I’m surrounded by boxes. As I look out over the laptop I can see work done and more work to do. That’s about the sum of it. It’s too hot to do anything now. It’s 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) outside. The Australian bush is a fierce place to be this summer. We have the air conditioner on but it’s only getting the room down to 30C (86 F).
I’m not in Sydney. I’ve left the comfort of coastal living and have gone West – 6 ½ hrs drive – to help my mother move from the farmhouse into town. Now, I know some of you might be confused. You’re thinking, but I thought they sold the farm and had the clearing sale some months ago. And you’d be correct. But the new owner let Mum rent the farmhouse until she found a place to buy in town.
And now that date has arrived. Packing time.
On the day of the clearing sale, there was a 3km line of farm equipment, if not 4km. We sold a huge amount of stuff. And we got it down from 5,500 acres of land, 4,000 odd sheep, three woolsheds full of equipment, not to mention four shearing huts filled to the brim, nine silos, a few tractors, 2 old utes, quad bikes, massive amounts of machinery, farming gear and tools.
And still there is more stuff. We are now packing one house, one garage, one caravan used as storage, one garden shed, two storage sheds and one dog. Over 4, 000 sheep down to one dog. I like saying that in a sentence. In fact, when Mum sold the sheep I felt bereft – like a little part of me had disappeared. I chanced upon a skirt that had pictures of sheep all over it. I’m not normally into cute things, but I bought that skirt. Now, I’m the proud owner of 123 sheep on my skirt. They are English sheep, not Australian Merinos but I’ll cope somehow.
And so back to packing up the house. Each bedroom is filled to the brim full of mementos from the past. A pile of teenage love letters to my brother from an admirer. We found the stash of expensive jewellery that had been hidden for safe keeping. It had been lost for a few years. I won’t tell you how much it’s worth, but we are really happy we found it. That loss had been freaking people out.
This heat has been going for what seems non-stop. Working in this heat is a dance with dehydration. Heck, sleeping in this heat, even though you have the air con on, is tough too. So, I’m drinking electrolytes like water. If you spend too much time in the heat then you end up with heat stroke for the rest of the day (head ache, and feeling like you’re coming down with the flu). I have to time it carefully. More than 3hrs and I’m done for. As I found out yesterday. Some of the plastic bags full of rubbish we left outside melted in the sun.
Our Farm Dog Black Bessie
My father’s dog, Black Bessie, who had that name when we bought her as a pup, is named after Black Caviar, the horse that won 25 races undefeated. And then moved to the UK because there were no horses left to race in Australia. And just like Black Caviar, who stops the entire nation when she runs, so does our beautiful Bessie. When Bessie runs, her black coat ripples flashes of silver in the sunlight where her muscles move. Bessie became my dog when Dad passed, in so much as where ever I go she doesn’t leave my side. She’s been living out here with Mum, but she is too big for Mum who is not steady on her feet anymore.
I’ve never been well enough to look after a dog. Take her on walks. And it’s been a secret dream to be able to take Bessie and look after her properly. However, she can jump high, leap over fences as if it was nothing. Farm dogs need to be able to get in and out of sheep yards quick. A house with a yard and fence won’t work for her. She will probably need a sheep property.
Living out here, in the bush, surrounded by endless paddocks and scrub, she hasn’t had much contact with other dogs. There were the same farm dogs that came with the workmen. Tiny fluffy townie dogs have occasionally visited us. But any self-respecting working dog, that lords over 4,000 sheep, wouldn’t take them seriously. Besides Bessie stands like a mountain against these little scruff muffins. The result is my Bessie has never met a male dog tall enough for her. If you know what I mean. So, if she changes location puppies could be in her future. That would be exciting. She is a New Zealand Huntaway.
Don’t forget to read two popular posts. The Mind Believes What You Tell It and ‘8 Top Habits That Create A Bad Relationship To Self’.
Time for me to get off the computer and get a cup of tea. Oh, and I need to check the horizon as well. In weather like this bushfires appear out of nowhere. We check every hour. I do a walk around the house and look for smoke. The horizon stretches far and wide, with the land so flat. And there are endless acres of dried up stubble (the straw left over when the wheat has been harvested). Then in the far distance there is scrub – the Australian bush. The winter was wet, which means the grasses grew tall and thick. Now, they’re dead from the heat. Perfect bushfire material. This is Australia.
P.S. It’s now the next morning and I’m in town at McDonalds (the farm internet connection is terrible) to upload this post. The news says there are now 76 grass and bushfires in NSW.