It’s not just the live animals you’ve got to be wary of here on the farm. Aside from the copperhead that kept Wayne company during milking the other week, perhaps our most memorable wildlife encounter of 2015 was actually with a dead animal undoubtedly new to science: the man-eating wallaby.
One rainy winter’s night, Wayne called a halt to cooking the evening meal when he drew me aside to check out a mysterious shape wrapped in a tea towel.
Bent low and unwrapping the tea towel slowly, he said in hushed tones, “I found this outside the pump shed. Take a look at the fangs on it.”
“Wow,” I gasped, “see how they hook together. Looks like they could tear a nasty hole in your leg.”
“F*@&ing scary wallaby,” whispered Wayne with a poker face.
After nearly choking on a mouthful of water, I came up for air, and wondered if I saw the faintest of smirks on Wayne’s face as he retaliated with: “It’s a bloody wallaby alright, you should see its tail!” Was the joke on me or City Boy? I’ll never know for sure.
Life and death
It was raining too, when the kids and I discovered a dead kangaroo along the boundary fence. Her eyes were dull, legs immobile.
While I worked on the fence, the kids took a closer look and announced a miracle! “Mama, Mama, it’s alive, it’s alive,” they shouted, arms flailing wildly as they ran towards me.
They were right, almost. The kangaroo had killed herself in an impact with the fence but her pouch rolled and wriggled with life. Oh my god. The kindest thing might have been to euthanase the squirming joey right there but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Luckily, we had latex milking gloves in the Bobcat and, with my heart in my mouth, I reached deep into the still-warm pouch. After a few tries, out came a weeks-old hairless male joey, plop, into a towel we carry around in case of mud pie catastrophes.
Wrapped in the towel and my raincoat, joey was held close to Zoe’s tummy for the chilly trip back to the warm of our hearth. We got him off to wildlife rescue volunteers, who told me just the other week that he’s soon to be released back into the forest. ‘Til we meet again!
In general, I’m not a big fan of reptiles on the farm but Blueys are different. Why, we even had one as a class pet in primary school. So, when this fellow appeared at home, I was keen to introduce him to the kids.
As with the cicada conditioning calamity, it seemed my introduction may have backfired a little. But all was forgotten later when Bluey unexpectedly appeared out of nowhere to watch the evening news with us.
Beast becomes beauty before our eyes
Not every creature we see makes such an exciting entrance but we marveled every day as we walked to the bus stop during Spring, watching a web of monsters transform themselves.