Wild Whiskers is not happy. My crimes are thus:
- Being absent without leave from the wombats, thus depriving them of carrots in mid-winter, when a bit of crunch is most needed.
- Deliberately pruning the salvias, winter jasmine and passionfruit, which temporarily blocked easy access to the carrot garden, forcing her to the sidetrack under the roses.
- Apologising insufficiently for the crimes above.
A wombat has to keep an eye on humans. Or, at least, a vigilant nose. Next thing you know, they’ll be mowing the grass, which obviously belongs in an unmolested state to the wombats. I’ve tried to explain I only mow the weeds, keeping the mower on high, thus improving and encouraging more grass, plus the eighty or so varied native groundcovers we call a ‘lawn’, but Wild Whiskers refuses to accept my apologies. After she lunged twice at my knees in the past week I have decided to wear gumboots for protection. Or to use the garbage bin lid as a shield.
The other wombats are more understanding. Phil, who was raised by humans, only gives me a nip when he forgets I’m not a wombat. Big Grey and Medium Grey don’t care one way or another. I’m useful for carrots and pretty innocuous otherwise. Small Whiskers is still nervous of anything that smells or sounds like a human, but Flat White just trudges down, eats her carrots, then plods back up the hill.
Wild Whiskers is Mothball’s daughter. Her mother and I had an understanding. If I fed Mothball carrots now, at once, she wouldn’t destroy the front door, doormat or garbage bin. But at least she never bit the hand that fed her. Or the knee …
Actually, Small Whiskers looks identical to Mothball. But Mothball had more bounce, pounce and determination, even as a ten-month-old ball of brown fur. Small Whiskers may grow more obstreperous as she grows older. Or she may grow up to be like her grandfather, Totally Confused, who could never make up his mind which way to cross the road, let alone which knee to bite. Or Bruiser, her father, who is a sweet, timid wombat despite his name and sumo wrestler shoulders.
I’m writing this on the plane to Darwin, absent once more from wombat feeding time. Hopefully Bryan will remember, though we deliberately don’t put carrots out every night anyway, in case we get an artificially dense wombat population, reliant on the supplementary feeding we provide, which would be bad for the groundcovers and the wombats. The carrots are meant to be a treat.
Try telling that to Wild Whiskers.