Friday, June 25, 2010

Ups and downs

Celestequest is mostly very hilly country. Some of it is only mildly hilly, but that is where the buildings got put, so most of the pasture is on very steep land. The trusty ute here is parked in first gear, with handbrake on and chocks under wheels just in case. Standard procedure. It's parked halfway down the fence where we are collecting firewood because to go up any further really would be pushing it a bit. We have no wish to look down, helpless, mouths open as the ute makes it's own track straight through fences to the most convenient stopping point, probably a tree. The star picket in the fence at the rear of the ute tray and the tree in the top right are actually vertical. No trick photography.

Like several breeds of sheep, we have several varieties of slope. The long gentle ridges and saddles make the best places to walk, especially up hill. The plunging valleys are good to get out of the wind, and they collect water like - surprisingly - gullies. Some parts are quite cliff-like. The tiny spot in the bottom left hand side of this photo is a trough on the valley floor. We can nearly get our own aerial photos just by standing on a hill.

Collecting wood therefore has extra challenges. Like gravity, everything without restraint tumbling downhill and balance issues.

This little fellow in the hole in the log is a skink. A tiny lizard, sleeping in the cold weather. They run on solar power and there hasn't been much sun lately. He was rudely awoken by the chainsaw taking off his house extensions either side of his bedroom. I put him under cover of a gorse bush but in the sun so he could leave the noisy neighbourhood if he wished.

Skinks have no trouble with the slopes, having four-foot drive, nor do alpacas with their flat, leathery feet. They just amble up and down as if it were nothing. Which, compared to the rocky mountain faces of the Andes, it probably is. We find climbing up and down on all fours easier too in some places.The sheep sometimes have tumbles. I've seen a sheep roll completely over and then keep tumbling until it bounced off a fence. It got up, shook it's vision clear and promptly started cropping the new grass it had found by accident. It's nonchalance made me wonder how often they roll down hills. They're clearly used to it.