Living out here full time for this record-breaking dry, hot Summer, I came to realise how tough it can be. Summer always brings it’s own delights, there are snakes and spiders and enormous really vicious ants… yes, ants! But this year, we had the added stress of extreme heat combined with very little rain. We would sit here and watch all our plants slowly wither and die, the ground become dry and crunchy underfoot, the animals become desperate for food.
Today I found a little tiny joey sadly abandoned by it’s mother, I am assuming, because of a problem with its foot. The toes on his right foot were folded right under and he was awkwardly manoeuvring upon the tops of his toes. It looked terribly painful, like the cruel foot binding practices of ancient China. But this little joey could still hop, if a little strangely, he certainly could out-hop me when I was trying to rescue him. On closer inspection he also seemed to have sores across both his ankles, probably from getting caught in a fence… and he was very very hungry. It has been so very dry and hostile that I can not blame the mother for what seems to us as humans such heartless behaviour. But out here if there is not enough food or water to go round, it would be hard for a mother kangaroo to waste milk (in her mind) on a poor little joey who will probably not survive out of the pouch because of his affliction. And if he does, it will be a painful existence.
It was actually a fluke that I found him (or maybe her) as I normally don’t wander up the back on such hot days. I was just up there photographing how dry everything is, so that when/if we ever get rain again I will have something to compare it to and as I strolled past our farm car he hopped out and bleated at me. I took some photos, as I had my camera, and then noticed his foot, realised his mother was not around and knew that I had to call someone. I got on to the Mudgee Wildlife Carers and they organised a lovely local lady, to come and help me catch him so that he could go off to the vet. He led us on a merry chase through our neighbours property, but we finally managed to get him into a big woolly bag, which settled him down instantly…
I have no illusions, I understand that because of his folded foot the vet will in all likelihood put him to sleep, but at least he will go peacefully, if a little spun out by being in the vets, rather than suffer slowly and die of starvation or worse under our farm car. Despite being aware of his fate, I still could not help but give him a name… for some reason I decided it was a ‘he.’ It could have been a she for all I know. Anyway, I named him Byron, as in Lord with his club foot because his namesake stole the hearts of many ladies, and this little fellow stole mine. May you rest in peace little Byron.