Reason No 29: the wildlife executioner

One day The Man and I are out contemplating our apples – more about that later – when something moves under our gigantic bay tree.  I’m pretty short sighted, so my first thought – it’s a creature! – is replaced by my second thought – it’s a pile of bark, don’t be silly.

But it is a creature, a yellow-bellied wallaby, resting on the ground, not moving when we come to look down at it, only metres away.  That’s strange.  We move closer, and it gets up painfully and limps a little way, dragging its right back leg, then sits down again, further off.

The dogs are ambling around the house – elderly and short sighted as they are, it’s better not to tempt them with easy prey, so I shut them both inside.  The wallaby’s backbone and ribs stick out from its humped body – normally they’re fat little hoppers, like lively dowagers.  I ring WIRES, the wildlife rescue people.

“Right,” says the woman “so it’s a ‘euthanase’ situation.”

“Well I wouldn’t necessarily say that,” says me, “I couldn’t get a good look.  Maybe you can save it.”

“Maybe,” she says, “We’ll be round there in an hour.”

So for an hour I keep checking on this little wallaby, who’s now hiding in our front garden, eating the flowers.  Can an animal who hoes into bulbs so enthusiastically really be unsaveable?

IMG_20170723_144707Turns out, yes.  The wildlife rescue man takes one look ” he’s been sick for weeks, by the look of it..” and gets his gun.  I’ve never seen anything shot before, never even seen a gun fired.  It gives me the shivers.  He drags the poor little thing’s body down out of dog-reach, and leaves us some medication for the wombats down in the gully (who’ve caught mange from the foxes and wild dogs).  I wish myself luck catching them.

So that’s a sad day.  As The Son points out, nature is not kind.  We don’t usually see the suffering of a wallaby dragging a swollen leg around for weeks until it dies of starvation or is torn apart by predators – but it goes on, every day, all around us.  On the bright side, the wildlife man says, “he must have felt safe, near the house. He must have known you wouldn’t harm him.”

Back to the apple trees.  These, neglected, have grown to monstrous proportions (not that it puts off the bats, birds, possums and such like).  It’s impossible to keep these apple-eating predators away because you literally can’t fit a net over the tree, unless you want to try flinging one from a helicopter.  Anyway, armed with a chainsaw and a ladder, the Man has pruned them down so hard you could now fit a tea strainer over the top (note – a slight exaggeration).  Sink or swim.

IMG_20170729_155315_HDRI haven’t been (entirely) idle – I’ve been mulching and snipping, including a really messy experiment with a bag of old papers I got from a client.  When spring comes we’ll see what happens…

IMG_20170729_155348The Man has got his work cut out – for instance, this enormous gum tree has carked it (next to its twin, still alive and rooting).  It will probably, in the fullness of time, fall down (either on me, as I sit in the shed next to it scribbling, or on some unsuspecting roo).  Some guy got killed a few months ago in The Village, trying to solve just such a problem – now that’s cheerful!

IMG_20170729_155552And finally – it looks lovely and warm, but it’s not.  In about half an hour the sun will start to go down and the temperature will nose dive to around zero.


9 thoughts on “Reason No 29: the wildlife executioner

  1. Every once in awhile when I’m driving through the countryside, I look at the homes on their acreage and think it would be nice to live in such a place. And then I think of the work involved in maintaining such a place and think not. In reading your posts, I can see that the benefits outweigh the other things. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place you now call home.


    • I’m very lucky that my partner does all the manual work (nearly). And even HE can barely manage it. There is a lot of work in a property like this – as he points out, if you didn’t do anything, it’d all turn back to bush in five years. Some people don’t mind that, though.


  2. What a beautiful place you have, Rose. Yes nature is cruel. I always forget it’s the dead of winter there. You’re in southern Oz, right, closer to the pole than to the equator? Don’t you get snow? Our January is your July, so to speak, and your 0 degrees would be our 32, and that would be almost a heat wave here in January. When I think of 4-5 months of nothing but white everywhere, and nut-freezing cold, I don’t mind the heat and humidity of summer so much. It’ll be 82 F today here and 62 tonight (your 25 to 15, or so) and that’s not bad. Do you get mosquitoes? There was a story in the Minneapolis paper this summer where some rich business guy had the Dalai Lama speak to them, and he said (paraphasing from memory here) that he had love for all living creatures, but had a hard time feeling love for mosquitoes. They were just annoying when I was a child but now they can kill you. I have known of a handful of people from this area who have died of West Nile in the last 10 years or so. When are you coming to visit the raw excitement of South Dakota, haha?


    • I know, our cold is your summer. Mind you yesterday was a balmy winter 18c or so in the day… hottest July day ever apparently. And yeah I’m on the far south coast but about 30 km inland, closer to the south pole than Sydney. I’d like to experience snow like I get but I don’t think I’d like to live in it. There’s snow on the mountains here about an hour country. I seriously think I will be out your way in the next year.. but a lot depends on when my old dog friend passes away because I can’t leave him alone.


    • the risk of sounding negative though I’d say you can’t just live somewhere like this to admire the view, you have to really engage, or work. I’m just starting to realize that. But hey California is something too… you’re rural too now yes?


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