Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chickened out

I wasn't prepared, simple as that. We let all the best birds get away (meaning sold) from the backs of lorries at the few farmers markets that we attended back in Spring. Mysterious and unmarked vehicles with bartering farmers, it was an interesting spectacle that brought out a lot of population of our town. Not many events over the calendar year actually do this, which shows the importance still of having a backyard or garden full of chicken and rabbit droppings. 
And now, an abandoned enclosure with untested fox-proof fencing will remain vacant for another 12 months. Thickening nettles beginning to take over and encroach into the stilted wood shack that would have housed five feathered creatures. Spiders and insects instead enjoy the place they probably see as an undisturbed palace. 
Everytime there is a guest arrival at the cottage an excusable explanation is required for what that overgrown area of the garden was supposed to represent. No squawking hens, only silence or the occasional patter of paws as one of our inquisitive cats enters the compound. 
Finishing touches will be added to the area when it is cut back in the autumn. It's just a shame that something that seems so simple to look after and is the ultimate livestock necessity for so-called "self-sufficient life" has to wait a little bit longer. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blooming Springtime

I'm beginning not to cope. The start of May when Havran Cottage's gate is open once is looming closer. I'm tripping over holes that I have excavated and expected to have filled again by now. With no sign of rain, transplanted grass needing constant watering from 40 metres of hosepipe cumbersomely being pulled to different areas of the garden. Trips to the woodlands at dusk without any neighbourly eyes watching (all glued to the primetime 7pm news channels) to pick cut branches to form decorative wattle fences. The garden thankfully has Jana working full time to yield our annual needs. One less thing to worry about maybe but adding the imminent arrival of hens* to our compound has created my own full time employment of hammering their home together. Screws would have been easier than nails, but a stuttering drill has put away that thought. I don't think there has been an occasion since we have lived here that everything has worked properly at the same time. 
At least this year an investment in a semi-decent lawn mower has eased the possibility of last year's muscle pains with it's self-propelling rear wheels. Grass cutting has suddenly become boring.
Gravel is staring back in a pile outside our gate. More building material, this has to stop. Enough is enough, as my camera gathers dust. It needs to start clicking soon for me to relax again. 

*Initially we waited for chicks from our local farmer, but I wasn't ready with the henhouse. Then we have waited for a farmer's market, but then I wasn't ready with the henhouse. Then another market, I wasn't ready still. Now we are waiting for the last market on the calendar, if I am ready with the henhouse...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

To kill a ladybird

The awakening of our mixed ladybird collection to the bathroom window ledges, desperate for escapism to the outside world. But most don't make it when a finger presses gently to disable their little bodies. A dustpan and brush clears any evidence. 
This all might sound a little bit cruel, but then there is no sentiment when you are cleaning all their little dirt marks on the glass of the windows.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April arrival

The unlikely arrival of snow showers and mud has marked the first days of April. Slipping on sloppy ground, bringing into the house large clumps of sloshy mud from our boots every time we had to put some more wood in the stove to keep the house warm. Overalls now with a faded dirt colour, soaking wet woolly hat and gloves with more holes than fingers. And all for the sake of preparing for chicken arrivals in another week's time. Our neighbour (the one who didn't move our trailer, gossips but we have to remain friends with when we need repairs on chimneys or drill bits..) has already judged that the local wildlife will have easy pickings on our new flock. It's so nice to hear that sort of feedback. He did offer us cake though when we saw him, so we let that remark pass.  
One week earlier I was back in Prague for a couple of hours work. 8 hours there, 8 hours back. At least the sun shone there, which brought out the camera clicking tourists in their droves. Easter colour with all it's eggs and shiny material and a chance to see english acquaintances in groups of matching t-shirts with wording or pictures to help me distinguish who the lucky groom will be. 
And these days it is fun seeing how the self-portrait photograph has developed with straining arm and neck muscles. I don't understand why they can't ask a passing stranger to take their picture instead like before. Then again I was starting to charge for this service.        

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Neighbourhood watch

Not a new arrival at Havran Cottage but a change of view for the blue trailer. And with it idle neighbourly gossip. 
We had a choice of two tractor owning neighbours who both live alone. One being our sweet looking, dirty talking, sprightly elder who had been working his engine over the last month or our negative speaking, shaking head, "you should do it my way", 'hasn't run his tractor since October' neighbour who will talk about you to anyone on his regular friday morning shop in the town. Therefore it was an easy decision. With his tractor worn-through thermals and bobbly hat to fight any cold weather, the  consequence was we had the task done in a short time with a glass of wine to celebrate. 
In the distance the following day we hear the revving of a tractor engine and gushing smoke rising from near our other neighbour's house. As if he was making a point, it's too late to concern us.

Friday, March 6, 2015

wait is over

Counting down the days left of winter and frozen ground was like waiting for the bus. Whether it will be late or on time but knowing we need to be somewhere very soon. 
So now we must move on and take advantage of early Springtime sunshine which brings with it defrosting temperatures and mud. Clogged up boots and the inevitable forgetfulness to take them off at the front door. Lunchtime dishes not washed until later in the evening or even the next day as there is eagerness to persist with outdoor plans. 
At the moment two more constructed outdoor composting toilets or privies or places of peace or whatever else you want to call them, have been built in my trademark hap-hazard rustic way. And after all the weather boarding of each cubicle my hands are left littered with splinters and dirty finger nails. 
Our other challenge at present is the almost impossible task of clearing and organising what we call room number 2. A challenge that was initially so hard that to even open the door required brute force just to get beyond the first stuff blocking your way. Now after a couple of days and a near empty space with contents scattered both inside and left outside our cottage, a mess would be only a polite term as to how our place looks right now. Neighbours have driven past with twisted heads as to see what we are doing and predictable tut-tutting and gossip thereafter.  
The week ahead is going to be busy to put what we need back in once some shelving has been created out of what scrap wood is left. Quickly too in case Winter decides to re-emerge.      

Saturday, February 7, 2015

predictive text

Winter draws out a familiar daily routine. Get up, empty the ash pan, fire the stove, feed the dogs and cats, empty the ash, compost bucket and pee container on the compost heap, bring in wood for burning for the day, breakfast, chop more wood, check any emails, waste 5 minutes on what the world has to say. All very predictable. So when snow arrives it is welcoming. The snowman contest, won by Jana thanks largely to the saucepan hat. The sight of our neighbour's grandson force his patched up ford mondeo estate up our hill at his fifth attempt of wheel-spinning. But perfect of all is the excuse of not being able to go anywhere and survive on what is available. And currently not have to bother to think about a backward and silly referendum this country's church is sponsoring right now because the farmer still hasn't cleared the snow on our road with his snow plough. 
But when the sun shines or even more spectacularly when the full moon glows on the snowy surface, the crystals reflect like a million diamonds. It's not worth going anywhere else.
Whether the cold snap or the previously luke warm winter has caused it we are not sure, but the black splodgy pumpkin and marrow harvest in the cellar is more likely to finish on the compost heap than the dinner plate now. A last pumpkin crescendo meal consisting of pumpkin curry, pumpkin and apple cake and some slightly less desirable marrow (and fruit juice added) wine spread over three lunches may mark the beginning to buy in some vegetable from the supermarket again. At least for the closing months of winter.