A Travellerspoint blog

Entry 26B - Third Week - Wildlife Hospital

semi-overcast 0 °F

26B - Australia Diary – Hospital #3 May 9 – July 13 – Thirteenth Week


Saturday, Aug 5 – Weird energy, frustrations with the door

This am found 6 of the 7 of us all working in the same area, with Harry moving in between about 4 different projects. We were finishing doors for the cages, attaching doors to frames, moving dirt and landscaping into other pens, and mulching newly planted trees. Energy was frantic and invaded my space, even though it had nothing to do with me. While I have my ipod with me for times like this, I have up until now, preferred to listen to nature and all the wonderful bird calls that I am beginning to be able to identify. Looking back, I would have better with Secret Garden on my ipod. NOTE TO SELF!

A huge day of lessons for me including patience with myself and letting go of perfectionism. Wiring cage doors is not my strongest suit and I found after I was ¼ of the way around the one I was working on, that I had the wire positioned on the inside of the door instead of the outside. I didn’t curse, but I made a loud angry sound and then undid it all. Ruth was very patient with me. I re-positioned and secured it temporarily into place so that I could get back to in after my break. I then announced that my tantrum was over and we went off for a tea break.

I am like a clamshell at times and hold on to a thought until it outweighs other options. My goal was to make sure that no rat could possibly get through this wire. Toward that end, I was securing this wire to the door within an inch of its life. Thorough I am! I now have two doors to my credit, to Ruth’s 6 and within the next two days, I should be able to finish one more and then they are done as far as we can go.

PHOTO of Jane with Door!

Tomorrow, Harry and Karin have a committee meeting and I think some of the movement today was about getting some of these items to a stage where you could see what Harry intends to do with some of these cages.

As Harry arrived back from town with the buckets of food from the stores, he also brought in a very tiny sugar glider who had been handled by a cat all night. We could not see any punctures and Harry gave her rescue remedy. She was only 5 inches long, very tiny, and she also had two pouch young in her. Harry and Karin got one of the new cages ready for her and we kept our fingers crossed.

Ruth told Harry and Karin that she would like to leave a little earlier than expected and spend a little time in Cairns. I will miss her so as she has become a good friend and is nice and calm when I am plugged in. Ruth will leave on Saturday and Melody leaves on Thursday.

In the middle of the day, we got word that the volunteer, Michelle, who we were supposed to pick up on Friday, was still stuck in Hong Kong and her delay had been caused by a typhoon earlier that week. She is supposed to arrive on Sunday, but that is exactly the time that they are having their committee meeting. The plan it now to ask her to get a room for the night in Cairns and Karin will pick both Michelle and the eagle up from the vet on Monday.

The no-name eagle had a check up from the previous surgery and in three weeks can have the pins removed and then should be able to recover. Karin said that while her feathers are currently broken and won’t allow her to fly, when she molts in the summer, if the flight feather return, then she might still be releasable. Harry says that he has had several animals that were not expected to be releasable, and yet three years of good treatment and not too much human contact, they were released. Time will tell.

Just before dinner, Karin announced that the sugar glider had not made it. When they inspected the pouch, one of the pouch young was still alive. Harry and Karin will try and keep it alive during the night, but it is so tiny and young, I don’t hold out much hope.

Ruth and I take turns assisting Harry feed Ashes, as I named her, the Little Sooty Owl that has to be forced fed. She is getting stronger and stronger daily and as we approach her now, she goes into “I AM BIG MODE”, spreads her wings, hunches her shoulders and snaps her beak at us. When we put her back, she does the same thing. She is beautiful and Harry watched her fly a short space in her pen. As soon as she begins feeding herself and Harry can get a bigger owl enclosure going, she will be put there to increase her flying strength. I plan to sponsor her.

Ruth and I also trade off feeding and pottying Julie, the bettong and Monty, the wallaroo. Both are over the diarrhea, but usually prefer to be fed and pottied by Karin. They are eating more and more and taking less of the bottle. When it is nice, they are in a little corral over grass where they can hop around and get some sun.

PHOTO – Monty and Julie outside.

Second cold night in a row. Lots of trips to the dunny and two layers of clothes.

Sunday, Aug 6 – Short day – I HAVE A PUMPKIN!

The little glider joined its mother and sibling during the night. Good-bye little one and thanks for letting us see you. Not unexpected, but always a little hard to see.

Harry said the after normal am duties, that we should have a rest day. The wwoofers were taking the day, so we could too.

