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Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Last Calf Has Been Delivered

The last calf has been delivered. It was a huge one, and Matt had to pull it. But for all its size it was weak, barely able to stand, and there was never much chance it would survive. The mother is now suckling an orphan calf – and I’ll be off to release her in half an hour or so.

I took a walk last night, just as the sun was going down. I realised that with all this gardening and manure-gathering I’d been neglecting to watch the plant life, and things are moving along fast. A splash of white caught my eye, two or three small trees part-way down the bluff above the river, maybe a quarter of a mile east of here. Steep as that hillside is – and with a 200 foot drop below to concentrate your mind – it’s easy enough to walk on. The sand is very yielding, and there’s always some kind of cattle-trail to follow along the contour. Even as I approached the trees I could smell a heavy, sweet scent, not unlike the may blossom back home. So that’s the first picture today. I’m pretty sure it’ll be wild plum. 

And then I looked around and saw the patches of fresh grass that are starting to show through, particularly along the watercourse. I took that second picture more or less from the place where the wild plum-trees were, then the wider shot of the distant hills with their green tints.

It was a surprisingly colourless sunset, despite the streaks of grey and white cloud. There was a very thin new moon (well, newish) high above me. For the first time in three or four nights up there I didn’t see the heron flying home, or the geese, but the turkeys were gobbling away down by the river, blissfully unaware that the hunters are coming next week. I stood for some time after the sun had gone, hoping that the western sky would light up, then started for home. A kind of honey-coloured something caught my eye, way up in a cedar tree. It was  a porcupine, very still, spines flared. To me it was exotic; to Matt they’re nothing but a damned nuisance, chewing bark, killing trees. “I shoot `em on sight,” he said.

There was a moment last night when I half wished I had a gun down here. Something was scrabbling and shifting around under the cooker. Definitely bigger than a mouse; probably a rat, to judge by the gnawing sounds I was now hearing and the occasional clatter of something striking metal. I was reluctant to open the drawer under the oven in case it leapt out and escaped. After listening for some time I came to the conclusion that it was not in but under the bottom drawer beside the stove, and took the coward’s way out. I made a tube of paper, half filled it with mouse poison, slowly opened the drawer and poured the poison in.  This morning, removing the drawer, I found that it had mostly been taken. So I brace myself for the smell of dead rodent in a few days.

My trip to Gordon yesterday bore mixed results. I ticked off a few items on my grocery list, but found the library – the main point of my going there – shut. Fridays and Sundays. And I kicked myself, because I have the schedule right here on the kitchen table. Just never bothered to look.

Well, the guy at the garage in Merriman was right. The spare wheel was at Kitty’s dad’s place all along. Matt went across yesterday and fetched it back, along with the licence-plate tags which we hadn’t got around to putting on.

Today promises to be another fine one. It got down to 42 overnight but here we are, 0820 and it’s 52 already – and they’re forecasting 75 today, 80-plus tomorrow. Chainsaw Phil, who flies in Tuesday, will not be happy. He hates the heat.

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