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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Finding time to write this is not easy at present, and if I leave it a few days I forget what I’ve done! I was listening to one of my radio science shows the other day (I download them onto my ipod – it stops me going mad when doing tedious tasks on the farm). It said studies have revealed that analysis of a person’s vocabulary & their use of concepts in their writing, can indicate a propensity to dementia. A decline in the extent of one’s vocab. etc can be picked up much quicker than other signs of declining mental agility. Even at an early age, those with a more limited vocabulary & less complex ways of expressing theirselves, may have a slightly increased risk of developing dementia in their old age. I’m not sure what the point of this is, except that I keep forgetting things! Apparently putting on weight is a major risk factor too. Sigh.

I’ve put in a momentous effort over the last couple of days. On Sunday morning I had to catch & deliver four young goats (Bront & Luke disappeared for the morning swimming & basketballing). However, when I wrestled the goat float onto the ute, I realised I’d not moved the three young roosters out which were currently living in it in palatial, sheltered splendour. So, I hurriedly decided they would have to go to rooster heaven sooner rather than later – they’d been given to us & although they’d been quarantined for a couple of weeks, I still didn’t want to risk putting them in with our flock. Then I yarded the goats & managed to catch the four chosen ones remarkably quickly, but it was pretty hard work manhandling them into the trailer.

I got back and ate my lunch talking to a neighbour friend of ours who’d kindly returned something of mine, then two sets of people turned up to buy piglets. I was obliged to wade in mud to grab them while they kicked, wiggled & squealed for all they were worth (at least they didn’t bite). On the second occasion, I thought I was stuck forever – it took a major effort to get my foot out. Another one went yesterday, making four in total. I advised on a goat or two instead, owing to their circumstances, but they were dead set on a pig. This time I managed to avoid the worst of the mud, grabbed the chosen piggly & stuck it under my arm while it howled fit to burst. None of the buyers bought a container – thinking perhaps they could just hold a piglet on their laps – so all got bundled unceremoniously into feed bags & tied up with bailing twine! Again, that was all pretty hard physical work & I was plastered in pig mud. Not as bad as the time last year when I caught a piglet, tripped & lay face down in mud hanging onto its back leg for dear life! Nor quite as strenuous as when a large pig got out & in desperation I grabbed it by the tail & hauled it bodily towards its pen. Once it got going in the right direction it happily trotted back in. So there are just six piglets left now, which is about right.

I’d been keen to do some mincing as we are currently awash with pork. While we are now fully self-sufficient in meat, the forms in which it comes are rather unvaried, being mostly roasts & chops. So later on Sunday, I sat & cut 5kg of pork off the bone & trimmed off the rind etc before spending two hours laboriously mincing it with a hand mincer. There must be a better way! I put a couple of kilos of the fattest mince back through, to turn it into sausagemeat. I’ve bought some sausage skins so plan to have a go soon at making some proper pork bangers – Australians don’t know how to make a decent sausage (nor do I for that matter, so I can feel a bit of internet research coming on). At least now we have mince for spag bol (which we had last night - delicious), lasagne, shepherds’ pie, burgers etc.

Then of course, there were the dead roosters to deal with. Yesterday was a busy day of feeding creatures, cooking food for pigs & birds, replacing rat baits, tec-screwing the targa roof onto the farm Suzuki (the velcro & self-adhesive ties provided, just weren’t up to the job), catching a piglet & picking Luke up from the school bus. So after clearing up the dinner dishes & packing Bronte’s lunch for today, I went back out in the garage & had a peaceful couple of hours plucking & drawing roosters, listening to the Archers on the ipod (if only it wouldn’t play the most recent episode first – it’s so frustrating) & watching the dogs growling & playing together. Brucie treed a possum at one point & when I went out with the torch (he was barking madly) it was a great fat furry brushtail, peering down at us from the top of the veggie-patch frame. I tried to show Rosie but she was too dopey. Bruce must have given up eventually - he returned to the garage tired and pleased with himself.

The weather has turned today. We’ve had a marvelous few late autumn days - warm & sunny - but now it’s turned chilly again & it’s drizzly & overcast. I was hoping the warm days might last a bit longer, to completely dry out the pig pens which have not recovered from the terrific rain we had a few weeks back (when I tried to take extra bedding out to the animals in the evening & slid out of control down the hill, through a pig pen fence & straight into the pear tree – it was a horrible experience I prefer not to dwell on now! Needless to say, the ute was trapped in the pear tree paddock with two pigs for several days & now the pear tree paddock is no more. Insurance is paying for repairs & it should all be sorted soon). The autumn colours have been wonderful just lately. We’ve had a long, pleasant autumn & the leaves turned late in the season - now they are quite vibrant. Of course the Aussie trees are generally evergreens so it is the introduced deciduous trees in gardens and orchards that bring the colour. They make a bright contrast to the always rather grey-green austerity of the Aussie bush (majestic of course, but more akin to the 18th century notion of the ‘sublime’ than the soft, lushness of European garden landscapes).

Listening to ‘Witness’, downloaded off the World Service, I had a jolt of recognition when they began talking to people about the poll tax riots & the death of Kurt Cobain. Gosh, now I’m at an age when things that I clearly remember are reminisced about on the radio. I was in fact in London on the day of the poll tax riots & got mixed up in the fringes of it. I’d gone down with a group of university friends to watch the boat-race (we were Cambridge supporters) & just have a fun time. I don’t think it had even dawned on us the protest was happening that day. Later we got out at Leicester Square tube station and the police closed the station behind us. My main memory from thereon was watching someone hurling a brick at the Swiss Centre in the Square - & the brick just bouncing off the window glass! There was something quite comical about it, despite the violence. Obviously, the Swiss build their centres strongly! We saw groups of police with riot shields & running, shouting protesters but soon holed ourselves up in a cheap restaurant in Chinatown for the rest of the night. As for Kurt Cobain, I liked Nirvana, but was not a devoted fan. It took my recent Woofers, both only about eight years old when Kurt committed suicide and hence ended Nirvana, to tell me that one of the group then went on to become the lead singer of the Foofighters (I don’t know anything about them, except that they must now have been going for about 17 years so must be getting a bit long in the tooth). That conversation only came about because the neighbour I do a lot of marketing work for, apparently looks like him! Hmm, enough for now I think.

Taken a while ago. Suzuki is looking considerably more battered & dirty now. Pile of sticks & manure behind is now all tidied away.

Pear tree paddock before I crashed the ute into it!

Burning old fenceline after gettng ute out of the pear tree paddock