"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Today on the Cloud Farm soap opera.

Whenever possible we like to do the morning chores together. It not only makes it easier to get things done quickly but it is also a nice time to observe everything around us. We keep tabs on the latest developments in the chicken hierarchy as the roosters and hens constantly strive to adjust their position on the social ladder. The pigeons meanwhile will call and tap-dance on the cow shed roof until they are fed. This brings the guineafowl running to steal as much of the pigeons food as possible. This year we have a lot of keets so far. Three mothers decided to combine their flocks to form one super flock of keets allowing them a lot more push when it comes time to muscle in on the feed.
The cows will come in to be fed and milked. Bonnie is currently bucking for position as top cow but I think it will be a while until Annabelle decides to move down the ladder. Bonnie has also been pushing the limits of behaviour with the humans to see how much she can get away with. For the most part she is obedient to my wishes. However I notice she will push as far as she can with my wife. I will often be feeding the chooks when I hear a shrill squawk of outrage from the wife followed by Bonnie receiving a heated telling off. Bonnie knows if she pushes it too far I will make an appearance. Rufus will wait for the commotion to settle before going back to his face-washing service he runs for the cows. They seem to like it.
Another source of frustration for the wife has been Ivan the rooster. For a while he had developed the habit of entering the milking shed and letting go with a full throated bellow from not two feet away. I can tell you a big Rhode Island Red crowing in a small shed is truly deafening. This morning I was about to check the rain gauge when I heard "COCK-A-DOODLE-Glubbbble". Not quite the ending one generally hears from a rooster. I entered the milking shed as I was passed at high speed by a sodden rooster to find my wife quietly milking the cow with a smug expression. Apparently she had managed to hit Ivan squarely in the face with the washing water bucket, mid crow.
Currently Ivan is *not* speaking to any of us. A roosters dignity is easily offended. The hens have lately taken to laying in secret nests, usually in the vacant pig pen. I find if I watch carefully I will see a hen quietly sidle off into the bushes when she thinks no one is watching. A careful search later reveals a clutch of eggs usually hidden under a bush.

Having been fed the pigeons will return to their full time hobby- SEX. The cock birds will coo and wobble about as they dance to impress the ladies. The ladies do their best to look unimpressed. Judging by the amount of squabs they are hatching I guess the are not all that unimpressed!
The King parrots will usually make an appearance. If the chooks have not left any feed for them they will make their displeasure known by raiding the bananas.The King parrots have the most unusual call of any parrot. It is a series of descending notes slow and spaced, becoming softer with each note. It sounds like the caller really cant be bothered and runs out of energy at the end. I am sure I sometimes hear a muttered "stuff it, I just cant be bothered..." and the finish of the call.
Jasmine, our world class ratter, remains firmly aloof from the soap opera about her. She will calmly ignore the berating guineafowl as she walks through the middle of their flock, she does not hear the raucous crowing of the roosters and the pigeons are plainly beneath her dignity to notice. In fact the only livestock to cause her concern are the cows who long to give her a lick as she walks along the fence.I notice she times her fence-walking for when the cows are not present.
Rufus, on the other hand, makes it his business to be involved in absolutely everything that happens on the Cloud Farm. Here he is spying on the Lady Cloud farmer as she is putting on her gumboots. He absolutely adores her and will follow her everywhere. He considers me the Alpha dog but my wife, as far as he is concerned, is MUM!

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