“Rod you’ve never lived in the country in Australia before so I’m warning you, you’ll have to be prepared for all the visitors we’ll have in the next week or so.”
“They’ll come with plates of scones and all kinds of edibles to welcome us to the area. You’ll have to be prepared to down tools and have lots of cups of tea.”
We were not overrun with friendly neighbours coming in to visit. My disappointment was immense that not even one person turned up to say hallo. I tried to hide my feelings from Rod. He was much more self-sufficient than me and happy with just my company. Obviously my childhood experiences were a result of my father being the new minister to town and everybody wanted to check him and the family out.
To make up for lack of company I wanted a dog. I knew from childhood that with a dog you were never lonely so it seemed the obvious choice to make, when we were living out in the bush.
One day, on our mid morning break as we drank not only a coffee but also the view. we could see the dust rising on the road, indicating a vehicle coming up. Within minutes a dual cab turned in at the gate.
“Gud day. Darrell’s me name.” A weather-beaten, older man dressed in baggy grey trousers, a long-sleeved, hole peppered shirt, which had probably once been white, and a worn felt wide-brimmed hat held out his hand to Rod. His lined face turning into a multitude of ravines as he smiled out at us.
“Hallo. I’m Rod and this is Irene.” Rod smiled back as he too extended his hand in greeting.
“Youse seen anyone else today?”
“No” we both echoed. A long pause followed.
“Codger that’s got his cattle on here had a blue with his missus this morning and lashed intoa. Cops are down with her now. John’s gone bush and most like he’s on yer place. I’d keep clear if youse do see him. Least til he’s sober.”
“Thanks for the warning.”
“What yer goin do with yer paddocks”
“We’ve been trying to work that out”
“Yer got do somethin’, else the grass becomes a fire hazard.” This was something we hadn’t thought of.
“Do you think we should keep the cows on agistment or get some ourselves?” Rod asked, surprised when Darrell burst into laughter.
“You ain’t got no cows on agistment.” and so we had our first lesson in the difference between a steer, a heifer and a cow. We already knew what a bull was. Darrell stayed for over an hour. We became used to the long pauses in his conversation whilst he was talking and the even longer pauses before answering a question. By the end of his visit we knew we had been adopted by him, he was going to take us under his wing and show us the ropes and turn us into farmers.
irene waters © 2013
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