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Entry 23 - Echidna's - First week

LIttle pin cushions

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23 Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Seventh Week – Kangaroo Island #1.

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, June 24 – arrival on the island

Early cab to airport to fly Qantas. It will only be a one -way flight as they are discontinuing service to the island, so they have changed my reservation to Rex Air.

I love the Adelaide Airport. It is small, very new and clean and very easy to navigate. I also adore the concourse numbering. The main sign said gates 21-50. Here is the gate numbering - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, small bit of wall, 50. I think the others are invisible just like platform 9 ¾!

At the gate there were two little boys enamored with the Saturday am cartoons, but before I could get my camera into position, their dad took them off to the plane. I met Linzee and Ryan who will be on the EW team with me. Linzee said we would be a very small team of only 4 - 3 US and 1 Aussie. I knew the limit was 6 so it sounded logical.

The plane was very small, only about 30 seats and my seat neighbor was going to the island for a detox. He only accepted water on the plane and said that would be his diet for three days and then they would allow him clear liquids.

Peggy. The PI (primary investigator) meet us at the airport – It turns out we will be a team of 6, including a young English boy and local Aussie man as well. There will also be Mike, Peggy’s partner/husband and who is a photographer, biologist, and general dogs body for the project

Team
Linzee – Atlanta - 30 – started her own company designing and selling hats
Ryan – Western Conn – 16 – rising HS senior and going into science
Pat – Barossa Valley, Aust – 65 – volunteer of the year – conversation volunteer and plant lover
Ben – Derby, England – 18 – 6 months in OZ as both parents are on a 6-month teaching exchange
John – K Island – Aussie Navy, Nurse, Conservationist

We loaded into the van for a 45-minute ride. The island has lots of flat areas and several areas of rolling hills. Along the main road we saw our first echidna that was crossing the road. How exciting! Peggy said that this was a good omen and that we should see lots of them during our stay. Very cute, looks like a walking pincushion walking along about the size of a large purse.

Peggy told us lots of facts about the island such as it is the third largest island for Australia behind Tasmania and ????. It is also devoid of several of the introduced species that have caused such havoc on the mainland such as the rabbits, and therefore it is an excellent research area for the work. There are still some problems with local dogs and cats, but recent laws have made it easier for the landowner to make sure their impact is at a minimum. All dogs must be registered and micro chipped. All owned cats must be de-sexed, registered and chipped. A dog or cat caught on your land without chip, can be trapped and it not chipped, put down. More on this later.

There are still only a few of the main roads paved and the last bit of the road leading to the research area was bone jarring and not for cars with low carriage.

Peggy and her partner/husband Mike live in a totally environmentally friendly sustainable compound built by them over the last 30 years. We would have sufficient power if the sun shone and the rest was on 12-volt batteries. I was pleased that I had left my computer back at the YHA and only brought along the car adapter to recharge my camera battery.

As we arrive, we met the rest of the team - Pat, Ben who had arrived via the ferry from the mainland, and John who lives on the island in American River. The boys would sleep in one tent, John selected another tent and the three ladies were put into a building that could sleep 4. Our room had iron beds with double mattresses and mosquito netting, that we will not need during this cold season. It was very cold when we arrived, and I knew that my light sleeping bag would not do the job. There were wool blankets and as the other ladies had better bags, I took an extra one for my bed.

We had the tour of our composting toilet a short walk from our door that was in the same building as our shower. Hot showers would be available every other day when the boiler would be lit. To take a shower the procedure involved lowering the can that held two buckets of water, filling it from the hot water from the boiler and the cold water tap to the desired temperature, raising the bucket again, going into the shower room, stripping and turning on the hose pipe tap above the shower head. You had to turn it off to suds up and soap up your hair, or you would run out of hot water. It was cold enough on the first day, I did not know if I wanted to get out of my clothes for a shower, but I did not need to make that decision until tomorrow.

We were also shown the flush toilet, also close to our door. We were encouraged to use it wisely if at all. Also in the room was a sink tap with a basin to catch the water. The used water was to be put into a bucket next to the stand. In the bucket was a stick that was taller than the bucket. This was for the possums that might want a drink. If the stick was removed, they might drown. We were also encouraged to always close the lids on whatever toilet we were using as the possums might fall in.

Local livestock that we would get a chance to see include Western Grey Kangaroos (really appeared dark brown) with the head of the mob, Rooby, a 14 year old female who was very sweet and loved to have Peggy talk to her and feed her carrots. Also Tammar Wallabys (now practically gone from the mainland), Brush Tail Possums, echidnas, goanna’s (monitor lizards pronounced GO- Anna) and assorted other spiders, snakes, bats and birds.

We took a short orientation walk and began to learn the plants we would need to know over the next two weeks and how to identify echidna, wallaby, possum, roo, ant and goanna sign. From the initial walk it became painfully obvious that the shoes I brought will not work, as they have no ankle support and not enough sole.

Our meals will be prepared on a rotating basis with the first few days being handled by Peggy, Mike and John. A conch shell calls us to meals and a gong of a wooden pestle against a bundt pan, to the table. Tonight, spaghetti bolognaise and bread.

Peggy ended our first evening with a slide show about echidnas. I also had my first possum sighting through the kitchen window. In New Zealand they are considered a pest because they are not indigenous, but boy are they cute! Much cuter than their North American cousins.

We also had our safety lecture on where all the important numbers were, the phone, and if we heard three blows on the conch shell, that signaled an emergency and we were to gather at the kitchen.

I had borrowed an additional fleece sleeping bag liner and then prepared my nest for sleeping. I slept warmly but had a hard time getting back to sleep after early am potty break. Most of us have some sort of allergy going on and therefore, sleeping is not a silent affair.

ECHIDNA FACTS I HAVE LEARNED – Most of this discovered and documented by Peggy over the last 18 years of research.

Echidnas are a monotreme- an egg-laying mammal, one of only two species – echidna and platypus. Australia has two of the three species, the platypus and the short beaked echidna. New Guinea has the third one, the long beaked echidna.

The echidna is an insectivore, not specifically an anteater. They have a beak in that there is a bone that extends to the end of their nose. They are incredibly smart with their frontal lobe forming 50% of their brain. (Humans is only 30%). They have 5 toes with claws in the front, and 5 toes with claws in the back. Depending on the length of the back toes, you can determine where the echidna comes from. KIsland echidnas have their 1st back toe claws as the largest, vs. those on Tasmania, where three of the 5 back toes are long.

Their spines are actually adapted individual hairs that they shed occasionally. Each spine can be moved independently from the rest, which assists the animal in covering itself when it digs down into the dirt. The most unique thing about the echidna is that their front legs face front and their back legs face back. The fingerprint of the echidna is suspected to be their upper palate that is unique for each one. As they forage for food, they stick their beaks in the ground and when they find a tasty bug, their tongue that is up to 7 cm long, can flick in and out of their mouths 100 times per minute. Then they bring the bug into their mouth, crush it against their top palate and the tough patch at the back of their tongue and swallow.

Echidnas live a solitary life and only get together for breeding. When the female becomes sexually mature, during the breeding season you will find a female followed by several males in an echidna train. No one knows how she selects the male that eventually breeds her. They become sexually mature at 10 and it is estimated that they can live up to 60 years. It is hard to determine the sex of the animals as they have a coacha and the normal external genitals are housed in the body. The male has a hemipenis, a single shaft with four different parts at the head. The female holds on to a tree while the males dig a circular trench around and under her. Copulation can take between 30 minute and two hours. Once they are done, they both separate.

At this point, it is suspected that she only mates with one male, but more research is needed. Copulation usually leads to a birth within 22 days by the presence of a single egg in the mothers pouch. Not pouches as known in the kangaroo, both sexes of the echidna have the ability on their belly to bring the sides of the belly together to form a pouch. 10 days after the egg has arrived in the pouch, the egg is opened and the pink jellybean called a puggle, attaches to the hairs of the mothe’s belly and heads for the two milk patches on her upper chest. She has no nipple, but the milk leaks on to the hairs where the puggle licks it up. The puggle clings for 50 days and goes from jellybean to golf ball size. At this point, mum leaves the puggle in a hopefully secure burrow and returns to feed it for two hours every 5 days. Hard to believe but the baby takes in twice it’s weight during each feed and finally exits the burrow after 7 months. Mum hangs around for a few days and then they separate and go back to individual lives.

The current ratio of male to female echidnas on KIsland is 2 males to 1 female.

Sunday, June 25

2nd day and I woke before the conch went at 7:30 am. Breakfast is usually a selection of cereals, fruit, toast, butter, peanut butter, jam, juice and coffee or tea. I went for cereal and fruit

Today I borrowed Peggy’s pink with bright green laces converse high top tennis shoes and I am the height of fashion. Photo to prove it provided.

PHOTO of shoes

This morning we continued the familiarization tour with Mike. He also is an amazing biologist and can give us the convoluted interrelationships between plant, animal, earth, air, water, people and any other possible agent that might interact with one of the others on the list. How do two people know so much about so much? I am impressed and in awe.

Lunch – Taco meat with corn chips that tasted wonderful.

The afternoon was learning how to track in the field. Peggy set up 6 different transmitters in the perimeter of the workroom. We were given the receiver and the antenna (think of the letter H with an additional arm going up and down and that is the antenna) and the list of the frequencies we were to find. I ended up finding 2 of my 6 within the time St. Bees. These receivers were different from the last ones, much smaller and would hang around your neck, the frequencies were already programmed in and there was no needle to show the bounce, but a bar that would indicate intensity. I realized after today and that I was most likely taking too few steps in between taking my readings. I ended the workday frustrated and full of self-doubt.

Shower night – by 5pm the boiler had been lit under the container for hot water. We determined the queue and for the first set of showers, we assisted the person behind us to lower the plastic container down so that it could be filled and then lifted the container back up. TAAA DAA! You are clean, a little chilly, but clean. During shower night, Peggy also fires up the computer so that we could check our emails. By the time I got there, the machine was in an endless loop, so no contact with the outside world for me tonight.

The only animal that had been spotted and brought in today was a goanna brought in by John, our goanna spotter and catcher extraordinaire. Turns out to be Slinky, a female Rosenberg Goanna (Go- Anna – a varanid lizard or called a monitor lizards around the globe) in thin condition. Peggy wants to put a different transmitter in her, but will wait until the warmer months, as the stress of surgery is extra hard on them in the winter when it is cold. In order that we can still track her, Peggy installed a tail transmitter on the outside of her body with epoxy glue and we labeled her with a large S in whiteout at the base of her tail. She will lose it when she sheds her skin within the next 6-8 months. She was weighed, measured, had her ticks removed (which apparently is a common problem in all of the island animals), and was well photographed before she was released.

Today, Peggy also took in a wounded echidna that had been run over by a car with a possible crushed pelvis, dislocated back legs and internal injuries. She was put in a box with some leaf litter and moved to quiet area so that she could recover from the shock.

