Friday 30 December 2016

Speaking too Soon

Our own ham and our own green tomato chutney make for
a delicious "left overs" sandwich. 
Sometimes I "go to print" on these blog posts with a funny feeling that I may have spoken too soon - my confidence and complacency; my urge to rush a good story onto these pages will be my undoing. This has been close to the truth no fewer than three times over Christmas as I will now relate. The pictures may not be relevant but you will probably cope.

Still some chocs left when I took this. All gone now!
Three posts ago I was happily relating that we had decorated the Christmas Tree, that the kittens had had a brief play with low-hanging baubles but then got bored and moved on and that we'd sat down with a Gluhwein thinking "Job well done". Not for us the horror stories of trees wrecked by cats. I even included a picture of my old favourite decoration, a plaster lobster dressed as a waiter delivering a tray of 'beignets' (fried buns), a prized souvenir of my one and only trip to New Orleans.

For a party claiming not to have drunk much
we were still well laden for the "drive of shame"
Well, no sooner had I gone to press and my back turned than the kittens managed to upturn the tree with Liz seeing it all in slow motion ("NooooOOOO!!!!) and diving to save it but too late. Very little damage done but my lobster hit the tiled floor and smashed into 3 pieces. We have found his body and his arm holding the tray of beignets but where his tail 'flukes' have gone we have no idea.

A first sign of Spring - the daffs in the
lane emerging.
Next up, my joy at having solved the jackdaw problem with my bloke, accompanied by Soldier the Cat, shinnying up those ladders to demolish the jackdaw nest and fit our jackdaw-cage pots to prevent anyone moving back in. Storm Barbara had other ideas. The next morning saw one of the 'cages' lifted out of the chimney pot and dropped into Liz's rose garden.

Odd disco lighting effects from the sun
reflecting off the fancy candle-cover at the
bottom of this picture. 
The design of these, you may recall, involves a flat cone top like a Chinese 'paddy-field' worker's hat, with a ring of outward-sprung rods which you pull together to fit the ends down inside the bore of the pot. You can imagine that the 'hat' must give a fair amount of lift, like an aircraft wing 'aerofoil' in a cross wind, and I suppose the wagging back and forth in gusts might 'walk' the legs up the chimney bore like a ratchet. Being worried about the lack of draw (caused in the end by the jackdaw nest) I had asked the guy to position the pots high up, well proud of the chimney. My mistake. He is coming back to put the fallen one back - I will get him to set them lower this time.

Our 3 roosters hang in the polytunnel to
await processing in the kitchen
Finally, I told you that we had taken the fox trap back to Sue and Rob's, confident that our fox was shot dead and the problem solved. I was not happy the following morning to find that *someone* had got at the three roosters we had hung in the poly tunnel overnight to await processing in the morning. A head had been pulled off one leaving a bloody, strap-like, skinned neck hanging down and a small puff of torn out feathers on the grass  outside the tunnel. My heart sank. I was convinced it was a fox, though I was surprised the beast had not ripped down a whole bird (or all three). Mum in Law (Steak Lady) has since suggested that it might, in fact, have been a cat. That makes more sense. I had not thought of that.

A litre tub of yogurt and one of those roosters make the basis
of a rather fine curry. 
Other than that, we have just been chugging our way through all those left-overs, recovering and tidying up the place, making the most of the relaxing days between the two main events.

The Ministry post us details of a new grant
scheme but we are too small to be eligible
I have been serving my 2nd ever week (1st was in January) as the "voice of Irish smallholders". Well, the Twitter voice anyway - I am this week the "curator" (= guest twitterer) of the @smallholderIRL Twitter account. If you don't 'do' Twitter or have no  experience of it, it is quite fun. It is a very fast and chatty but very lightweight and ephemeral space where you can look in, chat away to who ever is 'on' and then drop off again. You can only speak in 'soundbites' (140 characters) so it is no place to go for a heavy, wordy discussion, though some people do post links to longer articles. You can click through to them or not according to preference and time available.

