Tuesday, July 28, 2015

School's out!

Loosed from the routine that reigns between nine and four term time, the parents are having difficulty adapting to the muddle that is seeping into the working week. 
Daughter number one is six thousand odd miles away but keeps us appeased with updates of camel trekking in Rajasthan. 
Boy ricochets between festivals pausing briefly by the well stocked fridge and the washing machine in the interim. 
Daughter number two has adjusted her clock to British Teenager Time which means I can at least hide in my studio until lunchtime before she has even breakfasted.   

So in relative serenity, (unless it’s hot, and the window is open, and a fly has got in, and is eating my watercolours, that have honey in the binder to keep them moist... which means when I eventually manage to swat it, there’s a coloured splat depending on which blob of paint the fly has been eating, strange but true), I’m working on a lovely commission painting summer fruits. It gives me the perfect opportunity to dally in the garden choosing my subjects carefully.

Alpine strawberries are not actually on the list but they’ve been so prolific this year I had to paint them too.
Now where’s that fly?   

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stone the Crows

Week two at Wimbledon but that’s not the only venue where battles are being fought and results chalked up.
Up here in the country I am embroiled in a fierce competition of my own. 

More than a month ago I had noticed that my chicken’s egg production had become unusually patchy. Most days there wasn't a single egg to collect. I was very suspicious of a pair of crows hanging around in the top of the oak tree with literally a bird's eye view of the chicken run. 

The cheeky duo had sussed that there was not only a plentiful supply of food and water but freshly laid eggs in the coop too. Even better, after a chicken has laid an egg it will cluck triumphantly, thus sending out an alert to any loitering crow!

For a few days I found I only had one ear tuned in to the radio in my studio, the other was constantly cocked, listening for the cluck that was the starting pistol as I tried to out-sprint the crows.

Sigh. It’s no way to lead a tranquil, country life. 

After much research, (including watching Youtube clips of crows entering hen houses and exiting, egg gently clasped in beak), I tried a string of flapping bunting as a deterrent and stood a glassy eyed predator on sentry duty.

Completely ineffective. 

What I really needed to repel the thieves, according to local farming wisdom, was a dead crow to hang up in the run. Not easy to come by but after a few weeks of scouring the verges I spotted a fresh roadkill, still warm, beak cocked in the air. Perfect. I slung him in the back of the car, briefly marveling at the blue sheen on his sleek back, his strong beak and impressive talons.... but smugly rubbing my hands in glee.

Now he’s hanging on the gallows over the pop hole and the egg score so far this week is a satisfying Mary 6 - Crows 0!