Strange wails in the 'hood grab Wendyl Nissen's attention.
Most neighbourhoods have their fair share of noise pollution. Parties going into the early morning, lawnmowers eagerly maintaining backyards or children heaving themselves into prostrate tantrums.
None of these bothers me in the slightest. It's all part of living in an inner city neighbourhood, important to feel the vibe, that sort of thing.
But last week a strange sort of wail came sliding its way over the fences onto our back deck. It was a gorgeous spring evening and we were sitting outside pretending summer had arrived.
"Is that an abandoned baby?" I asked the family.
They had not heard the peculiar wail and they were also not much interested in me bringing up my abandoned baby fantasy again. For years I have had a premonition that one day I would come home to find a basket on my doorstep containing a baby, or at the very least a puppy, or perhaps a kitten.
The wail came over the fence again. This time everyone heard it and looked at each other. Human baby or animal baby? We discussed what we would do for each scenario and then there was another wail.
"It's a goat," said my husband, drawing on his 54 years of being a confirmed city dweller who has only just bought his first pair of gumboots. "Or, more correctly, a kid," he added knowledgeably.
"How would you know what a kid sounds like?" I asked.
"He's right," said one of the children. "Definitely a kid."
I shooshed everyone so that we could get a clear signal for the kid who was wailing.
It came again over the fences. A plaintive cry for its lost mother.
"Who would get a goat for an inner-city property in the middle of Grey Lynn?" I said.
"What's the matter?" smirked my husband. "Are you worried someone's trying to out-Wendyl Wendyl?"
He had a point. For four years I have kept hens on our small, inner city property, bringing to the street a certain rural charm which is often commented on.
"Gosh, those chickens are loud," the neighbours say.
"Isn't it lovely to have a little bit of the country right in the middle of the city," I reply.
I prefer not to notice that they don't always agree with me. I also spend most mornings launching myself out of bed at 6.30am to shut my chickens up when they momentarily confuse their sex and crow like roosters. The morning I returned to bed having dealt to them, but not realising I had hen poo on my foot, was a bit of a setback.
I can also be found occasionally at 6.30am stomping down the street in my nightie with a hen or two under my arm after they have outwitted my fences and raided our street's immaculate gardens.
"I've never thought about keeping a goat," I said to my husband, something I began thinking about. In one scenario I am walking the goat in Grey Lynn park on a lead, in another I have my milk-maid outfit on and am filling a small bucket with fresh goat's milk.
I went on to the council website and discovered, to my joy, that it is perfectly fine to keep a horse, a goat or a sheep in the city as long as they aren't a nuisance. "No," was all my husband said.
But every evening when I hear that kid wail, I'm one step closer to getting that goat herd set up in the back garden.