Jo was very angry with us for showing up UN announced, she reinforced the fact she hated surprises and told us we should have called. Although we got a small lecture I knew she was really happy to see us. The last couple of months had been rough on her after losing Paul and it was good to see some familiar faces. She gave us and our entourage a drink, showed them all where to lay their swags and told us all to feel at home. She had heard about Tony's lack of employment from my many phone calls and told us we could stay as long as we liked and we knew the rules. For those of you who don't know Jo. The rules were simple!! She helped you, you helped her. We were back at Gregory and happy so we didn't care what the rules were, and we were more than pleased at Jo's offer. I was worried at first that Mickalee might not like all the noise of the pub, but soon realised it wasn't going to affect her. I should have guessed she had slept through a cyclone. We settled back in and it was like we had never left.
Tony, Shaun and Jacko helped in the yard, by slashing, mowing, weeding and whipper snipping, they also made sure they drank their fair share of XXXX Gold!! Alyssa and myself helped in the bar and kitchen. At one stage I served a beer while breast feeding Mickalee. The gulf was still getting a lot of rain off cyclone Larry's depression and the dirt roads were boggy and holding up trucks heading to Zinafex mine, 70k west of the hotel. So truck drivers were our customers as they were stranded. The locals also were still ever present and happy with the HUGE wet season we had.
I breast fed Mickalee for 6 weeks, that was all I could stand. She was a terrible feeder and was emptying me both sides every half an hour. I was emotionally exhausted and sleep deprived as she was always hungry and not sleeping. So I changed her onto formula and after her first feed she slept through the night. Well from 9pm to 4am anyway so that was close enough for me. She never looked back and mother and baby were happier with the sleep.
Easter come around very quick that year and Mickalee got to have some chocolate via her breast milk as I had eaten my fair share, we spent the day at the hotel with friends and had a great feed of red claw yabbies. That Tony, Shaun, Jacko and Alyssa had caught out of "Barkley Gully". It took them a very long time to get there and back on the boggy black soil road but it was worth wait. Jo's sister Angela was visiting from Brisbane and let me put it this way, Angela is not used to the "hands on" way we do things out here. However she thought it quite an experience to peal and eat her own yabbie. She had told us prior to the yabbies arriving that she had not done that module. I am still trying to figure how she managed with those long manicured nails. Jo's good friend Charles from Mt Isa refused to have any part of it and ate a meat pie. We told him it was his loss and to enjoy his pie. Another good Friend Sharon who also lives in Gregory helped with the eating of the yabbies and she has a great time fiddling with the claws so those of us who couldn't be bothered with the fiddly bits gave our claws to Sharon. She was eating claws for hours.
There were a lot of new babies in the Gregory area when Mickalee was born and they seemed to be increasing nearly monthly. Either someone was pregnant or had a new born baby. So the semi regular trip made to Gregory from R.A.F.S (remote, area, family, services) was always a good catch up and gossip session for us mums. It was also a great chance for us to discuss milestones our kids had reached and problems we were experiencing as new mums, so we helped each other out as most of us were up there with out constant family support. Monthly clinics held by the R.F.D.S were also great catch up days.
Mickalee went for her 6 week check up at exactly 6 weeks because as it just so happened the flying doctors were due. So I took her to see the child health nurse and everything was OK, they were happy with her weight gain and said they would see me next month for her to have her 8 week needles. I was a little worried at first because I assumed these immunisations had to spot on time wise, I was a new mum and had not heard any different. The nurse assured me getting them done at 10 weeks was no problems and it would save me a trip to town with a new baby by myself.
