prepping for transplant shock

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I get the appeal of an adventurous leap between disparate lifestyles + locations but part of me is thankful I already have the lay of the land to which the G.O. and I are headed; not so much tree-sea changing our life from city to country-coast but evolving via steady steps of progression… alleviating the possibility of transplant shock.

Later this year the G.O. and I will have owned together our house at Taylors Arm for a decade. I grew up in the country but lived in urban environs all my adult life. My rural village experiences haven’t been quite as were depicted in the U.S. TV series Green Acres but the weekends and holidays we spend at Taylors Arm give me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the vagaries of country life prior to leaving the city to reside there permanently.

Our house was empty for some time before we took possession and it was in need of a good clean. We were up for the job but after having spent our first hot summer day in situ scrubbing dirt off the surfaces and onto ourselves, we were also up for a cold beer and a hot shower. As it does from time to time, the electricity cut out, minutes before we were about to jump in the shower.

As the house water is supplied via rainwater tanks fed by an electric pump, no power meant no water. The electricity came back on in the early hours long after we’d half filled the bath via saucepans of water obtained in a trickle from the sole outside garden tap and heated on an ancient gas fuelled camping stove. At least the beer was cold.

The first Christmas is etched in our memory as being hot as hell; 40+ degrees Celsius (104 F) on Christmas Eve as I was trying to roast a turkey in a too-small electric kettle barbecue under the back awning of the house. To make it fit, the G.O. flattened out the turkey in the manner of Portuguese style chicken, to be forever remembered as the year of ‘roadkill turkey’.

Since then we’ve installed roof insulation, whirlybird roof vents, ceiling fans and window awnings; making the summer months much pleasanter. And we’ve reverted to more manageable roast chicken and cold ham for Christmas lunch.

Resident fauna don’t care whose name is on the deeds, or who does the work. They come with the house as a package deal. I’m not overfond of bats to say the least but have become accustomed to sable microbats at dusk flitting past, darting into almost imperceptible cracks in the house’s structure.

Over the years we’ve been friendly with neighbouring turkeys, geese, chickens and cows. We’ve had visiting wallabies, goannas, ducks, dogs, cats, snakes and a fox. Also, we aren’t the only inhabitants of our house. Fortunately George the carpet python moved on from our roof space but making themselves at home in addition to the bats we have; birds, frogs, lizards, mice, a bandicoot and the biggest mangiest meanest old possum I’ve ever encountered. Its traverses of the roof sound like not just a single creature but an army.

"The company you keep defines you. Surround yourself with shining souls that inspire you, lift you higher and bring forth the best in you"
“The company you keep defines you. Surround yourself with shining souls that inspire you, lift you higher and bring forth the best in you”

The G.O. wasn’t convinced of the possum’s notoriety until one summer evening he decided see for himself what was on the awning roof near the big bottlebrush tree. The G.O. climbed the ladder he’d used for cleaning the guttering, strolled across the roof expecting to encounter one of the neighbour’s cats enjoying the last of the warmth… but was instead met then pursued by an aggressive arboreal marsupial displeased the G.O. was interrupting its constitutional. The G.O. didn’t bother with the ladder beyond the first rung down, leaping to the safety of the ground as the possum growled its disapproval at the invasion of its space. Possum 1: G.O.: Nil.

I have a horror of dead things, so the G.O. and I have an arrangement. I deal with live things -except snakes which we tend to just leave alone- and he deals with the demised. That means particularly incursions of spiders and mice are my domain. To the G.O.’s frustration I usually let the spiders be -even if it means showering in their proximity- but if pressed I will corral them into a plastic tub and release them into the garden, usually too close to the house to suit the G.O. but I refuse to walk for miles to appease him.

I also employ the same technique for evicting mice. The G.O. doesn’t have the aversion to rodents he does to spiders but after umpteen rounds of the kitchen in fruitless pursuit of Taylor’s Arm’s own Speedy Gonzales, the G.O. paused long enough for the mouse to jump up on the table to assess the worthiness of its opponent, and I swear I saw it laugh. After being bested the G.O. no longer deigns to participate in their contests. Mouse: 1. G.O.: Nil.