Dinner – fish sticks, veggies, potatoes apricot upside down cake ala chef Peggy. John and I were on dish duty. The cook prepares the three meals, breakfast and lunch dishes were the responsibility of each individual and there was a pair assigned to do the dinner dishes. Normally, one of the pair would be on kitchen duty the next day.

Peggy and Mike are quintessential biologists/environmentalists/conservationists/good eggs. Expert in so many complimentary things. Extensive library with resources, you have only to mention a mild interest in a topic and they leap to their feet and bring out a book to answer you question.

Monday, June 26

We received our data collection kits after breakfast. – 2 film canisters, ruler, marker, yellow and green biodegradable ribbon (yellow for goanna, green for echidna), thermometer, spoon, plastic sandwich bags to collect interesting poo, red canvas shopping bag to bring back goannas, Hessian bag (burlap) to bring back echidna’s. We also received our receiver, compass, map and aerial photo of the peninsula and the list of animal frequencies. I should be able to get lost anywhere!

Our second time at tracking practice that went much better – 4 in one hour! YAAH! Our last tracking exercise was the retrieve the first one we found yesterday, with or without the use of the receiver. I found number 9 and this transmitter has become my pet. Whenever I was in the field, I was to carry it with me and if I needed assistance, I will to turn it on and help would arrive. Peggy or Mike would check at a specified time daily to see if any of us needed assistance.

Photo of Pet #9

After lunch of soup and sandwiches, we went as a group to release Slinky back to her burrow and learned how to mark and measure a burrow.

I got lost and therefore, plugged in during my first solo afternoon in the field. During my justification phase of my breakdown, I felt I was better with feeding and caring for animals than being a scientist. I whinged silently to myself how I could not care less about plants and their inter-relationships with animals, but to be effective in this team, we were encouraged to learn not only about the animal, but also what they eat, etc. Similar to the St. Bee’s island EW, we don’t really spend that much time with the animals as compared to the wallaby placement. All ongoing animal placements are with I to I or Enkosini that are more about care giving than fieldwork. I finally starting recording absolutely everything that I came across that was labeled and identifiable, every termite mound, every marked location, weather station, any marker that was labeled.

We came in to find fresh popcorn during our download from the day. Similar results for all of us. I realize that I will be more comfortable if I can become familiar with a certain area and return to it to see what has changed since the last time I was there.

Dinner was pork chops – ala John.

Tuesday, June 27.

Didn’t sleep well but not due to cold. Lots of weird dreams.

On the way to the field, as I entered the workroom, I disturbed a little bat who fell on his back. Pat picked him up and set him on the ledge and by the time Mike went up to find him, he had flown away. Hew!

The morning we were sent to find goannas with the trackers. I located a strong signal almost immediately and tracked for 40 minutes until I found a goanna with a tail transmitter sunning. I was looking for Fern with a tail transmitter who was supposed to be blind. As I approached the goanna with the bag, it appeared to look at me and went into her burrow. Yaaah. Then I stuffed the hole with my bag, turned on my pet, and began to take all my measurement. Peggy arrived 40 minutes after I turned on my pet and determined that I did not have Fern, I had Slinky from yesterday. (I must remember to verify which frequency I am tracking before I signal for help!) The one interesting thing is that this was not the burrow where she had been returned. She seems to like real estate.

During lunch of soup and pasties, neighbors Annie and Doug came to visit. Annie is British and very talkative with a large operatic voice. Doug is Australian and very quiet and a clever craftsman with wood. This meal will go down in history as the one with the discussion about the Runstable Spoon from the Owl and the Pussycat poem. 10 points if you know what a Runstable Spoon is without looking it up!

Some times, we would revisit a burrow and place a temperature monitor on two bamboo sticks into the hole. We did this on the way out into the field for the afternoon. Depending on the animal and Peggy’s interest, an animal may have an internal monitor of heart rate, temperature as well as a tracking transmitter, the burrow may have external monitors for air temperature and ground temperature.

I was going across the valley today between #12 on the map and lunnet bay. I became disoriented and began to panic. I thought I was SW but by the time I was back, I had gone the NE. (Question – if you are lost and have a map, compass and a GPS, if you think you are in one place and find up you are in another place, are you still lost? YES. If you did not remember to get a GPS point for home base on your device, can you get home? NO). As the light was fading, I ended up turning on my pet at 5:03 and began crashing through brush in the general southern direction to home. I had a vibes hit to zip my pocket with the GPS. I had a vibe hit to put the GPS in my backpack. I ignored both of them. During this time I began justifying myself and making everyone around me wrong, and felt that I was only a two dimensional thinker. I was also frustrated because there was no better way to communicate in the field (walky talky, etc) than the pets. I finally made it to a road and began walking. Luckily, along came Peggy in the car, returning from the vet with the injured echidna, and found me at 5:20. I was frustrated, upset, angry and feeling very over my head. When I got back to the camp, I realized I had also lost my map and the GPS as well. I contacted Anthony and the Angels and asked for assistance finding the GPS. Peggy says that the Great Puggle looks over the peninsula, so I added that to the list. Mike and Peggy were very nice and we planned to retrace my steps to find the GPS. Second major breakdown of the trip!

Peggy and the wounded echidna had been to the vet and sure enough, two dislocated back legs that were put back into place. As the accident had happened on Juniper Dr., we called her Juniper. The sex was still unknown, but we felt that Juniper was a generic enough name.

Dinner, thanks to Mike was roo stir-fry and papadums that I helped to fry. Yummy.

I had a vibe hit before I went to bed to check the car for the GPS.

Wednesday, June 28

I slept really well and went to the car before breakfast. WWWWEEEEE!!!! The GPS was found, just where I had dropped it. I resolved today to never leave home without my GPS programmed with standard points where I can return. ANTHONY and the GREAT PUGGLE are the best!

The morning was spent learning how to record our data on the charts. I then accompanied John, who is very experienced and knows the peninsula very well, into the field to return two goannas to burrows. He is an excellent tracker and knows all the shortcuts between areas.

Lunch was Chinese noodle soup.

The kitchen building has a wonderful living area with a comfy mattress and huge pillows on the floor for curling up and reading. Also in the dining room, there is a great nook with pillows and that is where I took a little nap in the nock.

During the afternoon, I went between 2-12 and the beach. I FOUND AN ECHIDNA POO – As Peggy says, it is only clean shit on the island, i.e., there are no diseases that we can get from the animals or their poo. In addition to picking up the poo, I collected a bag full of echidna yummies for Juniper. This involved taking the bark off a fallen log and spooning the insects into the bag with dirt. Back to the poo, seriously, the poo that I picked up from the echidna does not smell. Considering that they are insectivores and they snuffle around in the dirt, the poo was the size and shape of a tootsie roll and had a very thin membrane around it. The bulk of it is compressed dirt with tiny shiny bits from the insects that they eat.

Dinner was tortellini and focaccia bread, salad and brownies ala Peggy. Tomorrow, the team begins to prepare meals.

After dinner entertainment was the video of Echidna, the Survivor.

GOANNA FACTS again, mainly thanks to Peggy’s research

Goanna’s are varinade lizards (monitor lizards). Monitor lizards are found only in the southern hemisphere except for South America. This lizard is disappearing from the mainland, again, due to lose of habitat and predation by cats and rats.

The goannas on KIsland are Rosenberg’s Goannas and are identified by their ringed tail and the spots on their bodies. It is believed that this type of marking is type of pattern used by the early aboriginal people in their art of dot painting.

Goannas have a parietal eyelid (nictitating membrane over their eye) and they close their eyes by bringing the lower lid up to meet the top lid. They also have an identifiable third eye on the top of their head, which is not a real eye, but an opening to the pineal gland in their brain.

These lizards have a hemepenis (bivorcated with two small heads). A couple will stay together during the 4-6 week breeding season with multiple encounteres. He will mount from the side and will alternate sides throughout the season.

Once the season is over, the female will begin investigating suitable termite mounds to lay her eggs. When she is ready to lay (I can’t remember how long between the end of the season and her laying) she selects a mound and digs in. She then leaves it alone and if the termites rebuild it within one day, she may select it for her eggs. When she is ready, she digs in, enters the burrow and turns around, sticks her nose out and then goes into a trance. It will take her up to 2 hours to lay her 12 eggs. Then she and the male hang around the termite mound for several days to protect and defend the eggs. It is not uncommon for the local males to come by and try and destroy the egg nest.

The eggs incubate for over 200 days and by the end of it, the young lizards emerge from the mound. It is not known when they hatch and how long they stay in the mound before they emerge. Based on Peggy’s work, 1 out of 12 survives. She suspects that it is a combination of the temperature, humidity, CO2 atmosphere and the food source for the young, that allows for successful hatching of the eggs.

Peggy is still trying to find out the age of sexual maturity and their life expectancy. Note to the mainland – if you want goanna’s, you have to have viable termite mounds on your land. This is contraindicated because the preferred termite mounds are from the termites that do the most damage to humans’ buildings. Hmmmmm?

Thursday, June 29

Breaky and then off to track Fern again. Linzee has been suffering from allergies and a little too much late night star gazing and slept in.

No sign of Fern (again) and I met up with John as we were returning from our respective searches for lunch. Right there on the path, ANOTHER ECHIDNA POO, which John said, was very fresh! John scouted around, but no additional sign.

Lunch by Ryan was chicken pies, chips and salad.

Most of the group stayed at the house today to watch the two goanna surgeries that Peggy was doing to insert monitors into two large male, but Pat and I went into the field to more searching.

Feeling confident with my ability to get home without panicking, I followed my nose. I thought for sure I had heard an echidna close to the sleeping shed, but no luck. Went back to the shoreline and found ANOTHER ECHIDNA POO! I also was given the gift of a pair of bottlenose dolphins close to shore, a mom and an exuberant adolescent. No sign of echidna near 12 that had left poo earlier today.

Dinner – Roo Hamburgers.

Tomorrow we have a day off and the team will go with Mike to visit other areas of the island. After dinner, we watched the slides of Peggy and Mike in New Guinea, and their work to assist with research on the Long Beaked Echidna. Very interesting. If I have found any of my Australia placements rustic, New Guinea would have been positively primitive!

Friday, June 30 – Day off

Slept until the extraordinary hour of 7:45 am. During our day off, we would be going to see penguins, the shoreline, the eucalyptus distillery, participate in coffee drinking, laundry doing and pelican feeding in Kingscote.

At 9:00 am, Mike, Linzee, Ben, Ryan, Pat and I took off.

First stop – Penneshaw Bay shoreline for me to bruise my knee on the rocks and Ben to be accosted by a Pied Cormorant who wanted Linzee’s sliver camera.

Photo and Quen and I and the cormorant

Eucalyptus Distillery at Emu Bay – After the tour, we visited the nesting pair of emu’s, where the male sits on the eggs for 8 weeks and loses 75% of his body condition. The owner will replace the current infertile eggs after 4 weeks and hope to encourage him off the nest.
The farm, formerly a sheep farm, has risen from the ashes when the bottom went out of the sheep market, by farming and marketing tea, emu oil and eucalyptus oil. It was interesting to see their process and to sample their products. I bought some tea tree oil as the bottle I brought from home is running low.

