So I was trawling my local online board recently and came across a plea for crickets to feed to a neighbour’s bearded dragon. Now, we may not have trees or a functioning kitchen, but crickets we have. By the hundreds. My badass husband is surprisingly girly when faced with these harmless hoping creatures. I have tried reminding him that many cultures regard them as a delicacy, but he insists on trying to kill them with umpteen blasts of insect spray. They’ve never bothered me much, and it’s a whole lot quicker to catch them in a container and throw them back outside, so that’s my MO.

So anyway, I sent her a message and then we set to catching bugs. All we have to do round our place is lift one of the many random bits of wood lying about from the building work and 7 or 8 crickets scurry off or try to dig themselves into the dirt, so it didn’t take long to get a few. Of course, it would have taken less time if I hadn’t dropped the bloody container and left the first 8 free again.. but we got there in the end.

Then we went to meet Diane, the lady with the lizard.

We were merry at the gate by a friendly goat who, after decided we had no food and were therefore of no use to him, tried to headbutt my son.. but followed us quite calmly up the driveway. Two fat lambs trotted over to investigate, and then a huge pig ambled over too. As we neared the house, some dogs set to a great barking fit, which brought another huge pig over to inspect us. Two peacocks strutted haughtily off round a corner, and a cat made its way up onto a pile of firewood to watch from a safe distance. I wad starting to feel like I should perhaps take the kids up there and join it when Diane came out to meet us.

She took us inside where my son watched in morbid delight as the bearded fashion ate every one of our crickets. Then we met a blue-tongued lizard, another 2 cats, and the 4 noisy dogs. Then my daughter pointed out the window at the chickens, so Diane went out and caught a feathery white bantam to pat.

We were about to leave when she suddenly remembered her hedgehog and brought him out of his cage. He had been discovered on the road, tiny and abandoned, and she said they’d look after him till he was ready to go out on his own again (only in their yard though – he wouldn’t survive in the wild after his domestic upbringing). So he waddled about on the floor while she got his food ready for him, looking all cute and stuff, and I was in the middle of assuring my daughter he wouldn’t bite her, he would just sniff her toes, ‘See?’ – when he opened his little jaw as wide as he could and gave me a great toothy nip on my big toe. Little shit! Lucky he was damn cute. After that, everyone kept their toes well clear…

So yeah.. that’s one way of filling up a block of land with living creatures! It did strike me that the lovely Diane would need to get a lot of pleasure from her menagerie, because she must spend a large portion of her day caring for all those creatures. She gave every indication of enjoying it, so we’ll just drop in there when we’re feeling pet-deprived, I think! Great fun for the kids, though, and what a great experience. So grateful for country neighbours who are willing to share their lives with us.. feeling lucky to be living out here!

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