Monday, December 17, 2007


I have my own city. It is called Michelletown. I am Mayor and therefore I am in control of the planning scheme in my city.

There will be no intensive animal feedlots in my city. My city will respect the amenity of its residents and I will refuse to let greedy nasty environmentally bankrupt persons to live within my city limits.

My sister city is New Intersol. However, to learn more about New Intersol, one must visit Incognita's Museum of Dust.

Or just go to Red Bubble and visit Incognita's art.

We all need a city of our own.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I have decided to usurp Santa Claus and give myself a Christmas present. I know I am a bit early in heralding in Christmas but my present had to travel all the way from the United States of America to my rural mail box in south east Queensland.

Yes, it is a coffee cup adorned with my beloved cartoon characters Bub n Bill. I am totally thrilled to see them appear in this format.

I must thank Cafepress for arranging this for me. I hasten to add that Cafepress will be totally unaware of this ringing endorsement. Also, because I am buying my own image, I will not be receiving any monetary reward for the sale.

The cup is available (for a price) at

My next project is to have my little characters on a tee shirt from the Red Bubble website. I am currently trying to get the image into an appropriate format to upload it onto the Red Bubble site.

You can already buy my photographs as cards from
for AU$3.00

Check back soon to see how my tee shirt turns out.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


We had a brief loss of power the other night and that meant that the radio/alarm clock was flashing its red numbers to alert me to the fact that it had lost its memory.

Normally I wouldn't concern myself about this situation because the radio/alarm clock is my spouse's responsibility. He has to rise early each morning and therefore he is the one who relies on this electrical appliance to alert him that it is time to "rise and shine".

However, he was away overnight and, as I was to work in the morning, it seemed like a good idea for me to remedy the situation as I do like to know the time whenever I awake during the night.

So I picked up this little contraption and I started pressing each and every button until I managed to make the digital numbers move towards 9:00.

I cared not if it meant 9:00 in the am or the pm.

The task completed, I drifted off to sleep and into Dreamland which is always an interesting place to visit.

Well, I must tell you that I did not have a very peaceful night.

The radio/alarm clock activated a number of times throughout the night.

As the alarm regularly activated, I remember seeing numbers such as 12:something, 1:something, 2:something and 3:something.

There were probably more occasions but I may not recall them as I was not exactly lucid. I would have been in my REM sleeptime during those early hours.

The first time that I was awakened by the radio chattering away at me, I reached over and I pushed a few buttons.

Happily, I found that the top left hand button seemed to quell the radio chatter.

Well, that was until the next occasion and the many occasions to follow.

By 3.10 I decided to leave the radio on for a while. There must have been a change in the programming because I found that the chatter had finished and, instead, I was being serenaded by (or should that read "subjected to") country and western songs.

It wasn't long before I decided that I could not cope with any more of those sad little ditties and I had to take action.

I may well have become a little more lucid at this hour because I suddenly twigged to the reason why I was being tortured. Whilst I was indiscriminately pushing each and every button trying to set the time, I had somehow managed to programme in a number of alarms.

I had a bright idea, "Surely there is a volume button somewhere on this evil machine."

I poked about the bottom front of the machine and managed to push a button that stopped the country and western music. However it left me with a sort of hissing noise and I immediately guessed that all I had managed to do was to move away from the signal for the radio station.

I decided that I may be able to live with this noise and I rolled over in the hope of finding some more sleep.

But no, this new noise began to irritate me. It felt like I was sharing my bedroom with an angry snake.

Once more I reached across and pushed at buttons and at last I stumbled across the volume button. Peace at long last!

You may ask, "Why didn't you turn on the light and solve the situation earlier?"

Sure, in retrospect, that would seem to have been the sensible thing to do when I had the first alarm at about 12:something.

However when one is drunk with sleep, one does not function in a sensible manner.

And now to my dreams. Mostly they were very entertaining. And I was enjoying a particular dream where I was attending a party with family and friends.

I am guessing that this dream would have been about the time of the 3:something awakening which is a time when dreams can get a little weird. (Ah yes, there is a separate blog to write about my strange and silly early morning dreams!)

As I cuddled into my pillow I had hoped to rejoin the party and as I tried to reenter the dream, I found myself confronted with an image something like:

Yes, my subconscious was asking me to verify my access to my subconscious.

Me thinks I am spending too much time commenting on Blogs on the Internet.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


When I was in my late teens, I found myself caught in a very strong rip at a Sunshine Coast beach and I was quickly towed out to the deeper waters of the Pacific Ocean.

As I drifted further out, I realised that I was in danger of either being drowned due to exhaustion or being attacked by a shark.

It was also possible that if I continued too far out to sea and I ventured into the commercial shipping lane, I may be hit and run over by a passing cargo ship.

Admittedly, I have never been a strong swimmer, but I do believe that the main reason I found myself being washed out to sea was due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with this particular beach. I wasn't aware of its possible dangers.

During this period of my life, I had spent many weekends enjoying our Queensland beaches but I would usually visit the Gold Coast area.

And, knowing that I was not a strong swimmer, I would always swim in the area of the beach that was patrolled by our wonderful volunteer lifesavers.

This particular day I entered the water with the intention of playing about in the waves close to the edge of the beach.

When a wave approaches you, you decide upon one of three responses.

You can begin swimming toward the shore, hoping to be caught up by the wave, and thus experience the thrill of body surfing.

Or you can choose to leap up and be lifted by the wave. Or alternatively, after pinching your nostrils together and shutting your eyes, you can dive beneath the wave and then resurface after it has passed over you.

I may have tried one or all of those options however, on this day, there was a rip that I was not able to overcome.

For those who aren't quite sure just what I am talking about, I will add a definition of a rip that I found on a website from Australian Government Department of Environment and Water Resources.

"Concentrated currents flowing back to sea perpendicular to the shoreline. Rip currents are caused by wave action piling up water on the beach. Feeder currents running parallel to the shore (longshore currents) deliver water to the rip current."

After I was tugged behind the first break of waves, I found myself dealing with a second break of waves further out to sea.

Again, any action I took was futile. I simply drifted out to the deeper waters and it became quite clear to me that I was in trouble.

I remained calm whilst deciding upon my fate and the thoughts of sharks and the shipping lane passed through my head.

I was calm because I have never been afraid of deep water. Unlike my older sister who always insisted that she needed to touch the bottom of the pool, I preferred to bob about in the deep end. The deeper the body of water, the easier it is to float and gracefully tread water.

Obviously I did not drown, get savaged by a shark or run down by a cargo ship.

Fortunately for me, as I drifted out I came across a young fellow atop a surfboard. I politely told him that I was in trouble and he allowed me to hold onto his surfboard as he raised his arm to alert the lifesavers that there was some stupid female in need of rescue.

I did not experience a skerrick of humiliation over becoming a public spectacle that day. All I felt was intense gratitude.

I will always be grateful to that lovely young man and his surfboard and I continue to have great admiration for those selfless lifesavers who sprang into action and brought me back to land.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to learn to swim that I and my peers were given during our primary school years.

It is an interesting recollection that I shall pass on in the very near future.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The drought continues. It is difficult watching our garden wilt and noting that native trees, which are decades old, appear to be dying.