As I mentioned earlier in this report, feral cats and stray dogs are dealt with differently than in the US. The feral cat problem in Australia is considerable when you look at the native wildlife. Similar to the introduced rabbit, rat and cats, all introduced species wreak havoc on native wildlife. Mike and the gentlemen who runs the euc facility view cats as a menace to be caught and euthanized. The statistics of how much destruction a feral mother cat and her litter can do over three years was mind-boggling. Mike found a mother cat on his land stalking, catching, killing and then dragging 6 goannas within one hour to her layer to teach her kittens how to hunt. It is a difficult topic to discuss for us cat lovers and hearing the other side of story has been eye opening and thought provoking.

We ate our picnic lunch at Duck Lagoon, which is really a billabong, a river that has over blown its banks. We did spot on koala napping in a tree and as later walked under the tree, also found a dead one. Black Swans, several types of ducks and tons of other wild birds could be seen and heard during this stop.

As you may have read, Australia has been under severe drought over the past few years. There has also been a major change in the capacity of most of the farmland to sustain crops and livestock. The main problem is over use, no crop rotation or allowing field to rest and increasing salt contamination from ground water contamination and the decrease in native plants. During Mike’s discussions, he has shown us the wisdom of allowing the native plants to be reintroduced to help balance the nutrients in the ground and to enhance the chances of the wildlife to return and complete the cycle. Nature has no judgment, if all the components are in place, it is healthy and thrives. When it is out of balance, it requires rest in order to come back into equilibrium.

During our Kingscote stop, we had time for a little shopping, real coffee, much needed laundry and up close and personal pelican feeding. Australia has the smallest penguins (the Blue or Fairy Penguins) and the largest pelicans. When they stand, their heads are higher than mine. This is one of many sites around the waterways where local people buy and supply fish for the pelicans. As he pays for the fish that he buys from the local fisherman out of his pocket, he asks for donations from the crowd that gathers daily. $2 a head in not too much to ask. The birds are huge and very handsome. At times it looked like the gulls got more than the pelicans, but I imagine they make sure they get their share most of the time.

We had dinner with Coral, who usually cooks for the team early in their time at the lagoon. She and Peggy made 4 wonderful pizzas and the meal finished with a fabulous pavlova covered in fruit. Coral is quite a collector and her house was filled with dolls, fairies and little figurines. She also works for the local art gallery that we visited after hours. The art co-op had marvelous original art at incredibly low prices.

PHOTO OF PAVLOVA

Linzee and the guys have developed quite a close friendship. It is hard to find one of them alone as they move as a unit. Some of the language was getting a little salty and there were insults and corrections flying amongst the three. On the way back home in the car, the Group decided to take on the game of putting a $1 in a jar for every swear word or unkind act that they instigated. The game begins tomorrow.

As Peggy has done the weeks grocery shopping, we unpacked the car and were in bed by 11pm. Horrors! as we have been in bed by 9 most nights. A very short night with LOTS OF RAIN.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 23A - Echidna's Second week

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23A - Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Eighth Week – Kangaroo Island #2.

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, July 1

Rained all night.

2nd week start – in the past has been a day of weird energy for me and an adjustment back to work after a day off. We will see.

Linzee made hot oatmeal for breakfast that was welcome after a cold rainy night.

Am tasks found Peggy teaching Pat and I how to download the data loggers that had been measuring burrow temperature, temperature of the animal, and exterior air temperature for the goannas, DJ and Afro that Pat had located two days ago. It snizzled rain all morning. As the data loggers were connected to 12 vtz batteries, a transmitter and a computer logger, the entire backpack was shrouded in two colorful garbage bags. As Pat and I returned the loggers to the field, we had to turn them back on, make sure we were on the right channel, make sure the receiver was recording and place the ground temperature probe in the ground. As we left the shed to do this, it bombed rain again. Soaked through and anxious about the delicate equipment, we set them up and each had to reopen them to check one thing we had forgotten. We left them beeping away with our fingers crossed.

We still had an hour before lunch, so Peggy suggested we track the 4 other goannas that had still not been located. I am totally drenched by this time and irritated that I did not buy rain pants when I had the chance. I was in the scrubland and was about 20 minutes from going in for lunch when I heard a short faint beep for the goanna, Mel, who is a girl by the way. I began to go in her general direction, but no matter what I did, the intensity of the beep did not increase, meaning she was still far away. At times, I lost the signal, but I would keep going in the general direction where I last heard the sound and I would pick it up again. Finally, it was lunchtime, so I took a GPS and a compass reading so that I could return after lunch and continue.

Pat saw me as I arrived back and took pictures of my soaked legs, my overall costume and my very dirty butt. Not sure when that happened. I changed into dry clothes for lunch and asked Peggy if a previous Earthwatcher had left any rain pants that I could borrow. YAAH they had!

PHOTO OF WET

Lunch ala Linzee was pasta and she also had bought special lemon or raspberry jam tarts. I took a slight nap and then I asked Peggy to come out with me to see if we could find Mel. Similar to the morning, Peggy and I would pick up and loose the signal and we finally had to go back to where I had ended and begin again. We found Slinky in her third burrow and marked it. Boy, does that goanna love real estate! To make a long story short, with lots of perseverance and double-checking ourselves, we finally found Mel. Afterwards Peggy said many kind things about my tracking ability. Another one off the list.

Annie and Doug came for dinner and Linzee made a wonderful chili. Any leftovers, I can use tomorrow, as I am chef for the day.

Sunday, July 2

Still raining and I slept very well. Just as well as I had to be first out of bed to get the breakfast laid out and the kettle on. I decided to make French toast and it was a big hit.

In addition to being chef for the day, the person in the kitchen also had to clean the bathrooms and shower room, sweep and mop the kitchen and living room floor and clean the roo poo off the veranda. When I arrived back at the kitchen to what I presumed would be a silent area, the entire team was still there doing computer work and getting ready to go into the field.

I had planned to do stuffed peppers for lunch, but there was so much chili left over, I made burrito casserole and my saltine cracker cookies for dessert. They did not harden as I had wanted, but were still well received. I know now that another thing I will take on my next trip around the world is a few of my simplest recipes.

Another thing that happens when you are chef of the day is that at lunch or dinner, you are asked to bring your photos or information from home to share with the group. I brought out my hard copy pictures of the family, cats and friends, as I had left my computer back at the YHA in Adelaide.

After they all left me for the afternoon, I sat in the living room next to Juniper in her box and peeled the pears and apples for fruit crumble for dinner. That was the only time I sat down all day.

My dinner was two types of baked chicken, one breaded and one with seasonings, rice, gingered and honeyed carrots and fruit crumble.

We were pooped so no evening entertainment tonight.

Linzee opted to move into a private tent in order to sleep more soundly.

As I look at the research center and the way that Peggy and Mike have created their life and home, I can say that they are true environmentalists, nothing is wasted, everything is recycled and as they put it, no one has ever gotten sick while on their project. They measure everything and are constantly collecting data and samples of things that they send off to other researchers who are doing similar or collateral work.

Let me tell you, your day in the kitchen is no cakewalk and I was anxious to get back into the field where it was quiet and a much easier pace!

Monday, July 3

We were up early and out as soon as possible because we had an appointment with Doug and Annie for homemade pumpkin scones at 10:30. We had sad news this am as Juniper had not made it through the night. Peggy said she would be doing a necropsy at 4:00 in the afternoon if we wanted to see it. Sorry little Juniper. Thanks for spending some time with us. You were the first echidna that some of the team saw.

My am tasks were to try and get a signal for the three echidnas and the rest of the goannas and also place a burrow temperature stick at Mel’s burrow. I was late getting back and we were a little late for scones. Peggy took the bush pruners with her and clipped the prickly acacia off the trail and the Achitriche (I call it ouchy triche as it has triangular leaves that are sharp).

The scones were soft orange and very tasty, but the middle ones were absolutely raw. Doug and Annie kept jumping up and running in to run them through the microwave. We sat at a hexagon shaped picnic table that could seat 12 which was wonderful. I found out that Doug had designed and built it.

As we had scones so later in the am, most of us did not want lunch that was lucky for our chef of the day, Ben. I took a hunk of cheese and an apple into the field and kept tracking. No signals from anybody, so I went over old territory near the waters edge and found ANOTHER ECHIDNA POO!

The necropsy was sad but also interesting and from the extent of her injuries, it was obvious she would not have healed. The dislocated legs had not stayed in position, she also had a broken or very loose lower spine, bleeding on the right side of the head, her chest was filled with blood and her kidneys were very enlarged. From the direction of the injuries, it was obvious the car went over her on a diagonal.

Shower night and computer time. Tea was a little delayed due to the necropsy and Ben made bangers and mash.

I was in bed by 9:00 and slept very well.

Tuesday, July 4

Pat was chef of the day today.

This morning, the team did a quadrant survey. My quadrant was the NE section of the area I had searched the previous afternoon, which was helpful to go back over previous territory. Yesterday I had come across the most enormous roo poo and was wondering if someone would find it again. We first went through and counted echidna nose pokes, spider holes, mole crickets, ant mounds, termite mounds and listened for bird and wild life noises. After that pass, the next half hour, we picked up as much poo as we could find which would later be counted and weighed. This included roo, wallaby, possum, cat and echidna if we could find it.

Lunch was homemade lentil soup. After lunch, Peggy showed us the slides of all of her goanna research.

During the afternoon, the rest of the group weighed all the collected poo and then we followed Mike out into the field to track the only echidna that was sending us a signal – Cushion, who is last years pouch young of Big Mamma. I was not at my balanced and most tolerant best this afternoon and was concerned that the group would talk and giggle the entire way to the site. I have found at times, their exuberance and unawareness of the how silence will make finding animals easier a little taxing at best. Mike had led us very well and we found Cushion totally submerged under leaves and twigs beneath an overhanging branch under a large tree. As Mike lifted Cushion out, Cushion instantly went into a ball. I got to hold the scale to weigh him and we took a group photo of what turned out to be the only echidna we saw during our two weeks. The rest of the group walked back to the kitchen, but Mike and I continued going through the ridge and valley in hopes of coming across other echidna sign. We were in an area that I had never been which included the swamp area. This area is considerably inland from the lagoon, and yet it floods annually leaving massive salt residue. There was one area that had tons of echidna sign and I hoped to come back to the area earlier in the day to see if I could spot the echidna.

I know that the entire team was beginning to feel pretty useless in finding echidnas. The only thing that made us feel better was that even the professionals had not found any either. Peggy kept insisting that echidna sighting is very much done on echidna time. You have to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and looking in exactly the right direction. You can walk right past them and they may be hiding on the other side of the bush.

