March 12, 2016
TWO acres of bush, a dozen or so badly placed native shrubs, some rather large garden beds and a vegie plot that had gone feral. We were in need of help and Michael answered our plaintive cry.
Now he comes up weekly from Krowera to throw himself into battle against this botanical invasion. Usually a Tuesday morning but that can vary. You see, Michael has a problem. He has a weak heart, the kind that melts when he sees someone or something in need. Somewhere along the path of life Michael got dusted with kindness.
The other morning he rang to cancel his visit due to an urgent need to build a chook house. That came as a surprise to us. We knew he had a couple of horses, two old pet steers, a dog and a cat, a house gecko of 13 years standing and a friendly visiting fox, but nothing about chooks.
He said he was sitting in this dead-end lane viewing the V8s racing around the Island circuit when a rooster came strutting up. “This poor creature’s been dumped and is in need of a loving home,” Michael thought. “Come sit with me and I shall take thee to a place of safety.” He didn't say where he housed him for the first night but by the second he had him secure in a newly built fortress.
As time went by we got weekly updates about the level of crowing that came from Rooster Palace but eventually either this island bird realised he had found his home or the family adjusted to a newly acquired farm yard serenade.
We get these weekly reports from Michael during the morning break as we sit sipping tea. He tells us he has held down two jobs throughout his working life, 21 years in each. That degree of loyalty and dependability continues in his retirement years as he takes on caring for farm animals also in retirement.
These days he cares for pets discarded by children who are children no more. They have moved on to join an adult world. That’s why the horses. The steers came to keep the grass down.
He admits he does not feel that comfortable around horses, yet for years he has been going out daily to care for their needs. Rugging them up on cold winter nights, paying for vet care, hoof trimming, regular worming. Travelling to Lang Lang to get feed, especially for the old mare after she lost all her teeth and needed to be hand fed.
Some weeks back he had to call in the vet to have her put down. Well, she was 38 years old. The vet expressed surprise at her longevity saying it was a testament to all the love and care she had received. Still Michael would not have budgeted for the cost of the excavator, nor the sorrow. It had to be a home burial. Michael would not have had it any other way.
A couple of weeks later he said goodbye to one of his much-loved steers. Another vet visit, but this time a bit of good fortune. A nearby knackery collected the old bony body free of charge. Those two steers had been together for 10 years, the horses longer, and Michael said the separation anguish for both survivors was palpable and very moving.
We hope next week’s morning tea break brings forth brighter news.