The frosts were extremely biting this Winter and I have vowed not to tend our garden until late September just in case there is yet another very late Spring frost.

The return to a normal frosty Winter does give hope that we may be returning to a normal weather pattern which would mean rain may again fall.

So, what do you do when it doesn't rain? Well, you can't garden but you can still leave the house and take photographs.

I know this is silly but one needs to keep a sense of humour. The feral cactus (or is that cactii) is the only green thing on the farm. I decided to taunt them.

At least I have the wallabies! They eat from my struggling garden but their dear little faces melt my heart.

Monday, July 23, 2007



This old farm house harboured a family of seven for many years until it was superceded by a brand new brick house built elsewhere on the farm.

Perhaps, with a hammer and a few nails and a coat of paint, it may be restored.

Hmm, perhaps not.

One thing I know for sure, those vacant rooms would still recall the love, laughter and tears of the missing family.
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Friday, July 13, 2007


It is winter in South East Queensland and it has been very cold.

Last weekend we witnessed sleet hitting the ground!

I don’t like winter here on the Darling Downs. We have thick white frosts and something called a wind chill factor that means it is colder than the temperature gauge tells us.

Also ice forms in my birdbaths making it quite treacherous for the birds as they skate across the ice looking for actual water.

My aversion to winter is understandable given that I was born and bred in balmy Brisbane where, even on the coldest winter day, you just popped a cardigan over your usual summer clothes.

So you won’t be surprised to hear that I am rather depressed.

“Feeling lower than a snake’s belly.” I informed my good friend Juanita.

This is an unusual situation for me as I am not prone to low moods.

I have always been very resilient.

In the past, when something bad happened to me, I would think, “Okay, that’s happened. I’ll accept it. This is my new baseline. Now I will just get on with life again.”

Obviously it is more than winter that is draining my spirits at the moment but I won’t complain.

Okay, I will.

I have a severely burnt finger that is restricting my every activity. I expect to lose my job by next March. My arthritis is torturing me. I miss our cattle which were sold off last month. I would like to have chooks but the foxes are rampant. Etc., etc. and so on.

Now Juanita had a good suggestion. She thought that I may be afflicted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) which is also known as seasonal depression. It is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in autumn/winter and ending in spring, or early summer. It has something to do with a lack of sunlight upon one’s body. There is much more to it than that but, frankly, I am too depressed to extrapolate upon it today.

As Juanita has a medical background, I thought I would take her advice and get more sun.

So I decided to hobble up to our distant mailbox which gave me about 10 minutes in the sun.

Then I sat in a sunny spot at the rear of our house and unpicked the hem of my spouse’s trousers as they need shortening. Again more sun upon my less than sunny person.

But eventually I felt that I had been exposed to too much sun. After all, this is Queensland which is in a drought at the moment.

So, when I needed to take up needle and thread to complete the new hem, I decided that I would snuggle into my recliner rocker lounge chair and listen to music as I sewed.

What to choose? Fat Boy Slim, Dean Martin, Crowded House, Rammstein, John Lennon, Michael Buble, one or all of the three tenors, Tom Jones?

Then I spied “The Very Best of Peter Allen” CD.

“Yes! That will be good for a change.” I told myself.

I love Peter Allen and I wish he was still alive to entertain us.

I had seen him interviewed a number of times over the years and he had such a delightful happy personality with a quick wit and, well, he was downright hilarious.

In one interview I watched, he spoke about when he narrated the documentary “Deadly Australians”. It was about some of Australia’s most feared creatures on land and water. This 1983 video introduced us to the shark, the giant squid, the barracuda, sea snakes, black widow spiders and scorpions.

During the interview, Peter told of the moment where he was thigh deep in the waters of North Queensland uttering something like, “In these waters reside some of the most deadly creatures in Australia” and, of course, his immediate concern as he uttered these words was that perhaps he should not actually be standing in the “said” waters.

I popped the CD into the stereo and sat down and threaded the needle.

It started so well with song number one, “I go to Rio”, which is such a festive upbeat song. I was singing along and my toes were tapping.

Then came song number two. It was all about love gone wrong.

Song number three evoked the tragic figure of the talented Judy Garland struggling on stage.

Song number four was a tale of inappropriate and unrequited love.

Song number five was about a co-dependent relationship with a dodgy future.

Song number six was yet another shaky relationship with the threat “don’t push me over the borderline because anything can happen”.

Next came “Don’t cry out loud” with the advice “learn to hide your feelings” and a rather lame attempt to cheer the protagonist by telling her “remember you almost had it all”!

By the time “Tenterfield Saddler” got under way, a song about his grandfather and the suicide of Peter’s father, there were tears running down my cheeks.

Well, given my already S.A.D. condition, I had made a very bad choice. The bigger worry to me was that all these tragic songs were written or co-written by Peter.

Clearly I should have popped in the Rammstein CD. They have a driving beat with repetitive riffs and they thump and bash away on what sounds like an empty metal industrial rubbish bin. They “sing” the lyrics with a threatening growl.

But I do like their music.

And the best thing is that they sing in German and, as my knowledge of the language is minimal, I have no concerns about their lyrics causing me to cry.

But, back to Peter, I have decided to chase up a book about his very eventful life. However I won’t be reading it until the middle of summer.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Below is a photograph of the blue moon on 30th June, 2007 in Australia.

But is it really an authentic blue moon?

Well I have just done the research for this question.

You have to love Wikipedia and Google search. I do.

Whenever I want to know everything about anything I log into these websites.

They are so much more user friendly than the traditional encyclopaedias.

So I logged in to Wikipedia this morning because I wanted to find out a little more about the occurrences of blue moons.

It seems that, by referring to this second full moon in one month as a blue moon, I am only partly correct.

Wikipedia told me that what we had in June was a calender blue moon based on the Gregorian calendar.

There is an older meaning of blue moon which makes it a rarer occasion, hence our popular saying, "Once in a blue moon."

In the 1800s, the Maine Farmer's Almanac's defined a blue moon as the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons rather than the usual three full moons.

Furthermore, their definition divided the year into quarters with the dividing line set between March 21 and March 22. This related to the rule for setting the date for the Christian Holy Day of Easter, which depends on the last full moon on or before the Equinox.

Okay, now my brain is hurting a tad as I am struggling to understand all that but what I do understand is that this original meaning was lost for a while after the editors of the original Farmer's Almanac died.

Of course the term has also been used when referring to the actual colour of the moon where it appears bluish due to atmospheric events such as smoke or dust particles.

Whatever the correct definition, there is nothing as mesmerising as a full moon no matter what the colour.

Wikipedia has told me that the next blue moon will be in May, 2008. And it will be one of those rarer blue moons.

So I will return with another photograph in about 10 months.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Last weekend we went to the Queensland Gold Coast to visit with family.

It was an excellent weekend to drive south east for three hours for two reasons.

The first reason being that Queensland was experiencing one of Australia's favourite events commonly known as "The Long Weekend".

It was a long weekend because we had a public holiday on Monday the 11th of June so that we could celebrate the birthday of the Queen of England.

Now just why we Queenslanders have a holiday for Queen Elizabeth the Second on a day which isn't actually her birthday is a discussion I don't wish to enter into today.

