Friday 16 February 2018

As Clear as Gin

The big pond falls as clear and bright as gin.
At this time of year, our big pond falls as clear as gin. We guess it is too cold for the algae and there is none of the heavy rain which washes in as surface run-off through the grass and turns us all muddy.

Chivers on a fence post.
I am looking down into it several times a day at the moment, wondering when we will see the first frog spawn, but not really expecting any yet for the rather grim reason that I have not seen any road-kill frogs in the lane yet. I generally see those first as the frogs start to move about, well before I see any swirling in the night-time depths.

Ducks will quickly find any wet, low, puddly
bits in your grass and dibble them to a mush.
The water is clear enough too, to see that there are no invertebrates active and no newts have yet woken from hibernation. Hardly surprising when the pond is frozen most mornings, even if only with very thin ice. It can't be long now, at mid February.

Still keeping me waiting. No goose eggs yet.
Talking of mid February, I am still waiting for that first goose egg. In all previous years, at least one goose has started laying in November and we have had eggs all through winter from then.

Now bonded into a solid threesome. The turkeys.
This year, none, and when I asked various goose-keeper friends they were amazed at my November and said that they normally work to Valentine's Day, Feb 14th for their first egg. I sat back to wait patiently. Well, Valentine's Day is also now come and gone and we are still egg-less. As with so many livestock things, patience is the answer. Mother Nature delivers at her own pace. Same applies to my 'other' three ewes at the moment, none of whom are showing any keen-ness do drop their lambs into a snow drift. We can hardly blame them.

Who's a pretty boy then?
When the two new turkeys arrived, none of them wanted to know any other turkey. Worse than that, readers will know from my previous post that the two new, darker birds had been seen fighting for a short while and I assumed they might both be males. A week later, it has all gone quiet, the fighting is stopped and the three have bonded into a nice little group who wander around together at the foraging. The smaller dark bird no longer looks to me like a cock (Tom or Stag). He/she is on the right in my pic of 3 above and you can see that (her) face is way less developed than the middle bird.

A group of this week's Shedders gather around the 'mystery
guest'. On the right is my Syrian chess opponent.
I wrote of the 'Shed' in a recent post, and I don't want to be boring you on the subject, but I have to tell you about this week's meeting just because it was so much fun. In theory, nothing was planned - we were looking at a relaxing evening of chat, chess, draughts and popular local card game of "25" with which I am not familiar. I need to learn it's complicated rules but have not yet had a chance.

TĂȘte a tĂȘtes starting to show their colour and nod their heads. 
In practice, the Chair slotted in a "Mystery Guest" at short notice to intrigue us and entertain us. That turned out to be a very well known local music and show-biz type who has in her life got involved in all manner of music and dancing. She currently plays side-drum in the local town 'Drum and Reed' marching band and teaches drumming, tin-whistling, trad (Irish) dance plus set dances and line dancing (Yeee hah!). She is one fit lady and kept all the lads gripped for over an hour with a whirlwind session of basic drumming (got quite noisy, that bit!), whistling and dancing.

Just for fun and the cuteness, these 10 piglets are new-born here
and belong to the sister-sow of "our Mum-pig". 
The Shed group has also attracted some of the Syrian lads currently housed in town in a bankrupted Hotel, as refugees in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC). These are really nice, friendly guys and their thing at the Shed, in the absence of much spoken English for the chatting, is chess.

I sat down with them this week with my coffee and watched the game for a while, but was then quickly invited to come play. I'd not played chess since I was a student - maybe 40 years ago but hey, in for a penny. I played the guy on the right in this picture who I think, is called Nazul (I will check). It was quickly apparent that he was a bit good and had me quickly nailed down into a defensive game and then killed within about 20 minutes, 3 times. One of his group told me that "In Syria, he is Number 1". He might have been joking but I could believe it. He only admitted to having been a "businessman" who played a lot of chess in evenings when he was travelling about.

Brilliant evening altogether. 

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