Before we finished all of our work, Harry had been watering the garden. He said that I had a pumpkin. I had seen what I thought was pumpkin yesterday, but as I could not tell for sure, I left it and thought I would ask Harry about it later. It is not in the location that I planted it, but sure enough, it is a pumpkin! YAAAH!

PHOTO of pumpkin

Ruth and I went into town and did a little internetting, shopping and picked up some buckets of food scraps from the local grocery stores for the animals.

Ruth and I took a walk to the swimming hole today and she took a dip. Last night was frigid and the wind was up today. So I enjoyed the sun.

I had my typical day of finishing the book that I started last night. At this rate, I should have at least 14 books read by the time I leave.

We have champagne chilling for tomorrow’s dinner to celebrate my birthday and I was told that I could sleep-in if I wanted. A nice thought, but as soon as I hear everyone else up, I can’t stay down for too long. Plus, I asked to do the rabbits tomorrow with Ruth’s help and we get to change some of them around into more appropriate sized cages. I also want to work with the guinea pigs and have Ruth take photos, or possibly a video of me with them.

I am looking forward to a wonderful day. It should be especially wonderful now that I know how to turn on my little heater in my caravan, so I should only have to wear two layers under my four blankets. It was 2 degrees this am when we met for breakfast. Fresh as they call it in Australian. COLD is what we call it in the US.


Monday, Aug 7 – 47 today!

Awake as usual and exited the shower room where Ruth met me with tea and a granola bar, present and card. I have my favorite Cadbury Roses and a double chocolate bar. YAAH! How quickly people pick up on my favorites. I knew it would be a good day and I was looking forward to getting on with it.

I had lots of best wishes from everyone at breakfast.

I had not bottle fed the babies lately and I especially wanted to feed Seddy. Ruth and I went to feed them with our cameras and took pictures of each other. I erased all of mine, as I did not look as fabulous as I would wish and we will try again later.

The next thing I really wanted to do was the rabbits. They are my favorite, after all the bottle feeders, and they take some time. I must admit, I look forward to a time when I can do them by myself and spend time with them.

TODAY WE FINISHED WITH THE DOORS! I am very pleased to see that task over with as I find them fiddly and anxiety provoking, as they must be very tight, but not interfere with the closing of the door. YAAH! Check off the list! I did a total of 3 Ruth did a total of 7


The rest of the team ran around like chickens loading dirt and plants into cages and landscaping rocks around. Today, we say goodbye to Adam and Janet, the wwoof’ers. They are off to the north of the country and will be back in Sydney by December to celebrate with their two daughters. Melody also helped Harry and shifted stuff around. Melody informed Harry that she would like to leave tomorrow, in order to spend some time in Cairns. Ruth has started an exodus.

Karin was off to pick up Michelle, new ItoI volunteer who had been in transit for 4 days due to typhoon in Hong Kong. They arrived just after lunch and she looks pretty good considering the lack of sleep for 4 days. We are pleased she is here safe.

After we stopped work for the day, Ruth decided to make shortbread for my birthday. She was not accustomed to measuring cups, so I did all the measuring, but she did the spreading and backing. It tasted wonderful.


Dinner made especially at my request was Harry’s wonderful garlic chicken, his special Italian potatoes and champagne. After dinner, Harry lit a huge bonfire and sat and enjoyed the night and conversation. At one point, we decided to sing camp songs, but none of us knew the same ones. So, I taught the group Echidna Scat and Goanna Burrows that I learned at Kangaroo Island. Harry was a very enthusiastic singer and really chimed in when it came to the refrain of “We Found One, We Found One!” I will demonstrate when I see you next. It was a hoot! Also around the bonfire, I was presented with a photo that Harry took earlier today of me with Ashes, the Little Sooty Owl. Not the best shot of me, but Ashes looks good.

I was supposed to be in Sri Lanka with the elephants today, but I am really very pleased it turned out this way. I am always amazed when the universe presents me with exactly what I want. As much as I wanted to see and work with elephants, my heart was in seeing and working with African Elephants, not the Asian Elephants they have in Sri Lanka. While both are amazing and exotic, I have never seen an African Elephant.

I spent my 12th birthday in Australia and now my 47th. On that schedule, I am due back in OZ for the 82nd birthday. I probably won’t have it in Ravenshoe, but I don’t see why I can’t put Australia on my calendar for another 35 years from now.