All I will say is that if it means we have an extra day attached to the weekend then I am not about to complain.

The second reason for it being a really good idea to run away from home is because winter has finally arrived. We live in the coldest region of Queensland so leaving home for a warmer climate was an extremely good idea even if it was for just a day or two.

And it was a glorious warm sunny day come Sunday as we strolled about the Wintersun Festival at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast.

This festival is all about celebrating Rock 'n Roll music and Rock 'n Roll dancing and the magnificent cars from pre-1974. For a taste of it visit here.

We strolled amidst a throng of people gawking at the beautifully restored vehicles and bopping along to the many bands playing live music.

And I am pleased to be able to report to you that Elvis is not dead. Indeed, given his continued popularity over the decades, it seems he had the good sense to have cloned himself because I saw him, well a number of variations of himself, amongst the crowd.

No, people, Elvis is not dead.

Now there were markets in the park at Coolangatta and that is where I spied the tattoo stall. I told the spouse that I thought it would be a good idea if I were to get a tattoo.

Surprisingly, he thought it was a good idea as well. So I chose my tattoo and I had it applied to the inside of my left wrist.

I chose this particular tattoo with my daughter in mind.

In the recent past, she has mentioned to me that she would like to have a tattoo similar to the one I have just acquired (but much larger) placed on her lower back.

The long horned cow is a symbol of the very popular company started by the late R. M. Williams.

See the authentic symbol here.

Well, being a responsible mother, I told her that if she actually carried out that procedure then I would have to kill her because no daughter of mine was going to desecrate her body with something as nasty as a tattoo.

Her response to her mother's recent folly was as follows:

LOL. Dag!! Mum's mid-life crisis. Next you will be riding Harley's and getting piercing's. So that means I can get one too then?

Well, of course, I responded immediately, "No, you can't get one. I only got it so that I could show you how silly they look."

Alas, my tattoo will only be with me for a week.

And, alas, the daughter knew immediately that it was a temporary tattoo.

But I do try to educate my children by displaying good and bad examples in life.

A couple of years ago I purchased a fake belly ring and come Christmas Day I donned the hipster shorts and walked about so that the son and daughter could see my latest (pretend) piercing. Up until then my first and only piercing was just the one hole in each ear for earrings.

The son was appalled. He looked at me as if I was some sort of freak.

Ah, those were the days! Days when I could shock my children.

My only regret about the tattoo is that I have bitterly disappointed my good friend Juanita. I had emailed her a photo of my acquistion from the Gold Coast and unfortunately she thought that it was a permanent tattoo. She thought that I had been audacious.

So very sorry Juanita!

Friday, May 25, 2007


We meet many people during our lives and some of those people tend to remain in our memory. We even recall people we met only briefly and whose names escape us. No doubt we remember them because there was something about those individuals that left us wondering about how they would manage in the future.

I mention this because I wish to write about a young man I met whilst working in Sydney a very, very long time ago.

This memory was triggered early one morning when I could not sleep and I had a sudden suspicion that I was experiencing tinnitus. I became aware that there was a humming sound in my head and I thought, “I wonder if this is tinnitus.”

The noise sounded like two rather pleasant notes recurring over and over in my left ear.

I then thought, “If this is tinnitus then I can cope with a bit of music playing in my head.”

It was the thought of music in my head that triggered the conversation with the young man.

I don’t remember spending much time with him at work because I do believe that he wasn’t one of the regular people on my shift. He may have been filling in for someone on the night we had the interesting conversation that left me wondering about how his life panned out.

When we met, he had just finished his last year at high school and, as he had to wait a few months before beginning his university course, he had started work at the bank.

Our job involved shiftwork at the computer centre of the bank and I do know that the conversation occurred on a night when we were working the graveyard shift. There was nowhere to go during the meal break so we would spend that time with co-workers.

During our conversation, I asked what course he had chosen to do at uni and he said that he was going to do Law.

I must have appeared to be an empathetic listener because it wasn’t too long into our conversation before he began to confide in me.

He told me that it was his parents who wanted him to do Law. Obviously he had the academic ability to complete the course and they had decided that he would, indeed, do the course.

When I asked what he wanted to do, he said that he wanted to write music. He said that he heard music in his head and, as he tried to explain it to me, I could sense how important his need to capture this music was to him.

And he wasn’t talking about simple little “rock and roll ditties” but complex symphonies.

I was only a year or two older than him but I felt the need to offer some sort of reassurance and advice.

No doubt I would have told him that I completely understood about the concept of hearing music in his head because my head is always filled with words that swirl about until they formed into sentences and then formed into prose and eventually it becomes essential that those words are written down so that my head is left vacant allowing the process to begin all over again.

My advice at the time was that, if he couldn’t go against his parents’ wishes, he would always have his music and he may be able to concentrate on it sometime in the near future.

I do wonder if he ever had the chance to follow his passion. I hope he did.

My regret is that I can not remember his name so that I can Google it and find out whether the music in his head was written down and eventually performed by an orchestra.

The music in my head does continue. I am not sure if it is tinnitus or not.

I remember that my maternal grandmother would complain about her tinnitus so I have always been aware of this condition. My grandmother was very irritated about this constant noise in her ear and she would bitterly complain about it.

Given my suspicions about hearing music in my head, I did a bit of research and I found a most helpful site:

I have learnt that the word "tinnitus" means "tinkling or ringing like a bell". I have also learnt that tinnitus is usually a roaring, buzzing, or ringing sound in the ear. This site even has audio of the noises that tinnitus can produce.

My two recurring pleasant notes don’t seem typical of the experience. Maybe, like my co-worker, I am simply hearing music in my head. Although I am not sure that I can build a symphony upon those two notes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


My beloved cat, Bill the brown Burmese, has his bedroom in our large double car garage. It is the best room in the house. It is cool in summer due to the concrete floors and the added insulation of being beneath the bedroom and bathroom section of the house. Also it is warm in winter as the bricks retain the heat and there are a number of windows which provide many pools of sunshine for Bill to sleep and to sunbake in.

Below is a picture of baby Bill when he was not much larger than a mouse.

When he is not in his bedroom, Bill is in the house on a bed or a lap. And, when he is not sleeping, he is pestering me for food.

I do allow him to venture outside the house on occasion but I do worry about his wellbeing as the farm is awash with dangers. There are snakes, of course, and you will hear more about them soon. And there are many feral cats, against which Bill has tested his fighting skills with unfortunate results.

I also try to limit his outdoor life because I don’t want him to practise his hunting skills on the local native birds and baby hares.

Fortunately he is intimidated by the birds that frequent my bird baths. They will squawk loudly at him and at times they will execute bomb dives towards him and he will retreat with his ears back and his tail between his legs.

When we are away from the farm, we always ensure that Bill is left safe and sound in his bedroom garage.

Well, we had always assumed he was safe and sound until a recent event when we found that we were in need of Steve Irwin and his snake handling skills.

I must digress here to say that I still find it difficult to accept the sudden death last year of my fellow Queenslander, the endearingly zealous and genuine conservationist, Steve Irwin.

Back to the event. It occurred on a Saturday night when we were relaxing with a drink, watching TV and Bill had retired to his bedroom. The son heard a noise coming from the garage and he remarked upon it. The spouse dismissed it assuming that it was Bill having a bit of a tussle with one of our many resident green tree frogs.