My own mouse-keeping efforts haven’t been without glitches. I learned the hard way after scooping them up mice aren’t as cute as they look, and their teeth are sharp. Still merciful I tossed the ungrateful bitey little bugger -alive- over the fence into the back paddock. Our neighbour’s grey cat showed me the error of my ways by returning it -dead- to the back step. And looking at me as if to say there, I’ve avenged you, remember the lesson. Mouse: Nil. Grey Cat: 1.

The rainbow lorikeets act out their own colourful version of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds, stalking us demanding a feed. When service has been too slow coming, they’ve followed me door to door around the verandah, and set up a stakeout at the door en route from the kitchen to the garden. Unlike their demands on the neighbours at least they haven’t come inside our house. Yet.

Local knowledge is gold, and the G.O. kindly and wisely pre-warned me about frogs who know no boundaries. Leroy, the main-man of our green frog gang has no respect for personal space. He’ll springboard off a back or… his claim to fame is attaching himself to the nether regions of an earlier-era female houseguest as she sat on the toilet resulting in her panicked flee to the hilarity of the assembled company. As a child I admired green frogs, from a distance, in their ability terrorise my aunts. Now I enjoy how they casually hang out with us, like we’re part of the furniture in their house.

Visitors sometimes look askance at our tap water. Because the aforementioned bottlebrush tree overhangs a lot of the water collecting area of the roof, our water may be tinted an interesting shade of tan. Fortunately bottlebrush trees are also called “tea trees” and “frequently used in teas… has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties”. Although the colour takes a bit of getting used to, there’s no taste or harm to it.

At a time before we’d installed gas appliances and a wood burning fire we’d been supposed to take a winter holiday in Queensland, however the G.O.’s boss vetoed the time off so we settled for a long weekend at Taylors Arm, but Mother Nature intervened causing us to spend a cold early-winter week flooded in, several days of it without electricity. The experience wasn’t quite camping, nor was it glamping.

To underline the lesson, once the power came back on the TV advertisements teased us with “Queensland… Beautiful one day perfect the next“. Taylors Arm might not quite live up to that but writers have long waxed lyrical about bucolic pleasures…
“There is virtue in country houses, in gardens and orchards, in fields, streams, and groves, in rustic recreations and plain manners, that neither cities nor universities enjoy.” ~ Amos Bronson Alcott

Transplant shock is a term that refers to a number of stresses occurring in recently transplanted trees and shrubs. It involves failure of the plant to root well, consequently the plant becomes poorly established in the landscape. New transplants do not have extensive root systems, and they are frequently stressed by lack of sufficient water. Plants suffering from water stress may be more susceptible to injury from other causes such as the weather, insects, or disease. When several stresses are being experienced, the plant may no longer be able to function properly.”

Another ‘branching out’ story inspired by comments to my Out on a Limb post.

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41 thoughts on “prepping for transplant shock

    roughseasinthemed said:
    August 14, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Lovely use of the out on a limb thing. Adore the wildlife stories and pix. All we get are geckos, snakes, chameleons and a few sparrow type things. We did get a tortoise/turtle that we took to the river. I was reading that bats (along with jasmine, basil, rosemary and others) are good for deterring mozzies.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Thank you. It was reading about bats and mozzies that softened my attitude to microbats… an enemy of my enemy is my ally… And they are not so disconcerting to consider as big rats with wings type bats and flying foxes. I had no idea about the jasmine, basil, rosemary etc… we have plenty of jasmine & basil with rosemary and etc in progress.