Pat made a wonderful curry for dinner and marvelous lemon bars. Peggy had a surprise for us and we had wonderful sparklers to celebrate July 4th.

I was having difficulty sleeping, so I ended up taking a pill and finally had a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, July 5

Another quicky breaky and then out into the field. No sign or anybody and no echidna poo.

This afternoon there was an option of more sight seeing of the island. Everyone but Pat took advantage of the opportunity in hopes of seeing more Blue Penguins. We did see several nesting Blues, near a beach with schist rock that is on both sides of the waterway that separates KIsland from the mainland. As we were driving to Penneshaw, I stopped to take a picture of a golf course hole. Instead of short green grass, the green was covered with black charcoal, as the island as is most of Australia, under severe water restrictions due to several years of drought. There is a rake at the green so that golfers can make the surface flat when they putt.

John served us his famous lasagna and there was so much left over, we know we will see it again tomorrow.

This evening’s entertainment was a video on the platypus (the other monotreme) with little snippets comparing it with the echidna.

Thursday, July 6 – 6 MONTHS AWAY TODAY!

With this being our last half-day, both Pat and I were up early to ride with Peggy to the place we had been two days earlier. Nothing new for me on the echidna front, except for several locations of echidna sign that I photographed.

I got a picture of a tree that had done some chemical pruning and some locations where there had been lots of echidna sign. Mike explained chemical pruning to us as how the plant self regulates itself and basically kills the main trunk. As the trunk fall and lays on the ground, the main roots are still intact and they send shoots up on the downed trunk. One of the reasons why this happens is that the larger trees form umbrellas of shade that discouraged undergrowth, which the tree needs to add nutrients back to the soil. When the soil becomes too depleted, part of the tree is pruned so that the other species can come back and the tree remains to grow. Isn’t nature a wonderful system?

On my way back with no much luck in the echidna area, I then tried to go into goanna territories, which was along the ridge down the track that we had traveled so often. As I went around the corner, I saw a goanna sunning himself. (I assumed he was a him). His eyes were closed. I took a picture and then dropped my gear a little away from the site. As I went back with my bag ready to capture him, he opened his eyes, flicked his tongue twice (which meant he smelt me) and then he went into his hole. I stuffed the hole with my bag, turned on my pet, and began doing all my data collection. It was 11 am and I knew that the group would not look for signals until noon. The posse arrived a little after noon and they had hoped it was an echidna, but they were pleased to see the photo of (Scratchy as I called him). Mike and John were not able to retrieve him as he had planned his burrow very cleverly in the tangled roots of an achitriche (ouchy triche).

After lunch, the group was assigned to specific chores to help tidy the center before we leave tomorrow. My job was the exterior windows. YIPPY! I avoid windows at home. My stomach was not doing great, but after cleaning, I wanted to take one last walk to see if I could find that elusive echidna. No luck, but it was a nice final walk.

Dinner was going to be surf and turf, but the stomach was still not feeling well so I only had a baked potato. After dinner, the group had our talent night. Peggy started us off with funny songs, and the entire group singing Peggy’s original song Echidna Scat and Goanna Burrows, complete with choreography. Then Ryan told jokes, Pat read an original story based on the three little pigs, Ben sang two songs, Linzee was tongue tied for once, but as she mentioned, she had been entertaining us for two weeks. My talent was my COTU Foundation monologue and the reading of the poem ITHAKA from Kerry Beebe. John closed off the evening by displaying some original Aboriginal art and Mike offered us each a CD with all our photos and the research data from our two weeks.

The closing activity was Peggy giving us awards. We each received a certificate of Findagoannaology and Paraechidnaology. It also had a poem that was composed especially for each of us which Peggy called the opposite of Haiku, Low Poo. Mine was a stitch. The certificate will be on display once I get home. In addition to the certificate, we each received a lovely homemade echidna cookie from Coral and an echidna magnet.

I had bought a lovely silk scarf with an echidna on it and we presented it to Peggy from the group. It had been a fun evening but we were all pooped.

Friday, July 7

Ben and Pat were taking the ferry off the island so we were up at 7am to say goodbye. The rest of us would go with Peggy at 9:30 to the airport. Just before we left, Linzee helped me find my green fleece vest that I had left in the shower house. THANK YOU LINZEE.

As I mentioned earlier, we had flown Qantas to the island, but they discontinued service during our two weeks and had rebooked us on Regional or REX air. When we got to the counter, while they had us on the list, they expected payment from each of us. We had arrived in plenty of time, but by the time we had it sorted, it was time to board the plane.

It was nice to return to the YHA and I had lots of things to do before I left for Sydney the next day. I had wanted to do a little shopping, but was not able to find exactly want I wanted. I mailed my OZ package home. 8 KG which I sent surface which could take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months.

I wanted to go to the new pirate movie and did some internetting before I left. I found that I had been contacted by ItoI regarding my placement in Sri Lanka. They felt that the political climate near the elephants was too dangerous and wanted to know if I wanted to work in the Tsunami relief area. I thought about it during the evening and got back to them and said that I would rather stay in OZ or add extra time in South Africa.

What have I learned from this placement?

1. I think I prefer working with animals where I am taking care of them vs. scrambling over rocks and mountains to find them.

2. I am finding my capacity to stay balanced within a group appears to be getting easier.

3. I finally feel that I am in my trip, vs. on the outside of it.

Additional Australian Vocabulary

The letter Z is pronounced ZED as in shed.

The letter H is pronounce Hay-che

Chook – Adult chickens.

Chickens- baby chicks

POME is the name they give to British people and it means Prisoner of Mother England.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 22 - Adelaide before Kangaroo Island

See what happens when you talk to strange men?

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22 - Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Sixth Week – Adelaide.

PHOTOS TO COME

Saturday, June 17

Flight on Virgin Blue to Brisbane and then Adelaide arrived around 1pm with no dramas.

I had booked a reservation at a hostel called My Place and when I arrived, I was given a dorm room that I would have to myself that smelled of smoke. I stored my baggage in the room and as it was not what I had ordered, I searched in my LP and found that the YHA was just up the street. I went off to see if they had rooms. YES and because I was staying a week, I received 7 nights for the price on 6. YAAAH! I was in room 11 in the corner of the ground floor with two windows. No view, but I don’t plan to be in my room much.

As I began to walk around, my first impression of Adelaide is that it is a very clean city, reminds me a lot of Denver with mountains in the distance and it seems to have a modern furniture store on every corner. Adelaide has three major universities and a very prosperous technical college. From all the signage, I could tell that there was a Cabaret Theatre Festival in town and would be here for the entire week. This was a wonderful development and as I picked up all the brochures, there were several things that caught my eye. More research tomorrow.

As I arrived in Adelaide, I was surprised to find that it was ½ off from the time of Australia’s East coast. This is the first time I have had to adjust my watch only ½ hour.

As I was getting ready for bed, Room 11 with the 2 windows and ground floor was very cold. I took all the blankets and pillows from other bed and slept in long johns

Sunday, June 18

Slept in which felt like such a treat.

Went off to find the famous market and found it is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Did find the most marvelous café and ordered a Mediterranean egg dish which was scrumptious!

I walked all day to get my bearings and found lots of shops to look at and I found wonderful books about wombats that I bought. Found the Diary of a Wombat that Tina recommended and love it, but it is in hardback. I will hold off.

As I passed all the museums, I went into the Migration Museum that told the story of all the immigrants who settled South Australia. Not the usual story of convicts, that is New South Wales, but lots of Scottish, Irish and Chinese to help in the mines.

Many of the museums are celebrating 100 or 150 years and there was a brass band out in the park to serenade us. Lovely sunny day with parents and kids out, all with pink balloons for the birthday for the Art Museum and one Dad showing his son how to balance the balloon on a stick on his palm.

I found the big theatre complex that is called the Festival Theatre and this venue is a multipurpose complex houses the resident theatre company. It is also used by the opera, ballet and other companies and has 200, 600 and 2000 seat houses plus many numerous smaller areas. There are 8-9 different locations for the various performances at the cabaret festival. I bought tickets for the cabaret – Spontaneous Broadway and Sing your Own Musical tonight, Tribute to Danny Kaye on Tuesday and Noise and Smoke (German Cabaret) for 2 on Wednesday

Spontaneous Broadway was a hoot! This 1.15 show had 5 performers take made up song titles from the audience. The 6 that were picked were presented by one of the performers and they gave a back-story and sang one of the songs. They had a marvelous music director who when they gave him a theme and style, began the melody off they went.

Some of the songs presented were

Shot me before the curtain falls from a gangster musical I can’t remember the name.

How in the hell do I get to Heaven? From the French musical about two girls in the convent

There is qui qui in your eyes, but no no on your lips. From the musical Dark Space

A funny song about a Scotsman whose secret ingredient in his world-famous porridge was whiskey - from the musical Porridge

Why didn’t I eat? (This was mine but the original title was "Why did I wait so long to do it?") from the musical Anorexia. I stood and applauded loudly in order to have this one performed, but they told me sit down and to eat something before the show next time.

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it all over you. From the musical Tattoo. This one was done in its entirety (in 30 minutes, complete with minimal costumes and blocking). This performance was astounding to watch 4 of the 5 actors make up story line and songs without much notice and steer each other into the next song by saying, “I don’t understand what you just said, why don’t you sing me a song about it!” Some of the looks that they gave each other were priceless. The 5th actor was the narrator from the back of the room and he kept the action going but filling in the plot and calling actors to the stage in between the songs. This concept would be a great acting exercise for an ensemble with an excellent accompaniment to work on.

Sing your Own Musical –

This has already begun by the time I made it to this venue and it was a Rogers and Hammerstein sing-a- long complete with songbooks. At times, they would invite groups from the audience to join them at the mic to lead us – Wash that Man Outta my Hair and Nothing Like a Dame for example. It was good fun and the group grew every time they offer this performance. They hope to expand again next year as well.

When I returned to the hostel, I asked at the desk for the possibility of another room – they offered to turn up my heat that had not been on. HMMM. What a difference heat in the room made to a good nights sleep.

Monday, June 19

As you may remember, I had a rabies shot in Auckland and they wanted me to do a follow up blood test to check the titer. I had an appointment for the blood pull and hope to have the results just before I leave Adelaide in about three weeks.

I AM Pooped, after two weeks of running around behind wallabys and yesterday trying to walk all of Adelaide in one day. I indulged in a 2-hour lie down.

I then called Robert Mohler (one of the men I met on the cruise of Doubtful Sound in NZ) – he will pick me up on Wednesday for an early dinner and will attend the cabaret with me. He offered to host me at his house for two nights and show me around McLaren Vale, about 45 minutes from Adelaide and then return me on Friday. YAA!

Poodled around for the rest of the day, watched the movie offered at the YHA – V is for Vendetta and went to bed.

Tuesday, June 20

I went first thing to see if there were additional tickets for the festival tonight for Robert’s friend Ron, but no such luck.

