Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Great Escape.

great escape

Along with the critters Boo and Gupta have a poly tunnel in which they grow a variety of vegetables and fruit. One of the fruits they grow is raspberry. I like raspberries but so do the blackbirds and they seem to have an uncanny knack of scoffing all the ripe raspberries 5 minutes before I arrive to harvest them. There are more raspberries growing outside the tunnel but the story is the same. All the ripe fruit gets eaten before I get to them.

I searched for an hour to find these. Bloody birds!

I searched for an hour to find these. Bloody birds!

There is also a hedgerow that grows along two of the boundaries here and a great many blackberry bushes grow here. I’m fond of blackberries too and harvesting them brings back a great many good memories of my boyhood when my brothers and I would walk up to Wimbledon Common and fill bags with blackberries that my mum would add to a variety of pies she made. We would have blackberry pies and my personal favourite, apple and blackberry pie. My mum made the best pastry ever and the pies were mouth wateringly good. The pies would be served with custard or ice cream and we would argue over who got the custard skin! It was great. So yesterday evening I took a wander round collecting any raspberries and blackberries that I could find so they could go in freezer to be turned into pies at some later time. As I walked along the narrow lane that runs down one side of the smallholding, I noticed a chicken come out of the hedgerow, walk across the road and go into the field oppositeChicken Crossing the Road.

“Oh look” I thought. “A chicken. I wonder where’s he’s off too.”

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Another chicken appeared, crossed the road and went into the neighbours field. It was closely followed by several others.

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“Oh dear” I thought again. “I wonder who they belong to as it’s going to be dark soon and the foxes will have them.”

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Then the penny dropped.

“Oh fuck.” I thought. (Looking after animals is very thought provoking.) “They’re Boos!”

By this time 11 or 12 chickens had crossed the road into a neighbouring field. They had found a gap in the fence and decided to make a run for it.

“What is this? Bloody ‘Chicken Run’? Where’s Mel Gibson?”

chicken-run

Acting with uncharacteristic speed, I grabbed a nearby rock, found the gap and plugged it. Then I vaulted over a gate into the field the chickens were in and proceeded to round them up. Have you ever tried to round up chickens? It’s well nigh impossible on your own. They are right bolshie bastards.

fuck u chicken

I ran around the field trying to get them back across the road but they just scattered to all points of the compass plus some more. I had no alternative. I had to get John the talkative 73 year old neighbour involved. I banged on his door, told him the story and told to hurry as it would be dark soon. As he put his wellies on he was chatting away 19 to the dozen.

“Yow know what Dick? This happened to me a few years back. It were 1963 and I were cutting the grass on a caravan park I were staying at. Or were it 1964? It might even have been 1962 but no matter. I were cutting grass in this caravan park I were staying at in Newport. That’s Newport in Cornwall, not Newport in Wales. Or is it in Devon? Yow know what Dick, I don’t know which county it’s in but never mind, it weren’t the one in Wales. Or were it? So these chickens escaped from a neighbouring farm into the caravan park I were staying at. I used to cut the grass there as a favour to the owner who gave me a discount for cutting the grass. It were 1963. I’m certain of it. Anyhow…….”

WTF!

“Mate. Will you hurry up and put your boots on. I’ll meet you up there.”

Whereupon I rushed off despite the raging headache that I had suddenly developed.

John duly arrived and we started to gather the clucks up. Then he paused, leant on his spadeGARDENER WITH SPADE - ILLUSTRATION

and said;

“Yow know what Dick? This happened to me once before. It were in 1963. I were cutting the grass at the caravan park I were staying at. By the time we had sorted ourselves out it were getting dark so I fired up the old 8 wheeler they kept in a barn. It were an old Foden unit. Built in 1951 if I remember correctly. Anyway, I turned on the headlight and do you know what? Them old headlights lit up the whole caravan site. I’d been cutting the grass there just before this happened and you could see where I had cut……….”

“Mate. Can you get to the point please? It’s getting dark and we’ve only recaptured 8 chickens.”

“Ar.” said John. “That’s my point. I’ll go and get my old Kubota tractor and light up the field. I got that tractor in 1994 and I repaired everything on it. It’s better than new now…..”

So off John went to get his better than new tractor while I enjoyed the peace and quiet and tried to stop my ears bleeding.

Soon John arrived on his Kubota tractor and lit up the field with it’s headlights.

“Yow know what Dick? This tractor has the best head lights ever. I put extra lights on, a bigger battery, sonic boom headlights. You can’t get them sonic boom lights anymore. Them went out of business in 1913 but I got hold of some of them lights. I put vapourless hayday quilt bulbs in. Thems full of arsenic yow know. Or is it cyanide? Anyway, yow have to be right careful with them. Look at that! Them lights could light up the moon from here. Well, they could if it weren’t a bit cloudy and the moon weren’t so far away……”

Eventually, after much cursing and threatening to blow the bastards away with the shotgun, we managed to get all the chickens gathered up and put away.

