Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mole Creek Autumn

This year autumn has been particularly mellow and fruitful at Onemilebridge.

There are fungi everywhere you look. Some are clearly poisonous, some we're not sure about and others I've already turned into soup and pizza topping.

We went shopping for a new ram to service our Border Leicester ladies, though he won't go out until next month. We like to lamb in mid to late spring here.

We ate too many matzah balls, Farmdoc made perfect crossless hot cross buns, but somehow I seem to have missed out on easter eggs.

And we took advantage of the pleasant weather to sit outside whenever we could. It won't last much longer. May is usually the cloudiest month of the year here and we'll soon be lighting the heater and rugging up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wombat Bonney Again

Bonney may be our first release failure.

She seemed to be settling in. Her droppings were becoming firm and she would come to eat while Farmdoc was in her enclosure, though she stayed well away from him. All looked normal though she did seem to have lost weight.

Then yesterday morning Farmdoc noticed the fur on all of Bonney's legs had come off. We couldn't tell from a distance what exactly was going on and there didn't seem to be any sores, but the telephone consensus was that it was probably caused by stress.

We phoned her carers and they came this morning to pick her up. They'll bathe her, examine her legs to see if she needs any treatment, and keep her while she settles down again.

All this must have been very stressful and upsetting for Bonney. I hope now she can regain some confidence and health, and perhaps in a few weeks she'll be ready to try again. Maybe when she's a little older she'll be more eager to leave home and face the world.

Meanwhile we're sorry to see her go, and we wish her well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rich and Famous

Two lovely book related things happened to me last week.

One was the arrival of my first royalty statement and cheque. In its first three months out in the world Alzheimer's: a Love Story had already sold enough copies to pay back my advance, with some left over for a payment.

To tell you the truth, I was so excited that I danced around the kitchen, singing, 'I'm in the money...' and then I tripped over the wood box, breaking a dish, bruising my knee and cutting my finger as I went down. Oh dear. What's that they say about pride going before a fall? Still, it didn't spoil the moment.

Not that it was such a huge cheque, but I'm thrilled the book is repaying my publisher's belief in it. When Scribe accepted my manuscript I hadn't even finished writing the first draft. In fact I was less than halfway through and some of the writing was still quite raw. It was a gamble really that I would be even able to finish it.

The second exciting thing was a full page interview of Dad and me by Bernadette Clohesy in Saturday morning's Melbourne Age.

I love that section, '2 of Us'. And apparently so do a lot of other people. I've heard it's the most read section of the Saturday paper. And there we are, Dad and I, smiling away at the readers. My mum would have been so proud. My lovely daughter Meg has put the article in the media section of my website if you want to read it.

I've had lots of exciting milestones along the way with the publication of this book. Receiving the advance reading copies was a highlight. And now I've begun making speeches, which I find I'm really enjoying. I'll be speaking on a panel at Katoomba as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival next month. That'll be another first. The session's called Stories and Secrets and I'll blog about it again closer to the time. I'm appearing with David Carlin, another Scribe author. Some of my appearances are listed on my website in the events section.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome Wombat Bonney

This morning Bonney arrived for her stay in the Wombat Hilton. She is the thirteenth wombat and ninth female to stay in our pen while being prepared for release on our land.

Arrival of a new wombat is always a poignant moment. It's hard for the carers to farewell an animal they have lovingly reared from infancy and whom they have come to know well. When they go home they will be surrounded by reminders of the animal who has shared their home, and whom they will never see again.

Like all the wombats that are brought to Onemilebridge for release, Bonney was rescued after the death of her mother and raised by human carers who bottle fed, bathed and nurtured her.

These carers were available day and night to ensure her survival, and the bond between wombat and foster parent is very strong. Bonney has clearly been well loved and cared for. Wombats raised with kindness by humans repay the affection.

When we put Bonney into the pen that will be her temporary home (otherwise known as the Wombat Hilton) she immediately set off to explore. She ran down the two burrows that her predecessors have dug, she jogged in and out of the various shelters, and she sniffed at the pyjamas that accompanied her and that are now in the kennel in the pen to provide a familiar scent and reminder of home. She stopped briefly at the bowl of oats we put out for her but she was too excited to eat any.

We as releasers have a specific task. We have to undo some of the human-dependent habits the wombats have developed and prepare them for life in the wild.

As long as Bonney remains in the pen we won't interact directly with her at all, though we will observe her closely, feed and water her daily, and collect her droppings. In the beginning we expect her droppings to be loose because she will be stressed by this separation from what she regards as her home, but after a few days they should begin to be solid again.

When Bonney approaches for a cuddle we will ignore her. She will learn not to expect companionship from humans. We will resist the temptation to enjoy her company ourselves.

It seems apparent that Bonney is a naturally curious and resilient animal. She has already begun to dig and explore. We hope that in a few weeks we will unlatch the hatch in the pen's door and that then Bonney will take her place amongst the wild wombats, hopefully mating and raising a new generation of wombats in this area.

There is already another female wombat on the waiting list for the Wombat Hilton.