Emus and Dingoes and Roos Oh My

Spring Has Sprung — Would You Like Flies With That?

Allyson CrockettHere in Australia it’s officially spring, my favourite time of year.

The frost has gone. The days are getting longer and the nights warmer. I don’t have to light the fire every night — what a relief. Fires are wonderful on cold nights, but they’re also messy and time-consuming. And don’t get me started on the constant log-splitting …


Now I’m getting my heat from the sun. And I’m making the most of it before summer, when being outside is like living on the surface of the sun. A slight exaggeration? Maybe, but when it’s 115 degrees outside in January, it feels like that.


Spring is also the greenest time of the year here in the Outback. Many years we get all our rain in two or three big downpours, which causes flooding and damage. But this year we’ve had steady, regular rain that has soaked in and gone where it’s most needed. If a picture is worth a thousand words then these say it all for me.


Keep in mind, this is outback South Australia. The driest state in the driest country in the world. In a couple of months, the scenery will reflect that statement more. But now … not so much.


Of course, with the rain and the sunshine come the weeds. At this time of year, you can almost watch them grow. Right now they’re thriving, but soon they’ll dry out and die, providing great hiding places for the snakes and using my border collie’s coat as a seed-dispersing vehicle. Sigh … I’ll get my brush. At least the kelpie’s coat is like Teflon: nothing sticks for long. No wonder the farmers’ working dog of choice is the kelpie!

(My dogs have earned the nicknames Teflon and Velcro.)


And in the spring the flies return. With a vengeance. I’d always assumed they die off in the winter, so where do they come from in the spring? Even out here, close to the middle of nowhere, you only have to think about cooking something and the flies are at the screen door, trying to get in. They have better noses than a pack of bloodhounds.


There’s clearly something going on out there that no one ever sees. Secret fly hatcheries?

Australian flies must be some of the friendliest critters in the world. No shyness, no discrimination. They just love to get in your face, and everywhere else. In the summer, it’ll be too hot for them as well, but for now I’m seriously considering getting one of those silly hats with the corks hanging off the brim.


Don’t laugh. Half the townsfolk are walking around impersonating beekeepers with their hats and net veils. The other half keep waving their arms around and talking to themselves.


Even my dogs leap around snapping at things only they can see (but we can all hear the buzzing). The border collie won’t share his dinner with anyone. "It’s the flies," I tell my surprised visitors. "Ah, yes," they nod knowingly.


Still, even with the flies, and the weeds, and daily dog-brushing, it’s a beautiful time of year. A time to be outdoors and to get things done, like, say, weeding and separating the dog’s coat from the more prolific grass seeds. Or just sitting in gratitude, and remembering why I live here.

And just look at the views I have while I’m doing it.


Until next time, keep the faith …

Braxton The Cat Whisperer

Allyson CrockettSince Brax, the kelpie, has been featured in my last two posts, and his picture has graced my last three posts, it would be remiss of me not to tell you the story of this funny little guy.


Braxton the cat-whisperer

Just like all the other furry creatures here, he won the good-life lottery.

Smiling Brax

Life for him is a series of days and nights spent eating good food, exploring the wilderness, looking for adventure, playing, and sleeping.

Oh, and toys, toys, toys …

Brax with ball

But he didn’t always have it so good.

Rescued from his first caregiver — who decided he no longer wanted the work and responsibility of owning a puppy and had all manner of evil things planned for Brax’s demise — he was then shuffled between homes and people until he got lucky and ended up here, at Eagle Hill.

Brax and toy

It’s here that he found security and a stable home, and when you get right down to it, that’s all most of us really want.

When Brax first arrived, he’d never seen a cat before. I had my misgivings about taking him in, given the predominantly feline population of the house. But after a few days, and much sniffing between dog and cats, they warmed to him.

Well, warmed to him is a bit of an understatement. I already had a representative of the canine species, my lovely old border collie, Teddy. I’ll introduce that sweet soul in a later post.

Brax and Patti in the garden

So, my cats are used to having a dog around, but Brax seems to be a super cat-magnet, like he’s been dipped in catnip and the smell never fades.

The pictures say it all.

Brax and Patti

It’s not just his new friend, Minicat, who can’t leave him alone (see previous post for the story of Minicat).

My other cats seek him out to sit with him in the garden, or lie around inside; they can’t get enough of him. They bother him almost to the point of annoying him … almost. He loves them just as much, and delights in all the attention.

Brax and Jellie

It’s a rare moment when he’s by himself, without a cat close by.

Perhaps he thinks he’s one of them. He washes himself like a cat; he’s obviously been watching them and taking notes.

Brax and Joely

Not content with having just the loves of the cats, Brax is also obsessed with toys. If it’s furry and it squeaks, he loves it. He owns a huge toy box full of fluffy, squeaky, colored toys, and often has trouble deciding which one to play with. I’m always picking up and putting away the toys strewn all over the house. He's just like any other healthy, active two-year-old.

Let’s see then … toys, cats, fluffy, and squeaky.

Are you seeing some similarities here?

I may have worked out Brax’s attraction to cats, but what about their attraction to him?

Brax with Joely and Jellie

Is he a distant relative of catnip? Are they drawn to his gentle nature and pungent doggy smell?

Or is it just a case of Everybody Loves Brax? After all, it’s not only the cats who love him; everyone he meets falls in love with him — apparently his first caregiver was the only one who was immune to his charms.

Brax with Joely, Jellie, and Ruby

I think it’s his love of life and everything in it. His enthusiasm for living is infectious. Sure, he has his bad-dog moments, but he learns quickly and he’s a fun and lively housemate who gets along with everyone, even guests and visitors.

Brax with ball outside

It seems only fitting that after a chaotic and uncertain start in life, such a beautiful doggy soul has found himself the perfect home and family for as long as he needs it.

Even my cats will agree.

Until next time, keep the faith …

Brax on car roof

Brax and a favorite toy