree at least, the Wattles are really starting to do their thing.

The other morning while out chasing cattle – we came across a small patch of Wattle and as El Ranchero turned off the ignition on the Landrover .....

.......all we could hear was the humming of the bees as they start to collect all that wonderful pollen for their honey …..

And the intensity of the yellow against the winter landscape is just incredible, to think that such brilliance exists? Just wonderful.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

as the Wattles start to burst ....

by Simone McPherson
The days have been slowly getting longer and with that I have been taking an afternoon walk just before the sun disappears after another wonderful day.

Maxi is always up for a walk so off we go ..... though this time I decided to take a detour into the bush to see where the Wattles were growing and to discover any blossoms that may be out.

I find a little grove, though .....

 .....they are just on the verge then something catches my eye in the late afternoon light....

 – a burst of brilliance! It’s the Red-leaf Wattle ........

.......  - Acacia rubida – such a brilliant little beauty.
We have also had visitors for a few days so ‘all’ has been put on hold while the Sparkling Wine flows and the stories are told.......

......... So El Ranchero and Maxi take “D” for an outing ...

...... and then they are off for an adventure.  While us girls stay at the Hacienda chatting and laughing.



It also gives us time to go out and about exploring and we find some more bursting wattle blossoms its the subtle Red-leaf Wattle ......


 .....with our visitors we take a drive to the GLENLYON DAM.  The dam was finished in 1975 an took five years to complete, with a lot of controversy along the way.  You see a lot of farms down stream lost their water and the water that is let out, is for the 'Cotton' growers over 1,000 kms or so away .......
Then all too soon our visitors are on their way and we are back into our routine again working the cattle – and it was on one of these outings in the Landrover that we had a slight mishap. 

The Landrover is an old vehicle and is put through a great many trials in its daily working life and one of those ‘trials’ was “Crashing” into a large tree whilst out chasing some rouge cattle – the brakes are not as good as they used to be – though I can vouch, that we did come to an absolute sudden 'stop' as we collided with that tree and it just stood there upright and solid, very solid in fact.  

Well as a result we cracked part of the brace that holds the Bulbar to the chassis!  That was a good effort!  Now the Landrover is an indispensable member of our working team and as a consequence we needed to go into Stanthorpe for the repairs – welding is not one of El Ranchero strong points he is very good at making ‘Holes’ with the welder though.

So after a phone call we organised ourselves for an early drive into Stanthorpe the following morning. 

Now, the only way to take the Landrover into town is in the horse float! 
Yes that is right and it just fits!  So she is loaded up .....

 ... then just before we leave our place, a few adjustments are made and cross checks are done then we are on our way .....


.......and after an hour and a bit we are in town!

The Landrover is unloaded by El Ranchero .....

.......and then inspected for what is needed to be done for the repairs.  And we are told to return in Two? hours.

So I am treated to a lovely coffee and an Almond Croissant by El Ranchero as we have coffee together. 

We wander around for a bit and I find some lovely plants that have started to bloom as Spring time approaches.

Then FIVE hours later! The Landrover is ready and we are more than ready to get back home though the day has already gone. 

Nevertheless not to have waisted the whole day, we decide to stop for some photographs on the way home ....

.....of all the Intensity.... 

......of the brilliant yellows against the winter tones of the countryside .... the Wattles start to burst along the roadway.