Sunday, October 23rd, 2011


It is a game we play. Since I fitted out the old shed with a new floor (while the shed was being moved the old floor disintegrated only a few feet away from the shed’s new position) and new nest boxes and a new perch, I have had to play nightly games with the chickens. When it is dark enough I close the hatch and then physically lift the hens onto their perch. I worry that that the perch is too high but I console myself that it is only one foot off the floor and far from the two foot maximum. They simply need to learn something new.

It will take some time, but I need to place them all on their perch every night until they realise what they need to do. Some of the younger hens are a little more clueless and they hop down to the floor when I leave. Last night the lovely Sharon spotted one of these clueless birds and attempted to put her back on the perch. She came in from her nightly walk around the cottage and had an exasperated expression while she began to ask me, “see when one of them is not on its perch…” I interrupted her with a question dripping with inferred knowledge, “How many were down before you started try to fix the problem”. Having grown up with pet birds I would have thought she would be wiser to avian habits. Her head torch on full beam prompted them to all happily wake up and begin feeding instead of sleeping. I informed her of this as if I had years of knowledge. The reality was that I had learnt the hard way over several nights of what seemed like a comical sort of herding of cats. I will not reveal the truth to her of course. I am a teacher, and my art is that of bluff and overconfidence.

This afternoon we let the weather dictate to us how long it took to get home. We reached impassable back roads and turned around. We never even reached some of the more used roads as the queues told us that the journey ahead was impassable as well. After a couple more U-turns we used what was left of the possible paths home and our sketchy knowledge of the local topology to get us home. Eventually we found a way home taking us through two swollen burns that seemed not to care how much of the road they had adopted.

Driving through the torrents and puddles we noticed how our little car seemed to have a less power than normal. The moist air was the obvious culprit and then we contemplated how the modern car can cope with so much. We reminisced about how we used to have cars that would refuse to even start in such weather. They had to be coaxed with the throttle and choke until they reluctantly started. And then they had to be nurtured along the road in such damp weather. We remembered one car we used to own in our pre marriage years. The carburetor was in such a sorry state that a foot had to be kept ready on the accelerator pedal to keep it going. We even went through an MOT test with this car in its condition and explained that if we had to stop the engine we might not be able to get it started again. It passed.

While reminiscing about our cars the lovely Sharon brought up a recollection about having to start her mum and dad’s car with a starter handle. I have a vague memory of hearing the story before but this time it got me thinking; just how old is the lovely Sharon. I can say with certainty that she is older than me, as I have no recollection of starting cars with wind up handles. I know she caries more wisdom than her years but of course it is rude to ask about specifics, but I have my theories.