A month went by very quickly, Tony was still filling in at the farm, Shaun, Alyssa and Jacko had gone and I was helping Jo as much as I could. Tony or Sharon would nurse Mickalee while I cooked at night. Jo had to go away, so I tried to run the place and I think for memory Ben had come back to help. The night of the clinic I also found a nice couple Jeremy and Shona who were camped on the river to work for Jo as we were short of staff. I took Mickalee to the R.F.D.S for her 10 week neddles and yes she cried but all babies do and other than that she seemed fine. She slept well and I had given her panadol as suggested when she got a temperature. The next morning I changed her and found blood in her nappy, and she still had a temp I think it was about 38. I phoned the doctors straight away and they said pack your things we are coming to get her. Obviously my first concern was Mickalee, so I organised everything I needed while on the phone to Wendy at the farm asking her to find Tony and tell him to get here A.S.A.P. I was very upset and Wendy radioed Tony, told him to go home then got in her car and came to check on me. I also called Jo's daughter Jackie as I couldn't get a hold of Jo tell her what was going on. I was very worried about leaving Jeremy and Shona who had only started that morning and Ben (who sometimes was a bit spacey) in charge of the pub. Jackie said the pub would still be standing and to not worry about it. Tell them they could call her if they needed anything and get on the plane. Tony got to the pub and I told him what was going on, so he loaded us up and drove us to the dirt strip to meet the plane. Mickalee still had a high temp but seemed happy enough and basically slept though all the commotion and worry around her. The nurse told me that she suspected it was probably just constipation and we would be there soon the doctors would fix it. As she was only a ten week old baby and such a high temp when we got into the Emergency room at Mt Isa hospital everyone was basically running around me, talking between themselves and focusing on what was wrong with her. I was not there main priority and explaining things to me and that point would have wasted time. They still didn't know what was wrong with her and the explanations were made later. I helped hold her while they made 3 attempts at getting a drip in, they also drew urine from her with a needle and then they told me they had to do a spinal tap to get fluid from her spine to check for meningitis and meningacocol. I think the nurse must have seen my face at this point and told me that no-one would think I was a bad mum if I took a breather and went outside. For those of you who have kids and have been in a similar situation you a very torn, the doctors are helping your child but at the same time sometimes they have to hurt them to get the required result. At times I wanted to just steal her away and cuddle her, then punch the doctor but I knew that wouldn't help. Jo flew into Mt Isa from Brisbane just as I flew in from Gregory, she arrived expecting a car full of fuel and all her belongings loaded in the car, she was in a rush to get back as she had left me there basically alone. She asked Jackie if she had filled her car and Jackie simply said "no", "what about all my things are they in the boot?", "no". "Jackie I told you I was in a hurry I want to get back to give Becky a break." Jackie told her what had happened and Jo came to the hospital. She found me outside by myself on the phone to mum bawling my eyes out. I told her about all the itisis the doctors were talking about and I was worried. She said not to worry as Mickalee is in the right place and everything would be OK. Mickalee's doctor was Mr Westmorland and he was great. He explained everything in terms we could understand and I really appreciated that. Mickalee spent 3 or 4 days in hospital and she was diagnosed with a case of salmonella. I found this confusing as she was not on any form of solids and he said it could have been something as simple as a fly landing on her bottle or dummy. He added no matter what I say you are going to go home and sterilise everything (which I did) but do not blame myself. Kids pick up bugs all the time and she was OK now so don't worry. All the staff and nurses were great to us during her stay and I was glad when it was all over.
The house in Mt Isa was an expense we didn't need and really needed to decide if we were going to go back there or stay in Gregory. Tony had been doing part time work at the "Hay farm" since about a week after we returned to Gregory and we were not expecting it to develop into full time work as Ashley really needed to put 2 workers into the accommodation they had. So we were out of the equation due to me not working but caring for Mickalee. Tony was basically working for them until they found full time workers again. So it looked like we needed to keep the house in Mt Isa until something permanent came up. During this time AA Co (who owned the Hay farm) sold one of it's property's and Ashley acquired an old caravan from there and planned to use it as more accommodation. So Tony was offered a full time position at "Gregory Hay farm" and we were delighted to accept as It meant we had our own little two bedroom cottage.
We had made several trips into Mt Isa to collect all our belongings and to tidy the house for the new renters to move in, as we were cutting short our lease so I had arranged for some friends of some friends to take it over as they were currently in the market, so it all worked out for everyone and we got out of it reasonably well. We lost our bond as it was used for the carpet cleaning, yard to be mowed and weeded and the pest spraying however that was only due to lack of time on our part and us not being able to get there to do it ourselves. We were just glad to be rid of it. Once we had everything we moved into the little cottage at the farm.
I feel at this point I should mention the other family members we had at the time, Bonnie & Clyde (no pics on digital camera of clyde they are all on film) who were Bull mastiff cross dogs who were also brother and sister and a little soon to be big puppy who was a cross of some sort called Barkley. When we moved to the farm we had some major hints dropped to us that this many dogs were not welcomed and seeing as two of them were male they would only cause trouble with Ashley and Wendy's UN spayed bitch. So after the hints we decided it would be best to give both males away and keep the peace. We gave Clyde to a friend called Gene and he soon traded him to a man in Normanton for a motorbike, and we gave Barkley to a friend across the river called Munchie. Both boys lived up to their parents reputation and became great hunting dogs. For those of you who are a little UN educated in the hunting department, dogs are used to catch feral pigs, so the hunter can keep them live until they get close to a freezer truck. The pigs organs are kept so they can be checked for disease and if they pass disease free then they are exported for meat. This give the hunters pocket money and the grazers happy because the feral's are being removed. Clyde met his end when he ate a bait, these are 1080 poison hidden in pieces of meat to kill Dingo's and Barkley overheated when doing what he loved, on a very FNWQ (far north west Queensland) day. We still have Bonnie (Clyde's sister) and gained a new addition "Hippy chic" when we got back to Gregory after having Brandy.
Bye for now and Happy blogging.