I’m a species of birdbrain, I admit it. Encircled by so many birds I sometimes fancy I’m thinking bird thoughts, mostly concerning food. With guinea fowl, chickens, ducks and geese populating the orchard, whose unnetted fruit trees attract in turn a massive population of non-domesticated birds, birdsong is the dominant tune on the farm radio. Even now, in the belly of the night, the magpies serenade the full moon, a young rooster boasts to his jaded harem and a whole collection of geese honk a glorious chorus, all in counterpoint to distant wave crash. From a nearby hollow, a steady whine from a machine harvester shudders across the night. And still it’s quiet.
I patrol the vineyard in maximum moonlight. The kangaroos are here again, pilfering their quotient of grapes. Two clump off and pound into the fence where I’ve repaired it. One tears a hole through the wire and scrambles through, but the other spins back, heading my way. I zap him with my flashlight, causing him to lope back into the vines. “Sisyphus “R” Us”, comments my little tweet-brain. Here we go again, again. I suppose the whole "chase the animal out of the grapes” routine would be really annoying if everything weren’t so beautiful, the moon engorged to fullness, bobbing in the perfect clear purple charcoal sky, relentless waves resounding, restless birds clattering, kangaroos appropriating their tax of Cabernet Sauvignon.
And then it clicks in my birdbrain. It’s a tithe exacted in exchange for all of this. I am paying for the privilege of being here on this land with these grapes. And then it clicks over again – they are animals and they are hungry and my fence is in disrepair. Nice try birdbrain. Time to fix the blasted fences.