Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 43 [58]

     Peppermint and Fencepost:

                        Ironbark

  (extract from a work in progress)

                      By Uli Krahn

After the incident with the fox, Peppermint paid more attention to their boss male, Ironbark. He must’ve been aware of Ironbark before, but he was just a mass of fur and muscle with a head very high up. Ironbark ignored the young ones, though he wouldn’t hop over you or push you over. Well he would hop over you, but not on you. There was little reason a joey should pay attention to anything else but his mum, and the joeys his own age. But after Ironbark had rescued them from the fox, Peppermint watched closely what Ironbark got up to. Later he’d replay whatever he’d noticed with his mum. So if Ironbark had lost patience with one of the young ones, playfully accosting him and cuffed him over the ear, Peppermint would try to cuff his mum Wattle with a similar casually powerful stroke. If Ironbark had gripped a bush like he was strangling the fox again, Peppermint reached high to get a grip of his mum’s neck. That usually got him a hug. If Ironbark lay in the sun dozing – which is what he usually did – Peppermint would scratch himself a little dent in the dry leaves and lie there with what he imagined was a similar powerful majesty. Once he observed Ironbark playing an unusual game with a doe, but when he tried that with his mum, she laughed so hard she nearly fell over. So he left that

Photo: Ray Drew

one out of his repertoire. What Peppermint couldn’t figure out was how and why Ironbark had known they’d gone into the dangerous blackberry jungle. He never seemed to pay attention to anybody, much less hop on rescue missions after absconding joeys. Peppermint asked Wattle, who said that the bigger roos noticed a lot more than they let on. Seeing that Peppermint was impressed, Wattle told him that once, Ironbark had killed a wild dog. Then he followed the wild dogs for a full day and strangled the wild dog’s wife, too, to make sure they wouldn’t come back. He’d been furious, the wild dogs had killed several joeys and even attacked the bigger roos. Strangling a wild dog! Of course Peppermint had seen how Ironbark attacked the fox, but he hadn’t really thought that roos might do anything other than run away, and perhaps, like Gumleaf, fight when cornered. But now that he thought about it, Ironbark hadn’t been cornered by the fox. Peppermint, Gumleaf and Fencepost had been cornered, but Ironbark had been the attacker. His respect for the boss buck grew even bigger. Hopefully he’d be strong like Ironbark one day, so that it wasn’t all running away like the does always did.

“Running away is useful”, his mum said. “But remember you can kick and strangle, too.”

 

Now Peppermint practices kicks on his mum and on bushes and trees. And works hard on his strangling. It isn’t so bad that it always ends with his mum giving him a tight hug.

Find out about Uli Krahn at Day 8 [93]

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