House sitting on Tamborine Mountain
Being given the opportunity to house and pet sit in Tamborine village at the foot of Tamborine Mountain was a dream come true for us. The climate was mild with temperatures at least 15 degrees warmer than what we had left behind in New Zealand and we were ready for some sunshine after a cold and wet winter.
Tamborine Mountain in south-west Queensland is covered in natural rainforest and enjoys a moderate and temperate climate making it the perfect stop-off location for two cold kiwis.
We had been in regular contact with the homeowners and were excited and intrigued to meet our charges for the next five weeks.
Three Lagotto Romagnolo pups, an Alexanderine Asiatic Parrot, an elderly cat and various chickens, and a duck which thought she was a chicken. Yep, apparently Duck Duck as she was affectionately know came from an egg hatched by one of the chickens!
Arriving in Tamborine Village
What a welcome! The pups were so excited at the prospect of visitors, and the cacophony of sound in their welcome was deafening.
Lagotto’s are traditionally gun dogs and trained to retrieve, and in some cases hunt for truffles. These guys had been bred as show dogs and for various reasons had not been traditionally socialized to be family dogs.
They were ‘outside’ dogs and spent their time racing around and playing on the many acres surrounding the beautiful home.
However, they were all keen to socialize with us and spent much of their time vying for our attention and cuddles. And, of course we’d oblige.
Due to the extreme heat on some days much of their time was spent in the cool shade of the laundry room where they also slept at night. A screen door between that and the house allowed plenty of opportunity for socializing.
On really hot days they loved to crunch on ice from the ice machine and wallow in the kiddies paddling pool we filled for them each day.
Every evening we’d bring each pup into the lounge for some individual love and attention. Needless to say they were so excited to be in our company that they could barely contain themselves. They would race around from one of us to the other begging for love and sweeping past the cat’s bowl for an opportunistic dip.
One evening Cino, dipped her face into the recycling bin and came dashing out with a cracker box firmly lodged over her nose and face. She proceeded to tear blindly around the room whilst we roared with laughter trying to catch her to remove it.
Early Mornings on Tamborine Mountain
Our days started super early around 4.30am when the sun rises in Queensland. It’s a magic time of the day.
The many native exotic birds in the trees on the property sing, the koala in the tree outside our bedroom window calls for its mate, the dogs bark, the chooks cockadoodle doo and Mr Knuckles the parrot starts his daily chit-chat.
The only quiet member of the menagerie, Missy Moo sleeps silently under the bed.
The pups would head out for their morning ablutions and then settle back down for an hour or so until the neighbors would head out walking their dogs. Then, all hell would break loose and they would run along the fence line barking madly!
Mr Knuckles or Knuck Knuck as he was affectionately called was the most incredible creature. He loved little tit bits of food from the kitchen and would sit on his perch outside the kitchen window watching our every movement to and from the fridge.
Each morning I’d cut a small slice from a banana and pass it through the bars of his cage. He’d take it in his beak and delicately hold it in his little claw and peck away at it until it was finished.
He would chat away constantly all day and mimic the sounds around him, including the cat’s meowing. He and I would have long conversations in the mornings as I spent time outside watering the homeowner’s priced roses.
Often we’d find ourselves getting up to let Missy Moo in the screen door only to find it was Mr Knuckles meowing, not the cat.
Each afternoon around 4.30pm he’d start his cacophony of sound to let me know it was time for his daily almond. Once again he’d take it gently from my fingers with his beak and transfer to his wee claw and then sit on his perch and chomp away.
Bonding With Our Feathered Friends
We’d been warned not to allow Duck Duck and the chickens to free range without supervision as a fox had recently been lurking in the yard. This was possibly why they produced none of the promised eggs in those first few days.
Their health and well-being was concerning us so on the third day we decided that we would take advantage of the beautiful weather and allow the chooks to roam whilst we supervised.
So it was that at 4pm each and every afternoon for five weeks we would head outside and free Duck Duck and his friends from the coop and allow them to range safely in the yard feasting on kitchen scraps whilst we enjoyed a glass of wine in the outdoors.
They even provided us with evening entertainment. Duck Duck would spend much of the time cleaning and preening herself in the water bowl we had provided and ‘seeing off’ the chooks who would deign to attempt to share.
Steve Tyler, aka Mr Rooster, nicknamed for his spiky ‘haircut’ had a healthy libido and entertained us, wildly chasing the girls for a bit of sex.
Chickens Go Home To Roost
Who knew that chickens will naturally go home to their coop at sunset? We certainly didn’t but thank goodness as there was no way we could have corralled them back into their coop on that first day.
Believe me, we tried. Chasing, and attempting to direct six chooks and one duck through a tiny opening was a fail. We were actually at a loss as to how to best put them to bed.
However, after consultation, Mr Google informed us they would just naturally find their way home as the sun set. And, they did.
That is, all except for Duck Duck who loved to be petted. She wanted to be stroked and would just plonk herself outside the coop each evening until one of us would pick her up for a cuddle and then gently place her back in the coop.
Cuddling a duck is the most amazing experience. She would lie so completely relaxed in our arms and even lay her head against our shoulder.
Needless to say after 48 hours of tender loving care the chooks were laying again, and produced a nice little bounty of eggs.
Princess Meredith Or Missy Moo
Meredith, Missy Moo or Princess Meredith as we named her based on her haughty nature loved a cuddle but only on her terms.
She would allow a scratch of the head or a tickle of the ears but the body was out-of-bounds. Head butting the laptop and iPad was her thing and each was sent flying to the floor on more than one occasion.
One evening I brought out my knitting intent on producing a hat to warm my head when we reached London and in two seconds flat she had bitten through the yarn.
She was a funny wee thing who liked to sleep under the bed. We assumed this was because it was cooler in the Queensland heat.
But, she also liked an early morning cuddle and her way of waking us was to stand on the chest and purr. Believe me she’s not a small cat and the pressure on the chest of the weight of her body on her skinny wee pins was excruciating.
She also loved to be outside in the cool of the late afternoon and early evenings and would lie in the garden or flat on her back in the driveway.
We loved our time on Tamborine Mountain with Missy Moo, Harry, Cino, Cookie, Knuck Knuck and Duck Duck and the chickens, and the various kangaroos and wallabies that ranged the ranch.
The kangaroos and wallabies roamed freely, mostly at dawn and dusk and sheltered under the shade of the trees during the heat of the day. Some of the kangaroos were massive, standing at least eight feet tall and were a sight to behold bounding down the driveway.
If you ever get the opportunity to venture to Tamborine Mountain you won’t be disappointed!