New family member

The last time we had a decent rain (I mean more than 15 drops) is at least 4 1/2 months ago. We've had a few showers since then, but they were all usually just enough to save us having to hand-water the veggie garden. All of New Ireland is suffering from the draught, but at Lissenung, we are lucky that we have a desalinator, a machine that turns saltwater into drinkable water. We ran out of rainwater over 3 months ago, so without the desal, we would have been forced to drink beer and wine all day. Hmmmmm, maybe we are not so lucky after all .....

On 29 December, Peni found a small cuscus, a marsupial belonging to the possum family. We have three adult cuscus on the island, so to find a baby was no surprise. Only a few days earlier, Ruthie had found a dead one, and the one that Peni brought in looked a lot like the less fortunate one. We gave the little creature some water and she drank and drank and drank. We wondered whether the other one had died from dehydration or lack of food due to the draught. Peni's new friend was still a baby, she couldn't climb properly yet and had a really hard time holding on to the food we gave her. Apparently, they stay in mum's pouch till they are 7 or 8 months, so mabye mum had kicked them out because she was finding it hard to take care of herself in the dry weather, let alone look after a baby.

Little cuscus on arrival and after a big drink

With no rain in sight, we decided to keep the baby cuscus until we could be sure that she would be able look after herself. We got a cardboard box, made a nice bed with some old towels and that was to be her new home. As they are nocturnal, it would be difficult to keep her in the box at night, but that's how it had to be.

She settled in very quickly and was not really afraid of us humans. In fact, she loved to cuddle, and still does. At feeding time, we sit on the office couch, she with her bum snuggled into my side, wolfing down a huge portion of pawpaw or, as of late, hibiscus leaves and flowers. She also loves apples, but they are a bit hard to come by up here in Kavieng.

That apple is almost as big as the little cuscus!
 Of course we needed to find a name for the little one. At first, my suggestion was to call her Rain, as she had appeared in one of those very rare rain showers. Also, her tinkles are more like rain squalls - pretty full on! Dietmar didn't like it, though, so for a while, she was just "Baby". Then Alex, Monica, Ross & Malcolm visited from Sydney, who are all more or less Italians. Malcolm came up with the name "Giacchetta", which means little jacket in Italian. Since she has such a beautiful fur coat of her own, we thought that would be a very fitting name. Now, Malcolm doesn't even know how to spell Giacchetta, which is I said above they are more or less Italians.

We haven't been able to keep Giacchetta in her box for long, so she now sleeps in one of the office cupboards during the day and roams around the office at night. The other morning I found her sitting on top of the air conditioning. Every night, just before I go to bed, she has a big feed and we have a cuddle together. I have lost count of how many times I have fallen asleep on the office couch, with Giacchetta snuggled up against my belly.
Cute, hey?

Luckily, our hibiscus plants have not
sufferd from the lack of rain!

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