Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes It Feels Like I'm Living In Narnia

Anyone who's tried community living in Australia, whether it be formal or informal communities, like we have for our entire relationship……..knows that there's usually some form of rules on every single one of them about animals, and what sort are allowed there.  Cats and dogs are usually forbidden, for the damage they do to the environment, and other animals are negotiable.  Even on the informal communities we've lived on, there have been other folk who owned it or had been there before us, who had their own animals, and requirements for what sort did and didn't come.  So we've been pretty animal free for years.  We had a cat called Fuzznut who ended up getting old and really over babies, and let us know that she chose to retire to my mothers and daughters house, and a dog called Scratch who couldn't be with kids after she broke her pelvis and retired to my mothers too, till she died.  Little Scratch came everywhere and got snuck into places she wasn't meant to be, cause she was so small and inoffensive.  

But for 7 years pretty solidly now, we've had no pets except for the rats that we got at Billen.  And we've dreamed about getting others, but been on communities up here in the Rainbow Region that wouldn't allow them.

So in moving here to our (mostly) private rental, we decided that the time was now.  It was starting to break my heart, that Griffyn, who'd wanted a cat all his life, was 12 years old without ever having his own animal.  I figured it was just time to let some animals in our lives, and that the relationships you can only form with other animals was a really important part of childhood that my kids were missing out on.  Not to say that they weren't finding and connecting with as many wild species as they could……they find creatures in the weirdest places, and hang out with them as long as is safe, and then let them go.  Lilly who loves all animals had a hard time getting to love leeches, but all of them have quite a large respect for leeches now, and will let them feed till they drop off.  We're usually asked to take photos of the creatures we come across, and here's just a few, but there's lots more of them peppered through our photos.

I so love how Lilly manages to pick up bugs with stings at the front and the back gently, without hurting them, and then releasing them after she's admired them….

We even had a wild duck follow us home and hang out for a night.  She hung out in the house for the afternoon, and at night she sat on the lounge next to me, moving step by step closer until she was sitting on my lap. In the morning she went on her way, but we loved her visit….

But what really got us started on the animal collecting, was when our neighbours were away, and their rabbit had been ripped apart by a goanna, and had left 5 little babies that were too young to survive really.  It pulled on all our heartstrings and maternal instincts, and we did our best to save them.  I even crocheted them a handspun rabbit fleece blanket to lay on.  But they died one by one, and we buried them with many tears.

And then 'stuff it!' I thought.  It was time for us to invite animals into our lives.  The first animal that came along was a beautiful rabbit called Nimue, or Nim. And in the process of meeting Nim, we also met the gorgeous Rhea and John of R&J Pets and Aquariums in Lismore, who have totally impressed us with their love for all animals as well as people, and their true integrity and compassion in how they run their pet shop.  The first time we went in there, I was in the small animal room, and there was a bunch of younguns talking over the rats, and one of the girls was talking about how they wanted a big fat one, so they could see it in the belly, and I realised they were gonna feed one of these little hand raised rats to a snake.  Rhea came in, and they picked their rat, and they all filed out and it was just Rhea and me for a minute.  I told her what I'd overheard, and she walked out, coming back a few minutes later with a triumphant smile, and released the rat back in with his brothers, saying 'they're not feeding one of my hand raised rats to a snake!'  I was so impressed.  And just a wee while ago, John told a story on Facebook, about how an elderly lady was there one morning as he opened his shop, asking him to find her budgie another home, as she wouldn't be able to feed herself with the new budget, let alone her beloved budgie.  His answer was to give her a stack of feed, and to publicly tell folks that pensioners now had 20% off all animal food to help out.  I love those two.  We find any excuse we can at all to go in and hang out and swap stories.  

But back to Nim,  Griff and her really loved each other.  We'd never had a bunny before, so we tried to let her be a house living bunny, but that didn't work out.  So we made her a big enclosure, and had a cosy bunny house for night, and all fell in mutual love with each other. 

And cause we found R&J's, it was a great excuse to fulfil a bit of a life long dream for Currawong, as well as a huge desire of Mr B's, to get an aquarium full of fish.  We knew we'd found the right people to advise us on it too.  For example, I didn't know until John told me, that goldfish need a huge amount more room than most people give them.  He won't sell goldfish unless you have a massive tank or pond.  Cause if they don't have the space, their internal organs keep growing to the size their meant to be, even though their body can't grow any more, and they end up getting suffocated by their own organs.  He created an underwater garden for us, and gave us incredible information and advice, and our little boys (and the rest of us) are totally mesmerised….

We also got some chookies, but they were very young too, and one died a few days after we got her, and the other one ate something under the house and choked.  So we had just the one chook for quite a while, and we called her Storm Chookie.  

Being the only chook for a while led to some rather…..interesting……behaviours.  Cause she thought she was one of us.  She fast became one of my favourite friends.  And comes inside to visit us, and threatens me with laying her eggs on my printer, unless I provide an adequate roost for her.  There's lots of Chookie stories that I've told on Facebook, but to get to all the animals, I'm going to have to keep it concise.  Enough to say that I love my Chookie.

And we got a cat for Griffyn called Dreamer.  You can see her on the chair in front of Storm Chookie.  They tend to hang out together.  She was a kitten who was born into love at a friends of ours home, and raised with the utmost bonding and respect.  And she's quite unique.  Currawong and I were both a bit dubious about how other animal friendly she'd be, and were prepared to build her a large cat cage off the house if she proved to be a killer.  I've had cats all my life, and know that they usually disappear off for a while every day, and who knows how much they kill in that time.  But Dreamer is different.  