But the son wasn’t convinced and he felt that the sound was different and he went down to the garage to investigate. Suddenly we heard him yell, “Snake!”

The spouse, displaying a dose of optimism, said it may just be the blue tongue lizard that has been living in our yard. However he was soon to discover that it was a large and deadly brown snake.

Yes, Bill and a snake were having a bit of a dust up in the garage. Bill was taking an occasional swipe at the snake and the snake was lunging at him in defence.

We grabbed Bill from the garage and I took him to the kitchen where I started wiping his paws and body with a wet rag in order to remove any venom on his fur.

We all know how cats react to having nasty substances on their bodies.

“Oh dear, what is that on my coat. Best lick it off.”

The daughter decided that water was not enough to cleanse Bill so she got out the antiseptic and tipped it in a plastic container of water and she gathered a number of rags and she started to drown the poor cat in this solution.

Her actions only added to my distress. Will Bill die from an unseen puncture wound from the snake or will he die from ingesting the antiseptic solution after his next bout of grooming?

Meanwhile the spouse is in the garage with a torch and a spade trying to coax the brown snake out of his hiding place so he could dispose of it.

As a born and bred country lad, this wasn’t the spouse’s first encounter with a snake nor will it be the last.

The brave son was milling about behind his (extremely brave) father armed with a hoe and giving his father much moral support and lots of advice.

I was somewhere between the two events, that is, the drowning and/or poisoning of Bill in the kitchen and the dangerous "Steve Irwin" activity in the garage.

It should be noted here that snakes are a “protected species” in Australia. And that is fair enough if they would go about their business avoiding us as keenly as we try to avoid them. But when they enter the sanctum of your home it is another matter. We have the right to be just as much of a “protected species” as they are.

Also I would like to mention at this point that Australia has severe gun laws which restrict the ownership of guns to people who have a legitimate reason to own a gun and a gun licence. These people include farmers needing to cull feral animals and people who use guns for sport such as target shooting.

Oddly enough, criminals are not subject to any restrictions whatsoever upon their ownership and purchase of weapons or their ability to use their weapons on human beings rather than feral animals and shooting targets.

I don’t know why this is. Perhaps I should ask this current Howard Government who imposed these gun laws upon the non-criminal population about this anomaly.

I mention guns here because it would have been foolish of my spouse to have tried to “wing” the snake using his legal weapon given that all surfaces were concrete and brick. The ricochets would have made it very interesting indeed.

After a tense time, the snake was eventually “subdued”.

The Australian Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) is one of Australia's more deadly creatures. They are fast-moving and aggressive and they have venom which can cause death to humans relatively quickly if left untreated. Brown snakes are not always brown and they can grow to over 6 feet in length and they are even claimed to be the world's second most deadly snakes.

After the encounter with the snake was ended, we had the long wait to see if Bill was going to start to display the telltale signs that he had been struck by the snake and in need of antivenom from the emergency veterinary clinic which was a good 30 minute car trip away.

We all watched his every move and he seemed to be okay and he even tried to return to the garage to finish off the argument with the snake.

The spouse's theory as to why Bill survived the encounter was because snakes are not good at moving about on concrete and it may not have been able to get enough of a grip on the slippery surface to make a really solid strike and therefore make good contact on Bill’s body.

Whatever the reason we are grateful for his survival. It was not his fault that his bedroom was invaded. The snake came into his haven, his bedroom. It may have been able to slip though the gap between the floor and the garage doors. Or it could have snuck in when the doors were open.

We are currently experiencing a drought so it is inevitable that the snakes may come in search of water in and about the house.

We have had a number of snakes arrive in the garage over the years.

And Bill has had three snake encounters that we have witnessed. Who knows what happens when he is on his boundary rides of the farm?

I should mention that Bill also survived his encounter with the antiseptic solution.

Below is a picture of older Bill relaxing.

The son was well pleased with Bill’s new odour. He insisted that everyone in the family have a very deep sniff of Bill because for once he smelt wonderful rather than his usual dusty, musty old cat scent.

Now I fear that the son may decide to take an antiseptic bath himself.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


We recently visited my in-laws who live at the Gold Coast, Queensland. It is about a three hour drive from our farm.

The contrast of views from their home and the views from our home evokes a well known poem My Country © 1904 by Dorothea MacKellar. I have quoted extracts from her poem.

Below is the view from the balcony of the third storey beachfront unit.

I love her jewel-sea

The view below shows a couple of the beaches south of the unit and also the mountains west.

The sapphire-misted mountains

This morning I took some photographs of my autumn views of the farm. We are experiencing a drought at present.

The view below is looking from the front of the house.

Her pitiless blue sky

The view below is from the rear of the house. It is the view I see as I wash the dishes, making it a pleasant task.

You may notice Pod (see post dated Janury 1st)who remains incarcerated in our sturdy yards due to his continued bad behaviour.

Over the thirsty paddocks

Though earth holds many splendours, wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country my homing thoughts will fly.

Bit too sentimental of me I suppose but I do love my country.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Paper wasps (Polistes humilis) are vicious, vengeful insects.

I don’t wish to dwell too much upon their lives because, if I had my way, I would eradicate the entire population.

However I did wonder what role they played upon this planet.

Well, I was most outraged when I found the answer.

My reluctant research found that the only beneficial value they have is as predators of pest caterpillars.

Now, as far as I am concerned, that emphatically deems paper wasps superfluous to Earth’s needs.

I am sure that we have a large number of benign creatures who are already filling the role of curtailing an excessive population of caterpillars.

For example, we have a host of pretty, happy, timid-natured and music-making birds on our planet who quietly go about their business cleaning up pests (including caterpillars I am sure) without causing pain to the rest of the world.

Okay, you may have already guessed that I have been a recent victim of a paper wasp attack.

It wasn’t the first time, mind. I have been caught unawares a few times over the years but after a good dose of swearing and the application of ice upon the sting sites I normally settle down and I usually do not harbour the desire to see the extinction of an entire species.

However this last attack was unforgivable and unforgettable and I am going to insist that you relive the terror with me.

It began on a pleasant February Monday afternoon. We had received a shower of rain earlier that day and, because we are experiencing continued dry times lately, I was curious as to how much water had fallen into the rain gauge.

As suspected, it was a pittance. I tipped it out and as I walked away I found that I had company. About five paper wasps were pursuing me and stinging me on various parts of my anatomy.

I screamed loudly to alert the family that I was in peril and I moved as swiftly away from my attackers as my aged body would allow.

The family quickly sourced the ice for my wounds and all should have been okay.

But no, this time I was going to experience a serious reaction.

Whilst struggling with my heart palpitations and acute pain, I wondered where these nasty beings had nested.

We soon discovered that they had built a large condominium underneath our rain gauge. It could only have been a day or so in construction because it was only a day or so since I had visited the rain gauge.

Below is a photograph of the remnants of that nest.

Fortunately, the spouse has perfected a method to eradicate the paper wasps which leaves their nest vacant thus allowing me (weeks after the shock had subsided) to photograph the empty condominium which is now available for passing vandals and graffiti gangs to do what they do best.

Revenge is sweet!

Back to the day of the attack.

