Today is brought to you by the 3am and 4 am slaughter hour

The farmer is an animal lover and as such has cats, dogs, cattle, sheep and anything else that comes along. One day he sent me a photo of two baby foxes he saw living in our cattle yards and I banned him from bringing them home. We have a property that has kangaroos and he won’t go out and kill them because they eat minimal crops, he will occasionally shoot predatory birds that peck at baby animals that are being born so other than that most animals are welcomed into our home. I am currently hand rearing 2 calves Rosie & Delila and a Lamb – Josie who now live in my vegetable garden

2015-06-27

We also have the 3 lovely shed cats (called this because he found them in the shed and they now don’t live there) rescued from a freezing winter in 2009, Gatsby (a ginger cat)was rescued 2 years ago this month. All of them are desexed as I didn’t want excess of litters all over the farm and in the cold months of winter (and the hot days of summer) they live inside.

Many a night we have had parades of mice: alive and dead, rabbits: alive and dead birds alive and dead, bats 99% alive, gecko’s mainly alive that we have put outside and frill neck Lizards alive that leave alive as the cats have not worked out how to get through their tough exterior and frill when they protest. Our motto is that if we catch any of these things alive we lock the cats inside and let the animals go free outside.

Many a night I have woken to the sound of crunching and am so none fussed about it now I roll over and go back to sleep. If we hear noises we will get out of bed to try to chase the cats outside with the animal intact. Other times there is a “look at me, look at me” flinging and rolling with the animal (dead) in the spa bath. Where the cat shows us the prey and then eventually the creature is left intact and we are left to clean up the mess.

We have watched as these cats over-estimate their abilities and their prey – the farmer has seen Frankie stalking a kangaroo (as if she was ever going to catch it) we have seen Gatsby jumping in the air to catch swooping birds as if they were going to fly into his mouth, Matilda has on a few occasions stalked the chooks when we use to let them out, the chooks are confined to their pen as the working dogs try to round them up and chase them till they die.

I don’t mind it during the day but in the middle of the night I could do with out it, you know when you have to get up early, you set your alarm and you wake almost hourly hoping you don’t miss it? That was last nigh t and I was back into sleeping when I could hear a growling, at first I asked the farmer to roll over as I thought he was snoring  loudly so he did but the noise got louder and I realized it was coming from his wardrobe.

Bloody Cats fighting in the wardrobe, so I spring out of bed, turn on the lounge room light so as not to blind myself or the farmer but to shine light on the area, open the door and see nothing, I move clothes around to see if I can catch them hiding but I see nothing, so I shut the doors, stoke the fire and as I go to turn off the light I see 3 cats casually walking around the lounge room, squinting at the light with the innocent look of no it wasn’t me, I glare at them as I go to back to bed, it’s 3am. I’m back sleeping when the slow and loud growling starts up again, this time I’m cross I jump out of bed, step on the remote control, stub my toe on a laundry basket I have left in the way, go out to the fire, pick up the poker and come back to the wardrobe and one by one open the doors and thrash it about (hoping I can collect one of these cats as I do it). I look to see Gatsby’s tail disappear out of the wardrobe and run around the corner to get away and Rita slowly slink out heading towards the door. I shut the wardrobe put the poker on the floor and go back to bed, I note it’s now 4am.

Gatsby the only male

Gatsby the only male

Both of these cats go outside and as I drift back to sleep I become aware Gatsby is back in, he has jumped on my foot, shaken himself off as he is as wet as anything and flops down on my bed at my feet. When I do get up at 5am I note Matilda is standing by the wardrobe door, sniffing and I begin to think perhaps the other two were fighting over a late night slaughter. I didn’t have time to check before I left the house and I bet whatever it is will still be there when I get home this evening.

We have a spot I call slaughter corner, where some mornings we can wake up to find no evidence of the animal except a blood stained wall. We occasionally have a kidney or the bottom half of a mouse, if it’s a rabbit sometimes I get the entire gastrointestinal tract with pooh intact. Feathers of a bird are common and is the foot or tail of a rabbit. These can also be found out by the cat flap if they can’t carry it in or in the spa bath if we don’t hear them. Anything and everything is foul and I wish they would stop, once I asked the farmer “what’s with the green feathers in the corner?” without missing a beat he said “I didn’t like that grass parrot anyway!”

I occasionally say to birds, “You all need to live 1km away from the house as these cats will get you if you are closer. I feel exhausted before I even left the farm, getting home tonight will be a bit of a struggle, it is about 220km’s away.

3 cats on the car

3 cats on the car Rita on roof, Matilda in front of steering wheel & Frankie other side

Farming

I am sitting at my desk having to do 2 assignments, a business plan, a business menu (I think I need to call it), a power point, a capability statement and a potential statement all by Wednesday. I could also do some book work and pay bills if I stretch myself, but I won’t today. I have three computers on, one playing a movie (as I like noise) as I work, this computer I am working on, a text-book open and google on the third computer, so I don’t have to jump screens.

It seems crazy years ago I would have only had one computer and worked a bit harder. Pete the dog is lying on his quilt on the floor at my feet, as I look outside I see sunshine and the trees are moving to the wind. The farmer has charge of 4 teenage boys and they are out doing fencing work, it will be interesting to hear what they think when they come in. They went out in long sleeve shirts, (sensible and a must for working in the Australian sun), smothered in sunscreen, caps / hats on and water bottles filled. They will mainly be walking distances tying droppers on so he can strain the fence. It won’t be hard work but it will be hot and tiresome. It is also a necessity for farmers to have good fences to keep stock in and out of neighbour’s paddocks, good fences keep rabbits out of crops and can deter kangaroos from jumping in.

This fence was assisted by another teenage boy we had come to visit us earlier this week and he did a good job assisting on day and declining to help the next. As I talked about what he did I explained (as did the farmer), he was entitled to have a couple of days doing nothing before school starts. It is also work that is tedious, out in the heat and requires a bit of strength. Hammering in posts, moving cut branches off is heavy work. People do not realize the work load until they do come up here to help and then it can be over whelming, as it’s never-ending. There is always work of some sort and when it comes to fencing there is kilometres and kilometres of it.

The farmers plan is to work them hard enough that they are exhausted and will go to sleep early, they are all sleeping in the lounge room on mattresses on the floor and last night, he had to get up at 130am and ask them to go to sleep. These boys that we have had stay are lovely city boys and doing work on the farm is new to many of them, it is also under estimated how difficult it can be and some parents over-estimate their children’s abilities, either way it works out in the end. The kids are normally good at saying they can’t do it or don’t want to do it, or love doing it so much they wish to come back to do more. It is a good lesson in many ways for them and we don’t expect it for nothing we do pay them for their work.

We all work to our own pace and we all achieve what it is we set out to do, whether or not you start something and not finish it, or if you do go onto to finish it. I’ll finish all this by the end of the weekend so that I meet other people’s and my own deadlines. Whether we work for ourselves or others we all start wanting to please that person or ourselves, to finish a project started gives one a sense of satisfaction

Kangaroo & Joey

Kangaroo & Joey