Harry Houdini
Sunday, 21 September 2014 15:44

Together with our next door neighbours, we bought four alpacas, for aesthetics! The plan was for us each family to gaze at two of them: one black and one white. But, as with all things farming, best laid plans never work. One of the useless blighters, Harry Houdini, taught the other three how to wriggle under bottom fence wires, plus all four alpacas would not be separated. So, we ended up having four, by rotation. Harry had a propensity to live and shit on the driveway, which was annoying. I was worried not that he'd be killed by a motorist, but that he'd cause a valued visitor's demise. I tried electrifying the bottom fence wire, but Harry was impervious to pain. The other downside to alpacas is that you can't eat them. Harry is super tall, and, as a last resort, I prayed he'd get struck by a bolt of lightening.

Costly Pride
Sunday, 21 September 2014 05:54

I knew old age was setting in when one summer I turned to spraying our variegated thistles instead of grubby them with a mattock. Suddenly, I'd become a gentleman farmer, squirting glyphosate at the evil doers from the comfort (and safety) of the tractor seat, rather than constantly having to climb out of the ute, wield the mattock, and finally place the plants in the ute or trailer, getting stung by needle-sharp thorns in the process regardless of the thickness of my gloves. My efforts were, of course, totally redundant, because the farmers either side of our narrow block let their thistles go to seed, which with the next wind blew onto our place, whereupon they waited patiently to germinate the following summer. The only consolation was that, for three out of four seasons, I took (costly) pride in not seeing a single thistle on Mullebar.

The River Pump
Sunday, 21 September 2014 15:42

He was playing on my mind soon after we began our drive to Canberra. I'd left Jason, our river pump, on the riverbank. And there'd been a flood warning issued for north-east Victoria. I wasn't fretting that Jason would float away; he was way too heavy to do that. Plus, he was connected to the thick pipe leading to the homestead, almost one kilometre away. No, it was the thought of returning to find him and his heart valves caked in mud, and the cost of having to get his tubes cleaned out. As we drove through shin-high water spread across the Hume Highway, I said a prayer for Jason, promising myself that he'd get a good make-over the moment we got home. And anyway, don't women use mud to iron out their wrinkles. Maybe there's hope for Jason after all.


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