I then went on the back stage tour of the Festival complex and continuing my run of good luck with really interesting tour guides, I met Betty and Sel (Selwyn). Sel will also be at the Danny Kaye tribute tonight. I adore private tours especially with two tour guides!

Also on my see Adelaide Card ($45 for 8 different tours in the city) I went to the Jam Factory artists center and watched glass blowing. It was most definitely a group effort as three women worked the glass and the firing in the ovens to get this one piece finished. I watched for an hour and it wasn’t even close to being done. I now see why some of them cost so much.

Another poodle day with laundry, lunch and catch up with the life and paperwork afternoon.

I called Marlborough to see how Tina and Wiggles were doing and to see if they had any news regarding the health department inspection. Sophie said that it had bombed rain again , the new volunteer was excellent, Doc’s foot is much improved as is his condition and he is now easier to catch and that Wiggles misses me. (That is what I wanted to hear). Tina finally got to the phone and said that the wombat people liked the facility and want to use them, the health inspection wasn’t too bad but that they need to build a separate kitchen for the volunteers that no animals can get into to. Simon (the sugar glider) has an eye issue going on and they need to put drops in, I wish I were there to see that! Sounds like things are perking along.

The Danny Kaye tribute concert was very good, but at times the piano overpowered the singer. Actor looked very similar to D Kaye and was an excellent performer. At one point, the actor was saying how much Danny liked to conduct orchestras even though he did not read music. He made the front part of our audience his orchestra and gave this one man the responsibility of being the triangle. When he was checking in with the sections, the man’s entire table chimed in as trianglesand he said that was the first time he had had an entire triangle section. It was very fun. Sel found a seat at my table so we continued our conversation for earlier today.

Asked the YHA about by prepaid room nights, as I would not need the room for two nights. They rebooked me and gave me $60 refund for one night I could not use and took the rest for my last night with them when I return from Kangaroo Island.

Wednesday, June 21

Checked out by 10 and did some computer work and ended up paying the refunded back due to an accounting error. Easy come easy go.

The sights today were Tadanya Center for modern aboriginal art, Ayers House (home from late 1800’s, the South Australia Museum and shopping.

Met with Robert and dinner at Thai Restaurant

Cabaret Festival – Noise and Smoke – German Songs Karen Kohler and the male singer who I can’t remember his name are both originally from Germany. The male singer, bless his heart, had almost no voice after the first song and did a lot of talking instead. He had NO VOICE the day before and as they only had two performances, was pleased to at least partially participate. The songs were from 1920-1940 and they alternated between English and German. Weill, Brecht and other composers of protest songs from the era. Wonderful.

Drove to McLaren Vale and stopped at Ron’s house for tea and to pick up the dog, Japanese Chin dogs - black and white – Sammy. Ron’s dog Lola and Charlie. Saw Ron’s art and costuming pictures.

Not much sleep – no more tea after 4pm from now on.

Thursday, June 22

Up and breakfast with Ron. Robert had warned me that Ron likes his food and upon finishing breakfast we would already be in discussion about morning tea, lunch and even later meals of the day. We discussed all the various options of things to do – the wineries, the olive groves, the almond groves, the coast, highest point of the vale and as it was all new to me, I indicated that any or all of it would be fine.

First stop was to drop off an itinerary with Diane whom Robert and Ron will travel to Europe with in October. One month in Italy and then a few days in London and a few days in Kuala Lumpur before heading back.

Robert is very familiar with the wineries in this area and one of his favorites has a sparkling red wine he wanted me to try. It was lovely and they had a warm fire going in the hearth as we sampled our wines at the D’arenberg winery.

Next we went to an olive tasting room for excellent kalamato olives, tapanade and olive oil. I bought some for the gentlemen as thank you for their hospitality and presented it them at the end of my stay.

By this time, Ron in the back seat was faint with hunger, so we stopped in Willunga at the pie shop – Ron loves his food.

Then off to Victor Harbor to check out where the Southern Wright Whales were to be seen. Walked across the causeway to Granite Island and had lovely sightings of dophins playing in the waves. Then off to one of the beaches for minimal sightings of the whales and finally to Goolwa for up close and personal with the largest pelicans I have ever seen. There was a man fishing and catching fish and then allowing the pelicans to have the fish. The man was fishing for European Carp that is not indigenous and therefore you can take as many as you like and feed them to the pelicans. On the way back to the car, I was introduced to two Pugaliers. What are pugaliers? They are small dogs that are a cross between a pug and a King Charles spaniel (sometimes known as Cavaliers). They were short, brown with black points, longer than normal curled pug tails, a slightly less pug pronounced nose and they were VERY FRIENDLY!

Home for soup and photos

Friday, June 23

Slept in until 8 and had breakfast with Robert.

For those of you who know about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (Australian children’s book about gum nut babies) I was on the hunt for actual gum nuts. Robert found two different species for me to photograph and they are exactly like the drawings in my old favorite book. SUCCESS!

On the way out of town, we stopped so I could say goodbye to Ron and dogs. Three photos taken but not one of them has all 5 subjects looking straight at the camera at one time in focus. Oh well, I can remember how cute they all were. Especially Ron and Robert.

Robert ended out time together with a tour of the perimeter parklands of Adelaide. Some founding father set aside a huge parcel of land on all four sides of the grid for Adelaide and they have lovely open space and parks that are well used by the citizens. On the North side of town, is the new Oval (Cricket pitch) with the very disappointing and very expensive one-time-only retractable lights. There are four huge sets of lights on high stands that illuminate the cricket pitch and they obstruct the view of the highest neighborhood of North Adelaide (lots of $$ there). They were supposed to be retractable into the ground and they were. ONCE! Now they are permanently erected and the view is obstructed. The newest indigestion for the very conservative citizens of this city is the pink (very light pink) sails over a part of the pitch. Pink! After all, we are in Adelaide you know. Robert was a hoot about it.

I had such a lovely time with the gentlemen and heard so much about the local history and life in Australia; I am so pleased that I called when I got into town. See what happens when you talk to strange men on buses on tours in NZ? Lovely and interesting friends.

Tomorrow, I am off to KI – Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island is, for the most part, a reserve and we had been warned that the camp would be rustic. I went shopping for a 12-volt car adapter for my camera and had hoped to find one for my computer. I decided to not worry about the computer, as I would on small planes with severe weight limitations and would try and take notes and then transcribe them when I got back. We were also advised to bring tennis shoes as the tread on the bottoms of most boots and shoes are too much for the fragile earth. I had a shopping coo with two pairs for only A$20. Not going to make it on the runway in Paris, but I can dump them at the end of the project with no regrets.

I am pooped and plan an early evening. Feasted on tinned tuna, carrots and cheese and crackers for dinner and took myself off to bed.

Alarm at 6:15 to finish packing and get the airport by 8:30.

NEW AUSSIE VOCABULARY

Hungry Jacks Fast food chain = Burger King. I looked at the logo for weeks and it seemed familiar and sure enough, Burger King. NO, I did not eat there.

Pokies – Slot machines. I assume because you poke your coin in the slot, never to be seen again.

Good Nick – Toned and excellent condition. i.e., The Animal was in Good Nick.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry #21 B - Wallabys - second week

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Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Fifth Week – 2nd week with wallabies.

PHOTOS TO COME

Saturday, June 10 – RAINED ALL DAY!

I took on new pens today, pen 6 with all adult males, pen 7 with adult females and Chatty’s pen, the blind adult grey kangaroo. As it poured for most of the day, all we did in the pens was the feed stations and anything else we could get to between down pours. As I was doing chatty’s pen, I saw a grey kangaroo in the open area that had a very enlarged back right foot. Tina and Pete recognize him as Doc that had been released from the area within the last 5 months. At feeding time, we managed to corner him and Pete caught him and held on until Tina could give him some Valium. He settled pretty well in Pete’s lap and after about 7 mls of Valium he could be carried into the kitchen and put on the table for evaluation. He had some how managed to amputate his largest middle toe and possibly 1-2 additional portions of that toe. The infection was so established that Tina was unable to inject any local anesthetic, so they cleaned as best they could, pumped him full of antibiotics and bandaged him. Tina had hoped to keep him in the hospital all night, but he became so fractious that he ended up in Chatty’s pen.

During the rainy afternoon, I thought I might enjoy a nap with Wiggles. It ended up being a non-nap as she started with every minor noise of gust of wind and about drove me crazy. I understand why new mothers are so sleep deprived!

Sunday, June 11

Overcast all day with winds that at times were extreme. We managed to spend more time in the pens and they were a mess considering the recent days of light cleaning and the extra water.

I found that I love cleaning Chatty’s pen for several reasons. 1 – it does not have very tall grass so the foxtails aren’t too bad. 2 – It is close to the house and you can see what is going on. 3 – there aren’t many shelters to worry about. 4 – Kangaroo poo is much larger and easier to spot. 5 – with the little bit of water we have had over the last few days, the tiniest little wild flowers are coming up. As I would bend down to pick up some poo, I would be greeted with the loveliest tiny flowers of periwinkle blue, lemon yellow or bright fuchsia. Lovely little gifts of color in an otherwise green and brown carpet.

We attempted to capture Doc to re-bandage him and he was not having it. We tried for 20 minutes and Tina finally stopped us and said that if we continued much longer, we might cause him to die of stress. As she really would need to capture him on a daily basis in order to change the bandages and give him more antibiotics, it is not looking good for him. Australia no longer allows people to have guns without registration and therefore, Pete does not have a weapon. The farm also does not have a blowgun that would allow us to dart him with an anesthetic. The blowgun might be able to be borrowed from the zoo and providing they can find the right drug, he may be able to be sedated to retreat or possibly euthanasia. Not a very happy ending to our day. We will see if we can catch him tomorrow.

Monday, June 12
The day began as normal and I began in pen 7, the females. As it had been a hugely windy night, most of the animals had stayed put and therefore, the poo was not very evident. As I was finishing the pen and picking up my rake in the food station, I stooped to look into the individual animal shelter. I saw what appeared to be a reclining nailtail. Upon closer inspection, I found that she was dead. I carried her to the main area and Pete and Tina came out. She was an older animal and Tina said she had a hard life. She did not appear to have been bitten by a snake, which is one common cause of death in the pens. Tina is suspecting malnourishment and has decided that from now on we will only be feeding sweet potato and not the corn nuggets.

As I returned from my second pen, Tina said that she and Pete had to make an emergency trip to Brisbane to collect their daughter and granddaughter from an abusive relationship. This left Matt, Sophie and I with Jessica to hold the fort.

We have fallen into a routine with the boys and they are a scream. Bernie only wants his pieces of sweet potato without rind and takes one small bite and then throws it over his shoulder. I love to hear the contented little crunching as they hold the potato in their little hands and munch away. I ADORE FEEDING ANIMALS!

When any of the animals gets the hiccups, their entire body shakes. They get the hiccups
whenever they are stressed, which happens any time the guinea fowl approach Bruce. Wiggles with hiccups is a hoot.

