Now that we are living in the country and now that we have finally bought me some Proper Boots, we felt it was time to introduce Tricky to the rural life, ie the life that smiles upon the working dog and fresh air but looks askance at requests for macchiato or organic chicken.
Because we are not ones to do things by halves (and frankly, if Tricky sleeps in for instance, I am inclined to not do them at all) we have visited not one but three farms in the past week. Not simply for Tricky's edification, it's all part of an ongoing arts project that C is running, but it certainly has opened our eyes to the benefits of air seeders, drenchers, and silage, none of which are apparent in the picture below but which I included because I thought it looked quaint and picturesque and exuded a certain rustic charm.
At one farm Tricky got to see chickens. We stood in the door of the skanky floored pen to watch as the farmer shooed them through a cunning little spring loaded hatch in the side of the fence so that they could peck at the sweet grass on the other side.
I stared and wrinkled my nose at the vast floor of trodden in chook poo and Tricky stared and wrinkled his brow, faintly perturbed at the sight of these short strange feathered people with their beady eyes and sharp pointy noses and scaly feet, but also deeply fascinated.
I thought about the chickens my sisters and I nurtured all those many years ago in Penang, and how we had enjoyed their gentle cluckings and funny sideways leapings, right up till the moment they appeared as miniature drumsticks alongside the french onion dip and devils on horseback at one of our parents' authentic, irony-free, 70s parties.
And Tricky laughed, and I smiled, and the farmer shooing the chickens started to tell me a long story about needing a new chook pen because there were far too many chickens and it was all a bit crowded and just then, almost as if someone was listening, someone with a slightly cruel sense of humour I might add, the spring loaded door suddenly snappped down shut on the neck of an unfortunate chicken. Her body flapped about on our side and her head unseen, wailed unhappily on the green green grass side of the hatch and Tricky stared and I said..oh oh dear, I think you better....oooh...oh dear..oops.... and finally the farmer came out with a shirt full of eggs and cursed the hatch and released the chook on her way and it seems there was no harm done.
And, I hate to say this, but I think I will anyway because it might be a milestone event that I look back on in the months to come when I become properly countrified and Do Things Differently...even though I was carrying Tricky in one arm I know I could have released that chook myself but I didn't because firstly I was freaked out by the wierd headless way the body was flapping and writhing and secondly because I didn't want to get poo on my new boots.
And then there were the sheep.
(*cleverly segues to avoid guilty chook inspired ramblings*)
At another farm Tricky was lucky enough to be present for the feeding of the poddy lambs. These are the dear little orphaned lambs, the sweet little woolly motherless lambs, the darling little white faced long legged creatures who must be fed from a bottle and very cute it is to watch, I am told.
Sadly, on this day, we missed this Spectacle Of Extreme Darling Cuddliness because three of the lambs had had their throats ripped out by foxes. This news was delivered to their mother by two of the young children who live on the farm and had been sent out "to feed Poobah and Lucky and Lambert and Rose."
"Only Poobah's alive now Mum," intoned the little boy cheerfully as he handed back the bottles of unsupped milk. Mum and the kids and C went out to inspect the damage but Tricky and I stayed indoors and peeked out the window at the sad little piles of white wool just beyond the wire fence.
"And crows pecked out their eyes," the little girl helpfully added when they returned.
At the end of the week we head oh so briefly back to Sydney and then to Newcastle, my poor storm damaged home town, and then back again to our house in the country for a few days rest in our own beds before we hit the road again.
And are we tired?
Let's just say there's no need to count sheep.