The '365' project is about to enter its final month.
Like Facebook, users tend to accumulate like-minded 'friends' and coalesce into groups. The small holder group currently has 2500 'followers' not all small holders. When you log out it 'twitters' away without you with hundreds of snatches of chat a bit like stepping out of the pub for fresh air. When they are said, they are quickly gone, pushed down thread by more recent 'tweets'. As I said, 'ephemeral'. Nobody really goes in and then back-tracks down the old stuff, though there is a way of getting it to 'remember' posts where you were included, replies to your posts and so on. Occasionally posts or links strike a chord with lots of posters and the 're-tweet' them to pass them on and that story spreads far and wide, it "goes viral" in modern parlance. It is basically harmless fun but I love the fact that I can share my experiences with 2000+ other small holders all trying to meet and solve the same problems, enjoying similar weather, admiring the same sunsets and munching on their turkey sandwiches and pickles.

Talk to you again next year.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Show Some Decent Restraint

Santa did us proud this year.
There it was then. Christmas has come and gone. I am not about to bore you with a blow by blow account of all the food, drink, presents and all that; I will just give you a few details and comments and post up a few nice Seasonal pics. Over all it was a very good one in which we thoroughly enjoyed a very relaxing few days with Mum-in-Law (Steak Lady) here to stay for 4 nights.

She will, I am sure, not mind me saying that we thoroughly enjoy her company and she is one of those ideal kind of guests who seem to get along superbly with our style of hospitality. She needs no entertaining or keeping busy and completely relaxes. She loves all the food we serve to her and has all the drink she needs. She sleeps well and we are like a pampering spa-bath to her sense of well-being. She comes out with expressions like "I feel so much younger" or "I woke up so happy" and "It's like a 5-star hotel" or like Lourdes.

An Eve pint
She arrived on the Friday, so was here for the whole of the Eve, the Day, St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day to you Brits) and part of today. She came with us on an Eve visit to Carolyn and co (where-at the new house has that open-to-the-rafters kitchen and there is room for a 12 foot tree!), went to 'Midnight' Mass (9:30 pm) with Liz and came out to Sue and Rob's with us today when we nipped over to return the fox trap and the ram, Silas. We packed her off this afternoon with a wicker basket full of cold meat and left overs, a sack of ash-logs and a tray of 30 eggs (from Sue). A very successful visit. If we ever need to get into B+B ing we feel we could cope.

Regular readers will know that the main meal on the day was to be roast beef, a change from normal imposed by Brer Fox. That was not the only change away from our "normal" traditions. Normally we have a mad wrap-ripping fest as soon as we awake, up on the bed which leaves very few presents for downstairs. Steak Lady was likely to prefer a bit of a lie-in so we decided that we would just do the whole thing later. We would wait for everyone to wake up naturally, have a nice leisurely scrambled egg and salmon breakfast and only then do presents. In practise that took us round till gone 11 am by which time I needed to walk the dogs, so I sneaked that in too. We finished up at around midday.

In my family, such patience would be known as "showing decent restraint" and although across all the meals we ate enough to be as fat as fools, we also found ourselves (rather to our surprise) being restrained in the drink too. Maybe we are growing up at last. We had bought a rake of booze and more arrived from Santa but we would sit and sip happily at a Gluhwein, a wine, a whiskey, a beer or a G+T according to taste. Nobody got unduly 'squiffy' and there were no hang-overs. All in all a great success.

St Stephen's Day ham. Fans of the supermarket version may
think it not bright pink enough but that would just be because
they do not know that the pink is an artificial effect of using
dubious chemicals like nitrites in the cure.
Food and drink might go off at a tangent over the few days but the smallholding and stock 'show' must go on. Today we needed to head over to Sue and Rob's with the fox trap and the young ram we have been using to service our ewes.

Silas says his goodbyes to the ewes. 
The ram, Silas, is a tiny, 2016 ram lamb who we employed more for the practise than in any expectation of high lambing success. We are not 100% sure he managed to mount anyone but whether he did or no, he needs taking off the ewes now. The gestation period for ewes is 5 months, which brings us now to the end of May and I will need to be shearing the ewes to prevent fly-strike. You should not put pregnant ewes through anything as stressful as shearing, so we dare not risk Silas doing any 11th hour 'jobs'.

Silas walked out for loading into the trailer
behind me. 
On the fox front we are becoming a bit convinced now that we shot THE fox and solved the short-term problem. We have not seen hide nor hair of a fox since very early December despite our 24/7 fox watch and my frequent torch-beam hunts for eye-reflections after dark. I am not being complacent yet and I get the horrors at the thought of having to confess to you guys that we relaxed, left the chickens out unprotected and came back to another blanket of torn feathers all over the grass. However we did think that the fox-trap was no longer useful (for now) and Sue asked for it back, so that got loaded into the trailer alongside Silas.