I soon started to get extremely itchy all over my body. I was feeling most anxious and agitated and I knew I was in trouble.

I searched the cupboard shelf that is designated to medicinal bits and pieces and I could not find any antihistamines.

We didn't even have a salve for the stings.

I was acutely aware that, as a caretaker of the family, I had failed us all in terms of ready remedies for any repercussions from stinging insects.

Within an hour my body was covered in a red rash. The area around my eyes turned bright red and became astoundingly swollen. My left hand began to balloon.

I had a cold shower but it didn’t help.

I kept rubbing ice on the sting sites and I soaked a cloth washer in ice water before placing it all over my body which was becoming increasingly red and inflamed.

Later, when the daughter came home, we asked if she had any antihistamine in her possession. She did have the drug so I took it. A double dose, as you do.

After a few hours the rash was going away and the redness and itchiness subsided somewhat but my left hand remained swollen.

I do remember sustaining a couple of stings on my left hand and it must have been a similar situation to having an injection of poison into one of the veins.

There were other sting sites but the most vivid recollection was the one on my left buttock which went through my shorts and my cotton undies.

The drama continued on Tuesday as my hand continued to swell and then the swelling crept up my wrist and arm (see below).

I did ring the doctor’s office but there were no appointments available so the receptionist put me through to the registered nurse who told me to keep taking the antihistamines and to keep the hand on ice and elevated.

I had to go to the chemist that day to pick up some medication and that is where I came across a piece of good fortune.

Our usual pharmacist wasn't there that day and when the relieving pharmacist looked at my dramatically swollen hand and arm she said, "Oh that happened to me recently and it took 10 days to go away and I just took antihistamines and the doctor finally put me on prednisone."

Well, what a relief!

I told her that I was currently on prednisone due to my arthritis and when I told her the dose she said that it was probably the same amount she had been prescribed.

Wednesday morning it was still swollen but it wasn't as red and it wasn't aching as much. So I began to believe that my hand would one day return to its normal size and it did deflate later in the week.

Whilst awaiting on the deflation, the sight of my hand was constantly alarming the general public. And I was teased and laughed at by my family who told me I looked like I had an ill-fitting prosthesis.

It could have been worse. It could have been my right hand and that would have been more inconvenient for me.

My brave spouse has been scanning the exterior of the house and yard looking for any new nests. He has found a further 3 nests.

Late in the afternoon when the wasps are less waspish he sneaks up on them and douses them in petrol and they die instantly.

Yes, revenge is very very sweet.

We will continue to engage in this War on Wasps.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Below is a photograph of a Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) which is the second most distributed frog in Australia.

Now, the more observant individuals will have noticed something amiss.

Yes! That Green Tree Frog is no where near a tree!

That Green Tree Frog is sitting on our shower curtain.

This is not an unusual situation. Our family has showered with frogs, on and off, for decades and we don’t like it at all.

Picture this. You are naked, wet and soaped up with one eye on the frog. Now I say frog, as in singular, but that is not always the case. More often than not it is frogs, as in plural.

Showering naked, except for a touch of froth here and there, whilst a frog looks on is most unnerving.

Showering as a frog hops and flops about that small enclosed area is extremely terrifying.

So, as you closely track the erratic movements of these green pests, parts of your anatomy are inevitably overlooked as you hurriedly soap up and flush off the most important bits.

Your only concern is to finish your ablutions before a cool clammy amphibian loses direction and flops upon your naked body.

Now, much has been said about frogs and our environment.

You know that guff about how the presence of frogs and their health and their happiness is a gauge of the health and the happiness of our environment.

Well, in our part of the world, the environment is far too healthy and far too happy with far too many healthy and happy frogs.

There was a time a few years ago when I counted up to 15 frogs of varying sizes in about our old toilet cistern.

Okay, the old toilet cistern did have a loose lid but that wasn’t an open invitation for all the frogs in the neighbourhood to come from far and wide to take up residence in our toilet.

And I am well aware why they have come to live with us. It is all about easy fast food for lazy amphibians.

We live on a farm which means that there are an enormous number of insects that flock to our windows at night, attracted by the house lights.

All these lazy frogs have to do is to flop up out of the toilet and onto the external walls and windows of the house to indulge in a veritable smorgasbord from the insect world.

One year the health and happiness of our environment became more than I could bear so I got a bucket with a lid and I captured a very large amount of these green pests and relocated them to another part of the farm that could offer them water and sanctuary.

It culled the number for a while.

A year or so ago, we replaced the old frog friendly toilet cistern with a brand new unit. I had hoped that the neat fit of the lid to the cistern would mean that the frogs would be unable to take a dip in the cistern and this would curtail their attraction to our toilet and shower room.

Alas, my hopes were quickly dashed. The frogs still live in and about the toilet and shower room.

They also continue to deposit their usual copious amounts of frog poo all about the room.

Today, as I entered the room, I was met with an extremely unpleasant odour. The toilet was flushed so I immediately knew what the problem was.

I lifted our seemingly well sealed cistern lid and my suspicions were confirmed. There, floating about in the water was a decaying frog.

How, when and why it died is of no concern to me.

How I was going to remove it was the immediate challenge.

So I fiddled about the internal workings of this new cistern and finally managed to extract this putrid being.

Then I had to spend the next few hours trying to convince my lurching stomach to calm down and not to throw up my breakfast.

Green Tree frogs are not one of my favourite creatures residing on the farm.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Recently I toyed with the idea of writing a book that would help people to attain financial freedom. The working title was “Two Steps to Wealth”.

You can read about this flight of fancy on my part by clicking upon this link.

Well, I haven’t gotten very far with the book. One reason is that I have no idea about financial matters beyond the advice to stop spending recklessly.

The other reason is that I haven’t been given an incentive to scribble something down because, to date, no one has forwarded on Oprah’s personal mobile number to me. I had hoped to launch my book on her show.

Lately I have been thinking that the concept of financial freedom may be greatly overrated.

I have two words to explain this hunch. Howard Hughes.

Howard Hughes ended up with an enormous amount of financial freedom. And where did it take him?
Into a self-created prison because of his Obessive-Compulsive Disorder where he faded from public view and became an eccentric recluse.

The most bizarre piece of information I found from Wikipedia was not the bit about him not cutting his fingernails and hair but that the first doctor to examine his body diagnosed the cause of Hughes' death as neglect.

Yep, financial freedom may not be all its cracked up to be.

Now, I would like to introduce to you my latest idea for a self-help book that I hope I can flog on the Oprah Show.

Again, if I am able to make an appearance on her show and “talk the talk”, I expect to sell millions of copies and then find myself with lots of financial freedom.

I know, it was a bad thing for Howard, but I have a lot of family and friends who will pull me into line if I start to go weird.

My new book will be called “My Excellent Tips for Permanent Weight Loss”.

Usually, readers will check the covers of these self-help books to find out what qualifications the authors can produce so that the reader can feel confident that the advice is legitimate.

So let me outline my qualifications. I am a human being who eats food, I am not overweight and I have a university degree in Psychology. So there!

This is just an introduction to my book so I want to be brief and therefore I will list my tips in point form.


This is very important.

Okay, I know that by the time you are born your choice of parents is null and void. But what I am trying to point out to you is that you are a product of your inherited genes.

