Thursday 12 June 2014

(Officially) Off the Road

Well, the year rolled round and the belovéd 2CV finally ran out of tax, so we had to make our unwillingness to battle against the 'machine', official. We want the car to stay registered in this country, so we had to submit a "Statutory Off Road Declaration" promising that we will not use, park or stray at all on the public highway. This stands for 12 months after which time you have to re-new it.

My hope beyond hope is that the rules around classic/vintage cars will change and exempt the car from the NCT, specifically on the emissions bit which I repeatedly failed. The cut-off is currently fixed at 1980 registrations (mine's 1986). The UK recently changed to a rolling '30 years old' so that, yes folks, even the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro are now "classics" (yep, square steering wheel and all!). Till then the 2CV is an untaxed farm vehicle used for hauling trailers full of tree branches about within the small holding but not allowed on the road.

Pirate the Cat. Sorry about the rubbish picture. 
We MAY have acquired a new cat. We are being visited by a starving stray who is not in the best of health. We have not yet been able to get a hold of this cat and have a good look, but he/she seems to be very manky around the ears, may have a sunken, useless eye and is definitely very thin and undernourished. I am not going to expand on where these cats come from and the animal abuse and neglect by some folk locally; this is neither the forum nor the method. This one though was born locally and is now haunting the area in search of food. Liz  hates to think of the poor mite starving and has started putting food down for him. His one eye and his stealing of our own cat's food (we wondered why the cats here were "suddenly eating their bowls of food right down to the last scrap") got him the name "Pirate".

First 2014 produce - broad beans and radishes.
We now put our own cat bowls outside, topped up with more meat out of the tin, at about 9 pm and sure enough, he slinks in and polishes it all off. Sometimes the dogs are awake and they detect him and bark. Other times he is a stealthy and secret as can be, and he gets away with it. Our plan is to feed him up so he is strong enough to fight off some of "what ails him" and possibly get him tame enough to accept being handled, when we will be able to get the vet, Aoife, to have a good look round him.

George Junior at 4 weeks, looking a bit more goose shaped.
Maybe one day he will join our existing 'pride'. He can be no more than 6 months old. He did not get a lot of numbers in the feline lottery of life. We know that one of his siblings was hit by a car in the lane and that 4 more may have been trapped in mink traps and shot by a farmer. It is not a barrel of laughs being an stray cat in this part of the world. The poor picture is because he is so nervous at the moment that he scoots as soon as we appear, so the pic was taken through the (closed) kitchen window.

The keet gang, hatch plus 8-9 days. A bit of fresh air.
The keets continue to thrive. At day 7, it was so warm in the spare room, that we took them "off heat"; i.e. we turned off the IR lamp and then with day temperatures up in the 17-19 degree range we decided to try them out of doors, out in the sunshine on our front lawn on some genuine grass. They do OK. They tend to patrol around the run a as a close-knit group of 11 birds, steering clear of patrolling cats and visiting the food bowl as a Rugby scrum.

Monkey flower (Mimulus luteus) in the pond.
Who-ever finds the best bit of shredded lettuce first then zooms off with it pursued by the others, so we have the amusing sight of 11 keets zooming about the place in a wing-flapping charge. There are plenty of other bits of lettuce in the bowl, but the one that your 'mate' has got is way more attractive! We have a nice chunk of 'waste ground' between the Primrose Path and the East Field where we can build these guys a run 30 feet long by about 6' by 6'. They should enjoy 'zooming' around that. Tonight we are promised a warm night, so we have actually put them to be in the 'bedroom' bit of the rabbit run outside, with a bit of plywood blocking up the opening. We reckon then will be warm, dry and cosy enough in there in their 'huddle' and not need to be indoors any more.

The pigs? They are well settled now and we have found a food that they love and use as a treat - apple! They have got used to us and our routine. They come piling out of the ark and up to the fence when I approach, calling "Pig Hoo-ey!" (see PG Wodehouse for details), giving my two-tone whistle and tapping my plastic beaker (= food scoop) on the top of a post. They love the pig nuts, and the apple cut into 8 segments (like a Terry's chocolate orange)
and (lately) some chunks of tomato. I was amazed by the delicacy of their nibbling and chewing.

Brought up on all the old clichés of snouts in the trough etc, I was expecting them to hoover up food with a noise like a waste-disposal. Not these delicate ladies. They carefully select a segment of apple and then nibble small chunks out of it, chewing each piece rather squelchily like a child who has been told to chew it all 40 times before they swallow. Takes them AGES to eat an apple. We have been feeding them in an old cat litter tray but now it seems that they have taken to squabbling over the food. One 'claims' the food and stands over and in it, eating their share and defending the rest of the food with the rest of their body, manouvring their flanks to shoo the other girl off, till the other nips round to the other side and head-butts them in the midriff to get back in. We have now bought them a bowl each and that seems to have sorted that out. It is hard to believe that we have only had them a week. They have grown so much - It would not be so easy to tuck one under each arm now for a repeat of last Thursday's post picture!

The only other live-stock news is that Squawk, our remaining Marans hen seems to have moved in with the other girls. The Marans ladies had had their own house since they arrived but the sister 'Bubble' expired of old age (as far as we could tell) last week and she has now given up the solitary life and joined the bulk of the hens in the concrete out-building. This is good - it frees up the wooden house; we wish the Hubbard poults would do the same.

Meanwhile, another story which I cannot go into any detail on, so I shouldn't even be mentioning it here, but here is a pic of Deefer celebrating a medical 'all-clear' with a glass of Prosecco. Life goes on.

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