A memorable trifle - the 'fruit' was a compote
of cranberry, apricot, date and raisins cooked
in orange juice with cinnamon and cloves.
The custard was of duck egg yolks. 
While we were on getting rid of surplus 'males'  it also became apparent that Mr Fox had left us out of balance in the chicken dept. with regard to the rooster/hen ratio. Ideally this should be around 7 hens to one roo'. That way he can cope with getting round them all each day to keep the eggs fertile, but each hen gets only a manageable share of his 'lurve'. We had 4 new Marans roosters coming of age and had lost a good few hens to the fox. We were starting to witness distressing 'gang-rape' scenes and some hens were getting threadbare and very unwilling to come out of the coop of a morning lest they got jumped by the roo's, sometimes 2 or 3 at once.

Hard to beat, bacon and cabbage. The cabbage gets cooked
in the liquor from the ham-boil which, in this recipe includes
ginger beer!
Time to 'off' some roo's. This is the least pleasant part of poultry keeping but you have to be able to do it. It is not fair on the hens to leave that situation to run. In fact it is not too difficult but we had Mum-in-Law up and I did not want to do any of these dark deeds with her present. I decided to crate the roosters for the day and sort them once Mum had been packed off.

The '365' show goes on too.
They roost high in the rafters of the barn (roosters seem to claim the highest, safest perches) and chickens cannot move about in the dark, so the wise poultry-man knows to catch them at night with a small torch. In this case I merely had to reach up and lift them by the legs, lowering them down into the crate without a fuss. Then I could move them easily to sort them once Mum had gone. They are now 'late' and will get plucked and dressed tomorrow. It may be my imagination but an air of calm and serenity seems to have descended on the rest of the birds. They now only have our old #1 Lieutenant Colonel Buff Orp rooster and one Cuckoo Marans boy. I will let you know how we get on.

Finally you might recall that St Stephen's Day here is the day for a rather bizarre but nice old tradition  of 'Wren Boys' when gangs of youths would work their way round the village carrying a caged wren and threatening to kill it unless the householders gave them gifts of money or food treats. They would wear straw 'mummers' costumes to disguise themselves. One old boy locally says he can remember when there were plenty but that they used to visit the "singing pubs" rather than houses. The tradition has almost died out now but we got one group last year and we were hoping for more this year.

Well, we got some. They were rather tiny and young, they were driven round by Mum, they arrived wearing Christmas jumpers and Santa masks and singing 'Jingle Bells'. Ah well. They tried - Mum said it was their first outing but that she remembers doing it as a kid herself. We gave them a good supply of chocolate biscuits and euros to encourage them.

Friday 23 December 2016

The Solstice and Barbara

The 'last quarter' moon visible on Solstice morning. 
I honestly think that these days, the Solstice means more to me than the highly commercialised booze, food and present buying fest of Christmas. We try to get into the 'magic', we do the tree, the lights, the gifts, the fancy food and the drink but I can't honestly say I come out of the other end with any new sense of optimism or any conviction that things will be different on the 26th to how they were on the 24th.

Jetting off on the same morning
Nope. Now that I spend so much time out of doors and out in the weather, the solstice is the one which grabs my attention because it marks the time when we change from the rather depressing shortening of days and long dark evenings to the days getting longer at last. In my head we start the climb out of winter into spring, to warmth and sunshine.

Deefer is quite happy with the sleeping arrangements
Don't worry. I have not suddenly gone all Druid on you or pagan spiritualism; it is a purely gardener/farmer thing. I am fascinated by how this works. I know, of course that the day length is practically stationary around now and the 'change' from decrease to increase is infinitesimal, measured in seconds. The daylength graph is similar to a sine wave curve and the solstice is right at the bottom of the curve, where it runs almost horizontal (or at the top, likewise for the Summer solstice). The rate of change accelerates till the Equinox (March 21st) when, if memory serves, each day is 3 full minutes longer than 'yesterday' - a big enough change that you can 'feel it' and you know that in a week Sunday will be roughly 20 minutes longer than last Sunday.