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    memoirsofahusk said:
    August 14, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Cor blimey you do have wildlife! And there’s me thinking a neighourly fox is exciting… I can certainly live without your snakes – although we do have a few harmless ones and the adder they are rarely seen outside wilder heathlands and moors. I am also impressed by your unflappability – but then, that’s necessity too, isn’t it? I’m with the GO on spiders and mice – though have often ended up having to deal with them – plagues of slugs, ants, mice etc always seem to flood into the house when Archaeo-man is doing Archaeo stuff in Africa. A good reason for going with him! Look forward to more from TA as the seasons go by .

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:23 am

      A neighbourly fox is exciting… despite their downsides I’ve a long affection for foxes. I can live without snakes particularly browns & tigers, but a green or black going about their business is quite fascinating… it took me a long time and a lot of cold clammy sweats to feel that way and only at a distance.
      I’m not always unflappable, I’ve been known to squeak or shriek if surprised. From time to time I could use a slug or two -only- because they are eco-friendly way of cleaning bathrooms – http://www.anapsid.org/slugcleaner.html 🙂

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        memoirsofahusk said:
        August 15, 2015 at 7:49 pm

        Oh yuk, no, no, no! Why did I read that? I just cannot stand slugs,even the thought sets me gurning! And earwigs, Can’t stand earwigs. Now I’ll have to think of something nice to get them out of my head. Strawberry and rhubarb sorbet. There we go. Ah. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

          EllaDee responded:
          August 16, 2015 at 8:41 am

          When I think of shower cleaning products I think yuk… 🙂

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    davidprosser said:
    August 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I can’t help but smile at some of your descriptions, especially the bad tempered possum. This easing yourself into country life after city living is a great idea but you’ve visited T.A. so much now you’ve become quite blase about the uninvited guests. I’d say your transplant will be fine.
    xxx Massive Hugs to you and the G.O. xxx

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Thank you. I think if I’d went to TA uninitiated I’d have probably been inclined to pack up and move. I remember being quite skeptical of the tank water in the beginning because my grandparents’ farm tanks were always a bit dodgy but ours are fine and well maintained by the G.O.

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    katechiconi said:
    August 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Several out-loud laughs and nostalgic nods later, I have to tell you how much I enjoyed that! I’m glad you like frogs; you’ll be having a few close encounters when you finally do make it to Qld, as well as being eyeballed by barking geckos as they hang upside down from the ceiling. The G.O. will be please to hear they take care of 90% of spiders in this house…

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Thank you. You give good advice… “I’m sure there must be examples of your life out there which are amusingly different from your working life…”
      I do like frogs but am still inclined to be unhappy if they take me by surprise. By necessity I lost my fear of geckos while holidaying on a Fijian island many years ago. We have a noisy but so far invisible gecko, the G.O will be happy to hear he has an ally.

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    Gerlinde said:
    August 15, 2015 at 12:31 am

    I enjoyed reading your story and can totally relate to it. The roadkill turkey story made me think of the year I tried to cook a turkey in our mountain cabin at almost 6000 feet elevation. Raw turkey is not an option! I don’t mind spiders but draw the line at snakes. Several years ago I was not able to get rid of a nasty smell in our tiny bedroom until I found a decayed mouse wedged in the spring of our mattress, Yuck!
    Have a lovely weekend.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Thank you. I, just, prefer to encounter the smell of a dead rodent to alert me rather than as I have done put my hand on one inadvertently… and bolted shrieking into the backyard which alerted the G.O.! If the snakes keep to their business and away from the house I can live with them, otherwise all bets are off.

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    Glenda said:
    August 15, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Ella, I think you are already transplanted in spirit if not in flesh.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Had I not been able to have this gradual refresher at lessons in country life, I think being thrown in the deep end might have been traumatic for all involved.

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    ardysez said:
    August 15, 2015 at 8:03 am

    What an entertaining post Dale! I agree with Glenda, too, you are already there in spirit. I enjoy our various encounters with the wildlife though I have a mouse in the house at the moment and it refuses to be caught. I’m not as generous as you, I set traps. For those huge, unnerving Huntsmen spiders I have a large wide mouth plastic jar that I have found if I screw up my courage (and unscrew the lid) I can place the jar carefully over them, they obligingly hop into it, I quickly put the lid on, and then release them outside. And I’m definitely with you on the cold ham for Christmas. Thanks for the nice start to the weekend reading!

