Tag Archives: rurality

looking at baby animals therapy

For the dVerse Haibun Monday prompt, “solstice

On Sunday I walked down to my neighbour’s place to see if her overdue new calf had been born. I dawdled and delayed, scared to look in case it was still-born. But there it was, a few hours old, already fluffy and staggering around uncertainly. And I cried and cried when I saw it. Great sobs bringing up the darkness of the last months, washed out in a flood of tears (and, inevitably, quite a lot of snot). God knows what the cow thought of me, sobbing hysterically next to her. But she looked me in the eye and lowed loudly. I don’t think it was sympathy, she just wanted this mad human away from her calf.
Yesterday I planted two apricot trees, with a bag of manure each. The winter sun, even on the second-shortest of days, was warm in the garden and lifted sweet tendrils of scent from the horse and cow manure. Sweet scent of manure, sharp scent of calendulas, a comforting twist of woodsmoke from the chimney. Sitting on the ground, I day-dreamed of apricots – sun warmed, juicy and tangy-sweet, the colour of winter sunsets.
Today, my neighbour left a bunch of flowers on the gate for me. On this shortest day of the year, I have flowers on my kitchen table, the hope of summer apricots, and a fluffy calf I can visit later when the sun comes out. And if it doesn’t come out, perhaps there will be rain for my apricot trees.

let’s start the new year
with the solstice, so that each
new day is brighter

cow and calf

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“sod off, ya evil bastards”

The Tuesday dVerse prompt was to write about corvids. In Australia, our only corvids are the crows and ravens. Our lovely native magpies and charming choughs are not corvids (not related to the northern hemisphere varieties), so that just left me with my least-favourite birds to write about. 

 

Even in the sunlight they are silhouettes,
croaking their curse-calls, their protest
at the wire and netting spread to protect
the hens who cluster in maternal distress.
These black cardboard cut-outs in the trees,
these are the chick-killers and these the egg-thieves
I shout and throw a stone to scatter these.
Let them search instead for a carrion feast.

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the breakfast rush

For the Monday dVerse haibun prompt “birdsongs“:  

The sky is white and the air autumn-cool. Inside the children are eating breakfast, packing bags, looking for lost things. Outside, I throw scraps and a saucepan-scoop of pellets to the pig, and a scoop of wheat to the hens.
The rosellas swoop in, to perch chittering and bickering in the bent brittlegum by the chicken coop, waiting for me to leave. Among the brilliant reds and blues of the adults are a few youngsters not yet in full-dress plumage, but still in their dull cami greens. They are flamboyantly beautiful brats, especially the adults. Unable to share, they chase each other away so none has much chance to feed.
Circling the house, I pour a little wheat into each feeder. At the front I disturb the chough family who have arrived early. They hop and whistle back into the tree line, in their dignified black coats with only a fan of white lining showing when they spread their wings. Always together, like a close-knit family of undertakers, the choughs alight together at the feeder, all eight forming a black flower – heads down, tails up, as they share a meal.

The sky falls, screaming –
the cockatoos have arrived.
The small birds scatter.

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summoning the sun

For the Thursday dVerse prompt (better late than never) “morning has broken“. The challenge was to write an aubade. I didn’t quite manage that, but here is a description of an aubade (of sorts) that starts about 0400 every morning here:

Listen to him crowing:
again and again rooster calls,
summoning the sun.
An hour, and another hour
and another hour of darkness
do not dent his tenacity.

Admire his determination:
(becoming tinged with desperation?)
he does not stop
until his efforts are rewarded
by the reluctant slug-a-bed sun.

And see him now:
strutting proudly among the hens
proclaiming loudly:
Look! For you, I have summoned the sun!
For you I have brought this new day!
This I have done, for you!

Clucking to each other,
the hens submit to his advances
as to a minor inconvenience,
then, ruffling their feathers straight,
they go about their day.

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come blackberrying

Bright white paper-scrap butterflies
flit and flutter by the roadside,
beside the passing roaring cars
among their passengers’ discards –
cans and bottles, fast-food wraps,
brought by highway, the city’s scraps.