The one-headed, 32 clawed tree wrecker. 
So I have had my solstice and I am mentally now in an up-turn, all be it I know that it is a huge long haul through March and April before we see any real warmth and we dry out a bit from this wet, wet, wet. In fairness again, this winter has done amazingly well for rainless- and windless-ness. It feels as if we have had no real rain through from mid-October, all through November and through December up until the aforementioned solstice when it all went a bit 'Pete Tong'.

Storm Barbara weather warnings
Solstice day (21st) saw the weather warnings for our first named storm for 2 months, Storm Barbara. The B-name tells you how good the weather has been. Normally we'd expect a load of these storms through November and we'd be well into the G, H, I, J or K by Christmas. Barbara promised plenty of wind and rain but the eye was going to skirt up north of us and slam into Scotland.

A miserable morning as Storm Barbara hits.
We battened down the hatches, of course, with concrete blocks and ratchet straps on bee hives, hutches and chicken coops and all tall stuff like ladders laid flat on the ground. We got the blow of wind through today as promised, from 0600 to 1800 but the only damage we suffered was when one of our new jackdaw-pots went airborne and landed in Liz's rose garden out front.

This year's 'turkey' is this 5 kg Aberdeen Angus rib roast
Of course, Solstice or not, Christmas still comes and we get involved and have a good time. This year we have 'Steak Lady' staying which is always a brilliant time. We also, famously, have no turkey as Brer Fox helpfully removed all three of our nearly grown turkey poults a couple of weeks back. Rather than try to sub in somebody else's turkey we decided on a complete change from 'tradition'; Liz nipped off to our belovéd local traditional butcher Ignatius G (who 'does' our lambs) and ordered a big ol' beef rib roast. "How big will you be needing it?" asked Mr G. "It's for 3" said Liz and Mr G started to indicate "about this thick then" holding thumb and forefinger only a couple of inches apart. "Oooh No", said Liz, "I need 3 ribs - we have 3 dogs too!"

All manner of Christmas goodies - these are dillisk (seaweed)
and cheese biscuits. 
I collected it today and a more magnificent chunk of beef I don't think I have seen. It is local Aberdeen Angus and weighed almost 5 kg. It will do us proud. It was very reasonable in price too and Liz, checking out UK prices worked out that it would have set us back around £80 in Kent. We are looking forward to it.

That'll do me for this time. Guest now in place so I shouldn't really be rattling stuff into the PC and ignoring my hosting duties. You all have a great Christmas now and I will talk to you again on Tuesday when it's all over.

Nollaig shona dhuit!

Tuesday 20 December 2016

The Three Amigos

The 3 Amigos. Top to bottom, Billie-no-Mates, Little Orphan
Annie and Beeblebrox
I find chickens a constant source of amusement. I could watch them for hours. What fascinates me most is their very different personalities and how the dynamics between them work. Who is the boss and does he have any challengers? How many hens does each rooster 'mind' and how loyal are they to their man? Are they serene, calm and 'decent' to one another or are some a little bit mean and spiteful? Are they fully hand-tame or quite skittish and nervous? How are the youngsters trying to integrate with the main flock? How do they react to the dog(s) or fox? Are any self-proclaimed guard-dogs?

I may be getting my sense of humour back!
Recently I have been able to watch as the group dynamic all re-adjusts following the removal of several key players by the fox. This included the #2 rooster (Corporal), the male "black-baby" (Araucana) and the mother rearing the 4 newest chicks, plus 3 of the chicks. This event left us with three lonely females who have since coalesced, rather nicely, into a tight little gang whom I call "The Three Amigos". These are, in no particular order:-

  • The female Araucana who lost her brother/main man. These guys had that Araucana "top knot" of feathers on their heads so looked like they had two heads and were named "Zaphod (and) Beeblebrox" after the character in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. She is Beeblebrox.
  • The abandoned poult from down the lane, left behind when the fox took all of our friends' birds except this one. Billie-no-Mates is on long loan to us while our chum decides whether to go back into chickens.
  • Little Orphan Annie, the one young Buff-Orp not eaten by our fox when he took her Mum and 3 siblings. 
The Three Amigos spend most of their time together but not with the rest of the flock, but are loosely affiliated to our old original #1 Buff Orp rooster, the Lieutenant Colonel.

