We have some refugees from the floods that have been camping in the local area - a mob of Angus cattle also colloquially known as black polls.
I have been referring to them as Japanese cattle since they move as a herd in one tight group. Even with the hundreds of acres they have available to them, you never see them more than 20 metres apart from one another. They are a tight knit group used to confined spaces.
This leads me to the meaning of the title for this little piece.
City friends who I had not seen for years rang and asked if they could stay for a night to break their journey north, and since their arrival would be at night I gave them all the usual warnings about the road into our farm house. Go slow: the bumps and ditches have been made worse during the rains, don’t be tempted to leave the track since you will get bogged and the new one watch out for - black polls on the road.
On the night of their arrival the wine was chilled, dinner was ready and the visitors arrived more or less on time.
When asked how their trip was their reply amused me; the number of cattle on our track had surprised and slowed them, but they never saw any timber on the road and wondered why I would warn them about ‘black poles’. They thought that the recent floods must have dumped burnt fence posts on the road into our place and were quite at a loss as to why we hadn’t removed the obstacles from the road.
It seems common language is not so common after all.