Focus on winter in the High Country

Winter

By Lynn Elder

Winter steals our blue skies

and replaces them with yearnings for wood fires.

When rain-drenched clouds

above the paddocks crowd

a sense of gloominess descends,

bringing a desire to seek out friends

to indulge in wine and song,

while the season of winter stays too long.

Wombat welfare concerns

Photo by International Fund for Animal Welfare on Pexels.com

Life is a gamble for many of our native wildlife species in Australia. Wombats are often fatal victims on our busy country roads and have succumbed to the scourge of mange in more recent years. It is believed the mange is spread by introduced species such as foxes and rabbits as well as wild dogs.


Farmers have a love-hate relationship with these animals due to their ability to burrow underground and create cavernous tunnels. Our country house and shed are built on a concrete slab, so they don’t try to dig under our buildings, but neighbours with weatherboard houses on stumps are forever trying to keep them out. City people may think wombats are cute animals but have never seen the damage caused by their powerful digging prowess. They are also nocturnal mammals, so they are out and about during the hours of darkness when most of us are indoors. I often find piles of scats around our property the following day marking their journey.

Suppose you happen to see a wombat wandering about during daylight hours. It is usually a sign that the animal has serious health issues related to mange which is an infestation of mites. They get under the skin of the wombat and cause unrelenting itchiness and loss of hair covering. Constant scratching creates red raw sore patches on their body and in the worst cases open wounds. The loss of hair covering forces the wombat to graze more to keep warm and to come out during daylight hours.

Mange causes this crust to form on the skin of the affected wombat which has been wandering onto our property during the day to graze grass.

Another sad aspect is the impact on their hearing and sight. I have a wombat on my property at present who I can get very close when it is out eating grass during the day. I am careful not to get too close because wombats are wild animals and can get distressed. But I did get close enough to take some pictures and a video as a record of the wombat’s condition.

My husband and I thought we had discovered where the burrow of this particular wombat is on our property. We put some small sticks in the entrance to test this theory. Unfortunately, they remain undisturbed. Other burrows are waterlogged due to the heavy winter rains we are having this month. So we think its home must be on one of our neighbours properties. We had hoped to treat the wombat as per the instructions from the Wombat Mange Welfare website https://mangemanagement.org.au/.

It is not always easy to know when the wombat will be out and about. We have contacted the welfare people to see what can be done. It is heartbreaking to see them suffering this way so we need to encourage more action to eliminate this mange and return our wombats back to full health. Hopefully as more people are aware of this serious issue the more that can be done for them.

I haven’t seen the wombat this week probably due to it being so cold and wet, but will continue to keep an eye out for it. Follow the link to the website to learn more about what is being done to manage mange in wombats

Seen on the rail trail while I was out cycling

Passport to nowhere?

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Given I’m lucky to get out of the state let alone travel abroad, posing for my photo for a replacement passport seemed such a frivolous thing to be doing during a COVID Pandemic. Today, my shiny new document arrived with what I consider the world’s worst passport photo but hey aren’t they all? Now I have a very expensive book with several blank pages that need filling.

I lovingly look at my old passports with pages of stamps of foreign places I have visited and the memories come flooding back. First time backpacker adventures, island escapes to the sun, trips to visit family and a three-month honeymoon on bicycle.

My new passport is good for the next 10 years so I’m hoping to get some good use out of it! Here’s to happy travels post pandemic!

Disruption…the new normal

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

Welcome to day 4 of a hard seven-day lockdown in Victoria. It is the fourth time since the COVID Pandemic started in March 2020 here in Australia. We had managed 87 days free of any new community infections, but now after several weeks of relative freedom, we are begrudgingly resigned to “here we go again”. Vaccine rollout has been slow, and still many of our most vulnerable are still waiting. Today nursing homes are back in the news, sadly, but no deaths at this stage.

I am fortunate that I live in a rural area without any cases but the way people have been moving around the state and interstate as well, it doesn’t pay to be complacent. The central state vaccine hotline for bookings has foundered under pressure, with walk-ups not allowed at most sites. I have heard that our local country town’s vaccine site is booked out until the end of the month!
If you are lucky enough to have a local doctor looking after you, then you can get a jab that way. But for those of us without a local doctor, unless it is an emergency, you could take your chances and travel out-of-town to a bigger centre. Travelling to receive a COVID injection is one of the five reasons you are allowed to leave your home during this current lockdown.

My Facebook memories keep reminding me of where we were this time last year. Not too far from home, I can tell you! But here we are again in lockdown. A week ago, I was busy with many different commitments and activities, and now I am in stay-home mode. At least my husband and I got to celebrate our birthdays and wedding anniversary this year. I did manage a trip over the border to visit my Mum for Mother’s Day this month.

