November 2011

Life is supposed to be relaxing out here, but there always seems to be so much to do, just to keep things ticking over, that sometimes, like this month, it gets almost to the middle of the month before I get to the website. We’ve certainly had some spectacular weather there lately. One night, we had a massive thunderstorm right over the top of us. Virtually constant flashing and noise that woke us up. The good news from that one is that I have finally found and plugged one of our roof leaks and there is now only one to go. The not so good news is that earlier this week, I prepared the bus to take it down to near the house, to dump the black tank into the septic. I travelled all of about 10 feet before it got stuck. The end result was it needed the Zook pulling with a rope and 2 pulleys, plus Phil’s Defender, plus the bus driving itself, before it came out of the hole. In retrospect, I could have postponed the tank dump for a few days, or backed the bus out instead of driving right into the boggy bit. We live and learn!

Angel scared us last night, when she started yelping every time that she, we or anything else went near her right ear. Now what you need to know about Angel is that she yelps a lot anyway. Steps on a prickle, scratches herself too hard, and a few others for which we don’t even know the cause. Anyway, in addition to that, she was walking along holding her head right down on the right side. Our local vet alternates between his home office in Gundaroo and an outpost in Gunning. Fortunately he finishes there about 4pm and has enough time to fit a couple of emergency appointments in when he gets back. His first thought was a grass seed in the ear and examined both ears. Fine, except that she was pretty cranky about anything being in, or even near, her right ear and it took me and the vet’s wife to hold her down! It turned out that it was an infection in both ears, so we are now treating that and she is spending most of her time sleeping it off.

She has also figured how to walk INTO her pen, but has still not yet figured out how to get OUT again. Which is very good situation, because Kelly can come and go as necessary, and Angel feels safe and secure in the pen. Very early on, we bought a kennel and put it in there, for protection against the rain. Since then, we have put the big shade thingy that fits over the bus windscreen draped over the kennel end of the pen, to provide shade. She’ll quite happily spend all day in there.

And we have neighbours again. We have 1, soon to be 3, horses in the middle paddock, so we’ll have to get used to opening and shutting gates when we take the bus down to empty the tank. Update: All 3 have settled in well, quite happy to talk to me, while Kelly keeps a respectful distance. Funny – when he sees a movement from inside the bus, he barrels out the door, barking at whatever he sees, smells, or thinks he sees or smells. Most of the time of course, it’s just a horse or two. We have now had them right at the fence line. In fact, one of them came up to me and I could see that the fly screen mask over his face had moved off one ear and was dragging down onto his eye. He was quite happy for me to undo the bottom of it, re-adjust it over both ears and do it up again underneath. He even gave me a nuzzle, or head butt, or something. Anyone out there had a lot to do with horses? Maybe you could explain.

Meanwhile, Angel has tolerated the goop being inserted into both ears twice a day, but has been very tired and has been sleeping a lot. By that, I mean more than usual. And with the goop that she flicks off her ears, she looks decidedly scruffy, a bit like a permanent bad hair day.

The little bugger has also learnt how to walk out of her pen. One day, I put a stake in the ground to hold the pen up, and when I came home, Kelly had got into the pen and once again, couldn’t get out. So we let the pen flop again and later on, actually watched her enter and exit the pen, somewhat more carefully than Kelly does, but still very effective. One afternoon, I found her on the other side of the paddock fence – in the paddock where the horses are. No problem, I thought, they’re pretty good at where they put their feet. But no, this afternoon, she had made her way back in there again and one of the horses was working her way along the fence line, between the fence and the bushes. We watched and waited to see what would happen, and when it looked like the horse was about to step right on Angel, I grabbed her up and brought her inside. It wouldn’t be so bad if she bedded down in the long grass, or under the bus, or inside her pen, but sleeping in the horse paddock has us in a real quandary. Update: A few days later, she and the same horse were in the same vicinity and the horse neatly stepped around her. We breathed a little easier after that.

As far as we can tell, the smaller white horse is a female, with the two bigger brown ones used to be males. She is small enough to fit along our fence line, but they are not. And one in particular gets rather upset that she can go somewhere that he can’t. Much huffing and snorting! All this about 10 metres from our front door.

I took Angel back to the vet on my day off (Wednesday – work 2 days, take a break, work 2 days) to get her ears checked, to be told that the infection was almost gone. Then, just as Julie came home, we observed Angel thrashing her head around in a rather alarming way. It took us a while to realise that she was sneezing violently and almost continuously. Off to the vet again. He, of course, was surprised to see me again so soon. In our opinion, he is a fabulous vet and Julie has now stated that even if we move away from here, she would travel miles to consult him. The vet’s conclusion was that she had inhaled a foreign object, most likely a grass seed. So in addition to goop in her ears twice a day, she now has to have a tablet down her throat. I stayed home on Thursday and Friday, to make sure that she was placed where she would not hit her head as she thrashed it around.

Meanwhile, we appear to be seeing the effects of a La Niña weather pattern. It’s hot for a day or two, then it rains for a few more. So much so that the hole left by bogging the bus last time filled with water, which then becomes mud. Even though we are now on higher ground, I feel really uneasy even thinking about moving the bus, especially down through the middle paddock (where the horses are), where the track is under water in a couple of places, and through the gate where we can’t speed up a little to maintain momentum, because the we only have a matter of inches to spare on either side. So we can’t get down to the septic tank and therefore have to improvise locally. As it happens, where the tree fell down, there a quite a sizable hole underneath the area. I simply store up some grey water in the grey tank, dump most of the liquid from the black tank (which is, after all, the bit that causes the most problems when it overflows) into the hole, then flush the hose and pipe with the built-up grey water. Then we go back to pushing the grey water out onto the grass. Which makes the ground even more soggy!

We also have a new house starting to be built, just across the public road driveway. There was a guy with his front loader out there nearly all day, pushing the topsoil into a big pile, then smoothing out a small cut and fill for the house foundations. When he was finished, I observed him from a distance as he took his measuring stick all around the site, and could hear it beeping each time he put it down. I’m guessing it was digital technology being applied to the age old science of surveying.

Now the rain has finally stopped, but the wind has come up. The old saying “If it’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’!” springs to mind.  Another storm is coming so once again we are having to hunker down and hope we don’t blow away.  The wind is the worst part, it just doesn’t let up. Julie says she feels like a pioneer woman, just without the long skirt.

We wish all of our American friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving. Julie took a Costco Pumpkin Pie to work, not as good as she makes, but …..

The wild weather continues. Last night, we stood outside for a while and watched a thunderstorm raging over Canberra in the distance. That particular storm had missed us, but another one later in the night came and sat right on top of us. I was wondering whether the awning and shade sails would stand up to the pounding, but they were all still here this morning. Today being my Wednesday off work, I have sat here and watched storms alternating with very heavy rain and the odd patch of wind with no rain. Julie got home home early, as the office was unusually quiet, and I watched her drive the car in on the driveway, splashing water as if she was coming across a creek crossing. During a lull in the rain, I walked down to the river, to find that it was raging in comparison to the weekend, when it had been flowing strongly in comparison to the gentle trickle is usually is. I have pictures, but we are running out of bandwidth for the month.