Fire place to Fan

Someone in Ivanhoe once pointed out to me that there really is only one ‘bad’ season in the outback – which is very true. While spring and autumn days enjoy perfect temperatures, winter days are also sunny with blue skies. Of course, night time is freezing but most houses have fireplaces, which make them comfy and warm – if not eco friendly. Summer, on the other hand, can be downright exhausting with temperatures in the high forties and sometimes even soaring into the 50s.

So while Jeremy is languishing in a pool somewhere in Singapore, Maris is floating down the Danube and Jed is in France, celebrating his birthday with vin rouge and vin blanc, Nigel, Bear and I are preparing for another summer of blow flies, snakes and air conditioning bills.

We seem to have gone from fire place to fan overnight, with temperatures in the 30s, which isn’t bad for the last days of winter! In fact, the other day I came across a bunch of tea light candles, all totally melted in a cupboard, even though they haven’t been used yet!

Before Jed left, he, Nigel and Ron (fire chief) started bush fire preparations by burning off the chiller yards directly behind the residences to get rid of the very high and very dead grasses and weeds that had accumulated over the past year.

For those of you who, like me, weren’t aware of what, exactly, chiller yards are, the roo shooters shoot at night and then deliver the carcasses to the chiller yards where they are hung in refrigerated metal containers (chillers), ready for transport by ‘big trucks’ (Nigel’s technical talk) to a processing centre. Licences are sparsely allocated and the regulations are quite stringent. No matter the distance, roo shooters have to kill the animal cleanly with one shot to the head and evidence of more than one bullet hole will negate the sale.

While Jed is away, we’ve taken over the upkeep of Harley and Rose and the 3 Henriettas and they’ve repaid us handsomely with 3 eggs a day and lots of whipper snipping along the fence line. Bear and Harley are becoming friends of sorts (Harley chases Bear while Bear’s chasing the ball, Bear chases Harley and Rose pretending that he’s going to attack them) and Bear seems unaware of the connection between his new friends and his ‘happy hour’ treats (Happy Hour = Champagne and beer for us, chicken necks and lamb chops for the Bear).

The rules of engagement are as follows:

Bear will never carry any kind of bread on his ‘person’ so the chooks are just asking for trouble by running up to him and demanding same.

Harley and Rose may cross from Jed’s to our yard at any time that the gate is open but Beary is only allowed into Jed’s yard if he’s invited.

Lastly, the greedy Henrietta needs to learn that jumping up and taking food out of Nigel’s hand will not be tolerated.

Currently, all but the last rule are being obeyed.

Speaking of sheep, one of the farmers recently gave us a killer all nicely trimmed and chopped into, well, chops…… so no buying meat for a few weeks.  And no, killer sheep don’t stalk and kill people although who could blame them? They become yummy dinner for people who prefer not to hunt and kill their own dinner and who choose to believe that meat grows in supermarket freezers.

In other news, the mail contractors have today delivered 12 free bottles of Merlot and 12 free bottles of Cab Merlot, as a very generous apology from Deals Direct for the fact that Australia Post had delivered one case of wine to us here in Enngonia while sending the other case to us via Melbourne, then Bathurst and finally Kelso, which is around 700 kilometres away, where it sat and was only discovered when I decided to chase it up.

Considering both boxes were sent from Chullora in NSW, at the same time, to the same address it seems that Auspost’s tracking system needs a bit of tweaking. And Yes the remaining bottles also eventually made it here. So cheers and bouquets to Deals Direct and brickbats to Australia Post, who after 19 days are still ‘looking into it’.

And in yet other news, I will again be running the polling place at Enngonia next Saturday when Australia votes. The training session was held last Friday night at Bourke and, with no mobile phone coverage for most of the trip, I managed to rope Nigel in to being my personal body guard, which meant drinking beer downstairs while waiting for me to finish the training session upstairs at the Bowling Club. Of course, we had a very, very slow trip home with mobs of kangaroos every 100 metres or so. Out here, you don’t drive at night unless you have to – or you’re driving a road train.

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