I wonder if chickens have a patron saint/ guardian angel? If so, I imagine that the one in charge of my chooks must be looking a little frayed around the edges this week – limping along, halo slightly askew, twigs and feathers stuck in his monk’s habit and teeth, muttering mild mediaeval oaths under his breath, “Forsooth, do dese dratted poultry have a death wish?! Dear Lord, could you not have given dem a wee bitty more in de brains department? For sure – DEY ARE THICK!” (My saint, for some reason, is Irish).
In truth I can’t really blame them for the first two incidents but as for the rest of the week……
It all started last Sunday when I heard a commotion outside. Upon investigation I discovered that my littlest chick had gone and the chickens were in an uproar. There had been a beautiful scimitar shaped kestrel or hawk around earlier so I assumed that it was the culprit and put all the chickens into their secure enclosure. Next day I kept them all in and the kestrel returned three or four times looking for a snack but I chased it away. On Monday I let the large hens and the large chicks out thinking they’d be safe from the kestrel as it was too small to catch them. I had to go out at lunch time and on my return went straight to the bathroom. As I was sitting there, in blissful reverie, staring at the lovely view from my bathroom window I was suddenly startled to hear Rodney the rooster cackling his warning cry and seeing a huge jakkalsvoel dive bombing into the garden, wings folded back in a classic attack position. I leapt up and raced to the front door, pulling my knickers up, shouting my head off and with my dogs baying with excitement at my heels. Andre, who’d been cleaning his motorbike, joined in the charge to the chicken’s enclosure but we were too late. After checking and rechecking we realized that Sally, a white hen, was missing. I was sad about her because, along with Ali, she was one of my first chicks and was very pretty
That was it – all the chickens had to stay locked up for a while until the hunting birds took their appetites elsewhere. So – we locked them up and have spun a web of fishing wire across the enclosures to, hopefully, deter the big birds. Unfortunately, my chickens are used to having the run of the place so after a day or two they got bored and decided to take matters into their own hands/claws. The weather has been a little wild and one day the gate blew open – no problem for my retarded chickens, they decided to come and visit us at home – WHERE THE BIG DOGS LIVE. Oh dear- I heard Jack howl and go flying out of the front door with Ben in pursuit and that was it – chickens everywhere. We spent until nightfall hunting them all down and putting them to bed – all the time the falcon was hovering overhead – he knew what was up. This morning whilst walking the dogs, blow me if they didn’t decide to launch themselves off their roof straight into the path of the dogs AGAIN. Fortunately we managed to rescue the idiots and return them to the fold before the dogs inflicted any serious damage – Jack did have a mouthful of feathers though and Andre and I are getting really good at doing flying rugby chicken tackles. My neighbour’s binoculars must be steaming up.
(The jakkalsvoel hasn't given up either - he and a mate were back this morning - they are spectacular birds in flight and call back and forth to one another.)
Other than these diversions life has been pretty busy. In the week before the holidays my mad Irish neighbour set the veld on fire which took the Fire Department six trucks and seven and a half hours to put out. We had plumbers laying a new pipeline down our driveway at the same time that required them to dig a 100m long trench along the top section of the drive. They finished two days before Easter and as soon as they’d left we switched on the TV and the lights and two fireballs came down the chimney and our electricity died completely. You guessed it – the plumbers had pick axed the main electricity cable running to the house. For two days we managed with candles and gas until it was sorted out, literally just before our house full of guests arrived. After that we decided to just have a good rest over Easter. We went to the beach; visited the harbour to buy fish and watched a seal cavorting between the fishing boats( pictuure under Fauna); visited the huge tidal pools at the Point and went to the aquarium where we saw a tiny baby turtle( picture under Fauna); went to the local markets and museums and just generally chilled. One day we made butter and cream cheese, another day the kids went for a picnic in the woods in the ravine and another rainy day we did crafts – foil art and repose. We had a few visitors as well and on one memorable occasion, whilst I was showing my friends the lovely views from the deck, Jack managed to somehow slip his foot through the slats of the deck and get it stuck. Jack howled, my friends ran inside not bearing to watch as I hung on to Jack and Andre sawed a hole in the deck – at times I wonder, WHY do we have animals? Most of the time though, they bring us great pleasure and a lot of laughs.
This week I’m taking my quilts, scarves and Viola’s bags to a market in Hartenbos that I was invited to participate in. Then on Sunday I’ll help the ladies at the Great Brak Museum set up the displays for the Arts and Crafts Fair which runs from the 16th to the 21st May. I’m loaning the museum all the exquisite Laotian silk I have and will be exhibiting quilts and doing some demos during the week so it should be fun.
In the last week of May there is the Site_Specific land Art Project taking place in Plettenberg Bay. It is the first event of its kind in SA. Artists have been invited to create works using natural found items along a trail and then it will be opened to the public on the 28th and 29th of May. I definitely want to see it as the ladies from the Boitumelo Project in Johannesburg will be there and I love their work. I met them at a few of the Women’s Day functions which were held at the Voortrekker Monument and have bought some of their beautiful embroideries.
I've put a number of new photos in the Gallery, Our animals and othe family, Fauna and Flora, Arts and Crafts and under Outa's pictures. The sunrises and sunsets have been breathtaking lately and the stars at night make me feel very quiet and small.We've also had some nights where there have been so many shooting stars - I wonder if the earth went through a meteor shower? When I stand outside at night and watch the satellites as they spin across the sky I always end up singing that gentle Lou Reed song - Satellite of Love.
Till next time.
PS I went to the beach this morning, saw a penguin walking on the beach and then going into the s and found a huge nautilus shell and a dead penguin. I brought both of them home, despite protestations from Andre, and contacted the Oceanic Research lab in Mossel Bay to see if they wanted the penguin.They did - many people aren't aware that the African penguin is dying out rapidly and no-one really knows why, they are on the Threatened Species list. So- I'm taking it to their lab today and am really looking forward to seeing the facilities there. I spoke to a researcher from Canada who says they have a breeding programme over there for all three different types of the penguins endemic to our coastline and he was very excited to see the penguin I found - how does one introduce oneself in such a situaton? 'Hello - I'm the lady with the dead penguin" - hmmm, has a certain cachet.
We saw the research ship in Harbour over Easter and also visited The Shark Lab, a small aquarium in Mossel Bay, which researches mainly sharks. Their webpage is www.shark-lab.co.za.