This is such a good holiday, although there's a lot to remember. I have a big long list of things to do at particular points of the day, and as I type I realise that I have forgotten to feed the fish for the last couple of days.
*feeds fish, who don't seem very grateful but perhaps they're shy*
So. Here I am, at the Duck prickle farm, with Lily the poddy lamb and all the rest of the sheepy family. Lily comes from another farm, and was adopted because her mother had rejected her (stomping harshly on her in the process and leaving her with a deformed ear) and her owners were going away. She's a dear little thing.
This is Lily, along with her best mate Lucky. Lily is trying to drink her bottle and Lucky is trying to get me to throw the ball for him. Because I'm a woman, I managed to do both things at once.
This was taken by Colonel Duck before he went travelling up the coast and left me in charge.
We're trying to persuade Lily that she's a sheep, so she spends most of the day with the mob (apparently a 'flock' is smaller than a 'mob', and since the number of sheep has doubled in the last few weeks, it's now a mob) but once you're a poddy animal you're always yearning to be with the humans, so I've been letting Lily come & play with the dogs every now and again. She loves a good scratch under the chin, and between her horns and down her long Roman nose, and as she feeds she stops to butt me in the same way that the other lambs headbutt their mothers' udder, then once she's finished she jumps on my back joyously. I hope she grows out of that bit; she'll be heavy once she grows up!
She's the middle child of the new generation. There are two rams just about a week older than her, and a pair of new lambs, a boy and a girl, who were born on Monday, and they are the cutest little things. (I will post more photos when I get home, because I'm a bit scared of blowing the teeny web quota this farm possesses). They all have very long tails, and as they feed, the tails spin around like cranked handles, winding up their energy.
I'm completely enamoured of my live animal experience. I'm used to the wonderfulness of cat company, but sheep company is another thing entirely; the warm milk-covered snuffliness of Lily's nose and the soft nibble of her lips on my fingers, the slightly greasy rough yet soft feel of her nubbly short fleece and the pointy poke of her cloven hoofs against my foot and up my spine. She has long white eyelashes and her eyes are too dark to show her sideways pupil clearly, but as I feed her I look over at the other sheep (who stand nearby, comfortable yet disdainful of me as a human) and their bright yellow eyes with a horizontal black pupil remind me that we don't have to look far for a sense of something being alien.
My nana is the most present person I've ever known. She doesn't dwell on the past, never has done, really, and I while I know that much of this sense of being in the moment is due to her dodgy old memory, she's always had the knack of being perfectly comfortable with just being wherever she is, spending all her time with her plants, her animals, her books and the tv. She's not a particularly social person and I've never known her to have a friend outside of her family, but she's content in her own space, not antisocial.
It's been nice having the time & space to talk to her. While my dad's parents used to come and visit us when we were living in various places, including overseas, she & my grandfather (papa) never did. Papa went overseas with WWII but nana never made it, and I asked her if she regretted this.
"No," she said, "I probably would have done if I'd lived in a different time; when I was a child all I wanted to do was travel and see lots of things, but then I met your grandfather & started having babies [4!] and life just kept going. But when I was a child we didn't have tv and movies, and now I feel like I've seen so much in my life through books and movies and magazines that I don't think I really missed anything."
Imagine if she'd got into the internet!
The other thing she's said that sticks with me is when I mentioned that her life here is like being in a nursing home without the people. She said that was fine by her, she couldn't bear having to be part of a group or being made to sit & talk to other people her own age: "It's hard work having to conform." She's said this a lot to me as I grew up, and it always made me feel better about my wariness of groups. I have a lot of friends and acqaintances (hello, all of you) but I don't have a 'group' that I hang with regularly. Apparently, according to my friend Kim, in social networking terms I'm what is called 'a hub'. Heh. I think -- I hope -- I'll end up like nana, happy in my own space, puddling around with books and catching up on a lot of crap tv, but hopefully all my lovely networks will still be swirling around, and we'll all be using our large-button keypads (or whatever the appropriate technology will be) to stay in touch to bitch about our carers and compare notes on our incontinence.
I'm doing a lot of reading while I'm here. I was given a book voucher for the local bookstore for my birthday (keeping the money in the Bega Valley!) in an attempt to lure me down her and lo! it worked.
I've just devoured Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, a lovely sensual fantasy about a black & white circus that operates only at night. It's one of those books that operates like The Arabian Nights, telling multiple stories and leading you back to the beginning so that you want to read it again once you've finished. It reminded me of a much more readable/understandable Jonathon Strange & Mr Norris.
Now I'm juggling AS Byatt's Ragnarok and China Mieville's Kraken, mainly because I couldn't decide which to read first, and I opened up each and read the first page and I was sucked into both.
Ok, time to let out the chooks and feed the dogs. Home on Sunday, not that I really want to leave...