Happy Birthday guys! I could feel your good wishes and hopes and dreams for me surrounding me all day! I love you!

Tuesday, Aug 8 – tons of wind and overcast skies

Lots of wind last night and at one point I woke to hear a piece of my caravan flapping in the breeze. I finally got up and found it was an old awning support, so I wrapped it in a rag and went back to bed.

Today we say goodbye to Melody. It was pretty obvious that this was not the experience that she signed up for. Ruth shared with me after the fact that she had thought that there were be a lot more young men around doing all the construction stuff, without their shirts on. Yes, I can see how she was disappointed. Only Harry went topless a couple of days and he is already spoken for.

Today, Ruth and I began training Michelle on all the duties around the hospital. While I was helping with the bottoming of the rabbits, one bit me on my knuckle through my gloves. OUCH! It still hurts as I type this at the end of the day.

With Ruth only with us for another three days, we are trying to get through as much as possible. We placed all the lower wire on the last aviary and will leave the sewing for later in the week, if we have time.

I helped Harry re-roof the rabbit shed by holding up parts of the roof while he pushed and positioned other portions in place to be screwed down together.

Dinner was pizza and brownies with another man who continued some of the welding needed on the last set of cages. Tomorrow we plan to begin to wire those cages and try to get all the wire in place before Ruth goes. If we can get the wire in place, then Michelle and I and sew the rest down next week.

Australia is doing a census as of 8/8/06 and we all had to fill in our bits and then went off to bed early. I am pooped!

Wednesday, Aug 9

We took a short break after feeding to go into Ravenshoe for thrift store shopping and looking for postcards. I found a few pairs of dark colored shorts, which I hope will work for Africa. While light colored clothing is a great idea in the heat, it is also hard to keep it looking clean. We also bought more gloves to clean the cages, as it is not unusual to have holes in the gloves after a few days. This am when I checked all the gloves, every one had at least three pin size holes.

Today, we finally had Harry direct us on how to install the netting over the aviary cages. These are three times as tall as the other cages in order to give the raptors room to fly. We are using the same netting that farmer would us to cover their fruit trees and as it has three way directional stretch, it took four of us holding and pulling at alternate times to get it even and covering the cages. Then, we clipped the lowest edges to the wire mess at the bottom of the cages and will eventually have to sew the corners of the net to the frame to keep it taunt. Needless to say, my hands are very tired from this and my perfectionist heart races when I think I might not have it quite tight enough. (When I am sane about it, I tell myself, it is a raptor I am trying to house, not a charging rhino. Sometimes, I am wise and remember, sometimes, I am plugged in and forget.)
We were not able to finish the job today, and will go back to it tomorrow. My hands are very excited!

The evenings are not quite so cold now, but the extra cover still feel good.

Thursday, Aug 10

No Harry this am as he was taking a friend into Atherton for day surgery. Almost as soon as he left, we found that Bindi, the cow had escaped from her pen. She was happily munching the bush just outside her pen and was not at all enticed to go back into her pen with grain. She is a small breed of cow, is really an overgrown pet, is not halter broken and does not lead. After 20 minutes of the three of us being ineffective in capturing her (am me getting more plugged in by the minute) Karin arrived and had her favorite treat of all, banana leaves. Poor Karin got stepped on as the cow was running faster than Karin. Finally, we got her in the pen. We determined where she came over the fence and will ask Harry to fix it when he arrives back home. I cannot read cows. I don’t think they are smarter than me, but they do know that they are stronger than me, and I have a healthy respect for their hind feet. In my book, cows taste great and make lovely leather. That is all I have to say about cows.

The finger is much better, but I still have the bandage and try and work in good gloves when I can. Today, I bottomed the guinea pig cage and Ruth took photos and a video. Cheap admission to the viewing for the first 99 people who request a peak.

PHOTO – me and guineas

Aviary exterior netting work is completed, as far as we can go. The doors have not been made for the three enclosures, so we can’t quite finish the front edge. We have to hang two side panels to cut the cage into three enclosures. I am not sure if we will do that tomorrow or complete the sewing of the wire around the bottom of the other aviary we began working on. Either way, my hands are looking towards another challenging day.


