STORIES FROM THE BUSH

Lynn Takayama
Retired

Insects? Check. Flies? Check. Heat? Check. Yep, summer’s definitely here even if it is officially spring. My outside uniform now includes an extra lashing of sunscreen (the type that includes insect repellent — probably full of nanotechnology) followed by a generous slathering of separate insect repellent. This is only for my face because of course year-round outside I wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy boots.

The flies are particularly bad this year, persistently homing in on the smallest unprotected space on one’s face — nostrils, for instance — and before you know it … well, it doesn’t bear speaking about.

There are screens on all windows and doors but each morning our kitchen bench is covered with a variety of insects of different shapes, colours and sizes.

God knows what they are, where they come from and how they get in. All I know is that for me in this place this is a quintessential indication that summer is here: flies during the day and insects at night. Some nights we stumble and bumble around in the dark rather than turn lights on so as not to be inundated with insects and/or be dive-bombed by moths.

Insects seem to be more abundant on very hot days: 35-40C. Or it might just be that my tolerance level is lower then. We’ve had a week or so of very hot days already (mid-way through spring, this can’t be a good sign).

The air is so hot it feels like I’m walking on the edge of a furnace, the grass is crackle-dry and flies buzz around trying to find a chink in my repellent armour. Even the most even-tempered person would find this challenging.

Apart from insects and flies there are disconcerting sounds from time to time. Eeeerp! Eeeerp! Eeeeelp! It’s such an eerie and somewhat disturbing sound, like someone calling for help. Or it’s most likely a goat.

I’ve written before that this country is the Kingdom of Feral Animals. In fact, for sporting shooters, it’s a highly desirable hunting destination. Pigs? We’ve got them. Deer? We’ve got them. Foxes? Rabbits? We’ve got them all, and goats.

At any given time on our 4000 acres there are at least 500 feral goats. They’re quite brazen though they haven’t come near the house — yet. But sometimes “Eeeerp!” assaults my ears and makes me stop what I’m doing for a few seconds to try and work out whether there is in fact someone calling out for help. But no, so far it’s been goats.

The Cowboy says it’s either kids calling for their mothers or nannies protesting at the violence of the behaviour of the rutting billies. The goat population is not limited to summer but there are more of them in the open in this particularly dry season.

It’s been very dry. We only had 39mm of rain in September and none at all in October. The country is brown and the river has stopped running again. Everyone is worried about going into a long, hot, dry summer without enough feed and water for their stock. Decent rain is desperately needed.

Given all the challenges, do I prefer life here to the hustle and bustle of city life? Or even the hust and bust of town life? Yes, decidedly yes. The beautiful wide, endless sky during the day and the starshine at night makes one feel thankful for the experience of just being; the silence and the solitude; the clean, singing air — all of these things add to the profound pleasures of our life.

We get up each day with purpose and enthusiasm. This is a place where we enjoy nature at its best as well as at its most scary, and we go to bed at the end of the day tired and satisfied.

And another calf was born today. The jacarandas and silky oaks are blooming spectacularly. And me? I’m sitting in my new massage chair.

Lynn Takayama is retired.