The Milky Way washed its billion star light over us last night, unchallenged by any fading moon. What a remarkable sight that catches our imagination every time we come out into the desert. But it is was a cool night without any cloud cover, threatening frost but not quite getting there as the wind wound itself up and started to hammer in hard from the west. We have woken slowly this morning but to a strong wind that will chill us all day. But no rain which is a blessing too of course. Yesterday’s work has slowed everyone and the clock ticks towards eight o’clock with very little movement from the sleeping bags. Dylan has made me coffee and delivered one to Rod who is still in bed too. Here comes Andrew, perpetual early riser but a hard sleeper this morning. There is nothing quite like a bit of open air work to ensure a good nights sleep.
The crew started back into the second half of the shed this morning and took very little guidance which was brilliant. It always takes a few days to get the team dynamic going but it is clicking quite early on with this team, despite having three lads join it from outside. By the time I come back from checking and setting the yabbie pots the shed is pretty much complete – indeed is done so by morning tea time. Philip, our youngest at eleven, had bit of an adventure when heading out to the dams and was involved in bagging dinner, much to his delight – and fascination. After dinner the remains of the carcass were taken by Dannie and others and eight yabbie traps set up across two dams. Others took the opportunity to get some gravel road driving experience in their log books before lunch.
Sarah has taken over the kitchen and organized lunch for us. Everyone is hanging out for a feed and the girls do a great job of getting us refueled before we head out for a couple of hours of cactus stalking. Ironically enough the area that needs addressing is the area right next door to the square miles we covered twelve months ago. I remember the line across the saltbush we walked to last year so start back from there with this years team. Peter G was armed with the “blue goo” and after a couple of hours Pete reported 252 “deaths” – about the same number as those injected over a four day period last year.
We picked up dinner on the way back to the homestead – more protein for the pot much to the delight of the “small boys” who had not witnessed this sort of event before. Dannie charged off to check the eight yabbie pots set earlier in the day while Sarah and Sara turned their hand to dinner and started to prepare kangaroo stew, the meat for which had been marinating in lemon juice since earlier in the morning. Dan and others returned with more yabbies than I have ever seen in one net haul so we have supper sorted – I will make up a garlic sauce and cook them up after dinner.
We were late getting back so dinner is late but it sure smells good simmering away out in the kitchen. Andrew has lit the fire outside so the rumbling stomachs are out there telling stories to each other. Rod is reading the paper he picked up in Peterborough today. He travelled in to pick up conduit and a few other bits and pieces to help Joy fit up a new fridge in the shearer’s quarters. She is delighted since it was going to take another three months to get someone out here to do this work. Dylan is pleading to have his hair cut finished. It has been advanced today through two stages with the third to be completed. The first was a strip cut from front to back with some bluntish scissors, leaving a bad Nick Nolte style mess fluffed out from either side. I then offered to clean it up but only trimmed up one side leaving a short top and short side and one long side. Fortunately Dylan has a great capacity to see the humour in these sorts of things – fortunate, because every one else does!
The wind has dropped altogether and the sky is deep blue black clear with diamond white starlight leaking through. The outside fire is a pitiful excuse for a fire but I leave it alone and head back inside with an armful of timber for the inside open fire. I think I am parked in front of it for the evening.
Honey garlic yabbies and a whole lot of tall tales later and we reluctantly pull away from the fire as the clock heads towards midnight. Dylan’s haircut has been straightened out – he was very concerned about waking tomorrow morning with his lopsided look so it has been fixed. Well, as best we can with those blunt scissors. The younger boys have long put themselves to bed. But it was a delight to watch them get so involved in the yabbie catch, shelling and cooking then enjoying the feed. As Philip (11) noted earlier in the day “This is cool, I am going to go home with lots of stories”. And that of course is what this is all about. Good night.
* A movie in which Nick Nolte featured