On the weekend, my husband and I were doing cattle work on a block of land between Rendelsham and Beachport. We were vaccinating and drenching cows as well as calves, plus ear-tagging and castrating the male calves. There was a lot of bovine bellowing going on as the cows were separated from their babies.
As the day wore on and the number of separations diminished, the bellowing decreased.
I stopped to rest a few times and pondered on the potential quiet of the place. There are no nearby homes; just an infrequently used adjacent dirt road, rocky hills, a large swamp and the Reedy Creek Drain. There was no evidence of jets flying overhead and certainly no train whistles in the distance.
I didn’t bother nor did I have the inclination to check my phone. So, the blabber of text messages, Facebook and Twitter were silenced.
When I was a kid growing up at Wrattonbully, I would sometimes try to imagine what the scene there would have been like one hundred years earlier. No fences, homes, sheds, yards or roads would have existed. There would have been sheep grazing and probably some cattle on the extensive Robertson estate. The landscape would have had many more living red gums. Smoke may have been spotted rising from a shepherd’s campfire.
Anyway back at the cattle yards, I reflected on how removed I felt from even the experiences of the past week. Out there, I could not hear one political comment which irritated me and I wasn’t confronted with images of starving refugees rescued by Indonesian fishermen when authorities from nations had turned them away repeatedly. No e-mails demanding me to respond, no phone ringtones, no traffic noise and no radio background soundtrack. There was no enduring trauma resulting from childhood sexual abuse, no feeble excuses for cutting federally funded programs and no talkback inanity.
How quiet then would it be there once we had completed our work with the cattle and returned them to the paddock? I find as I age that I crave silence. I do wonder whether this is some desire to return to my youth, to a landscape that was so devoid of human noise.
At school, there are times when I walk out into the quietened school yard when the children have returned to class after a break and I stop to listen and watch the magpies, seagulls, sparrows and wrens reclaim the space and search for crumbs the children have left behind.