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Wombat weather forecast?

Phil was such a sweet little wombat, survivor of many operations on his leg, bashed up by the other wombats… how could we not give him carrots?

Except that the carrots lured other wombats, who decided they loved carrots too. And Phil grew brave enough to defend his carrots, biting the back and neck of any wombat who tried to munch them first.

Until yesterday, when Phil carefully chased away all but one, Grey Grey, young, female. He waited till she was deeply engrossed in carrots and then… mated, I think, is the most discreet way of putting it. And then looked smug. Why chase a female for three days of leaping and biting, which is how wombats usually mate, when you can lure them with carrots?

There was a lot of chasing and biting after she finished the carrots. And more the next two nights, though they both grew slower and slower and did a lot of napping in the winter sun each afternoon. The day after that, Wild Whiskers and Short Black decided they were in the mating mood too.

And two days after that it was all over. The day after that it rained. And rained. And rained.

A wombat weather forecast? I don’t know. There were no baby wombats last summer – Small Whiskers is the youngest in this end of the valley and she is about 15 months old now. Nor were there any matings earlier in winter – the wombat matings are usually spread over several months here. August is pretty late.

I had assumed the coming summer would be extra hot and dry. But the black wattle didn’t set many seeds last spring – usually a sign the next summer will be extra hot –and we had the most extraordinary Angophora seeding ever, a great cloud of them going ‘pop, pop, pop’. And they all say, ‘There will be rain.’ Not a lot of rain, but not the drastic dry I’d expected.

For the first time in decades I don’t know what weather the next few months will bring to this end of the valley. I’ll need to wait for the next lot of indicators, the amount of Indigofera flowers in early spring – a great blaze of them on the hill means a high chance of a great blaze of bushfire. Sadly the weather forecast is strictly local, i.e. for this end of the valley only. We can be dry when the rest of NSW is trying to dry out gumboots, and we can have a mountain-sized rainstorm hover over us for three days when there isn’t another blip on the radar for thousands of kilometres.


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