An ideal parent would be the Australian-born supermodel Elle McPherson. She is very tall and naturally thin. And she looks good in a bikini which is not a bad thing.

With Elle as your parent, there is every chance that you will be tall and therefore you will have lots of places to put your weight.

Danny DeVito is a good actor but he would not be an asset as a parent. He is short and, hence, there is less room on his body to disperse any excess weight that he acquires.

What I am trying to tell you here is that you should take a look at your parents and your grandparents and any other relatives because what they have passed on to you, in terms of genes, is your baseline.

Accept your inheritance and don’t have unrealistic expectations about how you will be able to change your body weight or shape.

Very, very few of us will look like Elle. All we can hope for is a healthy and normal weight version of the body we have inherited.


Eat less if you are overweight. Simple advice.

There are a number of ways to do this. The best advice is to use a smaller plate when you are piling food upon your plate. Remember the old saying, “Your eyes are bigger than your belly” and heed it.

Also use smaller glasses when drinking beverages.

The other crucial tip is to eat slowly.

Wolfing down large amounts of food and beverages may be exciting for your taste buds and your brain but it is going to really piss off your stomach.


Yes, water. That stuff that God gave us.

Stop guzzling down all those “sugary, caffeine loaded and Lord knows what else are in them” drinks.

And don't go drinking some "sports drink" or "energy drink" after walking from your car to the shop and deciding that you are thirsty and you need to become part of the advertising image you saw last night on TV.

The 'sports drinks' are special cocktails that are designed for athletes so that they can rehydrate and replenish elcetrolytes, sugar and other nutrients to compensate for their depleted supplies after strenuous training or competition.

"Energy drinks are designed for people who are energetic. They are meant to give a boost of energy to people who have already spent energy.

'Energy drinks' and 'sport drinks' aren't designed for some sedentary clown.

Water contains no calories. So respect water.

Having said that, red wine is a great source of antioxidants which are good at destroying those free radicals running rampant in your body with a view to possibly causing some sort of cancer.

I don’t know what that means exactly but if it means you can drink wine with your meals then it must be a good thing.


Now this is the most controversial advice I can give you but it is the best advice I can give you.

Why? Because knowing that you can eat whatever you like, whenever you like, frees you from that damaging mindset that says losing weight is all about deprivation.

I am not alone with this theory.

A number of years ago, I actually witnessed a guest (with a book to flog) on Oprah’s show who uttered this very same advice.

When she said it, I called out from my recliner rocker lounge chair, “Right on, Sister!”.

Then I heard a very audible and communal gasp from the audience.

I was so disappointed with them. How little faith they must have in their self control when it comes to food?

It is that sense of deprivation that leads to binge eating and those unrealistic promises to “go on a diet” next week.

You don’t have to “go on a diet”. What you eat IS your DIET.

Restricting your calorie intake by forcing yourself to eat food you don’t like will NEVER work.

Always eat what you want to eat but think about what you eat before putting it into your mouth.

If you want a chocolate biscuit then eat it guilt-free. When you don’t feel guilt you are more likely to only eat one or two.

If you think you shouldn’t eat chocolate biscuits EVER, then you will find yourself guzzling down a whole packet of chocolate biscuits and promising yourself that you will “go on a diet” next week.

Again, and I know I am labouring the point here, my tip is to eat a little amount of those bad foods you like to eat BUT make sure you eat a lot of the foods that you know are good for you.

Simple advice but it will ensure that you will eat sensibly for the rest of your life.


This is my last tip.

Those cantankerous six-pack bearing personal trainers have a lot to say about how often and how fast and how long to exercise.

My tip is to just move you body more than you usually do.

Walk up the stairs instead of taking an elevator, that is, providing that you aren’t heading to the 32nd floor.

Find a remote car park that means you have to walk a bit to go to work or the shops.

Basically, walk more than you usually do.

I don’t believe in jogging. Jogging has to be a health hazard. It must be hurting peoples' feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

And I do believe jogging does great damage to breast tissue.

If you are unable to move your entire body due to being frail and infirmed then simply fidgit. Wriggle your fingers and toes. It is all about burning up calories.

Well, that is enough for now.

Again I send out the plea, does anyone out there have Oprah’s private number?

I am sure that if I knew that I could discuss my tips on her show it would give me an incentive to expand upon my excellent tips for permanent weight loss and come up with a decent sized self help book.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I recently spied a butterfly visiting our Geisha Girl (Duranta repens) blossoms. So I grabbed the camera hoping to capture a good photograph that I could share with the rest of the world.

I searched a guide book on butterflies and I feel quite certain that this is a female Papilio aegeus aegeus or Donovan Orchard Butterfly which is found throughout much of Queensland and other Australian states.

The guide book also told me that the larvae commonly feed on cultivated citrus trees and on a number of native plants.

You may notice that the potplant contains a lime tree.

A while ago my husband was concerned about the grub like pests chewing on the leaves of my precious lime tree. Those pests have sinced metamorphosised into these beautiful delicate creatures.

I followed the butterfly about my garden in an attempt to capture a good photograph. It finally settled and spread out its wings as if it was posing for a fashion shot.

Below is the male Papilio aegeus aegeus. He also seemed content to pose for this photo.


"Bub n Bill" on cups

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Our household has 12 remote controls. That is a sizable amount given that they only control the entertainment (TVs, videos, DVDs, stereos and a game console) in our home.

Imagine how many remote controls we could amass if we were to invest in air-conditioning units for each room, ceiling fans for each ceiling and various new kitchen devices which are now controlled remotely.

Our lounge room boasts five remote controls. The reason for the large amount is because, over time, we have added the new items to the old items.

For example, our TV is 21 years old and over time we have connected a video player or three and recently we added a DVD player.

We also hooked up the stereo player to this conglomerate so that when we watch DVDs we have that disconcerting cinema-like experience where each speaker takes turns to talk to you.

If you are good at maths, you may be wondering about the fifth remote control.

Well it belongs to one of our deceased video players. However it will work with our current video player which controls the signal to the TV.

The son has been known to lurk about the back of the lounge room armed with this backup remote control and use it to change the TV channel whilst another family member is watching.

Okay, it was funny but only on the first occasion.

The remaining devices are shared amongst the three bedrooms.

There are two things I hate about remote controls.

Firstly, they enjoy a game of hide and seek. And they are really good at that game.
The smaller they are the better they are at slipping down the sides of the recliner rocker lounge chairs or secreting themselves between the pages of a magazine left on the coffee table.

Sure, you can buy those nifty little remote control tidies in the belief that you can contain these elusive objects. You may have seen them advertised in some lesser magazine. They are little unattractive plastic resting places for your various remote controls that some ingenious person created in the hope of making an easy buck.

But do not consider buying one because it will be a complete waste of money. No one in your household is ever going to use it. It will simply get in your way and gather dust.

Remote controls will always be left in and about the chair where the last person to use them has discarded them.

Secondly, I hate remote controls because they don’t always work in a consistent fashion.

You will occasionally find yourself pressing buttons furiously with no result. So then you will begin to twist and turn and lean precariously about your chair hoping that a change of angle will be that vital factor in coaxing the stubborn little device to work.

