The Chickens Are Drinking Their Own Bog Water. The Spiders Are Smirking. It’s a Glorious Australian Tuesday

I am starting to understand why people love leaf blowers so much

It is Tuesday morning and I am in the garden. I say garden, but it is more of a covered concrete slab at the back of our studio flat. It is time for a good spring clean, even though it is nearly autumn. In our garden we have a strawberry plant, a tomato plant, their special plant mister, a surfboard that has never been used, and a table. It is coming along quite nicely.

I have assigned myself to doing chores no one asked or expected of me. I started with the leaf blower, a job that is usually the territory of my wife. It is immediately clear why this is his job: it is fun, and I am bad at it. I forget to close the screen door and blow leaves and chicken poo into the house. Nevertheless, I am enjoying myself. Nothing a bit of vacuuming won’t fix, I think. Vacuuming is also my wife’s job.

Next, I uncover the hose attachment that magically turns the outside tap into a gerni. I have never heard this term in the UK before, maybe because I was never properly domesticated in powerblasting lethal spiders there. It is excellent fun.

In the UK we would call this jet washing, I think, and it is much more frequently used here. Gerni-ing, in its genericization, is the Australian equivalent to hoovering, which is resolutely not a thing here. I gerni the chicken shit off the floor, and the spiders off the walls, the table, the chairs, the table legs and the side of the chicken coop. I gerni the underside of my shoes so I can walk around without ruining my hard work. Then I gerni the special web-removing brush so I can use it to sweep. I understand why my wife loves pottering on the slab so much. I could do this as a job, I think, in the same way that as a child I thought I could do something useful, like being a doctor, as a job.

I scrub the floor with the brush, and look up to find my wife filming me through the screen door. It is lunch time in the cricket. “Are we going to get coffee soon?” he asks.

I re-gerni the floor for all the additional debris I got up sweeping. I realise too late the spiderwebs have been unperturbed by my jetwashing. I spray them with the hose turned up to full. The water bounces off them and all over me. The spiders smirk. I feel itchy.

A bug that looks like a cross between a cockroach and a grasshopper tries to approach me. I touch him with just the edge of the water jet. His corresponding jump takes him about five metres further than his previous one. The non-vegetarian within me thinks: good riddance.

The chickens start drinking from what is essentially their own bog water, dripping down the side of their enclosure. My wife pokes his head out. “Hey, this looks so good!” Compliments are my technique, I think. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to.

I keep finding bits I have forgotten to scrub. There are chicken footprints everywhere. It is quite warm out, even under the shade. I think about leaving a patch unfinished so my wife has a way to appreciate how much progress I have made.

I spend two glorious hours tackling the concrete, which was not even that dirty in the first place. Eventually I am done. I gerni my feet, which are filthy, because I undertook this chicken-poo cleaning business in my Birkenstocks. A true Australian would have done this in bare feet, I think. I let the neighbour’s chickens back out. “There you go,” I tell them lovingly. “A nice clean floor for you to shit all over.”


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