Meanwhile, our Christmas progresses and we have the tree up, lit and 'decked'. It turned out to be a good one. I had been worried that a lot of the foliage on one side arose from a single branch growing from so low down the stem that, to get it into my stand, I would need to cut this branch off leaving a well-stood but lopsided tree. We worked it by cutting tight into the bottom of the joint so that the stand would go on and the branch stay attached. We have it in a new position this year as the old slot is now taken by the reclining settee.

We spent a happy hour decorating it while the 'kattens' ran around like children given a new climbing frame and toy. Is this ALL for US? You are SO KIND! Luckily, after an initial flurry of fun, patting low-hanging baubles till they fell of and skittered across the ground, the pair have become bored with this toy and moved on. We made sure to only hang the cheap simple silver balls down there. The more expensive, more unusual decs and those with good memories and stories attached (We bought this in New Orleans or 'Do you remember our friend x gave us this one?).

"We got this in New Orleans!" (see text)
The tree-dec thing is one of our family traditions - anyone who stays to visit at Christmas is bullied into buying a dec for our tree (and they, of course, get one back for theirs).

Lidl's rather good Glühwein
We have started a new 'family tradition' this year, teed off by our visitors Dan and Dan (see earlier post). Dan (the Man) spent a lot of his growing-up time living in Germany, so is quite fond of that German speciality, warmed mulled wine or "Glühwein". Dan told us that the pre-mix currently being traded by Lidl is a rather good one and to prove it, he turned up with a bottle and had us warm it up and try it. We have since bought a couple as part of the weekly shop, so we had one on the shelf as we finished the tree and decided that it would be a very pleasant way of celebrating the tree-wrangling. It was indeed. It is beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

Up till today, we have had a very nice
rainless and almost windless December
I was amused enough by 2 things this morning to have remembered them long enough to include them here. The first came on the radio when the announcer, interviewing a sports pundit, spoke of a vox-pop competition for the "Best Sporting Moment" of 2016. I'd forgotten all about this but the winning 'moment' involved two Irish rowers (Gary and Paul O'Donovan) from Skibereen competing at the Olympics in Rio. The Irish entry into the Olympics got quickly mired in bad news, controversy and alleged criminal conspiracies - the boxers all under-performed disastrously, there were failed drug tests which got certain big names sent home in disgrace and one of the Team Managers got embroiled in a ticket sales ring.

Blue. You have a good Christmas... or else!
Then, under the 'radar' and emerging from all this, two unknown Irish lads in a "mens' lightweight coxless scull" who no-one had paid any attention to before, started winning.

Even better, when interviewed, they proved to be so down to earth and lacking in airs, graces and sports celeb' nonsense that the journalists  had a field day with their 'blokish' sound-bites and we all fell in love with them. When asked about special diets to maintain fitness they said that as they were in Rio "you could have steak and spuds for breakfast lunch and dinner if you like" and when asked about their strategy for victory, Paul said ""It isn't too complex really, A to B as fast as you can go and hope for the best. Close the eyes and pull like a dog." 'Steak and Spuds' and the 'pull like a dog' quickly became the tee-shirt slogans.

Finally, we were both delighted and amazed to find that the Irish had a word all along for that thing where you have put down the object and you know it is safe but you can't remember where. In our family it was always "It's just on the surface somewhere". My British readers should pronounce it, approximately as "Kyle tash-ka" for that authentic Gaelic effect.

Friday 16 December 2016

Fairy Lights and Chimney Smoke

Most of my readers are old enough, I think, to have their own horror stories about Christmas Lights. Getting the lights out and onto the tree was always a major adventure - if they didn't work you had to comb through all those 'dead', screw-in sockets with your known good bulb till you found the failed bulb. There was a 'fuse bulb' too, as I recall which you might have to replace to get any bulbs to light, so you had to keep the box the lights came in, so that you would always have spare bulbs and spare fuses. The happy days of "incandescent" bulbs.

Then some clever soul invented the LED, the 'light emitting diode', a semi-conductor component which could do the same amount of light by "electroluminescence" (now there's a good word) with none of the hot filament problems, brittle glass 'envelope'  or high energy consumption or mad expense. They also had much faster 'switching' ability so they could be used in 'blinking', 'flickering' and 'twinkling' applications. It was inevitable that one of the uses in the "task lighting" group spotted by the makers trying to go commercial would be Christmas 'fairy lights' - they could surely flog gazillions and bring the price right down.

