House Sitting, the Horse, the Cow and the Garden

It was a hot summer….almost too hot to be living in a caravan, which was thankfully under these huge Iron Barks which cast shade over a fair bit of the ground…. unfortunately the setting sun blazed onto the least protected side.

But that has nothing to do with what I was thinking about was it…..a downside of the caravan being under the Iron Barks was that the flying foxes loved the nectar from the flowers….interesting fact number 329:- flying foxes can shit whilst flying….seemingly, and especially on caravans in the bush.

Yes I know……the caravan was on a friend’s place while I was looking for somewhere to live and they had taken off for a holiday. While I was there, I started a vege garden, plus other gardens ‘cos thats what I did….always make a garden if I’m staying somewhere for a bit. Especially veges ‘cos its one thing you don’t have to spend money on….Nannas “lessons” in being thrifty somehow emerged from the weirdly assorted filing system my head seems to possess….plus hanging in the garden with Pop hearing all sorts of stories….like the dangers of worms….once they latch on….phew…..over the other side of the house yard, beyond the windrow, was some good soil to start the vege garden.

The soil was a bit sandy….with a bit of feeding and a good talking to, the vege garden started to come on quite well.

Now the vege garden was a bit vulnerable to the house cow…..a very hippy….at least dairy farmers will know what I mean and those from the 60’s and 70’s will have to think anatomy….hippy with a nice disposition, large eyed, huge lashes softly spoken Jersey. One of those cows where you just have to walk into the paddock with a bucket and stool, milk, give her a bit of a pat and walk back without so much of a fuss….can’t think of her name….oh yeah, that one was Jugs….interesting fact number 583:- don’t get a 16 year old boy to name any animal.

One day, I had to move Jugs into the paddock that had some good feed in it…..it was the paddock that adjoins the house yard close to the bit of space where I dug a vege patch. I know what you are thinking already, but I am smarter than a cow and had the fence in good order….in fact there was another small fence around the vege garden to keep out the smaller stuff like possums and rabbits. With that task done, a nice cuppa was in order.

I went back to the caravan, which was heating up in the summer sun…..actually what I did was open up the whole of the canvas annex to try and catch a breeze or two. I built a low wall and frame and made the wall of the annex into a roof so the annex size was doubled and then insect screened the opening. Sitting at the table having a cuppa and doing the crossword puzzle in the Post…Mr Wisdoms Whopper….when I noticed that the horse….oh yeah the owners also had a horse. Seemed to have some fancy idea of saddling up and riding out to check the back 40 or down to the dam out the front and riding into the water after a warm day of riding around…..the horse, it appeared, had other ideas of what a nice day on the property meant. You know those horses…you walk towards the fence with a carrot and at once, the horse comes trotting toward you ready to have a snack, a bit of a rub down and the halter fitted.

Well…that wasn’t this horse…….this horse was just cantankerous, nasty and mean…if you ever got close to it, you got a case of “what the hell am I doings” as a bite or a kick was most likely the outcome of a close encounter. This horse was smart….almost too smart…..and no I can’t remember its name…..something like Prince.

Well I saw this horse walk down the fence line…..had another sip of my tea…..pen poised above 5 Down, when the mental picture of the horse became clearer and yes the fence wires were on the other side of the horse!!!

Interesting fact number 211:- a small rabbit fence is no match for a very large horse with a bad attitude……so there you go it wasn’t the cow who munched in the vege garden….the beans took the biggest hit before my “coaxing” had him galloping back down the track to where he managed to get in……an open gate……now I am sure I latched the gate…..OK I am exaggerating the term gate….it was a Queensland gate….loose wires and a stick with a loop on the post to fasten the stick, tightening the wires. The horse just stood there with its evil eye watching while I picked up the gate, refastened it, making sure the bottom of the stick was in the wire loop on the bottom of the post and top loop was tight……I headed back to the caravan and my cuppa.

It was all of five minutes before I saw the horse trotting back down the fence line…..but at least this time, I was still outside, near the clothesline…..have you ever built one of those old-fashioned clothes lines…the posts in the ground and a moveable cross-bar with a prop to hold the wires up when there is heavy stuff on the line…..I love building stuff…..that probably comes from my other grandfather who was a wheel wright….it’s in the genes I guess.

Well as you can imagine I was off in a flash to head off Steven or whatever its name was from getting back into the vege garden….this time he saw the error of his way and turned around and cantered down the track, through the open gate….wait….the open gate….hmmm something isn’t quite right. I refastened the gate and walked back down the track a little way, stopped and hid behind a tree…..don’t think that was an Iron Bark though…more likely to be a Spotted Gum…..well who should walk to the gate but Roger who proceeded to nudge the wire loop with his nose…..I just walked up to the gate and the horse, who didn’t seem to know I was approaching, such was his intent on opening the gate…..this is the only time I have punched a horse….no not a solid whack ‘cos a horses head is rather hard….just enough to release my frustration and to scare the bejesus out of the horse…..now the gate had an added bit of wire to keep it shut…..you have to be inventive don’t you?

A few days later, further into the hot summer, the corn was now looming large with ears that looked very yummy….the silks blowing in the afternoon breeze while I watered and picked off the bugs that were trying to get a free snack…..an ideal scene…..a very tempting scene you think?

During the night, I wandered out of the caravan and down to the dunny…….it was almost a classic out doors dunny….tin sides and an old real dunny door with a wooden seat on a tin….and in the moonlight could make out the shape…..something big down the house yard beyond the windrow and in the vege garden…….JUGS!! I shouted but her intention was obvious…..eat as much corn as possible.

The fence was no longer rabbit proof, other vegetables were either tasted or stomped as this lovely cow, raising her head with a stalk of my corn hanging from her mouth and huge soft brown eyes looking with as much innocence as she could muster, Jugs then went back to her task at hand.

Again, a bit of gentle coaxing….Jugs was a sucker for a bucket of hay and grain…..I had her on her way down the track and back into the front paddock with a now grumpier than ever horse.

Morning saw the extent of the damage……a tomato or two survived as did most of the autumn seedlings….and I had a meal or two of corn.

Interesting fact number 478:- Make a vege garden and they will come!!