When you are out in the rural countryside, not just the Australian bush, but probably any countryside, you are likely to come across all sorts of crazy wild creatures that city-dwellers are simply unaccustomed to. That is one.
When you are visiting farms and intending to camp out for the first time in your 27-year-old life, you are probably not going to be very well-prepared. That is another. Let us just keep these in our minds as I introduce this next part of our farm field trip.
Gary took us to a few farms other than his as well: Kev and Belinda's required us to cross a creek, just to see the farm. For the first time ever, I took off my shoes and socks...and walked barefoot through a creek. It was cold, and exciting, and a little bit scary. I couldn't see the rocks I was balancing on at some parts, sometimes I'd step on an incredibly sharp rock. Sometimes I could hear Gary's hoarse smoker's laugh taunting my inexperience from the dry land across the creek. I should have been wearing rubber boots, not bright green Pumas. I should have been wearing shorts or light pants, not tight jeans that won't even roll up properly. I certainly should have brought several pair of socks. Luckily Renata held my hand to keep me from falling.
She's so great--she organized the whole trip, and lent us her tent, so that I could sleep outdoors for my very first time. And Belinda's farm was beautiful; well worth the creek-tramping. By the end, I was even having fun. Once we got back to Gary's house, though, he recommended a quick skin check, and what, oh what, in all the soul-withering, nightmare-haunting hell is that on Craig's leg?! It's a leech. Like from Stand By Me. An actual leech. Gross.
Luckily, Gary's got an awesome cat named Tiger who wasted no time comforting us and roaring at the leeches we also found in my shoe.
And just when we thought we'd had our fill of wildlife, a mama chicken and her brood come walking by and settle down...in the weirdest way. The mother chicken sat on top of two of her chicks, and the third chick sat on top of the mom. Adorable. See how one chick is right under the mom's butt? Birds are so weird.
After visiting Gary, we headed over to visit Colin Amos' farm; we were going to sleep in tents on his front yard; clearly my first camping experience was going to be very elementary. Probably for the best. On the way, Renata suddenly stopped the van and swerved to the side of the road. She instructed us to get out immediately. We saw our very first 'roos. They were just by the road, right next to a cemetery...I managed to catch some video, but it's not very good. You can kind of just see something bouncing up and down through the tombstones.
Colin Amos is a farmer on about 200 acres of land, his father farmed the same land as a dairy farm, and his grandfather did as well. In fact, the Amos family has been on this land so long, the road that leads to the farm is Amos Road. The farm has been there so long there are huge fruit-bearing trees in totally random places, because people once spat their seeds out there. Orchards have sprung up where workers once took their lunch. There's something magical about living in exactly the same place as you ever have, as every bit of DNA that made you ever has; something that emigrants and immigrants are forced to forget.
His property is enormous, he can't possibly keep up with everything on it. He keeps 50 cattle on his land as well as growing jerusalem artichokes, heritage oranges, yakon, potatoes, garlic, watermelon, and all kinds of other fruits. He's got a story about almost every tree on his property...
Colin's farm is truly amazing though, because it has a clear freshwater spring right underneath it. Water was just flowing from stone; it looks unbelievable. I mean, have you ever seen the earth simply pouring water out of itself? We filled our bottles from the spring, and it tasted so clean. One of the coolest things I've probably ever done.
As we walked through Colin's farm, he told us horrible stories about black snakes, warned us to watch for them. They can kill cows, they put his dad in the hospital for weeks, and sure enough we saw one. And then things got really intense.
I knew the rules were different out there, where the animals in question will very likely kill you. These snakes would kill his dog, his visitors. I knew all that. I just wasn't ready for Colin to take a huge rock and throw it on the snake's head. To then take a bigger rock and smash it on the first rock. The snake still wasn't dead. He was protecting us by killing it, and he's seen them strike enough to know that they will. He then took hold of its tail and lashed the thing against the rocks. He whipped its head three, four, five times against the rocks, finally killing it. The rules here are indeed very very different. That is a third.
As we walked away from the snake which would have me pondering for days, we happily came across some kittens living in a shed on Colin's land. They were so cute; they were like Easter baskets, to borrow a phrase from the delightful Emma. They need a lot of touching and holding and petting, or they'll go wild. When you are in another country, in the Australian bush, let's say, and you get to hold a nearly wild little orange kitten, you will be reminded of another little orange kitten you once had. And you will miss her dearly. That is the last.
When I talked to him on the phone the next day, Colin said he found two ticks on him that night. Gross.