Louie the Fly is still around.

2210_diningoutside_jpg-500x0During the smoke haze some days ago I noticed the flies were in a frenzy as well. The sky had an eerie orange tinge. People seemed tense and walked faster than normal. It reminded me of the last days of shopping before Christmas. Perhaps the threat of fire and Christmas are related. Both are filled with a dread that something might not have been done or achieved. Did we really have enough food in the house for the upcoming festivities, and now, have I cleaned the guttering of dry leaves?

As we took our daily walk along the river with our Jack Russell Milo, I happened to choke on a fly which promptly got ingested. It reminded me of our life on the farm. Even though we left the farm three years ago, many memories persist. The best of them were the large house and the old settlers cottage from around the late 1880′ or so. We had a pool. I drove a ride-on mower and tractor to slash and keep combustible growth to a minimum.

Fire in summer was always on our minds. We had bought a petrol driven fire fighting pump and a wide arrangements of large diameter hoses with brass couplings. The first thing to go is often the supply of electricity, especially in farming communities when electricity poles catch alight. We had 40.000 litres of water from the pool at our disposal. We also prepared ourselves with buying a large generator that would give us enough power to run our sprinkler system and water taps around the farm and spare settler’s cottage. On most farms water is supplied from tanks or dams by electric pumps that get activated when a tap is turned on. We had a water license allowing us to pump 6 million litres from the Wollondilly river.

We were well prepared for bush-fire but still had anxious days when fires used to break out in the area. Fires could start by a farmer using a tractor to slash ,hit a stone, and a spark would ignite a fire in no time. Other fires were proven to be deliberately lit by bored youths. The mind boggles!

During the bushfire periods I always used to scan the sky for a hint of smoke and watched the local news. A previous bushfire in the sixties had destroyed most of the local community including a school and church.

One of the most amusing times were to be had on internet sites where the farming community used to chat with each other. Some of the responses were priceless.

A favourite subject to prop up during the heat was flies. How many did you eat today, was asked? Someone replied; I had at least twelve today, how about you?

In most French, Spanish, Greek movies, sooner or later, a scene props up whereby in the shade of a large oak, the family sits outside with a perfectly chosen out outdoor setting and a table decked out and laden with food and wine. People are convivial and wild gesturing adds to the excitement. Romantic and idyllic with perhaps a bee humming around the family about the worst threat to the event.

Did you notice on the TV news about the wild-fires, the flies buzzing around the news readers faces? I felt like getting the spray can out.
We can honestly say, those scenes would be hard to achieve here. We know, we tried many times. The flies made outdoor dining on a farm impossible. The only way to do it would be to wear black netting around one’s head and pop in the food by quickly lifting the netting, even so, flies would be opportunistic and get in. Unable to escape, yet another fly would get ingested.
That’s how it was.

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11 Responses to “Louie the Fly is still around.”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I had no idea that flies are such a problem where you are. Flies are here in Central Texas but not anything to match the numbers that you have written about.

    Your farm sounds like it was a marvelous place to live except having so much grass to cut and the constant worry of fire. But you were certainly well prepared to put any fire out on your property.

    I imagine you and Mrs O miss the farm to some degree biut now you most likely have more time to write and travel. I reckon city living does have lots of advantages except it seems the flies are still around. 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello petspeopleand life;
      Yes, in build up areas flies do also hang around one’s mouth but nearly not so bad as in the country. I remember putting out decoys of open sardine cans away from outdoor dining to try and entice the flies away from where we were eating. It did not really help. I suppose the flies preferred the roast lamb or garlic prawns. They are not silly.


  2. Office Diva Says:

    Mr. G.O.: I found this post very fascinating. First, your obvious fondness and memories of your farm, your description of the way one lives and prepares for bush fires; and the matter-of-fact way you speak of “ingesting a fly” as if that wasn’t the first time. (My account of such an event would include shrieking, a high probability of tossing cookies, and days nights of waking up in a sweat, relieved that a Jeff Goldblum/”The Fly” or Franz Kafka/Metamorphosis event was not unfolding).
    Great post; I have a better sense and appreciation of what it must be like to live with this threat of bush fires.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thanks Office Diva.
      The fires have quietened somewhat but are still lurking around. Amazingly we had frost a couple of nights ago. The smoke haze has drifted away and the sounds of sirens gone asleep. Our JRT ‘Milo’ is back on night- watch staring at possums.
      All is quiet on the western front.


      • Office Diva Says:

        I am happy to hear that all is quiet.

        Frost, really? We are still in the 70’s here in Texas, lows in the 50’s, which is quite lovely. I am wearing long sleeves, I find 70’s a bit chilly. (That is pathetic, I know). I do love the cooler weather for sleeping, the best sleep!


  3. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Funny that you should mention flies. There is one buzzing around my head as I type and one crawling across my laptop as I write this. Rural Spanish living at it’s finest 😉

    The fires sound terrible, I’ve been reading about them via Australian friends on fbk but now that I’m back on-line after a week of madness, I badly need to catch up with world events and the news properly.

    I always love hearing stories about your youth, I’ve swallowed a fly or two in my time – it’s when they get stuck in the back of your throat that they become a nuisance! I’ll try to catch up with your other posts soon Gerard.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hi Lottie, I can well imagine the week of madness only hope it did not get to blows 🙂 They were for us always rotten times, moving households, and the unsettling business of not knowing where the socks or screwdriver were.


  4. Patti Kuche Says:

    I thought the flies were the cause of the Australian accent, so bad you had to talk with your mouth closed!


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