Sophie cooked tonight for the four of us and we had the most delightful chicken and bacon fried rice. YUM. We thought there might be some left over of Matt’s breakfast, but by the end of dinner, we had eaten it all away.

Tuesday, June 13 – Martina and the Baby are home

We had massive winds with lots of gusts all day and the shade sail over the porch let go and waved dangerously in the breeze. As I cleaned pen 2, I found one of the sails down in two of the four places and where it touched the ground, the girls had used it as a potty. At least it was easy to see. As I was in the pen, I kept hearing a loud banging and the roofing for the feed shed in pen 4 was very loose and in danger of flying off at any moment.

With Tina gone, Wiggles had to be fed. Tina had said earlier that Wiggles eats for no one but her. Jessie had fed her the night before, so I held out some hope of feeding her. I GOT HER TO FEED TWICE TODAY. YAAAH!

The day was quiet, other than the wind, and the pens went as normal. The family arrived home in stages with Pete staggering in with a blinding migraine at about 3:30 and the other car with Tina, Martina and the baby at 5:00.

With the family arriving home after 10 hours of driving, Sophie and I coordinated dinner. Tina had a stuffed chicken roll in the freezer, which we thawed and then fried in the electric fry pan with potatoes. Also yummy. Frankly, I am normally so hungry by the time that dinner is ready, not because there is no food but from the physical work, that almost anything tastes yummy.

Wednesday, June 14 –

Martina and Jessie went into Rocky to try and get some answers for Martina’s upcoming custody hearing and to shop for Tina’s birthday gift.

After pen cleaning, Sophie and I spent most of our time working on the logo and t-shirt quotes for AACE. Sophie has developed a logo for the group that incorporates a line drawing of a wallaby and the name. We found a reasonable source for the shirts out of New South Wales and if they sell the shirts for $20, they can make almost $10 in profits for the agency.

Poor Cody, our little wallaroo, appears to have diarrhea and possibly e coli. It is not uncommon with the change of schedule and with several different people preparing milk and bottles. We will wait and see what happens.

Tina has been catching a one-eyed girl wallaby that had recently had her damaged eye removed by the vet. For the past 5 nights, Tina has repacked her eye with medicinal honey (which is doing an amazing job of cleaning up the infections) and shots with three antibiotics. She also wanted to try again to catch Doc again. I requested that she forego that this night as everyone was exhausted and frankly, Pete is the only one who is strong enough in the group to grab and hold on to him. I admit it. I feel really bad at bringing him into this situation if he will only end of being euthanized. I realize if he is really sick, it is for the best, especially as he is almost impossible to catch, and catching him can lead to exacerbating the injury and stressing him tremendously. I just don’t want him caught while I am still there if at all possible.

Thursday, June 15 – Tina’s Birthday

We presented Tina with her birthday gifts before Pete went to work, which meant we were up and on deck before 7am. Pete gave her some lovely crystal with gold figurines of a wombat, platypus and a kangaroo. The girls gave her lovely flannel pjs and slippers and I had found a welcome sign made out of wood at the Rocky fair with a wombat on it. She was very pleased with her gifts.

I finally cleaned the intensive pens today along with the first pen I ever cleaned, Pen 1 with the boys. The intensives are 10 small pens that line the bigger pens and they are close to the house. They all have shade sails, and some small shelters and at least some vegetation in them but no automatic waterers yet. These pens are used for injured wallabies that need to be caught repeatedly for medication, those that are not getting enough feed in the larger enclosures and for the elderly. There are also the two Bettongs from the zoo. Molly, the recovering carnivorous bridle and the one-eyed girl are in these pens. These pens are much faster to clean as you are only dealing with poo from 1-2 animals, but they are fiddly, as you have to clean water dishes daily. Pen 1 was fun to go back to and remember how I approached it the first time and how much easier it was today. Two of the boys met me at the gate hoping for sweet potato and Tina says they were probably Jack and one-eyed Boy. I said goodbye to them and thanked them for letting me assist them.

Tina and the girls went to town for food shopping and it piddled rain all day. I was trying to get my last bit of laundry done so that I could leave with most of my clothes cleaned and the sun appeared as I used the open air dryer.

Sophie and I continued to refine the logo and we downloaded each of our pictures on to Tina’s computer and I loaded Sophie’s on to mine.

While the family was away, I fed wiggles and we found that Cody with major diarrhea. For the 5pm feed, we called them on the road and were given directions for bentonite solution being added to the bottle. Hard to believe the clay that causes such problems in Colorado for building foundations is a wonderful binding agent for toxins in animals. One of the things I have been doing in the past few days, with the help of Karen Stickland in Colorado, was to locate suppliers who would ship the liquid form of the clay to Australia. We found one and Tina is emailing all her caregiver to see how many bottles they each want.

Once everyone was finally home, off we went to the pub for a dinner to say good-bye to me and Happy Birthday to Tina. I had wonderful fish and chips and a cider. YUM. I do love hard cider!

Friday, June 16 – Last day with the wallabies and Miss Wiggles the wombat

This was my last day and I felt the entire morning that I was racing from one thing to the other.

I again did the intensive pens and Chatty, as those were the fastest pens to do. At 9:30, Tina and I had an appointment to call Lee, the grant writer for AACE, and give her an update on our grant research. Then Simon was scheduled to arrive at 11 with the sweet potatoes, so I had to be packed and ready to go as soon as we had finished unloading the potatoes.

During the pen cleaning, little Molly came out and said good-bye. I told her how glad we were that she was feeling better and was on the mend. She really is sweet. I will always remember her little face. As I went into Duke’s pen, I had a bit of a surprise. Duke is young male and he is a successful 6-foot fence jumper. He is in this pen because there is a female in this pen and he wanted to be with her. Yesterday, as I was cleaning, as I finished, Duke was going through the motions to become a father. As he is rather young, I am not sure if he was accomplishing his mission. Today, they did not wait for me to leave, but continued. As I did my circuit they separated and finally Duke was right in front of me. He seemed curious and friendly, until I turned around and he attacked the back of my right leg. I pushed him off and from then on, I faced him and kept the bucket between us. VERY IMPORTANT LESSON TO BE REMINDED OF - THEY ARE WILD ANIMALS – EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SMALL, NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THEM! THANKS FOR THE REMINDER. I now have a small hole in the back of my leg that Tina says will remain. My goal is that this is my first and only scar from a wild animal.

Tina and I spoke to Lee about the logo and the grant situation. AACE is considering a grant from Australian Geographic, but if they grant it, they will insist on exclusivity in coverage and they are not sure if that is the best thing for the agency at this time. They will apply for an I-to I grant again, and Sophie will get some quotes on industrial strength vegetable slicer and 4 more two-way radios for the volunteers to use. Lee is pessimistic about the chances for the slicer, but it sure would make a huge difference to future volunteers.

Just as Tina and I were sitting down for more discussions on what needs to happen when for them to receive their non-profit status, Simon arrives with the sweet potatoes. It is amazing how many potatoes you can get in the back of the Utility truck (Ute in Australian).

Then it was time for goodbyes and a few tears from me. I will miss the farm and the physical work and the temporary isolation. It was pretty easy to be comfortable staying put and having limited access to the modern world. I know I would quickly become tired of the monotony and the every-dayed-ness of it pretty quickly, the truly, every day was different with new joeys arriving, old one’s leaving and the ever changing pace of life on the farm. I really did come in the right season for me, because the heat, dryness and the flies during the summer would quickly drive me to distraction.

Saying goodbye to Wiggles stared the tears and they increased when I got to Bernie, Bruce, Martina and the baby, Sophie and Matt and then finally Tina. I am so pleased that I had a chance to get to know all of them.

Just as I was leaving, Tina got a call from the local health department that there had been a complaint lodged against her from a former I to I volunteer. During my stay, Tina had been dealing with I to I on a complaint from a 19-year-old girl who left after 3 days. Her main complaint was that Tina would not drive her 3 hours round trip into Rocky each day to visit with her parents who were staying there. Tina indicated that she was not a taxi service and that would not be possible. She also said the place was dirty and animals were always in the kitchen. Bottom line, this was not her cup of tea and she had not read the information sent prior to the placement.

This new complaint was most likely lodged by two other I-to-I volunteers who also left early. Tina is fit to be tied and feels that the health department will shut them down from accepting other volunteers. This is really too bad as they really need the volunteers on the premises if Tina and Pete are going to have to work off site to make ends meet.

After a ride with Simon and his son, Riley, we were back in Rocky at the zoo. I managed to find the cards with the Bridle Nailtiail and the children’s books on wombats and wallaby’s. I also photocopied the new flyers that Sophie designed to be put in YHA’s and backpacker travel agents. I will take some with me to Adelaide and Sophie will take hers to Sydney.

For lunch at the zoo, I had a meat pie with a black and white Magpie, gorgeous colored Lorikeets and interesting bird of olive, white, black and brilliant blue plumaged around he eyes. Then I sat updating this entry and fed the mosquitos outside the Cassowray’s pen. Ah Wild life in Australia.

Final analysis – This was a very fun placement. I did not find the close proximity to so many people too bad, but by the end of my time, I admit I was longing for some peace and quiet. At times, my attitude was not the sunniest and by the end, there was some make wrong going on.

I found it enjoyable to be isolated for a while and to be out of touch with the real world, mainly no tv or newspapers. If it did not have to do with the animals, it was not on the radar.

The animals were the best and to have a chance to feed them, touch them and to get to meet so many of the different wildlife of Australia was a true honor. I kept telling Tina that Wiggles would be coming with me. I guess I will have to come back and meet her babies. Tina says that will be in two years.

Posted by ladyjanes 01:07 Archived in Australia Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Entry #21 A - Wallabys - first week

Easter egg hunting in the pens, NOT!

0 °F

ENTRY # 21A - Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Fourth Week – 1st week with wallabies.

Friday, June 2

There were some mysterious bumps on the roof during the night, but Tina had told me they were either Simon or frogs. She said that there was nothing that was going to get me, so I slept pretty well. I had the alarm set for 6:20 but was up before hand. The day would start at around 7:00 am.

Let me tell you about the farm.

The farm is very much a work in progress. Just as with many horse people in the US, the care of the animals is their lives and all the time, energy and resources go into the animal care and housing. I am in a metal, walled and roofed shed, in a very comfortable bed with mosquito netting and my own cupboard. There is room for 3 other people in the shed. Next to the shed is the common kitchen/bathroom, dining room complex. Not all the walls are solid yet, but the weather so far is mild and they have a space heater for the evenings. Peter and Tina live in a temporary house across the way and there is a temporary building, funded by a US Foundation that is currently the infirmary and office. A second building is coming so that the two different areas (office and hospital) will be divided and there is cold room for all the food storage. It is a bit rustic but very functional. Later this winter, they will have additional help to rework all the pens and the feeding sheds so that they will have concrete floors and three walls to keep out the elements.