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Thank you. Traps mean dead mice so that would come under the G.O.’s domain. With the number of neighbouring cats I’m surprised there are mice but the cats are well fed and mostly leave things be except for recreational stalking which the birds are too smart to succumb to. I’ve been known to use a broom to escort spiders out but when the G.O. tried it the spider took offence and attacked him… I’m sure they sense his antipathy.

      Liked by 1 person

    diannegray said:
    August 15, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Everything seems to come to life in the country, Dale (I’m so glad you mentioned Green Acres – I loved that show!) This is a great post. We don’t have possums here (we used to in Canberra and they are not as cute as people think they look!) But I hear that they are going to start introducing the Tassie Devil to mainland Australia in an effort to control the wild cat and fox population. Now that’d be interesting! 😉

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Ok, I’m now waiting for a Tassie Devil to turn up on the back step looking for dinner… Your array of North Queensland critters makes TA’s look tame 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    acflory said:
    August 15, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I approached this post with a bit of anxiety – were you about to disappear into a surgical ward for a new heart? But then I started reading and spent the rest of the post in tears – of laughter. Please tell the G.O. I share his, ah, lack of enthusiasm for spiders. 😀

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Close… not a new heart… a new life! I’ve shed a few tears myself of all kinds, you have to laugh not cry; lucky walls can’t talk 🙂

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        acflory said:
        August 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

        -grin- Yes, the worst moments somehow end up becoming the funniest memories…if you wait long enough!

        Liked by 1 person

    anne54 said:
    August 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    I loved reading this! I don’t mind spiders, and will leave huntsmen until they get to a point where I can reach them with the glass and cardboard. (Our ceilings are quite high and I am not the tallest person in the world.) However, I was very wary when one was on the ceiling above the shower. It was a speedy shower in case the steam made it loose its grip and fall on me!!

    Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2015 at 7:39 am

      Thank you. I escort the eight-legged ones elsewhere if they are in the bedroom, and I would as well if they were on the shower ceiling, I do have some personal space boundaries. The G.O. would have refused to shower in that case!

      Liked by 1 person

        anne54 said:
        August 17, 2015 at 9:35 am

        My sister wouldn’t have even made it into the bathroom!

        Liked by 1 person

    Lori said:
    August 16, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Oh my Lord, and I thought the creatures I had to deal with in Florida were difficult. You’ve got so much more. You leave spiders? Eeeek. We had rodents in our attic in FL for a time. Then, one day, they just disappeared. We’re pretty sure Sneakers, our hunting cat took care of that issue for us. We had ring-neck snakes in our house that promptly had me living in a hotel, until we figured out where they were coming from and fixed it. Frogs. Well, they’re cute, but in the toilet, not so much. We had them too. Once we figured out they were tree frogs coming through the toilet’s vent, my husband got on the roof and covered them with a screen. No more toilet frogs.

    Before I moved to Florida, I had no concept of a Bottle Brush tree. My brother’s wife had never seen one before she visited us there, and was constantly marveling at the one in our Florida yard. You taught me something new. I had no idea it could be used for/in tea. Interesting.

    I forgot that you are on the opposite end of the globe when you said how hot it was on Christmas. Of course, in Florida it wasn’t cold either, but traditionally I was used to frigid Christmas’s. Even after living in Florida for 27 years, I never quite got used to a warm holiday season. This will be my first frigid one in a loooong time. Wish me luck. Heh.

    Thanks for the entertaining read about the creatures at Taylor Arms. Do you experience 4 seasons there?

