Thursday 9 January 2014

Settled in.

Left to right, Goosey, Goocie and George. 
Our new gander, George, has settled in well with his new women. They were a bit shouty on the day we took the previous gander away from them, maybe suffering from separation anxiety but have calmed right down now. There was no fighting - I just saw one prod by one of the geese which had him nipping a few paces out of range, but that evening all three allowed me to shepherd them 'home' to their night quarters where they all three seem to be a lot calmer and quieter about their supper feed. Perhaps it was the old gander doing all the hissing and shouting to make sure that once I'd put the feed in I got out of the way again fast; George does not do this.

William and 'Miss White' (a Hubbard) peck at the frozen pond.
George's former life had him in a bit of lawn with a couple of drakes but just what Charlotte calls "a small paddly pool" to bath in. He does all the head-dipping and showers water over his back and preens himself but we are wondering if maybe he has not learned how to swim. So far he has not ventured into our bigger water bodies (the enamel bath, half of a blue plastic drum and a 5 foot diameter, butyl lined pond) for any kind of total immersion baptism. He watches the women go in but does not dare to see if he will float. No doubt he'll get there; the other geese took days and weeks to learn the ramp up to the bath. So for the moment he looks a little grubby, and not the pristine white of a well splashed, dipped goose.

Sorry for the poor picture. Guinea fowl in flight. 
We are amused by the ability of the Guinea fowl to fly despite being wing-clipped by the guy who sold them to us having clipped their wings, allegedly knowing what he was doing. He proudly showed us to cut only one wing (which would be correct) and to only cut the main primaries back to the point at the tip of the alula (thumb) feathers. Well these guys could fly over Liz's head (about 5 foot 1 inch) from the day they were clipped, so as a method of preventing them tree-roosting or straying it was doomed to failure. This did not, as it turned out, represent a problem because they have been perfect angels from day 1, never attempting any of these bad habits. Min, the female, is seen here descending from the orchard gate; she rather took me by surprise and hence the poor photo quality.

Blue skies! (and a First Quarter Moon)
Meanwhile, we have surprised ourselves by being able to stick rigidly to our New Year's Resolutions. We decided jointly to have a 'dry' January after the excesses of Christmas, so not a drop of alcohol has passed our lips. Admittedly this is only the 2nd weekend but we are feeling good about this and we are likely to hang in there. Liz decided no more smoking indoors, so she now goes outside whatever the weather to puff away. The plan is to make the house no longer smell of tobacco smoke, but it has also had a good effect on the actual amount she smokes. She has even gone outside in the worst weather when I am saying "Ah come on - surely you'd be forgiven in this gale and rain!"

Knitted by Liz - Raglan sweater
My other resolution is to FINISH the winter with a full log store instead of a part, or 'almost', empty one. This too has been going well and lately I have been attacking some big trunk/bole pieces of ash which Bobby and I cut last winter (and in doing so killed my old chain saw). These bits sat around in the yard all year deciding whether to be rustic benches or firewood but I have now started slicing them up and splitting the slices into 'logs' for the range. Today I treated myself to a splitting wedge to cut down on the damage I am doing to my good axe by belting it from behind with a sledge hammer when it sticks part way through the grain.

And finally, Liz has finished my Raglan sweater, her biggest project since the most recent outbreak of knitting. We are both very pleased with it and she has showed it off to the Knit and Natter club where the ladies know about these things and are impressed by the even tension and consistent knitting, as well as by the skill with which she has sewed it all together. Liz is now scouting through an enormous pile of knitting mags borrowed from Carolyn for what to create next. Any suggestions?

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