But walk with me into the trees,
where butterflies like autumn leaves
all rise and swirl, then drift to ground
in shades of russet, yellow, brown.
Ripe grasses wave their waist-high plumes,
and tethered between the thistle blooms
silken threads from jewelled spiders
catch the careless zephyr riders.
Come, follow me, up the hillside,
skirting the webs and thistles stride
to where the brambles arch and mound
and birdsong is the loudest sound.

We’ll pluck the fruit, so ripe and sweet,
some for our baskets and some to eat,
sweat slicked, hands pricked, faces glowing
stained by musky juices flowing,
‘til sated at last with fruit, my love,
come lie with me with just sky above.

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Blackberrying, Lake George

There is water now where the sheep grazed,
a second blue sky
stretching from our feet to the hills
where paired upright and inverted turbines
turn slow semaphore signals.

Skirting the gate
and stepping over the fence,
avoiding sodden gullies and thistles,
we come to the bramble-mounds
where the sweet black musky berries wait.

Recycled honey-buckets over wrists,
one hand to steadies the stem,
while the other plucks the plump fruit,
some so ripe it drops at a touch.
We alternately fill the buckets
and ourselves,
until both are full near to overflowing.

Fingers and mouths stained purple,
hands and arms scratched,
we return home triumphant.

Pots bubble
and the scent of
dust, musk and summer heat
fills the kitchen
as we pour these dog-days of summer
into a dozen jars,
to be put away until we need
a taste of sunshine.

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The adventures of Beaky McBeaky and Baby Barry I

A collaboration with my daughter:

Beaky McBeaky was ever so cheeky,
his brother, Baby Barry, less so.
Through the coop, Beaky sneakied,
and right after him Barry followed.

As Soup cock-a-doodled,
and the Meepers were cheeping,
right up to the foodles
the naughty McBeakies were creeping.

With their beaks in the trough,
they ignored pecking order,
until Cream chased them off –
the great fluffy-knickered coop warder.

But Beaky McBeaky, always so sneaky,
just hid ‘hind the back of a stump,
when Cream looked away, ever so cheeky
out of hiding McBeakies did jump!

Beaky McBeaky ran straight to the trough,
his baby brother behind,
beaks down see them scoff
at the pecking order defied.

 

The McBeakies, Beaky and Baby Barry, are the most recently hatched chicks and the Meepers (Laveen, Altona and Little Big Fred) are the previous clutch. Cream is one of the hens and Soup (what’s in a name?) is one of the two remaining roosters.  

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evensong

For dVerse Tuesday poetics: the poet’s storehouse, celebrating National Thesaurus Day (US):

The clamour
of the hundred-member
froglet
kazoo-band
is punctuated
by the flatulent bellow
of the pobblebonk.

Their amphibious hubbub
rises from the damn
as an almost-solid layer of sound.

Above,
the dulcet tones of the carolling magpie
curl through the air
like a sweet fragrance.
He embellishes his song with each repetition,
creating variations,
adding overtones
harmonising
(impossibly)
with himself.

Kookaburra,
ever unimpressed,
and, indeed,
unimpressible,
chortles, chuckles,
and then explodes in full-throated,
full-bodied,
cackles –

silencing the frogs
and sending magpie home in a huff.

 

The challenge was to use a word from each of these lists:

   bellow; clink; drone; jingle; quiver;
   clamour; dissonant; rip-roaring; tempestuous; vociferous;
   dulcet: honeyed; poetic; sonorous; tonal;
   blabber; cackle; dribble; gurgle; seethe;
   beseech; chant; drawl; embellish; intone

So obviously the poem had to be about either my (droning, bellowing, dissonant, vociferous, blabbering, cackling…) kids, or the (other) local wildlife.  

