Sunday, March 28, 2010

Births, Deaths and Money (again)

Excitement abounds at Rock Farm.

As the Possum Wars continue, I had my first taste of murdering an almost innocent creature. Having never in my life killed anything larger than a very small and deserving bug, I came face-to-face with a nasty, snarling, spitting possum, cornered in a hole and threatening to rip the face of several of my dogs (who were of course too stupid to realise that this was a very real possibility) My only choice was to stab at the nasty, narrowly avoiding being sick as it took 6 or 7 goes to shut it up, at which point the dogs finished it off. I did not sleep well that night, I can tell you.
Okay, after getting mixed messages from those in the know: ‘they’re solitary” “there’ll be one more” “ there’ll be hundreds of the darn things” I commissioned a possum trap. The first night I caught a possum. A few nights later I caught another. Several nights after that I caught 3 rats – yes, in one trap. Either it’s an extremely good trap or we have far too many rats.
Anyhow, I shall continue to have things murdered until I am sure that my babies will be safe outside.

In keeping with the cycle of life, we had two recent births. Bonnie, the grey mare popped her foal at least 2 months before we thought she would, beating Pony the Whale to the delivery room.
Exactly a week later, and three months late by our reckoning, Pony had her little darling. Despite dropping 100lbs in one night Pony is still a whale: she may have to mail-order her jeans in future, unless of course there’s another one in there somewhere…

The aviary is alive with the sound of parrot sex. In case you haven’t heard it before, it’s the funniest thing ever – it sounds like two small children giggling and playing space-invaders. The wildlife laws say they’re not supposed to do it, but I don’t think they much care. I think I need more nest-boxes, or maybe I should just throw them out for lewd behaviour.

I still don’t have any yellow-heads, but that’s probably a good thing since I still don’t have my AVIARY (are you listening???) I need another $8500. Anyone??
Now is probably a good time to tell you about Marathon man Geoff, who is going to run, swim, cycle and row 475 miles in a virtual tour of Belize. You can get the full details here: He starts tomorrow (Monday) with his row around from Mexico (or around the shores of Bournemouth since that’s where he lives) and will hit the streets or the gym, depending on the depth of snow, until he’s covered the whole country and back. You can download a sponsor form at the same link and go and annoy your friends, colleagues, guests, etc. Yes you can. You know you want to.
Thank you, thank you, thank you

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Get away from her you B*TCH

There are few moments in a girl’s life when she can truly know her primitive self (other than via the toenail-dirt of course) but the other night I was blessed with a taste of what our ancestors experienced on a daily basis. What a rush.

Having been on high alert since the untimely death of poor Timba (I can now name him, as the relatives have been informed) I was just about to crawl into bed when I heard the now too familiar screaming from the direction of the aviary. Fetchingly clad in shorts & PJ top I grabbed the torch and a machete and set off to slay the beast.

It was hard to miss the parrot – on the roof of the aviary in the jaws of a possum, literally screaming for its life. I yelled, I threw stuff, I rattled the wire, but the possum was not at all bothered by the puny human on the ground. Without thinking it through (thank goodness) I climbed as high as the ladder would allow and then shoving fingertips and toes through the wires, scaled the side of the aviary, machete gripped to my palm with one thumb. Once on the top I crawled frantically toward the possum along the sloping side and managed at full stretch to put my machete across his back and press down hard so he couldn’t go any further. Eventually, one hand on the parrot, one on the machete, the possum lost the stand-off and let go of the bird. I was now holding a struggling, injured, petrified parrot and had my nemesis pinned beneath my machete. I couldn’t raise the knife to chop him as he would have escaped, so I did the only thing I could think of and sawed across his back, pressing as hard as my full reach would let me (gross). It was at this point I realised I’d picked up the only blunt machete in the garage and was doing little more than giving the creature a rather nasty Indian burn. The bird was screaming, I was sawing and the possum was just looking at me as if to say “is that the best you can do” With a mighty roar, I raised the machete high in the air to deal the death blow, and the possum scuttled off. Swear words don’t cover it. Okay – but I rescued the bird. Half a hurray for me.

So here I am on top of the aviary, half naked, holding a struggling, bleeding, biting bird and requiring all four limbs to get down. I sat for a while, enjoying the view and the remains of the adrenaline rush, mildly curious as to where my stupid dogs were and wondering where I could trade them in for proper ones, when the bird solved my dilemma as it got free and leaped off the side of the aviary. It wasn’t a pretty landing, but it enabled me to clamber down and scoop him off to safety.

I am pleased to say the bird is doing well and I’m sure he’ll now make a full recovery. My battle scarred knees are slowly healing, oh- and let me tell you, you would think your big toe could fit through a chicken-wire hole without slicing skin off, but you’d be wrong.

So, lesson learned, all of the releases are back behind bars while I try and catch the little monster and send him on the holiday of a lifetime. They are not happy about it, but at least now I’m managing to actually get some sleep, albeit a dreamy sleep with scenes from Alien and Jaws "you either gonna kill this animal or cut off his food supply", "13 parrots went into the trees, 7 parrots came out, possum took the rest..." that sort of thing. Yes, I know you all feel sorry for me.

I welcome all possum-catching tips, by the way. I've constructed a crude trap: a box propped up with a stick and a piece of baited string hung inside the roof and tied to the stick. It works in theory, but every night so far the trap has been triggered but the beastie’s not inside. Maybe the box needs more weight... I shall persevere, and when I succeed, you will hear my primeval roar of triumph from there.