October 2011

Well, it’s another exciting month here in the paddock. The grass is growing, most barley with a few small patches of oats. When the wind blows across the barley, it looks like velvet. And then there’s the Scotch Thistles. I’m waging war on those with a spray bottle of Zero, because I’ve had enough of getting thorns in my feet – even the old dead ones are nasty.

Julie surprised herself by successfully making a batch of scones. From a packet mix of course, but hey, whatever works! I did most of the work of folding the dough, using the principle of doubling the number of layers each time you fold it over. We even had some reasonably thick cream in the fridge, so I got have scones with jam and cream!

Another part of the wildlife scene out here is a pair of ducks that we see from time to time, especially swimming on the water in the dam. According to our bird book, they nest in hollow logs, so given that we keep seeing them together (i.e. there’s not one of them sitting on a nest), we figure that they are either gay or not yet breeding.

In the paddock across the public road (the one from the main street down to the river), there is a small flock of Dorper sheep. Apparently, they are hardy, fertile, fast-growing meat sheep, and they are now lambing. We had seen the owner out there separating them out and I eventually went over to talk to him (after locking Kelly in the bus). He explained that he was weaning, which means he was separating the previous lambs from the rest of the flock, so that they can be fattened up for sale. Meanwhile, we’ve spotted a couple of lambs out there, and last night, it looked like one of the ewes was giving birth, in the area of their paddock nearest us. Sure enough, when we went out there, she had a brand new lamb and stuff still hanging the back end. We took some pictures and retreated to the bus to watch further. Julie was sure that she was having twins and she was correct. We went over there again in about half an hour and there was the second lamb. More pictures.

The Gradual Return To Work continues at a slow pace. My back is still giving me major grief, with pain levels from almost nothing right up to spasms of 5 out of 10. When someone asked me recently what I considered to be 10, my reply was “the first bowel movement after a hemorrhoidectomy” – it was like crapping razor blades and I nearly passed out at the time. A lot of my issues are related to age-related degeneration in the lower back, which was severely aggravated by the twisting motion, as we were spun over 90 degrees after being hit head on.

Julie’s chest fracture has healed, but there is still residual joint damage in the area, so she still has to take it easy and not do too much. While I remain on 3 days x 5 hours, she has gone to 4 days x 5 hours, which means I’ll have Tuesdays and Thursday at home alone and she’ll have Wednesdays on her own.

It seems that a lot of how well (or not) we feel has a lot to do with the weather. Although it’s Spring here and it is starting to warm up, it’s still been bloody cold sometimes, which simply aggravates the aches.

One of Julie’s favourite dishes is tongue, which I hate, so she only cooks it once a year. She’ll probably do that next week while I’m out at work, but she has been given strict instructions to “air the bloody bus out!”. She also plans to cook one for Dr Susan and take it into work.

For some time now, I’ve been complaining of a mouldy smell coming from my clothes cupboard. Yeah, it’d have to be my side, not hers, right? When we finally had a good look, we could see that it probably originates from where the dome over the shower had been leaking in the past. While the leak has been fixed, the moisture remains, and with the humidity and cold/hot we’ve had lately, mildew has started growing. Looks like we’ll have to attack it with a clove oil spray.

For quite a while now, Kelly has been able to come and go from the pen we built for Angel, by walking in over a corner of the wire and flattening it, so that from inside he can pull it down and walk out. Fortunately, Angel (being Angel) hasn’t figured out how that works and is quite happy to stay in the pen. One day, Julie came home earlier than me and called to say that Angel was absolutely saturated. It was fortunate that she was wearing her DrizaBone style jacket, or she would been freezing as well. It turns out that Kelly had taken over the kennel and she’d been pushed out into the heavy rain. Since then, when rain is forecast, she goes out in the pen and Kelly stays inside. This week, with him feeling a bit off, he went outside, but I have staked up that part of the wire mesh in the pen, to keep him out of it. When we got home, he was frantically trying to get out of the pen, because he’d got in elsewhere but couldn’t get out again.

Kelly is not well again. Apart from his seasonal allergies, he seems lethargic and we suspect he’s constipated. And Angel keeps scratching her ears. So both of them have been to the local vet today. Update: It appears that Kelly is bored! He has been chewing on his feet and apparently, that’s one of the classic symptoms. The vet was lovely, spoke to us for about 45 minutes about diet, pheromones and mineral supplements, and gave them both a C5 shot, all for $85 each. Update: We also think that he was traumatised by not being able to get out of the pen and do his guard duty thing.

My sincere apologies for not having a photo to go with this next story, but it all happened so fast. I’ve been trimming the grass around our campsite, as pain and energy levels permit. During the week, I moved the bus and trimmed the grass very short underneath where it is parked. Today, I was walking down the side of the bus through the not quite so short grass and felt something squishy under my shoe. I looked down and to my horror, I had stepped on a snake, which we later determined to be a 1 metre Eastern Brown. I screamed and jumped sideways. The thoughts that ran through my head, in very quick succession were, “Oh, I’ve stepped on something. Oh crap, it’s a snake. Oh crap, it’s BROWN. Oh crap, I’m in trouble.” Brown Snakes are notorious for their “attack first, ask questions later” approach. However, in this case, the snake, equally surprised, took off in the other direction, under the back of the bus, past the clothesline, through the fence and under the hedge into the next paddock. Everyone else, dogs included, was so surprised that they all just stood there and watched it leave. The grass is now being progressively trimmed to almost ground level for several metres around the whole area. And Julie has now stopped shaking.

In my “spare” time, I have been assisting Dr Morton’s practice, where Julie is employed, with their email addresses and and website. Both are now operational.

The following weekend started badly on Friday when the fridge decided that it was not going to work. Where it normally hangs around 5 degrees C, it was up around 15. So on the way home, we detoured via the secure storage place in Queanbeyan and collected the big esky and a few bags of ice. Once home, we turned the outside fridge on full, so that it could act as the freezer, and transferred everything to “outside”. By Saturday night, we had somehow (still don’t really know how) coerced the fridge to start working again and by Sunday morning, it was back down to about 2 degrees, with the freezer compartment feeling suitably cold. We’ve thrown some food out, but all in all, we’ve done OK.

After our neighbour Wolfgang kindly came over to cut some of our grass, I checked out the ride-on mower in the shed and discovered that all it needed was a jump start for the battery, so it has now been used to keep our area trimmed short, as well as me using it to cut the grass in other parts of the property. Trouble is, every now and then it just stops, and every time it does, I have to go back to where I parked the Zook and bring it over for another jump start. By early afternoon, I gave up on that and I’ll buy an inexpensive battery for it and do some more when the weather is good.

Update: I did buy a battery, and the next day, I was sitting in the bus doing stuff when I heard a roar and there was the property owner heading out of the shed on the mower! He comes in via the door at the back of the shed and I don’t see him. Even our “vicious” guard didn’t alert me. Anyway, he cut the house lawns so that the gardeners could see what they needed to do, and left. So I went down and had a chat with them, finally found where he had left the mower and did some more. That lasted all of about 10 minutes before I threw a belt and the mower stopped cutting. Long story short, I brought it back to the shed, got the belt back on, found that it had stretched, and the owner asked me to drop it off at the lawnmower repair man’s place. Haven’t seen it since.

Love these sunsets.

Oh, and we had the Queen here too. Much excitement in the Melbourne Fiddaman household, when Kiana was selected to present a posy of flowers to the Queen. We have a very small picture of her with the red carpet behind her.