Fears and Phobias.

Is fear good or bad? It’s a bit like the question is pain good or bed. In the matter of pain the answer is a simple one – it is both; bad because it hurts, good because it indicates something needs to be looked into or done about it. It is wise to fear some things.

My wife has a fear/phobia for rats or mice. Snakes she can tolerate and in her childhood has eaten snake meat, which she reassures me tastes quite nice – a bit like chicken. I have not asked her to prepare it for me even though we see them quite often around our place. Sometimes they even seem to come by post.

 However, she hates rats. But what is in a name? She was in the paddock the other day and discovered a delightful little critter. It didn’t run away, nor did she. She thought it was a poteroo, (like a small wallaby) but strangely it didn’t run away and she stood and took a picture of it. No fear at all.

Naturally she came home and shared the experience with us. It is not a poteroo but a rat! A Rufous rat kangaroo. Hereafter she may prefer to call it a Bettong, but really what is in a name? Maybe, just maybe, the word rat won’t terrify her any more.

On the other hand the husband of the family living here some years ago, built a lovely tree house for his children to play in. It still stands solid and useable maybe 50 metres outside the home area fence. The children were allowed to play in it once, before the wife knew that it had been built. It was never used again because of the wife’s phobia of snakes!

Dominic Cartier

Too busy with sheep!

I’ve been so busy that I have hardly opened my computer for days! For ages we’ve been trying to buy some dorper sheep. I’m too old to do much but as the government won’t give me a pension I have to do something to justify the small acreage that I own – that is, to make insurance etc payments tax deductible!

After several months of asking around, last week we had a call saying that someone, living a bit more than 500 km away was prepared to sell us some.

Our son who lives with us, and acts as both a carer (non-government) for us and the place got around to build crates to fit the back of a borrowed vehicle and a hired trailer.

You can see the one on the truck.

Then there was a family discussion as to whether or not they would allow this old man to make the trip. I won out in that I went; they won out insisting that we made it a two day trip. As I slept most of yesterday, the day after we got back, they were probably correct. But I enjoyed it.

The destination was Aramac. Torrens creek is about halfway.

The road from home to the township of Torrens Creek is up through low mountains, mainly cattle country but with many trees and typical of the area we live in.

From Torrens Creek it is flat, almost treeless and somewhat boring! We saw four varieties of kangaroos – Greys and big reds; dead and alive. At the pub where we ate supper we were chatting to a kangaroo shooter who kills them, then refrigerated takes them for the meat market. He was telling me that the government has stopped them shooting greys as there are so few. That was not our impression. We saw about 60 or 70 live animals waiting to jump in front of the vehicle and about half were greys. We also saw several groups of emus.

Aramac has in the area only about 300 people. There are according to the write up on Internet many nearby associated interesting things to do. We went one day arriving after dark and left the next morning as soon as the sheep were loaded. Maybe we’ll have to make a longer trip some time but the sheep were our prime concern.

The owners were lovely people. As you can see they had a pet goat who considered herself very much a part of the family.

After a seven hour trip we arrived home to a setting sun.

so we had to hurry and get the sheep off.

Next morning they remained a tight knit group, but seemed happy enough.

They look scraggly, but you don’t shear dorpers – they shed their wool. They are apparently good meat producers and the ewes lamb twice per year, with a fairly high incidence of twins apparently. we’ll see I guess. Thus we have 12 pregnant ewes and a young ram.

Dominic Cartier

A picture walk of our life in Ethiopia

Just a bit of a pictorial taste of our daily life in Ethiopia

About once a month we ended the day for a posh evening out at the lake side hotel.
For visitors we usually went out on the nearby lake.
the view from our front door
It reads ‘for all, it is possible’ There is a big push for literacy.
The simple life, but not the usual there.
The common way of life in towns large and small.
The small Indian church we attended put on for the public a pre-Christmas night.
I think they meant ‘drug’.
A modern University admin building
The hospital cafeteria.
Clinical students had a ceremony as they became interns to make somewhat like the hippocratic oath we took years ago.
modern facilities with all mod cons in the hospital!
But my days were spent with real people!

I’m a carnivore!

African sunset

Whenever my wife asked what I’d like for my first meal when we arrived back in Australia, my answer was invariably pork chops and ice cream. Not on the same plate, of course, but, in the early days,  we didn’t get either in Ethiopia. As far as ice cream was concerned, after some years, there was one place, as you turned right at Mojo (about 80 km) to go to Shashemane, where an Italian guy sold gelati from a caravan. Years later there was a spot on the right side of the road as you drove out of Addis, where you could get several different kinds of ice cream; now there are places all over Addis and it is also available in most major towns.

Pork chops were off the list because neither Orthodox Christians nor Muslims eat pork. You couldn’t even get bacon. Because of the growing Chinese influence there are now a few places in Addis where you can buy pork, but it is still not a common meat and to many an absolute ‘no-no’,

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You could buy beef which was hanging outside the butcher shops. The butchered halves hung there for all to see. The animals were killed early in the morning and it was good to get there early before there were too many flies. You could point to the piece of meat you wanted and they cut it off. You needed to cook it well, preferably in a pressure cooker. It seemed as if most animals were killed after a long life of pulling a plough!

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Chickens (doro) were bought live. They were highly prized as meat. They were in the local custom killed in, to me, a rather gruesome way by sawing through the neck. We, as you probably know, kill them by placing their necks in a convenient place and with a swift swing of an axe chop off their heads, before hanging them up to drain out their blood. Again by local custom the bird is cut into eleven pieces and made into a very spicy meal. The favoured person is usually handed a piece called, when translated, the horse-rider, the meat on the breast bone.

chickens to market

If you wanted sheep meat you went to the market and bought a sheep. You could never buy lamb or mutton or hogget at a shop. You took the sheep home and killed it and prepared the meat there. African sheep don’t look like ours in Australia. They look like goats, but whereas goats ears and tails go up, those on sheep hang down. Goat meat also can be bought on the hoof, in the same way.

Being brought up in the south of Australia, in our childhood and youth, when not eating rabbit, we ate sheep, usually labelled lamb. On the farm they were aged by their teeth, in the shop by the butcher’s choice.

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One weekend we decided we’d like some sheep meat. So the teenagers who were living with us  A house full of teenagers.  and I went to the local market on the Saturday afternoon and after a lot of haggling bought one. As a white person we financially suffered racism. Everything was a bit dearer for us. So I sent the boys out to suss out the best prices. I fooled myself if I thought this would work as I was well known in the town, as was the fact that the boys lived with us!  I personally had no intention of killing it. Ato (Mr) Kassa, our gardener could do that on Monday, I knew that he’d be happy to do that for a share in the meat as a gift.

roadside market
This is a roadside market in Addis. Ours was held once a week as a major event in a square a hectare or so in size and people came from all the neighbouring towns.

Here I ran into an unexpected hurdle. Sheep are not kept outside in countryside Ethiopia, they sleep in the house, I think for fear of thieves or hyenas. At any rate, in the evening we tied it up in the garden but it didn’t like that at all. It baa-baa-ed to the point of driving us near to insanity. We had to end up clearing a space in the inside laundry, and inviting him in. After that peace reigned until…..

Monday when he was dealt with by Kassa. He was a very tasty and the much enjoyed centre of a number of meals.

Interestingly, the intestine is a favoured piece of the kill and locals make it into nice spicy dish. Kassa and his family enjoyed it as part of his gift. On the whole I don’t like tripe.

Dominic Cartier