08:00 - 4 hour cycle feeding
First we feed Winter and Pirate, the 2 smallest Eastern Grey joeys plus Pudgy and Waddles (Wombat joeys). The smallest are permanently in a pouch so they have to be toileted immediately after feeding. After the little ones, the 7 older Joeys (Bailey, Banjo, Jackson, Sunny, Ruby, Lucy and Wiggles) are fed. Next are the older wombats, Dimpy and Deli who are out in the small wombat yard. In between, Sponge Bob the magpie will come calling for his special meat mix that is hand fed direct into his beak. After that, grab a cup of tea and 15 minutes break. Refer to the sidebar about 4 hourly and 6 hourly feeding.
10:05 - 6 hour cycle feeding
Now it’s time for the 11 older Joeys (who are about 12 months of age). We go to their separate enclosure and manage the chaos as the hungry ones mob you, while a few usually wait quietly. The trick here for a newbie is to remember who has been fed and who has not – when 11 grey joeys all about the same size are hopping about out of their pouches you can lose touch of who has, or has not, been fed yet. The expert carers recognise the kids individually by their face, but that takes some time to become skilled. Refer to the sidebar “Why do Joeys need to be fed around the clock?” for more information about 4 hourly and 6 hourly feeding.
Once the Kangaroos are done, it’s time to feed 2 Ringtail Possums, 4 Brush-tail Possums, 2 Sugar Gliders and Dingle Dingles (an Emu).
Then, we take fresh cut green grass (or maybe 2 days old grass) out into 2 separate yards with 10 adolescent Kangaroos and 5 Black Wallabies.
11:00 - no feeding
Wash and dry all the empty milk bottles. Now is a chance to clean out the poop from the larger Wombat joeys sleeping box (6 of them in there!) and replace all the bedding. If there is any poop from the Joeys on the floor, that needs to be removed from the nursery.
While on the subject of poop, the outside area needs to be swept and cleaned as well.
12:08 - 4 hour cycle feeding
Repeat the feeding cycle as per 08:00 plus toileting of the pouch joeys. Refer to the sidebar titled “How do you toilet a joey?”
13:10 – HUMAN TIME
We take 40 minutes for lunch, just a quick sandwich and a wonderful cup of tea or coffee.
14:00 – ODD JOBS
Hang out the wet washing to take advantage of some sunshine.
14:25 - exercise time
Now it’s exercise time for the little pouch Joeys … Winter and Pirate. In the wild, their mother will occasionally, only when it’s safe, evict them from her pouch and encourage them to exercise, learn how to hop, discover dirt and grass and generally build confidence and skills to eventually go solo.
Someone gets the very fun job of taking Winter and Pirate outside and sitting on the grass with them. These two are very small and did not get out of their pouches but that’s OK. They have some sun and a good sniff of things and looked around.
16:05 - 4 hr & 6 hr cycle feeding
Repeat the 08:00 feeding process plus toileting, then repeat the 10:00 feeding process. This feed is always busy and hectic. The animals that want to be fed poke their heads out of the pouch and look for you, whilst the older ones who are mobile are at your feet and eagerly waiting for their milk! It’s crazy and stressful and rewarding all at the same time.
17:00 - Possum time
Prepare the possum food, which is an assortment of fruit and vegetables cut to size, which is placed in the enclosures for possums and gliders to consume during the night.
18:00 – MILK BOTTLES
Prepare the milk bottles for the night shift. The main difference between the different joeys is just the quantity, but some get special additions. Pudgy – a wombat Joey - gets a very special mix as follows … first, go out into the bush and find a fresh wombat poo. Crush it up into tiny bits, sieve it to remove big pieces. Now you have a lovely dark green liquid poo which is mixed with her milk. This is essential to deliver the necessary gut flora that she needs as she grows. Again, we have to replicate the process that happens in nature, no matter how yucky it is.
18:30 – HUMAN TIME
It’s meal time for the humans about now. We hope the 24x7 rescue hotline does not ring. Everyone needs a break.
20:10 - 4 hour cycle feeding
Repeat the 4 hour feeding cycle, plus toileting for the little animals.
21:15 – BEDTIME AT LAST (FOR SOME)
Some of the team can now go to bed because they will be getting up at 04:00 for the first of the 4 hour cycle feeds tomorrow. The others will manage the 00:00 feed (4 hourly again) and hit the sack by about 01:30.
21:25 - a rescue call
A truckie phones in while on the road and reports a mother Koala with a joey on her back, crossing the Hume Highway at Chiltern. We have to get someone there in case she was injured, or does not make it safely across the highway. A call is placed to one of our volunteers who will go out at any time. We give him the information and hope for the best.
23:05 – RESCUE UPDATE
Our Koala rescuer calls back. He went down to Chiltern, drove both sides of the highway for a couple of kms looking for any injured Koalas and found nothing. It was almost impossible in the dark. He says that we need to go back at first light 06:30 tomorrow and perform a complete search.
00:10 - 4 hour cycle feeding
Repeat the 4 hour feeding and toileting. Finally (about 01:30) the night shift go to bed.
03:55 - 4 hour cycle feeding
Glenda gets up, starts the generator and boils the kettle to warm the milk bottles. Someone crawls out of bed at 04:05 and makes a wake up cup of tea. One look at the pouches, those little faces looking at you … wanting their milk … plus the 7 older joeys are out of their pouches and clambering at the door wanting their milk … another day begins.
06:00 – MILK BOTTLES
Make the milk bottles and special mixes for the day shift (3 x 4 hour cycles and 2 x 6 hour cycles). Luckily, there is enough special wombat poo liquid left from yesterday.
06:30 – RESCUE (continued)
At first light, someone goes to help with the search for any injured Koalas on the Hume Highway down near Chiltern. As it happened, 2 rescuers searched for about 1.5 hours and found nothing, so that was a good outcome, or was it? We would not have been able to just leave it and hope for the best.
08:00 – GO BACK TO SQUARE ONE
Go back to the start and repeat, there are animals to be fed.