Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Birds come, birds go

We feel very proud of ourselves at La Chaise.  A third brood of swallows have hatched, and flown.  Their parents built them a new nest, pre-used homes obviously not appropriate for this late brood.
Always hungry, always crying
 As always the nest was in Alexandre' atelier which seems a little odd.   First there is the coming and going of Alexandre, plus the noise of his machines when he is working there.   He is not bothered by being dive bombed by indignant swallow parents.  Somehow the excessive amount of bird shit associated with nests does not fall on his machines or whatever work he is doing.  They must have come to some arrangement but Alexandre is not telling.
pre-used and rejected

It is only in the last three years that swallows have come back to La Chaise.  We do not know why they went, not why they have returned.    It is not due to an absence of cats, though there was a period feline , free. Now the majestic Cha-Cha, who condescends to be fed by Alex and Audrey and occasionally brings them a mouse in return, stalks the grounds.   His ambition seems to be to install himself in our house. But, unusually for a cat, he understands the word 'No' - even 'Non' - unlike the visiting three year old who ignores both.

So the swallows have left but there are ducks back on the duck pond down the farm.  This also after a period of well over three years since the last duck was killed by a pine marten.   We were practicing what is known as a 'vide sanitaire' in local farming terms.  In other words, the absence of prey for the nuisibles is supposed to make them look for food elsewhere.  No doubt the news that two pine martens had been so stupid, or arrogant, as to get themselves trapped  only a few weeks ago also helped.
should never have left the pond

Unfortunately the ducklings were not safely on the pond when the near three year old grandson saw them.  They were waddling on the path, nibbling the odd bit of grass and occasional bug.   Grandson yelled 'canard, canard,'  and set off in pursuit.  A three year old boy can run nearly as fast as three month old ducklings.  The ducklings dived under the fig tree by the barn and tried to hide. Grandson got on all fours and went after them under the fig tree.  The ducklings escaped the other side.   Oma had to lie flat on her stomach to rescue grandson from fig branches.  The former rushed off to the pond, determinedly pursued by the latter: canard, canard!'.  The latter was carried back home, in tears, for tea.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And another unanswerable animal question...

Why is it that some domesticated animals, those with the escapology gene can only find their way out?  An escape route seems to be one way. They never return via the way they left.   Mostly they do not come back. 

Very small lambs go through a period of getting under fences. The drinking tubs are one way, either through the water, in danger of drowning, or, for the cleverer ones, just alongside and under the wire.  And since one cannot herd lambs at all, definitely not one on its own, the whole flock has to be moved to where the lamb is.  This also goes for single escaped ewes, double figures are more manageable.
a lamb's way out....

Hens are the only escapologists with a return instinct.  But they get out in silent devious ways, usually unseen, make a terrible triumphant racket, then get down to eating what they ought not. They come back in equally devious manner, driven by thought of the regular bed-night snack. 

Actually, that is wrong.   Cats go and come in their own mysterious ways. There are no known ways of controlling cats. Everyone knows that.
Edward, the Black Prince with Tiger, his ginger cat

Our longest-lived labrador, Edward, the Black Prince of La Chaise, had us beautifully trained.  When we noticed his absence, and if I had time, I got into the faithful Peugeot 504 estate wagon and would drift round the country lanes, preferably the ones in the woods.  The diesel engine would be run in its noisiest gear.  Sometimes Edward would deign to come out of the woods with a resigned expression on his face.   I would open the boot and he would hop in.

When we had not noticed his absence, difficult I grant but we sometimes had other things to do than concentrate on the needs of dogs, then an evening phone call would come.  'Edward is here,' would say our nearest neighbour,' he wants his lift home.'   Or, when in luck, that neighbour fancied a drink and Edward would be brought home in style, on the back seat.

The current chief escapologist at La Chaise, is Roger, our new pedigree Clun Forest ram from the Pyrenees.  He bitterly resents being fenced in, will batter down fencing and gates, use the styles, to get out of whichever field he is in to join the ewes and lambs.   He will, however, being a friendly chap, follow Alex back to wherever if Alex is carrying a pan of maize grains.  Typical male, guided by his stomach.

Roger the Ram, trapped behind a mains voltage electric fence.