We have never been ones for lighting up the outsides of our houses; all those trees, reindeer, penguins and Santas you see rigged up in front gardens and on roofs. We used to drive round spotting the good ones but our house was always one of the 'boring' ones with no lights. Well, we have finally cracked, just in a small way and gone over to the 'dark side' (or should that be the twinkly lit side?). Liz spotted an advert for our favourite household 'stuff' shop up in Sligo, "HomeStore+More". They were doing 48 metre 'strings' of clear white light LEDs at only €25 each with a handy 10 metre blank 'lead' to get you out from plug socket to garden.

The tree is bought and fitted to its stand
but not indoors yet. Trees are very cheap
compared to the UK. This 2.5 m one was
 €30 in the local SuperValu
By happy coincidence, our front-lawn fence is 10 m  from the plug socket in the sitting room as the electron flies and the fence from there to the front gate is almost exactly 48 m ! A 2nd strand (she bought 2, unable to resist this temptation) was planned for the other side of the drive but could not be worked, so I strung it from one of the Tígín sockets, in a big loop along both gutters and up over both 'barge ends', up to the apex either end and a quick loop round the little stub chimney.

Yesterday's full moon sets into cloud
made pink by a real 'red sky in the morning'
sunrise behind me. 
The little control box on these (part of the plug) has quite sophisticated electronics in it allowing you to toggle between 8 light 'patterns' (always on, all on/off, 50/50 batches alternating etc). We like a soft twinkly pattern so there we are. Not too showy, tastefully lacking in penguins and Santas, no reindeer 'grazing' on the front lawn. (One final point; a 'note to self'. Do not attempt to string 48m of fairy lights along your fence while there are cats and kittens around keen to 'assist' That is all.)

Soldier the Cat assesses the 20' extending ladder for safety
prior to allowing the chimney sweep to climb it. He is up it
no bother and down again forwards a few minutes later. One
cool feline.  
Meanwhile I lit a nice fire in the sitting room a few days back hoping to surprise Liz with a lovely warm room on her return from work, where she could sit in her 'new' settee and relax with a gin. In the past, we have had issues with this fireplace and chimney which get very cold when not in use and provide a freezing down-draught for the range at the other end of the house. We have had to wedge old pillows up it to block it. This time I managed to quickly and very effectively fill the downstairs with smoke.

They sweep chimneys from the top down
in this country. 
Patently all was not well. I had swept it in January and we had had jackdaw pots fitted in Summer so we couldn't work out what the problem might be. Step forward our local roofer/chimney bloke, the guy who had done the jackdaw pots. He was worried that we might have had a masonry collapse - these old chimneys made from stone and cement (originally often lime mortar) can suffer from degradation of the 'cement' by all the hot/cold cycles over 150 years. The mortar turns to dust and trickles out like the sand through an hour glass.

365 project still going strong.
No such drama in the end; our man peered down the flue and spotted a great big jackdaw nest blocking the flue. The birds must have built it between me sweeping the flue and the fitting of our pots and it was far enough down that he didn't spot it (no torch that day) back then. Downstairs then, to masking tape a handy sheet of heavyweight plastic across the hearth to stop any dirt indoors, then up again with his sweeping brush rods and then a big solid lath of timber to bash down the jackdaws' "foundations". They can certainly wedge a stick across a chimney, those nest-builders.

If one of the kittens nicks your box, then
sit on top till it collapses on him. Enlist
the help of his sister to speed up the
While we were at it Soldier the Cat impressed us with a demonstration of his ladder climbing skills, quickly up 16 feet or so to my gutters and then back down under full control at walking pace, front first with his body leaning forward almost vertically. One cool cat. The chimneys are all sorted now with the jackdaw 'cage' pots back in and the flue drawing like a cart-horse and Lizzie warm as toast tonight on her settee.

A new bed goes under the stairs now that the marmalade
kittens can kick the dogs out of 'their' beds.
That's about it for this one - one small bit of 'sad'. We lost another Buff Orpington hen today bringing our fox death-toll to 17. This bird survived the attack but never really recovered from what ever injuries or shock she had received. She never wanted to come back out of the shed and she stood and sulked. She would not take food or water brought to her, at least not while I was watching her, so she just faded across the days and has now given up the ghost. We hope that is it for young Mr Fox, himself now dead 15 days.