I’m part of gang. In fact, I’m probably the leader. But don’t tell Aly that – I think she thinks she is. Or Sam. He’s pretty sure that he rules the roost around here. What’s that saying about too many chiefs and not enough Indians? Or maybe the cooks and the broth, I’m not sure. I’m lucky enough to live in my own little empire that has been known as “Serenity Now!” (any ‘Seinfeld’ fans here??!!) for about four years. We’ve shifted camp, but the basic premise is still the same – come one, come all, let’s all live together in this happy hippy hut (‘Skyhooks’ revival?).
We started our little menagerie about nine and a half years ago with the arrival of little Sam – a cute as a button little Jack Russell. It should be noted that Shane already had a cat prior to this. Penfold – the world’s greatest farm cat. He was supposed to catch mice, which he did. But he was also the friendliest and most tolerant cat I’ve ever known. He was also pretty handy at keeping the snakes away and he often helped out with the fencing, following the ute out even if it was pouring rain. He was a bit of a mascot for the farm – Shane got him when he bought the farm and he shuffled off this mortal coil when we sold it. But back to Sam. I got him for Shane as a surprise birthday present. I’m completely aware that this could be a risky move and that, as a general rule, pets should never be given as presents, especially surprise ones, but I just knew Shane would love him. And I was sort of right. It probably wasn’t love at first sight, but they wouldn’t be without each other now. For years, it was just the two of them (and Penfold)on the farm and Sam roamed where he willed and was never hampered by things as pesky as fences.
Over the years, there has been a few come and go and at times I’ve run a make shift wildlife shelter of sorts, especially in duck shooting season. Although one year, my efforts at rescuing all the ducks in Jeparit were seriously hampered by Sam. He followed me to the dam one day and swiped a duck from underneath my nose. I was devastated. Shane tried to convince me that it was ‘nature’ but I was not buying it.
Now, at “Serenity Now!” the second, we have amassed quite the menagerie. In the field – which I think is a much nicer name than a paddock and I sometimes interchange with ‘meadow’ – there lives an alpaca, a ram, two sheep and two goats. Their names vary in creativity – guess which animal is named Aly? She came with a mob of sheep and already had a name. That was a bit disappointing because we’d been pretty keen on Kerry (get it? Kerry Packer/Alpaca? haha puny!). Same deal with the ram – he was christened Rambo by his previous owners. I rescued two sheep from the farm when we moved and after much soul searching and a bit of help from Buttsy, they’ve come to be known as Clive and Alphonse. And then along came the goats – the loveable goofball Jimmy who has a huge problem with men and the beautiful ladylike Buttercup. They live a pretty idyllic life in their field/meadow/paddock. We’re pretty similar in that we adopt a mostly vegetarian diet, don’t like loud noises or big crowds.
In the ‘house yard’, we’ve got Queenie the cat (who used to be Missy which I really did like, but I changed her name when we got her) the perennial favourite Sam and Tex the two and a half year old whippet who is just like having another toddler. We all manage to coexist quite well. And lately, I’ve been thinking…
I don’t want to get all preachy on you but…what if we, as human beings, were a bit more like animals? They’ve worked out their hierarchy, done their deals and get on with the business of living. Sometimes they but heads, literally in the case of Jimmy, Clive and Alphonse, but they always manage to sort it out, kick some dirt over it and share their space for their mutual benefit. Imagine if we, as humans could achieve this? Not just with people who are like us, but with people who are completely different to us. Talk about your odd pairs – a cat and a goat. But I have, on occasion, walked outside to find Jimmy atop the boys slide and Queenie looking on as if it’s the most normal sight in the world. And while I’m at it – I wonder if more people spent time with all sorts of animals, if they would be less likely to eat them. At the end of the day, I’m a live and let live kind of person and I reckon that the will to live is just as strong in every living being. I don’t believe that anyone will change their mind, opinion or preferences based on what I think and that’s ok. But you know how John Lennon sang all about how the world could live as one? Well, let’s do it. Be kind to the goats in your world.