I find if I can alternate jobs, my hands and stamina is pretty good. Unfortunately, this is the work that really needs to get done and Ruth leaves the day after tomorrow. Michelle is learning, but does not have Ruth’s strength and grasp of the technique yet. Heck, it took me most of the first week to feel confident with the tools and even now, I depend on Ruth for how best to finish the job. I told her today, that I will miss her dreadfully, not just for her strong hands and ability to wire cages, but because she is a lovely spirit and has become a wonderful friend and companion. I may end up staying in England longer than I had planned, because now I have 4 friends I would love to visit at the end of the year.

COOKING IN AUSTRALIA – in the rural or outback.

Coming from a culture where every kitchen gadget imaginable is motorized and completes the job in second, I am wowed and amazed at the quality of cooking that come out of what we would call a very simple kitchen. Most of them do have electricity, but with limited electrical capacity to use multiple machines at once, they usually only have one plugged in device going. All of the ranges that I have seen have been gas, and I am now adept at lighting pilots in ovens, burners and the little toaster areas on most stoves.

Peggy on Kangaroo Island had one of those veggie slicers, where you put a different blade on the cutting surface and then run the veggie across it. We had julienne, crinkles and thick and thin cut slices and wedges. I am sure that we have them in the US, but I can’t imagine where I would look for them.

I have had the most glorious meals in Australia, not always fancy, but good quality food and well seasoned. It helps that Harry used to be a chef. Tonight, Karin has made homemade spatzel (egg noodles) and it believe we will have a citrus tart for dessert. It is just as well that they don’t have a scale, because I don’t what to know where my weight it! The clothes still fit and I can eat rice cakes and carrot sticks when I get back home, if I decide to.

Friday, Aug 11 – Ruth’s last Day!

Harry began his day by making a temporary fix to the fence where the cow escaped yesterday. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Slow start to the day. This is Ruth’s last day and according to my internal watch, everyone seemed to be going in slow motion. Needless to say, my mood was not 100% sparkling this am, and I realized I was part of the problem, not part of the solution and changed my mind.

As we began to water and clean, I took the chickens. Their water is usually yucky and today I decided to clean the water containers completely. As I stooped to pour out the water and scrub the insides of the containers, I had numerous sets of eyes on me watching my every move. They were all hoping that I had something interesting to eat. The cutest ones are the little bantam hens that have long leg and feet feathers. They are smaller than the others and look like feathered bowling balls as they walk around. Harry showed me three new chicks that had just hatched, two little yellow peeps and then one little bantam chick that was orange.

PHOTO – Bantam bowling ball chickens

As I was watering the guinea pigs, all the chickens are on the other side of the fence again watching and hoping for something fun to eat. I am suddenly very popular, even if it is only with the feathered community around here!

Once the team finally got moving this morning, we began to sew the wire on the aviary that we began three days ago. Harry also wanted us to put up the netting, which we did, but it kept getting caught on the wires that were still poking out from our soon-to-be-completed wiring job. He was a bit frustrated with us. I told him that I did not think that Michele and I would be able to finish the job without Ruth, because it does take one fairly strong person pulling and holding as the other one clips it into position. I am not casting aspersions on Michelle’s strength, but my own. I know that my hands are not strong enough to hold the netting. We will see what we can accomplish today and then let tomorrow handle itself. As we finished the bit of wiring around the doorframe, Ruth and I tested the door that I finished for this cage. With a little bit of banging, it just fits.

After getting in the wash (I love laundry day around here and the smell of the clothes after they come off the clothes line!) I took a shower. As I was finishing, Harry arrived outside and said that his shower gets the hot water last and therefore, as I turned on the water, I either froze or fried him. I only learned today that they use a different shower. I guess I was not paying attention during the last three weeks.

Ruth made a cake during the afternoon and Harry and Ruth made three types of shortbread for dessert. Considering that we still have 6 pieces of the wonderful citrus tart from last night, we are set for desserts for some time to come.

Dinner was great tonight with fish and prawns for the carnivores and veggie burgers for Ruth. Harry also made Kifpleur potatoes, which are originally from Germany – a small, yellowish oblong potato that holds its firmness and has a lovely taste. I must remember to look for these as home.

I will miss Ruth a lot. We are a good working team together and we have wonderful conversations on many topics. Tonight’s topic was blood donations and test results for university placement. She promises to keep in touch and I hope to see her in England in December. Today we heard on the radio that all the airports in England are closed due to the terrorist plot against 8 aircraft between Britain and the US. Melody was in Cairns and was supposed to be going home today. I suspect she is still in Cairns and maybe Ruth will run into her tomorrow.

This ends week three of this placement, and 8 more days to go. I should be an interesting last week.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:45 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint