Tuesday 22 January 2013

Outdoor Paddling Pool

With the geese now wing clipped I can construct them an outside run today without risk of them taking off into the wide blue yonder (in this case rather overcast and with light snow falling). I build a circular corral outside their door using an off-cut of sheep wire generously donated by our fencing guy, Paul M after the last job for use as tree guards against sheep.

The geese immediately come out to explore the new space and spend the afternoon coming in and out and splashing about in the crate of water, I have surrounded the crate (which I must stress is only a temporary pool pending them getting moved to their proper 'home', the sheep field / orchard) with logs and rocks to allow them to scramble up to the rim and climb in if they wish for a quick 'swim', all be it a rather space-restricted one.

So far they have only messed around on the edges but they love ducking their heads and necks and then throwing the water down their backs. In this way they are cleaning themselves really well and starting to look bright and white, rescued from their Rahara mud-farm 'Somme'. They can not get at any mud here (yet). They are also settling down well and do not run about in alarm as much when we appear or come near. We are delighted with them and we are sure we will enjoy their company as well as their eggs.

We also took the opportunity to introduce them to the dogs and vice versa. This had to be on the leads at first as the dogs would charge the fence and panic the birds. The geese do not yet know they are safe behind the wire. That gave me a nice chance to take a catch-up pic of the two pups at nearly 8 months, looking very shaggy and woolly bear here. Towser with his floppy ears is on the left. He will stay this way now - if he didn't prick his ears up in the first few weeks, then it's not going to happen, but we find him cute anyway and it certainly makes it easy to tell them apart even at a distance.

Meanwhile I was out with Bob today across his land with the tractor doing some more logging. He'd asked for my help, I thought to log up a tree already felled by our neighbours, the McG's, but in the event "that" was another tree and I had to fell 'ours' before we started. We did OK and spent a couple of hours at it, but my chain saw had started playing up and was refusing to idle. You could still cut the wood at high revs but stand back and 'lift off' and the saw sputtered to a halt. I was getting worn out with the number of times I had to re-start the thing by pulling on the starter cord.

About 11:30, Bob called a halt "for today" and suggested we go to see a man he knows 'out beyond Moyne' (a nearby village) who was good with chainsaws and would sort my machine out. We broke for tea and then piled into the 2CV (much to the delight and amusement of Bob, who'd never been in such a car) and headed out into the back woods. This man turned out to be an amazing 'find'. He is a real back-woods looking bloke with a bushy beard and a pony tail. He is chubby and speaks with a foreign (Dutch?) accent. Bob did find out his name once ("it's an unusual name") but has forgotten it.

His workshop and, indeed, his house are old and wooden and are in the middle of a grass-less wood running with chickens and ducks. His workshop is an Aladdin's cave of broken quad bikes and other equipment but his passion and knowledge on his subject was amazing. He immediately spotted that my saw was ex Lidl and knew that it had been €120 but said that they were a qood quality saw. He was interested in how I was getting on with it and delighted that I had been able to obtain extra chains and a sharpener. He gave every impression of being delighted and welcoming of this new bloke who loved his saw and tried to look after it. He gathered up my saw and had me write down my name and phone number. He is going to phone me back when it's done.

(Again) Meanwhile I have sneaked in a couple of pictures, one of the pathetic snow we woke up to this morning, more like a hard frost really, but we are being careful what we wish for! 2nd is a shot of the 'baby' chicks at 13 weeks, now looking very leggy and 'velociraptor'- ish. Their long thighs and high 'keel' have us convinced that these are both boys, so the coq-au-vin pot looms for them in March or April.

We are working our way steadily through the home made wine, in this case some bottled into a recycled Greek Brandy (Metaxa) bottle. It is so light and quaff-able that we are sometimes tempted to pile into the 2nd bottle when perhaps we shouldn't. In our defence, though, we are planning to take a break from the booze for the '40 Days and Nights' of Lent. This not for any religious reasons - it is just a nicely placed and sensibly long 'fast' which reassures us in the years when we do it, that we are not desperate alcoholics! The last drink we will take (all being well) is on Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day on February 12th, and we will then try to stay off it till Good Friday. That's our 'Lent' although it might not be recognised by any theologists. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we are not so virtuous.

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