Wednesday, July 1, 2009

week 18

When we first arrived here we all noticed this white bag looking thing hanging from the tree above our camp and over several nights sitting, beer in hand, under the tree we discussed what it might be. It looked just like a plastic bag hanging up there that maybe got caught around a branch in the wind. A bit of a puzzle… then we all moved on and forgot about it.

Earlier this week I was out the front with Jordy and Mum was pushing him in the swing. She heard a plop, then another plop… then another… and we noticed a whole bunch of those hairy stinging caterpillars on the ground around the place. Hang on… are they falling out of the tree?!?! Plop, plop, plop. Are they falling out of that bag thing?!?! Oh, crap! And then there were dozens of them all over the place.

We hurried Jordy inside and I called out for Dad. We could not rake them up fast enough and more kept falling and we did not want one to land on us. So Dad got his shotgun and shot the bag down from the tree. There were hundreds of hairy caterpillars!

We made a pile and burnt them all (fallen bag and all). We are not sure if Dad touched the wispy webs that were hanging from the tree or if he touched a caterpillar but he got something on him and was covered in a red spotty rash that he said burnt like a bitch! He was jumping and scratching like crazy and had to have a shower and cover himself with stop itch and antihistamine.

We were congratulating ourselves on seeing them start to fall and I hate to think what would have happened if we had not noticed cos they would have invaded the camp in next to no time with no chance of being raked up and there is no way the kids would have avoided being stung by them. But we should not have counted our chickens….

The next day I was pushing Darcy on the swing and then he sat in the chair under the tree while he waited for Jordy to have a turn…. Then I notice him start to scratch… and then he started whining…. And then he started to cry. I could actually see the red welty spots appear and get bigger and bigger on his legs and back and neck…

So into the shower, a dose of antihistamine, cover him in stop itch and lots of boob ….and after half an hour of crying he finally calmed down. Apparently the Bag-Shelter Caterpillar is one of the top 20 most venomous caterpillars (and I bet you did not know there was such a thing as the top 20 venomous caterpillars!) and some people have severe allergic reactions to them. I wish I could say that that was definitely what is was after that because Darcy was sick with a fever and vomiting and headache and just really miserable for two days. But that first night I also gave him his first taste of crab and so we have no idea if it may have been a reaction to that. But he is still not himself.

Tim took Jordy fishing the other day to a little billabong in behind us here. And, can you believe it, he did not take the camera with him and Jordy caught his first real fish (apart from tiny bait fish). Apparently the fish was fighting so hard that Tim had to help him reel it in. If you ask Jordy he will tell you he caught a Barramundi but it was really a Black Bream. You will all be surprised when I tell you that Tim caught nothing.

I took the boys back to the billabong this morning in the hopes of an actual reenactment! But, even though there was one big fishy splash as one darted for the lure, and another big bite, we caught nothing. But it’s a nice little water hole- the absolute epitome of a billabong all surrounded by pandanus palms and paperbarks. You can guarantee there is a freshie in there!

Dad had a great day off hunting and traipsing around the bush over on a neighbouring cattle property with some of the station hands. They spotted a heap of crocs and birds but did not have a huge amount of luck with the fishing. They caught a few small barra but nothing worth keeping so the blokes were looking at nothing for dinner until Dad shot a magpie goose for them to cook up on the fire. They should have just headed back to camp cos a bunch of the other station hands went to the other billabong (clearly the place to be) and pulled out about 30 barra.

Winter is apparently over. We had ten cold nights (7 really quite cool) but now it is back to low 20s overnight and we need the air con half the time. The locals reckon winter usually lasts a month...??

But Jordy has totally acclimitised. We were sitting watching tv and it was rather warm so i had the air con on low and he asked for a blanket..?? :)