My daughter lives in a small village on the Queensland-NSW border near Stanthorpe, in a green house with a multitude of sheds and animals, and a water tank high on the shed roof. We sleep in the corner bedroom, surrounded by a Dawson River weeper. At the end of the day, we all sit outside, playing musical chairs in what is usually the Dog Lounge. We watch for the storm that is becoming a daily occurrence, and soon a curtain of water pours from the gutters, and conversation is drowned out. The dahlia tree has become a solstice tree with purple baubles and a string of white lights. Stained glass containers glow with candlelight and the humans become more and more raucous as night falls. I relish the presence of four members of my gene pool and their precious partners.
I look forward to a photo-shoot in the yard, but leave my run a bit late and have to dash out in rain lulls. The pink pig, a repurposed gas cylinder, has settled in under the lemon tree, a reminder of the imaginary pink pig my mother invented and located under the lemon tree in her yard when my daughter was tiny. The sheds provide a rich collection of dilapidated, and shelter for chooks and alpacas.
My daughter was recently in a state of conflict as she watched a hawk kill one of her chickens: torn between the desire to protect the chicken and a sense of privilege at watching the hawk hunt so skilfully. The chicken didn't survive, but the household is now on hawk alert: any disturbance among the chooks is instantly investigated. She has a flock of rescue hens: debeaked layers who were headed for death before she took them on. They are looking very healthy now, free-ranging and living on vegetable scraps, recovering from the brief and brutal life of a battery hen.