Finally you will realise that all your tricks are not working. That special angle has evaded you. Pressing harder and harder on the button is merely bruising your finger. And slamming the device sharply on your thigh is hurting you more than that tough little piece of plastic.

So then you will have to admit defeat and actually rise from your chair and walk over to the target and physically press a button on a machine.

I have a very clear memory of the time I saw my first TV remote control in action. I would have been about 8 years old and that was a very long time ago.

Our family didn’t own a TV back then but I had visited homes where these magical machines resided.

One day I accompanied my older sister as she visited a school friend who lived a block away from our home. When we entered the living area of this very tidy house, we came across the father who was seated in his lounge chair watching the TV. I quickly noted that there was a long cord leading from his chair to the TV. The other end of the cord was attached to a little black box in his hand.

Yes, it was a remote control. I was most impressed when I learned that the father could control the TV from the comfort of his lounge chair.

What a progressive family these people were!

When I think back on that day, I feel sure that this prototype remote control had only one function. I believe that its only ability was to control the volume.

Now it is easy for us to scoff at its simplicity but the more I think about that one function remote control, the more I like it.

For me, the most important function on all our controls is the ability to mute the TV ads and to increase or decrease the volume of the programme I am watching according to my needs.

The least important function is the ability to change TV channels. This is especially so when you are seated next to someone in possession of the remote control who decides to surf the channels during the TV ads. The more frantic personality types will simply keep hitting the button and not stop to sample the programmes as they flash up before you.

It is very much like looking out the window of a speeding train. Just as you see something that interests you, it flashes by you leaving you curious and disappointed.

Yes, anyone who has been a victim of that sort of channel surfing behaviour and also a party to the heated discussions it provokes will surely agree with me when I say that we should never have improved upon that prototype remote control.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Although most of our farm has been cleared for crop production, we have an area of uncleared land where the local fauna and birdlife can live and breed.

Occasionally they will venture closer to the house and yard.

The birds take advantage of the three birdbaths that I strive to keep topped up with water. The honey-eaters feed from the flowers on the native trees and bushes. I have found native plants will survive our current dry seasons and I try to ensure that the plants I chose have bird attracting flowers.

There are a number of native animals residing on the farm including koalas, possums, echidnas, wallabies and kangaroos.

Wallabies visit our house yard to nibble on the grass. Wallabies are macropods (literally meaning big foot) which are smaller and stockier in build compared to kangaroos.

Wallabies are herbivores and belong to the group of animals called marsupials meaning that they carry their young in a pouch.

The wallabies below were often in our yard last year.

I believe that they may be the Black-striped Wallaby (Macropus dorsalis), also known as the Scrub Wallaby.

The joey was soon to large to remain in the pouch.

Below is a wallaby with this year's joey on board.

The end of another day.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A friend once told me that he considered school to be a prison for children.

When I thought about it, it did seem like a good analogy.

Schools are a convenient way of incarcerating those pesky five to seventeen year olds during the waking hours of each weekday.

It is a reverse of those day release programmes they have in real prisons.

By the age of about five, children have stopped taking those refreshing naps (refreshing for the parents, that is) and they begin whining about being bored, start to raid the kitchen cupboards for junk food, and they find it entertaining to fight with siblings and pets.

These days the only way to get any kind of peace is to invest your hard earned money into expensive electrical items such as large screen TVs, DVD players, and home computers choking with game programmes.

Then there are the video game consoles and Ipods and any other “must-have” toy being flogged by cunning advertising agencies (a.k.a. devils in disguise).

And we all know just how much added expense this technology will mean when you have to feed it with the latest game programmes, DVDs, CDs, Internet downloads etc.

It is little wonder that, years ago, some grown-up invented compulsive schooling under the pretence that once little children reached five years of age they needed to learn important stuff.

And the clever part of this plan was that the children needed to leave the family home to learn this important stuff.

When I began school (just a few years after the Ice Age melted), it was compulsory to attend seven years at primary school and then three years at high school.

After that you either entered the workforce or continued on for another two years at high school to qualify for university or a technical college.

In more recent times, this ten year sentence has been increased to thirteen years as kiddies in Queensland are expected to continue to year twelve (or equivalent) with a recently added preparatory year before year one.

Yes, committing severe crimes in the adult world will result in lesser sentences in prison.

My dislike of school began at a very early age.

Apparently, during my first week of school, my teacher approached my mother to inform her that, although I was participating in and completing the required schoolwork, I was doing so whilst crying quietly.

Of course I would be crying! Any sensitive child would cry.

I had spent the first five and a bit years of my life playing unhindered and happily in the comfort of my own home with my mother preparing meals for me as needed.

My mother even went one step further in enriching my preschool years by kindly presenting me with a baby sister to entertain and to torment.

Then for no apparent reason, except as some inexplicable punishment for having too much fun, I was put in a prison uniform, handed a little school bag containing a plastic lunch box and dropped off at a large “educational” facility filled with strangers.

It must have been traumatic as I have vivid memories of that first school room. If I were to return to that Brisbane institution tomorrow, I would be able to walk directly to that room (a.k.a. prison cell) and point out the very position of my desk.

I don’t remember the tears but I suspect that they were an involuntary response to my trauma and they simply slipped out of my large blue-green eyes and rolled down my chubby cheeks and on to my wooden school desk.

I do remember the little wooden desk and the smell of the Clag glue as I pasted the various shapes of coloured paper onto a large sheet of paper.

Because my family shifted residences a few times, I had to change primary schools four times.

I can still recall that hollow feeling in my stomach as I would turn up to yet another institution filled with strangers and hope that I would eventually find a friend to play with during the morning tea and lunch breaks. It would happen but not for a week or so.

My favourite times at primary school were the art lessons, the swimming lessons and the Friday afternoon sport.

Other then art, swimming lessons and sport, my next favourite school activity was watching the hands on the school room clock turn oh so slowly about its face.

I am sure that those school room clocks took 120 minutes to reach an hour.

Fortunately I was good at sport which meant that I would be able to escape school lessons on Friday afternoons to play netball and softball against a team of kids from some neighbouring school.

More importantly, it meant that I was not locked up in that hot box of a school room with sweaty, smelly peers and those less than enthusiastic teachers.

Yes, we did it tough back then in the sweltering Queensland days of summer. Winter wasn’t much cooler either come to think of it.

We had bare wooden floors and a couple of windows pushed ajar in the hope of catching a passing breeze. No wonder concentration waned and teachers’ tempers rose.

I vividly recall one episode in Year 7. A disruptive boy (there is always a disruptive boy in any school room about this planet) was testing the patience of our normally placid male teacher. After a number of warnings, the boy was told by the teacher that if he was to disrupt the class once more, our very tall and muscular teacher would throw the boy out of our classroom window.

Well of course the boy disrupted the class once again. Our teacher, true to his word, marched down the school room, grabbed the boy by the pants and shirt and carried him towards one of the open windows. The class watched in astonishment. We were all aware that our classroom was on the second floor of the building and therefore we knew that our classmate was about to suffer some sort of injury once he hit the ground below.

As our teacher reached the open window he seemed to hesitate for a moment. Somewhere within him sanity must have kicked in and he swivelled on his rubber soled shoes and carted the boy towards the classroom door and dropped him outside the room onto the verandah.