“Yow know what Dick? This happened to me years ago. I were cutting the grass at this caravan site I were staying at in 1963…..”

I invited John in for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. I was grateful for all his help. He’s a lovely, helpful bloke who just happens to rabbit a lot. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying as my ears were stuffed with cotton wool in an effort to stem the flow of blood. He didn’t seem to notice, or care. He was quite happy to tell me tales of 1951 Foden 8 wheelers, mowing grass and Kubota tractors and I was happy for him to tell them.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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Another One Bites The Dust Goddamn It.

gardener

Christ on a bike!

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This farming malarkey is hard work and I’m only dealing with a few animals and crops. Having said that I am enjoying myself. I’ve learnt some Welsh words like “Look you”, “Isn’t it”, “Boyo” and “Tidy”. I’ve learnt not to try and get an egg when a hen is sitting on it as they have sharp beaks and are prepared to use them.chicken on eggs

Avoid John the neighbour who is a Brummie and can talk the hind leg off a donkey and judging by the number of three-legged donkeys around here, frequently does. I’ve realised that dogs can’t count as no matter how many balls you throw for Chalky, he always thinks there’s three. The pillock.20150908_123342

Birds are stupid and the bloody spiders here are gigantic. Last night I HEARD one walking across the floor! I had to open both French doors to usher the bugger out. There was no point trying to kill the blighter as I didn’t have access to any weapons big enough. A cannon may have been enough but the collateral damage wouldn’t have gone down well with Boo when she gets back.

This is what the Pest Control companies around here use to kill spiders. A bit extreme but so are the spiders!

This is what the Pest Control companies around here use to kill spiders. A bit extreme but so are the spiders!

Shortly after shooing the spider out last night I was startled by a “Tap, tap, tap, flutter, flutter” noise.

“What the bloody hell now?” I thought. “A fucking dragon?”

I looked around but couldn’t see anything so I concluded it was likely to be a branch tapping on the window. Then I heard it again. Strange. I still couldn’t see what was causing the noise, mostly because I was too lazy to get off my fat arse and take a proper look.obese_2074995b

It was quiet for a while then I heard it again. This time I also saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Inside the log burner in the lounge was a bird! It must have fallen down the chimney and couldn’t get back out. See what I mean? Birds are stupid. It was only a sparrow but it made me think two things (I’m clever like that). First I thought how polite it was for a wild animal to be knocking on the log burners door for permission to come out. Secondly, and more importantly, how the fuck was I going to get a soot and ash covered wild bird out of there without getting aforementioned soot, ash and feathers all over Boos house? So I gathered up numerous towels, an old sheet and covered the door of the burner. I opened the burner door and the blighter flew out from under all the towels and sheet and flew around the whole of the ground floor trailing soot, ash and feathers everywhere.

“Should’ve shut all the the doors.” I thought belatedly.

Finally, after much pursuing of the tiny sparrow and after tripping over Chalky, who was also in hot pursuit, I managed to get the bird by the front door and let it out. I looked back in disbelief. The whole of the downstairs was like a war zone. There were feathers, soot, ash and bird shit everywhere!

“Jesus bloody Christ!” I thought. “How could such a small animal leave such a trail of destruction?”messy-house

Many hours later, after much use of vacuum cleaners, furniture polish, dusters, old rags filled with earwigs and much cursing the house resembled something vaguely habitable. I went to bed!

I woke up this morning and staggered downstairs for my first brew of the day. I fed Chalky and as I went to feed the goldfish, discovered one was missing. Well, it wasn’t exactly missing, it just wasn’t where I expected it to be. It was belly up at the top of the tank!dead-goldfish Bugger me! Another critter bites the dust!

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.auto

 

One Down, Plenty More To Go.

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My sister Boo is a very efficient person. She and her husband have to be. They own a small holding with a great many animals to care for.20150904_082538

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So when I arrived in Wales to look after their place I was given a great many important instructions. So, for instance, I know where the chocolate cake is.

The care and feeding of all the animals was carefully explained to me. The clucks and ducks get fed twice a day. One type of food in the morning and another in the afternoon. I know where all the bedding materials are, what to do with the eggs once they are collected, when the bin men come and how to divvy up the general rubbish with the recycling and what bags each go in.20150904_112504

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I know what to do with the crops in the poly tunnel, how often to water and what type of watering (deep root at present).20150904_112421

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However, Boo failed to give me one important piece of information and misled me on another. The misinformation first. She told me the battery powering the electric fence had no power left. Wrong! As I discovered when I brushed against the crotch high electric fence and received an electric shock to a part of my anatomy that no man should have shocked. Made my eyes water!20150904_084321

The information she forgot to give me was what the bloody hell do you do with a dead chicken?

When I let them out this morning one of them stayed in the hen house, so I gave it a poke and said;

“Oi you lazy bugger. Time to rise and shine.”