I can’t post files, but here are links to the frog and bird songs mentioned if you want to hear them:
eastern sign bearing froglets (kazoo band)
pobblebonk
magpie – quite different in look and sound to norther hemisphere magpies.
kookaburra 

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Tanked II (haibun series)

If you’ve read my post Tanked, this picture of our new over-flow tank will be familiar. It’s 4m in diameter, weighs 400kg, and fell off the truck and tried to escape by rolling downhill into the dam when it was delivered. We stopped it, and rolled it back up to the house and tied it to a tree so it couldn’t get away.

Finally, after more than three weeks, and almost 100mm of rain (more than two months-worth in a normal year!) my husband decided it was time to move the tank into position. Now, in fairness, he had been waiting for the slab he made for it to dry, so it couldn’t have been moved a lot sooner.
But, as usual, he didn’t check the weather forecast. (A few years ago he started putting together our little timber yurt in the rain, after it had sat in pieces in the shed for months. It didn’t rain the whole time though – it started snowing just after we got the walls up. In late spring. The only day it snowed that year.)

These out-door projects –
Why does he always save them
for a rainy day?

So, on Saturday, in the drizzle, we all gathered outside to move the lawn ornament to its proper place so it could fulfill its proper function.
We rolled it, and carefully pushed it this way, then that way, to swivel it into the right direction. Sometimes we all pushed on the same side to roll it, sometimes we went to opposite sides and pushed in opposite directions (but not along the same line of action) to provide a couple moment to turn the tank. No, not the sort of couple moment other people have that involve sunsets and wine and holding hands. This is the sort of couple moment that happens to me in the pouring bloody rain with a bloody huge water tank that is in the wrong bloody place and potentially going to roll down a hill or into the house, and involves a lot of swearing. That sort of couple moment (the M = F d sort of couple moment).
Anyway, with a lot of force and some moments, the tank got past the corner of the roof without touching.

Just.

 

 

A miss is as good
as a mile, even if
its as close as this.

 

 

 

Now a bit more rolling along the side of the house, and the temporary removal of the clothes line (now in really heavy rain – I should have brought the washing in yesterday!) and the tank was half-way. And it was time to tip it over on to its base, because it needed to be slid from here.
The problem now was that the tank is 4m in diameter, so to make it tip over, we needed to be able to push at somewhat above 2m. And none of us are very tall.
So, husband stayed outside in the rain to look at the tank and think about forces and moments and leverage and friction, while the rest of went inside to dry out. Sometime later there was hammering and the sound of the electric drill.

This is the picture:
mechanical advantage
frames the solution.

He had built a timber frame, and pushed one edge under the tank using the crow-bar. Then he and the boys lifted….
“Slowly… slowly… I SAID SLOWLY!!!!”

… and the tank tipped over on to its base!

Now all we had to do was slide it down the hill about 30m to its final resting place on the concrete slab. Except the path was rocky, and there was a tree somewhat in the way with a steep drop down to the main tank not much more than 2m away from it.
So, we roped the tank to the tree, pulled the frame apart and turned the timber into rails, and slowly, slowly, with much adjustment, and tightening of the rope, we slid and swung the tank past the tree, until it was ready to drop the last few feet into the concrete slab.

A bit of adjustment to the rails, and some more pushing, and here it is!

With some ropes and boards, and child labour, almost anything is possible!

Waste not, to want not –
we’re ready to catch every
drop of rain that falls.

And, like a benediction on all our hard work, with the tank in place and ready to be filled, the sun came out!

 

 

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kookaburra quadrille

For the dVerse Monday quadrille prompt “muse cues“: write a quadrille (exactly 44 words) using the word muse or some variation.

Kookaburra sits in the old gumtree,
shouting out into the bush is he:
“This is my territory!”
“Hey, how about sex?”
“Are you looking at me?”
“Seriously, how about sex?”
“Yeah, you and whose army?”

In loud amused glee,
kookaburras mates’ reply:
ha-ha hee-hee!

 

I heard the kookaburras at dawn this morning, yelling across the clearing to each other – saying much the same things humans are always trying to yell at each other, but with an appropriately amused tone. 

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