I think I can speak for all of our Year 7 class when I report, decades later, that we were more than a little relieved.

Compared to my primary school experiences, my children were pampered beyond belief. They had air-conditioned class rooms, carpet on the floor, a refrigerator for their lunch boxes and it seemed like they were forever on some sort of interesting excursion away from the classroom.

And, what is more worrying for me as a parent, they seemed to be happy to leave home and go off to prison, I mean, school.

Monday, January 01, 2007


There has been an unhappy turn of events in our calm and contented herd of Herefords.

We have seven cows wandering freely about the farm, taking their time to stop and stare and contemplate the beauty of their surrounds whilst they chew their cud.

Regrettably, we have been forced to imprison our lone male calf named Pod.

Never before in the history of our herd have we had to take such drastic action against one of our own.

Pod is a trouble maker.

I do suspect that he may have brain damage. Perhaps, whilst his mother Hef was birthing him, he suffered some loss of oxygen to the brain which has affected that part of his brain which controls his ability to act like a normal bovine.

Let me tell you what has transpired.

Since his birth, Pod happily followed the herd and he would play the usual poddy games with his devoted mother. Hef would willingly let him suckle well beyond the usual weaning time and she would constantly lick about his body to make sure he was properly groomed and comforted by the fact that his mother loved him.

Whenever he and the herd came near the house we would call out a friendly greeting such as: “Hello Pod. How are you going?”

I now realise, far too late, that his reaction to our greetings should have signalled trouble. Pod would lift his head with startled curiosity in our direction when he should have simply tossed us an indifferent glance like the rest of the girls.

As he reached his first birthday we became aware of just how badly his behaviour had escalated.

Pod cannot be contained within fences. Also he is incapable of comfortably handling the presence of human beings anywhere within one hundred feet of his personal space.

We slowly realised that Pod had no respect for any form of fencing. If it was a three strand barbed wire fence he would simply step through the wires. If it was a single wire electrified fence, he had no problems pushing through and breaking the wire despite the shocking consequences.

Normally a jolt of electricity on a moist nose is enough to create a respect within bovines for that pulsing piece of wire for life.

Not Pod!

But we did wonder if there was some sort of cow conspiracy going on.

Did the girls get together, sans his mother Hef, and decide, “Look. He is a mere male. The pain will be temporary. There will be no permanent consequences. So let’s coax him close to the electric fence. Then let’s all surge forward and push him towards it and his body will break it and we will be free to roam that grass which is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

We didn’t have any evidence of this mobbing of Pod but we remained suspicious as more and more fence-breaking incidences began to occur.

Things came to a head six weeks ago as the feed started to disappear and the cows looked longingly, not just over the internal fences of the property, but at the crops growing in our neighbours’ paddocks.

One morning, after our goodbyes, I heard my daughter’s car return to the house with horn beeping and engine revving.

She had found our herd, led by Pod, heading towards the open front gate which led across a main road to the neighbour’s paddock of cow feed.

It appeared that, once again, Pod had broken a fence to allow the rest of the herd in a forbidden area of the farm.

Well, that was it. Something needed to be done.

To make it worse it was a day when we were all going to be away from the farm and unable to keep surveillance on the escapees.

So, as I left for work, I shut the front gate knowing that it was only a temporary barrier given Pod’s total disrespect of any fence and the boundary fence would be no exception.

We had to wait until day’s end before the family returned to organise a permanent solution for Pod’s Houdini behaviour.

That afternoon the decision was made to separate Pod from the herd and to lock him in the yards until we could ready him for the cattle sale.

Clearly he was uncontrollable.

It was very disappointing because, over the years, our girls have always been very tame. They knew when they had done something wrong and, when we would chase them back from trouble towards home, they would readily and, somewhat guiltily, return to the holding yards.

The making of the decision to get Pod into the yards was easy. Carrying out this decision was a gargantuan feat to which, unfortunately, I was not a witness.

The getting of Pod into the yards fell on the ingenuity of the spouse and the son.

As the men gently headed the willing herd toward the yards, Pod baulked and he decided to make a break. He took a left hoof turn, scampering through the stand of trees below the house and the cattle yard and he headed south-east towards the freedom of the acres of open ploughed paddocks.

A quick plan was devised to despatch the son in the four-wheel drive Ute to chase after Pod. The plan was to let Pod run free for a while so that he would get exhausted and then the Ute would overtake him and turn him back and guide him towards the yards.

At first the plan seemed to work. Pod galloped wild and free for a while and then the son caught up to him and he turned Pod back towards the yards.

As Pod turned and galloped in the reverse direction, all seemed to be going to plan until Pod faltered a little due to fatigue and he decided to take a stand.

Pod stopped, propped and turned to face the oncoming Ute. The son slowed to a stop and waited. Pod eyed his enemy and then lowered his head, kicked up the dirt with his front hooves and charged the Ute, head-butting the left hand side of the vehicle leaving a section of the front fender badly dented.

Having taken his revenge on his pursuer, Pod turned and headed north east in the general direction of the yards. The son followed in the Ute hoping to steer him towards the yards.

Because I was not there, I am not sure just how they managed to get him into the yards. I don’t think they can even remember how it happened either because it was a long afternoon dealing with an unpredictable and obviously deranged calf.

The best recollection is that an exhausted Pod headed back towards the stand of trees and sulked for a while. Then, because of the expert cattle handling skills of the spouse and the son, they managed to coax the faltering Pod towards the yards.

Perhaps the presence of the tame herd mustered near the yards was a calming influence for Pod as he eventually joined them.

One thing I know for certain is that it was a betrayal of one of the herd that led to his eventual imprisonment.

Apparently, whilst trying to coax him into the yards, Pod tried to make yet another break from the holding yards but one of the cows managed to nudge him towards the yards and he was accidently bumped into the confines of our very secure yards.

Who knows whether it was yet another cow conspiracy?

Once confined, we realised that Pod was a truly crazy animal. Having had his vast experience of escaping fences by mere force, Pod decided to charge at the sturdy metal rails of the yards in the hope of breaking out. This behaviour, plus the injuries of his attack of the Ute, left him with bleeding welts.

Now, animal lovers, remember that all these injuries were self inflicted. And, if we were to have let him have his way and let him walk off the property and on to the main road, he may well have ended up as a bloody trophy on the front bumper of a very large truck.

Since his capture, Pod has been living a life of luxury. He is being watered and fed each day. It is costing us a fortune as we have had to buy hay at an inflated price due to the current drought conditions. We have had to wait before sending him away to the sales as the Christmas and New Year season has meant that the cattle sales have gone into semi-hibernation.

And we have not gotten off lightly. Each morning at 4am, Pod will begin to complain about his imprisonment using his plaintive “moo” again and again and again as he calls for his now disinterested mother and the rest of the herd.

When we go to feed him, Pod will cower at the furthest point of the yards and then lower his head and alternatively dig each front hoof into the dirt as a warning that he will soon charge at the fence and us.

Pod’s temporary imprisonment may be unsettling for him but it is more unsettling for us as we have to pay for his expensive tucker and suffer his most unwelcome early morning “moos”.

Next challenge for us will be to ready him for sale. Yes, there has been a very, very unhappy turn of events.