It stayed put. So I picked it up to discover rigor mortis had set in.

“Oh bugger!” was my first thought. Then I thought,

“What the fuck do I do with it now?”

Couldn’t eat it cos it wasn’t an eating chicken and I didn’t really fancy plucking, gutting and decapitating it. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to bury the damned things as it may be against the law as the carcass might pollute the water. I couldn’t just chuck it in one of the fields for the Kites and crows to eat. Well I could but the neighbours might get pissed about it. So what to do? I scratched my head. I scratched it again. I thought about it long and hard and after 3 or 4 seconds of thinking hard thoughts I put the carcass in a carrier bag, dumped it in the bin and let the bin men take it. They came today. Problem solved. I just hope any other critters that decide to snuff it do so in their sleep on a thursday night so they can go in the rubbish the next day. Unless its a bloody horse!20150904_084208

I think the bin men might notice if I binned a whole horse. Crikey, this farming lark is difficult. Decisions, decisions.

Time to go feed the animals again, water the crops, scratch Chalkys chest and throw his balls around the fields for him to chase.20150903_113235

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.auto

It’s Only Me

I have absent from the blogging world for a little while and I’ve just realised how long it’s been since I posted anything since returning from my holidays. I’ve knocked out a couple since then in the mista…

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. I’ve just realised what I have written! “Knocked out a couple”…..? What must you be thinking of me? That I sit in front of my screen having a Jodrell while waiting for inspiration to strike? Hahahahaha.

Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank

Rest assured that I don’t. You’ll have to take my word for it though.

Work has been manic since my return and we have a new task that has been proving to be a bit of a nightmare. I always love it when my boss phones up and says;

“Houston. We have a problem, don’t you”!!!

My Boss

My Boss

It always means that the soft brown stuff has hit the fan and it’s heading in my general direction.

Anyway, that aside I did intend writing about the progress, or lack of it, in my garden but I’m in Wales for the next few days looking after my sisters smallholding

Boo & Guptas smallholding taken from the fields towards the house

Boo & Guptas smallholding taken from the fields towards the house

and all her critters and crops.

There are three horses,20150902_113751

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a dozen ducks,20150902_113333

a large, indeterminate number of chickens (they’re always scuttling about making it impossible for me to count them)

This chicken is called "Mrs Bogbrush"

This chicken is called “Mrs Bogbrush”

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and a labrador called Chalky

Chalky. Along with his favourite balls

Chalky. Along with his favourite balls

along with a semi feral cat called Morgan.

Morgan

Morgan

Plus all kinds of fruit and vegetables to take care of.

By the time Boo and her husband Gupta get back from their holidays, I suspect there may be slightly fewer animals to deal with!

It’s lovely here and it’s been some years since I’ve been in this part of the world and it was really pleasant to be driving along and recognising village names from back in the day when I was in Wales most weekends for canoe races.QuentinBonnetainAction

I might just take a wander down to some of them for a look-see and remember my long-lost youth. In the meantime though, I’m busy feeding animals, clearing out hen houses, shovelling up horse muck and picking raspberries, strawberries, aubergines and that kind of stuff. It’s bloody brilliant!

Boo and Gupta live on the edge of a small village not far from the coast. All the locals seem to be called by their job names as their real surnames are all Jones. Or it might be Evans or Jenkins or some other Welsh surname. So the bloke who delivers logs for the wood burners that everyone has is called Dickie Log, the school cook is Betty Cook, the carpenter is called Dai Saer (Saer being Welsh for Carpenter) and his wife is called Betty Dai Saer. The landlady of ┬áthe local pub, The Commercial Inn, is run by a lady called Betty Commercial. There’s another bloke called Dai Buns who may be a baker but may not and the guy who keeps all the roadside hedges trimmed is called Eaun Hedge!!! The local farmer is called John Ty Mawr (Ty Mawr is Welsh for Home Farm) and so it goes on. Boo and Gupta are called Boo and Gupta Wyndarra because the name of their smallholding is Wyndarra! Wyndarra being Australian but that’s just like my sister to put a spanner in the works! Apparently, most of the women (of a certain age) are named Betty as that was the name of the midwife who delivered them all. Electricity arrived in the village in 1963 and some of the inhabitants here remember revising for their school exams by candle light! The Interweb is unbelievably slow and it is taking me bloody ages to download the photographs I’ve taken but do you know what? I think it fantastic here. Boo and Gupta (so-called because of his love of curry. Also known as “Stink” when he’s had a curry!) dreamt about having this life for many, many years and they achieved it 6 years ago and I envy them. It’s not easy but it is plain to see that they are living the dream.1926889_654140781288958_206925591_n

I have to go give the clucks their afternoon feed now, so on with my wellies (I brought them along in case I found any stray sheep!) and off into the fields, the fresh air, the rain and the wind to feed the animals and think some thoughts.

Have a smashing day.

More Dick soon.auto