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Florida sounds excessive, we’ve never, cross fingers, had invasions. I would leave the house too if there were snakes sharing the space… horrors. And frogs in toilets are unacceptable. We have a lid down rule, and if we had vents they would be covered. We had to screen the roof gaps-vents as something tiny and noisy was getting through.
      I was somewhat concerned at the colour of the bottlebrush water but when I found out it was tea I was fine, I like tea!
      Our seasons are sometimes a little crazy, like cool summer Christmases and warm Autumns, rain when it doesn’t normally and vice versa. But it’s generally cool & dryish in winter when it’s supposed to be, hot & stormy in summer. And in between the rest if the time.
      I won’t use the word cold because coming from Chicago you know what real cold is 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    August 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I hate when all you want is a nice shower and the power goes out. We can’t get water without it here either. Wow. You’re really amazing to fill the tub. I’d have probably cheated and used a dozen baby wipes and called it a day. 😉

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      It’s a small tub, was half full and no amount of wipes would have dealt with that dirt! I love having out tone water but no power no water is a pain, however on our shopping list is a small generator so we’ll have that covered.

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    sara said:
    August 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Of course I love this post, especially because it’s all about TA. Love the two quotes at the end, and think that transplant shock is an apt metaphor.

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      sara said:
      August 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      And it’s all true, I know that :). The critters, the heat, the floods, the unexpected power outages. I am on mouse (setting and emptying traps), spider and bug duty. Anything else : frogs, snakes, dead birds belong to the Bear. Don’t forget about tank water. We just ran out of water for the first time in 12 years tonight. Bad planning 😁

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        EllaDee responded:
        August 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

        I hate dead birds, they make me so sad… Once I sent the G.O. to remove one hanging from the back fence netting and it miraculously came to life upon his approach 🙂 I’m really going to have to adjust to using even less water, already when we’re there I wash less, think about it more when I turn on the tap.

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          sara said:
          August 17, 2015 at 4:12 am

          It’s the live animals that I can’t cope with. But, yes, dead birds are sad. Sometimes they fly into the windows. We went through an entire tank in 3 weeks – I think we must have a leak, because we weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Sigh.

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          EllaDee responded:
          August 17, 2015 at 6:49 am

          As the G.O. will attest, lovely old houses are always wanting something attended to. Yes. Sigh. We have additional tanks on our looong to-do list.

          Liked by 1 person

      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      I have always thought of those who have leapt rather than shuffled into their tree-sea changes, and admired their resilience and adventurousness 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        sara said:
        August 17, 2015 at 4:08 am

        Really? I always admire preparedness over spontaneity, especially in life changing endeavours – but, hey, that’s a peep into my conservative nature 🙂

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          EllaDee responded:
          August 17, 2015 at 6:50 am

          I admire spontaneity but don’t want to emulate it. Been there… the outcome has been more good luck than good management.

          Liked by 1 person

          sara said:
          August 17, 2015 at 6:51 am

          Exactly 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    Bill said:
    August 20, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I’m afraid the image of the frog and the nether regions is going to haunt me for a while. I have no objection to frogs, as long as the respect boundaries. A stunt like that crosses clearly over the line into the unacceptable. 🙂

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 21, 2015 at 6:41 am

      True. It’s a story we usually only need to tell once by way of explanation to visitors why they should put the toilet seat lid down 🙂

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    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    August 25, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I love this post. (Having spent weekends on farms where you could see outdoors between the boards of the walls – and the cold does blow in…explaining the mountain of quilts on each bed. Luxury to me was going to bed covered by a modern light weight warm blanket.) Roughing it (so not Glamping) does teach you a lot and you do develop skills and “character” as the old ones said.
    We had red rusty water from too much iron. (“Just as healthy as a tonic”, the said), and while we were thrill to finally get electricity, we always had a well with a bucket available when the power went out…and it does.
    Enjoyable post

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 25, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Thank you 🙂 Ah yes, similarly our house is luxurious compared to my grandparents’ farm which boasted a outside toilet way down near the gully with a dunny can that had to be emptied (but an improvement from the drop toilet!) and a chip heater that burned sticks for hot water.

      Liked by 1 person

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