The water from the pipes is bore water and suitable to washing but not drinking. Rainwater is collected and used for drinking water. The kettle is always on and it is pretty much a self-serve kitchen. There is one refrigerator that is cold. There is another refrigerator that is not cold, but used to store things that need to be sealed. Most of the food is stored in plastic containers as there are all sorts of things that might come in a snack during the night.

There are 8 pens housing anywhere from 1 to 15 wallabies in various age and sex groupings. Each pen has one tent or building for the eating and water station and then several other tented areas of shade. Under some of the awnings are hollow logs or teepees made of branches for little hidey-holes for the wallabies. All the big pens have automatic watering systems in the feeding shed.

There are 10 intensive pens, much smaller pens that house 1-2 animals who are either recovering or for whatever reason, need to be closer to the house. These pens do not have automatic waters yet, but will soon.

On the outside of the pens there are several large macropod animals (macropod = big foot ie. Kangaroos or wallabys) that have been released. These are Agile Wallabies and we see them from time to time. Most of these animals were cruelty cases where they were either overly confined by uninformed owners or grew larger than the owner had thought. Predator, a female Agile Wallaby was confined in such a small cage that she kept beating herself against the wire. She had a permanently split lip.

Daily Schedule

6:30 wake
7:00 breakfast
7:30 – noon - clean pens
12-1 lunch on my own
2:00 sweet potato processing *
4:10 begin evening feeding
- Large pens – luchen (chopped hay), barley, sweet potatoes **
- Intensive pens – above received daily
- Bettongs – cut up fruit, mushrooms, avocados, meal worms, peanuts, grapes
6:30 dinner
10:00 bed

This schedule may change depending on if we have joey’s that need bottles or new incoming animals.

  • Sweet potato processing involves cutting off the mold on the outside of the veggies and then cutting them into very thin slices about the size of a small post it note. Some of them are really slimy as we are at the end of the potato load, but more are coming next week. In addition to slim, we sometimes come across worms when we cut them in half. Obviously, they don’t go into the feed bucket.
  • * Apparently, the evening meal can change from day to day for the large pen, and therefore, there might be more of less feed and sweet potato to prepare

My assignment for the first week will be pens 1-3. Pen 1 is full of males and has lots of areas denuded of grass. Pen 2 has 15 females and it is quite large. In the corner is a hollow log, which I think, looks like a crocodile. Pen 3 runs across the back of the first two pens and is narrow and very sunny and is full of adult girl wallabies.

Tina told me the following facts about the wallabies - They are nocturnal and generally eat all night long, and lounge in the sun during the day. They have a very large cecum and will regurgitate their partially digested food and then re-eat it. Now that this colony has been established, they will become a breeding facility for them and when proper release sites can be found, they will be released into the wild. What determines a proper release site is a parcel of land, usually privately owned with sufficient acreage and trees for a natural habitat for the wallabies. Their main predators are dogs and cats and the destruction of their habitat.

The Bridled Nailtail Wallabies (Flashjacks) were thought to be extinct until the 1970’s and are now on the endangered list. This colony was taken from a mine site and when they were found, they were malnourished, neglected, had massive parasite infestations and their ears were loaded with ticks. I have seen the pictures and they still have several jars with the ticks that were taken from the ears. These wallabies don’t even reach my knee when they are sitting erect and have a dark and light bridle pattern over their shoulder area. They have the sweetest little faces and dark little front legs with 5 toes with claws. Their hind legs have only four toes, the central one is huge with a claw and the two very small ones on the inside of the large toe (that they are used for grooming) and one very small one on the outside of the large central toe.

Tina took me into Pen 1 and showed me the ropes. Armed with a rake, bucket for poo and rubber gloves, I entered the pen. First, we rake the wallaby poo pellets around the gate into a pile. Then go to the feed shed, empty the feeders (made out of black drainage pipe) into the bucket and rake the poo into the piles for pick up. This is an important area to clean as they tend to spill a lot on the ground and you want it as clean as possible. Put water into the feeders and let them sit for a while. Pour out the water and let the feeder dry in the sun as you do perimeter poo pick up. Peter often tells me to make a game out of things, so I view poo patrol as an extensive easter egg hunt. Wallaby poo resembles little easter eggs without the foil wrappers or little dark almonds. Sometimes you find a little clutch of them, but usually, they are by themselves. That is what you need the gloves for as you pick them up and put them in the bucket. After the perimeter check, there are all the tented areas to look through and also any of the bare patches.
As we entered Pen 2 and were on the way to Pen 3 at the back, we found a connection for the water pipes leaking. Matt and Tina made a quick repair with wire and we were waiting for Pete to return from the zoo to fix it. With the pipe broken, I would need to bring water buckets to each pen for cleaning and filling the water fountain.

view from the pen.JPG

Tina usually does a pen in about 40 minutes, Matt an hour and today, it will be interesting to see how long it takes me. I ambled around the first pen and felt that there was no way that I had covered the entire area. Every time I thought I had finished an area, if I approached it from a different direction, I saw all kinds of poo that I missed before. (Tina said this is a common finding, the main thing is to develop a system and follow it.) By the time I was done with Pen 1 (it took me 2 hours), my socks were covered with foxtails. I took my break and pulled most of them out, put on clean socks and my gaters and went into Pen 2. During my break, when I removed my gloves the water just poured out of the glove, as it was very hot. Then I took my pail full of wallaby pellets to the flowerbed and dumped.

Pen 2 is the largest pen, almost a square with 15 immature females. They are the friendliest pen, and although they ran from me today, I was told that the next few days they would come out and watch me work. On this pen, I decided to do the gate, the feed station, walk the perimeter in both directions and then do the middle sections. Easter egg hunting began and it was more fun, but still took 2 hours for me to finish this pen. After each pen, I went back to the house, had a drink, a potty break and a little snack. It was getting hotter, so on went the sunscreen and the off went the fleece vest, also covered in foxtails.

This was the day that Sugar, the grey kangaroo, was going back to his foster mom for more care before he was released. I had hoped to give him another bottle, but time was of the essence and I was in the pen cleaning.

Pen 3 was the pen that spanned the backside of the other two pens. It was filled with more mature females and they were very wild. This pen had the most sun by the time I got to it and my back was hurting. Tomorrow, I plan to do this pen first. I also decided to start earlier so that I could be done before noon and the hottest sun. I finally finished at about 3pm and was pooped. I had missed helping get the sweet potatoes ready for the wallabies for dinner. At 4:15, Matt and I began feeding the pens.

Matt is a semi-permanent Australian volunteer. He travels around Oz on a bike (called a push bike by Tina). Matt is instrumental for Tina and Pete as he has a tree nursery and has taken over most of the landscaping and tree planting in the pens.

Today, the wallabies received a mixture of chopped alfalfa hay, barley and sliced sweet potatoes. I took my bucket into my three pens and spread them evenly in the number of feeders. If I spilled, I would have more cleaning to do in the morning. After I had delivered my three buckets, I assisted Matt as he had all the other pens, both large and small to do. The intensive pens, with only one or two animals, received handfuls of feed. There are two Bettongs (sort of large hopping rats) and I watched as he prepared their special food. Bettong mix includes muesli, 5 peanuts in their shells, 5 grapes, 2 slices of banana, 2 slices of kiwi, ½ of a large mushroom, ¼ of an avocado, 2 inches of corn on the cob and the icing on the cake, 5 meal worms. YUK! The last pen that we fed was a large pen with a single, blind, female red kangaroo, named Chatty. She knows every inch of her pen and is very sweet.

As we were cleaning up the pails, there were some loose agile wallabies in the yard helping themselves to the outer feeding station. Predator was one of them, but there is also Baxter, Thelma (large Red roo with joey in the pouch), Delilah (large red roo with nasty attitude) and several others.

thelma   1.JPG

We had roasted chicken sandwiches for dinner. Yum.

Tina had a call from Pete that he was bringing home an injured grey kangaroo with pinkie (hairless, eyes-still-closed-roo in her pouch about 3 months old) home for doctoring. The mom had received her tetanus shot the other day, and when she came out of anesthetic, panicked and ran into a wall injuring her mouth. She subsequently developed tetanus and had not been able to deal with the joey for three days. By the time they decided to move her, her joey was covered in excrement and her pouch reeked.

As Pete pulled up in the truck, I helped carry the roo into the hospital. Tina had a bed made up on the floor and the incubator set up ready to receive the newly cleaned joey. The roo had been sedated and had Valium. She had urinated and it had a little blood in it. As Tina would have to be up all night monitoring the roo and feeding the pinkie, I volunteered to watch them as she had dinner with her friend and daughter who had come to visit the new baby. The female roo was fairly quiet, and yet kept stretching. I was warned to watch if she was seizing, which is common with tetanus. Tina left me with a two-way radio. When I used it just trying to say that the pinkie was very active and needed a feed, Tina appeared at the door like a shot.

pinkie.JPG

I went to bed and asked Francis and Lilith to send the best to every one who was involved.

Saturday, June 3

When I woke up this morning, I was told that the grey roo died overnight. She started to seize, so Tina euthanized. The hope is that the pinkie survives. The pinkie joey, a little female, is still going and getting very active but is not drinking enough consistently.

Today, I did the pens in a different order and kept telling the inhabitants that I was just the maid cleaning up after the party. For whatever reason, I kept hearing Cleaning Women from Working going through my head.

As I was doing pen 2, full of juvenile females, I met Molly, a little girl wallaby, who appears sweet but apparently has quite an attitude. Tina had mentioned that she wanted to bring her in for a bowl of milk last night, but we had forgotten when the ill roo and joey arrived. As I went to work on the feed shed, a little wallaby came through the bush, appeared unstable on her feet and fell over on her side. Marty came out and picked her up and said that she might have had snakebite. By the time I was back in the house, Tina had determined that it was Molly and that she had secondary pneumonia. Tina started antibiotics and had put her in a sack to keep her warm.

Later in the day, Tina asked me to try and offer her some solid food. I sat with her on my lap and she took one piece of sweet potatoes and began to eat, but then stopped. Not much going into her. When Tina came, she was trying to give her electrolytes or bowl of milk and Molly latched on to her top lip and bite her three time through the upper lip. Tina was in shock for a bit, but recovered and we betadined her lip. Tina also noticed that Molly had a collection of fluid under her skin near her pouch. As we watched her over the next day, the swelling enlarged to the point where her entire chest had fluid.

molly.JPG

The entire family and the friends from the south went to visit a neighbor. As the pinkie needed to be feed every two to three hours, they packed all the supplies and took the pinkie with them in a specially made cooler that can be plugged into the cars heater.

Matt and I stayed home and ate roasted chicken sandwiches and I spent an evening in front of the space heater with a book and Wiggles asleep on my lap.

wiggles.JPG

Sunday, June 4

Before I went off to do my pens, I had Wiggles on my lap who was rooting around and waiting for her bottle. Suddenly, my leg was getting warm and Wiggles had begun to pee on me. As I moved her she stopped. I have been christened now by a koala, a sugar glider and a wombat. Tina says that wombats tend to pee on their mothers and eventually learn to pee by themselves. Tina is usually wet at least once a day.

