House sitting, dog sitting, duck sitting …

Hat and I are house-sitting.

And dog-sitting.

And cat-sitting.

And geese-sitting …

The glorious menagerie of animals we are trying to remember to feed is long. They all inhabit a garden resplendent with – at the moment – flamboyant and jacaranda trees in bloom beyond which we can see the towering massif of Mt Meru. We spend hours on our temporarily adopted verandah and laugh at the antics of the sixteen geese – which Hat has begun to name – and half a dozen ducks. Hat feeds the geese; two will take from her hands.

Try Mum, she says, they won’t bite you.

They do.

But it doesn’t hurt, does it, she asks concernedly.

No, it doesn’t. More a tug than a bite.

The six dogs we’re keeping company vie with the geese for their food which makes the geese cross. Which makes them shriek indignantly.

Their voices are supplemented by the haunting cry of a fish eagle resident in a tree just outside the garden. He’s watching in case Mrs Duck is careless with her two remaining ducklings, one black, one yellow, as she was with the two the Fish Eagle has already eaten.

The call of the owls that live in the vast fig tree in the garden is less ominous. There is a family of them, with three young, still covered in fluffy down. I think Papa Owl is teaching his young to fly, he tempts them out in the evening and we watch him swoop to a nearby fence post upon which he sits gently encouraging his chicks forth. Evidence of young appetites is abundant beneath their fig tree home: the prickly husks of hedgehogs: the owls have delicately peeled away the thorny exterior – as you might peel skin from an apple for a fussy child – and tossed them to the ground.

Sometimes the cats join us in our bird watching: they are both marmalade and one is – Hat tells me – 135 in cat years. He looks remarkably better than I do on a bad morning and I’m significantly younger than that in human years. When Hat’s not feeding geese, she’s feeding marmalades: milk and mince. We sat with well-fed cats on laps this morning and watched the geese bully the ducks around the garden and all our feathered charges as they raced about feasting on the flying ants which had emerged during a night of soft rain.

Hat has been to proper school whilst we’ve been here – with real live children and proper teachers (as opposed to lizards and her mother) and she told me she enjoyed it. On day three, though, yesterday, she came home with a roaring fever. I suppose the splendid isolation to which she has grown used means her immunity isn’t what it could be: stick her in a school of 200 and she’s a magnet for the myriad viruses in the playground which must leap with delight upon her pristine and clearly poorly exercised resistance.

Consequently she’s not at school today: she is feeding geese, watching owls, and curling up with cats.

We’re waiting for her brother to come back from England where he is writing a scholarship exam.   Her big brother engaging in the most conventional type of education and Hat immersed in the least.

Funny that. But so long as they’re both reasonably happy at opposite ends of the learning spectrum.

And I think they are?


3 Responses to “House sitting, dog sitting, duck sitting …”

  1. Tom Says:

    Sounds just wonderful! Nice to see such an abundance of wildlife you can watch from your porch.

    You seem to be enjoying this as much as Hat. I guess there’s no shopping though?

  2. R. Sherman Says:

    Marvelous image. Sounds like a perfect place for writing.

    Good luck to your son on his exams.


  3. Carolyn Says:

    Could you please ask Hat how to calculate cat years? I can’t figure it out. My cat is 5.5 in human years.

    I do like geese. I like how they chase things. Enjoy yourselves!

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