Monday 23 October 2023

Heebie-geebie pigeons

 Pigeons have never really caused us a problem here in France but, evidently, they are doing their stuff nearby as our neighbouring farmers on both sides and trying to put the heebie-geebies on them to protect their emerging sunflowers. Each has his different approach to this, the one to the South reverting to the old proven method of a gas-powered cannon which starts at daylight and continues all day. Thankfully, unlike our last 2 dogs, Haggis is undisturbed by this, although my sleep certainly is. However, another neighbour’s dogs kick up a din every time they hear it, barking and howling their frenzied little heads off. The other guy has gone more hi-tec, with some kind of gadget that makes noises that sound like a cross between R2D2 and those sliding doors on Star Trek. Just why any bird would take flight at such sound I am not sure but it really is off-putting when I am at my desk, expecting Captain Kirk to walk in at any moment!

Meanwhile my own robot has taken to periods of indecision as it sometimes cleans and hoovers the pool while at other times it sits there, possibly pondering the universe. Science is never a subject I fully understood but it does seem to respond to some percussion maintenance when I wallop it with a broom. I did try and dismantle it but the sight of its innards looked gorier that an X-rated episode of Casualty. Next, I reverted to YouTube, listening to sad men droning on in their garden shed, explaining about AI and how all robots eventually take on their own feelings. Well, this one will soon find out about my feelings if it doesn’t buck its ideas up, as I march it to the nearest rubbish tip. Except we not allowed to call then rubbish tips anymore, having to use its new fancy name ‘the recycling centre’? Perhaps Dexter, (short for Dextron Robotic) might come back as a dishwasher? I suspect a garden ornament is more likely.     

I am cleaning the pool early this year as we are shortly due a visit from my number two son and his wife who are anticipating some decent weather and may fancy a dip. To aid the improvement in water temperature I have inherited a new pool cover which supposedly retains the heat through the colder nights. Except that the cold spring nights seem to be regularly accompanied by a hoolie from the South West which has a habit of lifting the 50 square metre piece of bubble-wrap and depositing in my vegetable patch. It too may find itself recycled into carrier bags if this keeps on.

Meanwhile, my own workload continues to undermine my free-time at an alarming rate as I plough through writing two history books simultaneously, both with looming deadlines. As a support to my research, I managed to buy half-a-dozen early copies of the Scottish Farmer’s yearbook, dating back to 1951, which are absolutely fascinating. So much so that I now lose even more work time, scrolling through articles about ‘Transformation in the Poultry Industry’ and photos of old machinery that I vaguely recall rusty away in the nettles when I was a child.  This got me round to thinking about my grandfather and how he was so super-successful in the chicken business in the 1930s. I now have set on a new mission to see if anyone remembers his extensive dominance in the White Wyandottes breed, where he won dozens of cups and medals at the UK’s major fairs. So far, I am still striking a blank apart from finding out that the breed originated in USA and therefore nowhere else exists. Some rather extensive digging awaits, I fear.

Having been fearful of another drought this year, I mentioned last month that I had sold the majority of the sheep. So now, of course, it is peeing down and ‘le gazon’ is a foot high, growing daily. Rather than mow it, I have now got to consider whether we have to buy some more sheep. A pedigree or two, perhaps. I hope they would do better than our Scottish Ryeland flock which has produced all boys again this time when we were trying to expand it with females. For some reason, nature seems to be kicking my backside at present. As always in these matters,  I blame the Americans!


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