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.

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