She was given her name by our friend from her birth, and we all assumed we'd change it when we got to know her, but ended up realising that the name suits her completely, cause she spends most of her time sleeping.  We always know where she is, every moment of the day, cause she's always within sight of us, and she cuddles with Griffyn every night, and gets the shits if he sleeps away too long.  She puts up with the little boy pack being rough with her, and laying on her, and carrying her around (we do our best to minimalise it) and seems to just love all of us.  The kids the most though…..

But the most amazing thing about Dreamer is her love for the other animals.  Like I said before, the relationship between Storm Chookie and Dreamer is quite cute.  Dreamer spent a lot of still and silent time winning Chookie over.  Convincing her that she was a friend.  And we quite often see them hang out together.

And then came Pixel.  Lilly's been wanting a dog for ever so long, and another dear friend had puppies that needed homes, and we brought a little boy pup home the night before christmas incidentally, and it didn't take long till he chose Lilly as his person.  We call him Pixel.  And if he gets fat when he's old, we can call him Mega Pixel :)

And like Dreamer, Pixel loves all the other animals, and they all get along.  He was only 6 weeks old when we got him, and his mother got sick and her milk dried up, so he was just a baby when he came to us.  And we attachment parented him, not out of any ideology, but because we couldn't leave him on his own, and there was always so much going on around him.  So now Pixie is convinced he's one of the kids.  He's a cheeky and sweet little thing.  

So we were in pet heaven for about 3 months I reckon, and everything was sweet, and we learnt all sorts of things about the animals we have, and how best to look after them.  And then Death came to town.  Our neighbour has a habit of leaving her rabbits out of their cages, though most of them have met untimely deaths that way.  And even though we asked her if she could put her male bunny away while we were trying to housetrain Nim, she refused.  Inevitably, they got together, and we didn't realise it at the time, but that meeting was fatal.  The male was far too big for Dwarf bunny Nim, and when she went into labour, a baby got stuck (it was never going to be able to get out), and we took her to the vet hoping a caesarean or something could help her, and were devastated to hear that rabbits really don't do anaesthetic well, and the chances of her surviving were minimal, and very expensive.  I was in tears, and prepared to get a loan to pay for it, and had to ring Griff up on the phone and break the heartbreaking news to him, and in the end the best solution for everyone was to put our dear Nim down.  

It was horrendous from top to bottom.  My eldest daughter had come for a visit the day before, and it was a shock for all of us that such a tragedy had happened.  Jess was awesome in helping and comforting, and we were all glad she was there.  On the night after she died, Griff went to bed and cried and cried and cried, and it totally broke my heart that my firstborn son was going through his first big heart break.  Dreamer cuddled so close to his face that we knew she was totally tuned in.  And I got very angry at our neighbour.  Threw a lot of judgement at her.  And the very next day, after changing the procedure for the rats, trying to be extra careful that they got more shade on a hot day…….I quite stupidly put them in a place where they got full sun if we were away for too long, and in the process of that mistake, Lilly's favourite rat Snuggles died in the heat. We managed to save the others, even though they were thoroughly heat stressed, and Jess was amazing again in her calmness and assistance.  

We were beyond distraught, and I wailed and said sorry over and over, and instantly thought that my judgement had come back to bite me on the bum.  It seemed a harsh lesson for us all to learn.  And was so very very sad.  We all cried a lot.  And built some graves for our loved animals.  

But the next morning, after we'd lost two of our most loved animals over two horrible days, Lilly and I sat and talked on the verandah.  She said that in a horrible way, she was getting used to death, and to the grief and loss, and that maybe in a way, that was actually a good thing, as we knew we were going to love lots of animals in our lives.  She was also the first to notice in the following days, that there was a change in me.  Up until these traumatic events, I'd been nice at arms length to Lilly's rats, and really didn't realise how much I'd come to love Nim.  And it cracked my heart open to such a degree, that I felt like I pushed through that arms length approach, and reverted back to the full hearted love I had for animals when I was younger.  I vowed to honour the demise of our loved ones by being a better animal carer.  And went into full sook mode with Lilly.  As much as it was awful, it also helped us appreciate the animals that are left in our circle even more.  I took on the remaining rats with Lilly, and fell head over heels in love with Dusty, who is in the photograph with me and Storm Chookie up above as well.  

And even though Griff didn't want to replace Nim, and knew that it would never be the same as it was with his first love, he fell for a bunny in R&J's again, and helped by Jess, who so wanted to help him heal, and bought him a beautiful bunny habitat, we ended up bringing Fleur home.  She's not the same as Nim of course, but she's delightful.  And very cuddly.

Zarra and the other little boys love her to bits, and visit her first thing every morning to feed her and pat her.  She loves a pat more than any other rabbit I've met, apart from Nim.  And she loves to lick their hands and faces.  He can't resist getting in for a visit sometimes. 

In fact…..lots of critters love to steal into Fleur's cage and hang out with her.  Between her little home here and the big bunny cage outside that she's busy creating an underground home in, she has a pretty busy and loved life.  Her and Storm Chookie were even timesharing her little night home for a while.  Chookie decided for a bit that the bunny cage was the only place she was going to lay an egg.

With all the equals and opposites and ups and downs I must admit to being utterly thrilled by having all these animals in our lives.  It does help us get used to death, and work out how to deal with it.  And it also helps all of us to develop relationships with species that aren't only our own.  There's so much we learn from all of it in fact, that we're always on the plan for more.  But the best thing is the love.  The huge amount of love given and received by us all.  Not to mention the relationships between all the animals and how they all inter relate and get on!  Sometimes I feel like Fern in Charlotte's Web, sitting outside just to watch and observe the interactions all around me.  Not to mention the wild animals that come into and around the edges of our existence.

So much to learn.  So much to love.  So glad that we finally got to this place where we can explore this most important dimension, of the truly deep and human love and need for animal friendship.