The cast has come off of Coopers leg and he is a different dog. Frankly, I wish they would put the cast back on him, as he was much nicer with the cast. Now he is a little monster.

As I did my pens today, I went through all the different marketing and fundraising ideas I could come up with, mainly with school kids and partner school projects. Tina is going to put me in touch with the woman, Lee, who writes most to the agencies grants so we can brain storm with other options.

I had hoped to say goodbye to Marty and Kasia before they left, but they had to leave while I was still in the pens. Marty had a 7-hour drive back to Brisbane and we heard later that the baby had screamed and acted up the entire journey. What should have taken her 7 hours was closer to 9.

Out in the yard as we were feeding, I noticed animals that appeared much larger than the wallabies. They were female Grey Kangaroos who were helping themselves to the sweet potatoes peelings in the garden. They had been released from the farm and come back to visit occasionally. One of them was Thelma and she had a large joey in her pouch. She let me get quite close and I hope I have some good shots of them.

As it was Sunday, Pete spent a lot of time catching up with chores that don’t get done during the week, like cleaning the rat cages, making chaff for the wallabies. He also cooked a marvelous dinner of steak and gravy and veggies.

The nights have been very cold and I have three wool blankets and two sleeping bags to cover me. Tonight, I finally had the system down where I had all of them tucked in and I entered the nest from one side. I also wore my fleece to bed and slept very well.

Monday, June 5

Regular day with only Tina, Matt and I on the farm. The pens went fine, but I find that my back is hurting by my third pen. I came across another female down in pen 2 and as I couldn’t tell if she was sick or simply sunbathing, I asked Tina to have a look. By the time she arrived, the wallaby was gone and from now on, if I find somebody, I will disturb him or her to see if they can still hop. In my last pen, I came across a male with only one eye. He had lost it when he was very young. Also in the male pen, there was a conversation going on through the fence to the next isolation pen. The male hopped in front of me, finally got around me and kept up his conversation. Love is in the air! The song that kept running through my head during my pens today was “Everybody ought to have a maid” from Forum.

I had a restful afternoon with a shower, laundry, cuddle and reading with Wiggles and then Tina and I made a rush to town before the store closed. The Town of Marlborough is very small, 50 people and only three streets. It has a hotel, pub, post office, shop, elementary school, church, museum and a few other public service offices. Very sweet and quiet. The town was relocated to be closer to the rail line, but they don’t have a depot and the train never stops. At the old site of the town, which is now a pasture, you can still see the old street signs. We went to the Shell station which recently changed owners. They have been open for 3 months and they still don’t have any gas or diesel.

no diesel.JPG

Tonight was homemade pumpkin soup for dinner.

I have completed 5 days of work with the wallabies and evaluated today if this is the work for me. What came to me is that I don’t mind the physical work for a while, but after a time, the every-day-edness of the work would wear on me. I watch Tina and Pete and see these people making such an effort and they obviously love the animals, but still need to bring in more money for the farm, so they have to work outside. Rockhampton is 1.5 hours away from them, so the commute is long and uses lots of fuel. Even though the town is really not that far, it appears to be too far for the scouts or school groups to come for tours or days on the farm that might help to increase their donations or awareness.

Pete is currently working at the Rocky Zoo 5 days a week, but he will go back to part time at the zoo, and Tina will begin working at the zoo 5 days a week. Their need for volunteers is huge, for the daily cleaning and the need will only increase in a few months when they add the additional cages, take on an additional 100 animals and finish the breeding pens and begin the real breeding program. That is just the general daily needs and the workload increases tremendously when they have sick, orphaned, abuse cases or pinkies that need around the clock care. Tina said that they receive volunteers from I to I, Green volunteers

The farm and the agency AACE – Australian Animals Care and Education is under the jurisdiction of a bevy of federal and state agencies that all have a say in what they can do, but leave them with no power or say on how the animals are released and the conditions for their relocation. It sound like some of the previous releases were on land that had promised resources and protection of the animals, but that did not come to pass. They released 56 animals, but within 4 months, only 4 of the animals could be found.

APACT – Australian Plants Animals Conservation Trust will be the new non-profit that will allow them to continue their work and allow them to receive tax-deductible donations. They have begun all the necessary paperwork but as they submit things they are told that new things are missing. Like so many small agencies, they are taken up with the daily running of the facility and at times aren’t able to continue with all the follow up needed to get things ironed out. How I wish they were able to find someone who would work in the office for a short time to help catch up with all the necessary paperwork and follow up in order to ease their minds and pocket book for a while.

I asked Tina and Pete what keeps them going. They could not really answer me other than to say that they will keep doing it as long as they can and help as many animals as they can. They are good people.

I have learned from Tina that she only receives $20 a day ($280 total) to feed me with no additional funding from the agency that placed me at the farm. Apparently, they can apply for an additional $1500 grant, but once received, the likelihood of every receiving it again is slim. As I reread my literature, they say that 1/3 of the money that I paid should go to the project or the helping hand foundation. I can also apply to encourage more funding for them, which I will do.

Tuesday, June 6

Quiet day with only Tina and I. Matt went into town with Pete and Jessica was working at the fair in Rocky.

Molly appears to be better and the swelling is going down. We put her out in a small cage today to get some air and sun. She is still a little pissy when you try and touch her back, but allows Tina to feel her stomach. YAAH!

Today, Alice (one of Tina’s rehabilitators) arrived bringing to stay with us Bruce (grey kangaroo), Bernie (red kangaroo) and Abby (a striped wallaby) all in bags. As she arrived the dogs went ballistic. Alice is on her way to Sydney as her mother-in-law is dying. So we will have three babies to give bottles to at least three times a day. Bruce arrived with a leg bandage as he had a broken back leg that had been set. Alice had said when she removed the bandage, Bruce was not able to use the leg. We removed the bandage and the leg had not set properly, but Bruce used it with no apparent problem.

The landscape around the farm is lovely. Gently rolling paddocks with hills in the distance, Eucalyptus trees and tall yellow grass and lots of brahma cross cattle in the neighboring farms. I awake to crows and magpies calling and the guinea fowl moving about as a unit. The guinea fowl are funny, grey and white speckles and naked heads and very herd bound. As I was waking up this morning, I heard the sound of twigs snapping and couldn’t figure out what it was. As I was cleaning pen 1, I saw what made the sound. The guinea fowl had all flown up and landed on the top of the gate into pen 2. They were then using the same technique to exit pen 2. When I finished pen 1, about have the group was still in pen 2 and not sure what to do. I opened the gate and got around behind them and shooed them out. Silly birds!

Wednesday, June 7 – My day at the fair

Today, Sophie from England arrived to help us. She is 24, has done lots of animal volunteer work in Thailand and found out about this placement from the Green Volunteers. She is very nice.

Tonight we went to the Marlborough Fair, with the pinkie in a pouch that we carried with us and had to stop twice to give her medicine and syringes of milk. We went for several reasons; to see Simon, Pete’ boss ride in the camel races, to eat fair food, to check out the livestock exhibits and to buy wonderful candy that you can only get in Australia. The camel races were something to behold. Three single hump camels were saddled with that appeared to be a two-seater saddle, but the jockey rode the back saddle. They were lead ¾ of the way around the track and then released and the galloped for home. Nobody fell off and Simon won his qualifying heat. We had to leave because the pinkie needed feeding. Fair food – much the same as our county and state fairs, including Dagwood Dogs (our corn dog but dipped in ketchup). I prefer mustard that is not a standard request, but they managed to find it for me. I also ate French fries that were okay, a waffle cylinder that they normally fill with cream (I had mine plane) and some wonderful curried peanuts from the hot nut man. We searched and searched for the Australia candy, but the booth had sold out before we got there. We went to another booth to look for honeycomb and I bought some. I had always thought it was honey that had been spun into candy, but it turns out it is corn syrup and baking soda. Hmmmmm? A bit of disappointment and the candy I bought had way too much baking soda. Oh well. The livestock exhibit was as expected, but there were some interesting short stature cattle called Square Meaters! Apparently there is a drive to go back to the shorter stature cattle that mature a little faster.

Thursday, June 8 – I smell Poo

Today we took on another foster baby, a Wallaroo called Cody. Wallaroos are between the wallaby and the kangaroo in size and are a distinct breed in and of themselves. Cody is on four bottles a day and needs to have her toileting done for her, as she is still little. She is medium grey all over with bright black eyes and when she is out of her bag, she had one speed – full on. She is a hoot. She adjusted to us feeding her within one day and soon Sophie and I were swapping feedings so that she became accustomed to different people feeding her. After feeding, you open the other side of the pouch and get lots of tissues ready. You gently stroke her coacha to stimulate the flow of both urine and poo from almost the same aperture. Their pee is very strong smelling and the poo is nuggets. Jessica called them moaning mertles because as you are toileting them, they give off a high-pitched moan.

We went into Marlborough today to go to the post office and the little museum. Just inside the door was a huge English Bull dog named Big Girl. She was lovely and very friendly. The museum was very cute and small and showed us the local history including the local Bush Ranger (outlaw) who ended up going to California and was killed in the early 1900’s.

Tina and Jessica were working on Jessica’s assignments for her student work program at the zoo. As Tina was attempting to make sure that everything was in place and Jessica would pause in the conversation not interested in look around and say, “I smell poo”. I couldn’t help but laugh as the sugar glider had just arrived and peed, Wiggles had pee’d on the lounge, the roos and wallaroo where usually in slightly smelly bags. Who wouldn’t have smelt poo?

Friday, June 9

Today Sophie wasn’t feeling great so I took on Cody and the bottles and toileting. She really is very cute. Sophie and I are also changing every feeding with Bruce and Bernie. Bruce is able to stand when he is fed, but you have to hold his little hands to steady him. Bernie is our high maintenance red, who prefers to be fed in his bag, does not want to be touched, sucks one of his testicles for comfort and prefers to be hand fed bits of sweet potato without any rind. After we have bottled the boys, we try and get them outside so that they can toilet and run around in the sun. As soon as they are finished, they hop back into the kitchen and want to be let back into their bags. As I was heading back to finish one of my pens, Bernie came around the corner and was barking at me. I couldn’t’ figure out what he wanted until I went into the kitchen and found that Bruce had loaded himself into Bernie’s bag. The affront of it! We offered Bernie Bruce’s bag, but he wanted his old bag. We offered Bernie a new bag, but he wanted his old bag. So we had to oust Bruce by pouring him onto the floor, and then loaded Bruce back into his first bag. Oh, the drama’s of being a red kangaroo!

bernie and bruce.JPG

Jessica was going away for the weekend to spend it with a friend as we very excited. It must be hard for kids who live on the outlying farms to have a social life and I am pleased she will have a weekend away.

Posted by ladyjanes 01:06 Comments (0)

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