Although we are in a better situation than other parts of the world, constant disruption to our lives seems to be the new normal. Take care all. I’m off to listen to the latest press conference. We had five more cases overnight, which is better than double digits but still infection cases causing concern. It is anyone’s guess if this lockdown will end after seven days.

A horse with no name

I’ve been through the desert
On a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert, you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
.

America – 1972

A significant reason for my tree change to a country property was to have space for a horse after many years break from riding. Living in a major capital city makes horse ownership difficult and expensive. So here I am almost 30 years later with a yearning to connect with an equine friend once again. I already have horse yards, a round yard, hay bales and saddlery but sadly, no horse as yet. We shifted here full-time four years ago, so time has been marching on.

This horse I am seeking is almost like searching for a unicorn – it is so elusive! Finding something that is quiet and suitable for a mature-age rider wanting to gain their confidence back involves a lot of patience and networking. I trawl websites and magazines to see what is available and in what price ranges. Once I find that horse, items to be added to the shopping list include a horse float, rugs for our cold, frosty days, and many other things.

America’s song about a horse with no name entered into my head as I thought about my search and how this nameless creature is out there somewhere. Believe it or not, growing up, my family did own a horse called No Name. We never did find her breeding background to help find her a new name. Hopefully, I won’t have to go as far as the desert to find my horse with no name or a name yet unknown!

Nature the equaliser

Mother Nature is the great equalizer. You can’t get away from it.

Christopher Heyerdahl

Gazing out my office window on this glorious autumn morning, I seek inspiration for a meaningful post. Then I think about the role of nature in balancing our lives and preventing us from getting out of kilter with our natural environment. Reaching another decade milestone in my life has me battling that white noise in my brain trying to derail us on our journey. When those negative thoughts and emotions come to visit me, I find that connection to nature balances out the sea-saw. Breathe in, breath out.
I got thinking about this concept of nature as a great leveller. I decided to do a search online for any related topics on this theme. As with many things, my thought was not original, but it did reinforce that idea. Victoria, where I live in Australia, has borne the brunt of bushfires in recent years. It is a reminder of the impact that such events have on our environment and our relationship to the natural world. We try to shape and conform the environment to our desires. Still, it is often usurped by Mother Nature’s unpredictable character and puts us back on our haunches.
Today, there is the gentle warm sun on one’s back, the constant chirping and twittering of the birds, green grass glistening from the morning dew, and a diverse palette of autumn colours. It is a delightful vision reminding me that Mother Nature can be like a benevolent aunt that wraps her loving arms around us, offering a safe haven.

Reference: Christopher Heyerdahl – Mother Nature is the great… (brainyquote.com)

https://open.spotify.com/embed/episode/366oEb5MkZagXriIPXmDAC

Obsessed with time

Time ticking away…

It starts when we are born; record the minute, hour, day and year of our arrival. No doubt our mothers were counting down from nine months to the ETA! Tick tock goes the clock or maybe the Smartphone these days to keep track of time for us. From feeding time to nap time, to pre-school and then off to the big school. Schedules rule our lives as parents juggle work and home life balance. As we hit adulthood, it doesn’t get any easier with trains and buses to catch, appointments to keep and promises not to be late for that all-important family event. Time is precious but rules our lives on many occasions.
This month’s special milestone birthday prompted me to ponder our love-hate relationship with age and time. As you get older, it is a reminder that time may not be on your side and that I better get on with it before it’s too late. I berate myself for not getting more done during the COVID lockdown, but it was such a weird time and space for so many of us. It slowed time for us and removed those things that steal our precious time away. Maybe I should count my blessings instead of the hours and make the most of each day pursuing my passions. Instead of counting the years, I should take stock of the wisdom and knowledge I have accumulated over many years. But that birthday present of a guitar given to me by my husband ten years ago is taunting me from its spot leaning against the lounge room wall. So maybe I better book those lessons now!

Sandra Lording on the Mansfield Farm Project

Showcasing the talents of local photographer Sandra Lording which captures the behind scenes of a large working farm in the beautiful area I call home.

Brightside Story Studio

Sandra Lording’s Mansfield Farm Project Photography Exhibition tells the Manning family’s story through images of farming activities, landscapes and people. I spoke to Sandra about the inspiration for the project, how it played out and what she learnt.

The exhibition will be held at St Mary’s Hall, 48 Hunter Street, Mansfield on April 3-7, 2021.

What inspired the Mansfield Farm Project?

When I moved to Mansfield, Victoria, in 2017 (see Sandra Lording, Mansfield Photographer), I had little understanding about farming. Overnight, cattle or sheep appeared in previously empty paddocks, crops sprung from the ground, and the landscape was ever-changing colours. The Mansfield Farm Project was born out of a desire to educate myself about farming and to capture images to inform a wider audience.

I asked for expressions of interest and selected the cattle farm Davilak.

Barawatha Auctions “Barawatha Auctions” January 2020 by Sandra Lee Photography

Can you tell me a…

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