Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Cold and wet, but at least no one got shot

Except for a quick glimpse of the low winter sun, it has been perpetually raining in our part of England. The ground is so saturated, we've worn muddy tracks in the lawn on our usual routes: to the kennels, to the sheep pen, to the clothes dryer in the back shed. Very similar to the deer tracks I look for in the woods when I'm out stalking.

And the cold has set in. Not enough to freeze the muck unfortunately, but enough to remind me that living in a quaint English cottage has its definite drawbacks. I plugged the gaps in the old metal window frames that were big enough for me to get a finger between them. I 'upcycled' Ace bandages from Mike's no longer needed wound dressing supplies. Half a bandage per window, poked into the gap with a knitting needle has stopped the worst drafts but we're relegated to 2 rooms - the kitchen and the front room - which I can keep warm with cooking and a roaring fire in the woodstove.

It's so cold in the rest of the house that there are assorted cardigans hanging from the bannister - in case you need to venture outside the 'warm zone' for any length of time you can add layers. I have to wear fingerless gloves to check my email, and to write this. Expect a brief update. I periodically warm up by checking the chicken that's roasting in the oven. A glass of sherry helps too - even an episode of Mythbusters confirmed alcohol's restorative properties (although they mentioned something about succumbing to hypothermia eventually...I can't remember the details)

I'm waiting for the game dealer to drop by. I have a pair of mallard ducks hanging outside the door (shot on the estate so I need to make them a 'gift' to Lord and Lady) and Paul will collect them and prepare them for their larder. I didn't realise that the ducks were hanging right over our mailbox which is actually just an old metal bread bin. Our kindly postman knocked on the door and handed me the mail as the ducks were dripping blood and he didn't want them to bleed on the mail. How thoughtful is that?

We have a busy weekend of shooting, regardless of the weather. I thought I would share a shoot story from Monday with you -

Gun's wife, elegantly dressed - "Mike, Mike. There's a man standing on the hill in front of the gun, and the gun is swinging throuh the gentleman. Surely it's not safe. Shouldn't you move that man out of the way?"

Mike (to gun's wife): "I understand your concern. But the gun knows he's only to shoot up in the sky. As we say 'You don't pull the trigger unless you can see only sky around the bird'. The man on the hill is a 'stop'. He's there to make sure the birds fly over the gentleman gun, instead of sneaking out the side."

Gun's wife (frustrated): " Yes but there're some lovely birds that fly acoss the front of the hill and the gun can't shoot them if he's in the way. Can't you ask that man to get down on his knees or something?"

Mike (stifling a laugh): "That will only clear the path for your gun to hit the other 15 beaters behind him. I'd really rather you don't shoot the staff. No, I think it's best if the gun only shoots at birds in the sky."

There's no pleasing some people. With that I think I'll go check the chicken and wait for the feeling to come back into my fingers. (Note to self - ask Santa for an orange hat and high-vis vest for Christmas this year. And stand behind a tree)


Trevor B. said...

I have been following your blog for the last month or so, I found it via the Setter Feathers and Groused Tales blog, and I love it. I finally decided I needed to post a few comments / questions.

First off the recipe for a Very Quick Curry is fantastic. I have been cooking wild game most of my life, and have been using Indian Recipes for years, and somehow pheasant has escaped the curry equation, until now. It was perfect timing too, because I just so happened to have several left over that I had aged, then stuffed with leftover dark turkey meat, wild boar chaurice, and rendered turkey fat, then smoked for about 2 hours. After deboning I essentially followed the recipe. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed.

Secondly, don’t feel so bad about the weather in your part of paradise, the weather has been essentially the same here in Central Indiana, and getting colder and wetter.

Finally, you brought up an interesting point in your last paragraph that has always puzzled me, which is the apparent lack of hi-viz orange on any participants of driven bird hunts in England, or any type of hunting for that matter. I’m just curious as to why this is; tradition, higher standards, or something else? With this, do accidents occur on any basis?

Anyways, keep up the good work, and keep warm.

Jennifer Montero said...

Trevor - thanks for the kind words and support, always appreciated! I shall check out the blog you mentione as well.

I'm glad the curry recipe worked for you. It's a staple in our house, though your stuffed pheasant sounds a lot more grand. I use it to rescue birds that have taken too much shot to be plucked, saving what I can off the carcases, til I have enough for 'curry night'.

Re. the hi-viz question, it seems to be only the UK that resists adding safety orange to their uniform. Even guns on the continent wear orange armbands or hats (some EU shooting clothes have it built in).

A few shoots insist their staff weat hi-viz vests but the actuals guns - never. Mike thinks tradition trumps safety with the English. I'm afraid that about sums up their attitude to lots of things which are 'new and improved'. Some of them won't even switch from their side-by-side non-ejector guns; a semi-auto is an abberation.

There are surprisingly few accidents, thankfully. Never a fatal one where a gun killed a beater, not that we know of. Being hit by falling pheasants has killed a few people though.

Hope the weather's improving your way!

FrauKlug said...

It is 20 degress outside as I sit here reading your blog. Oregon is in the depths of an arctic cold front, and all is frozen solid. The upside is our endless mud track to our shop is now hard as concrete, and isn't being slogged into the house all the time.
I can so relate to wearing the finderless mits when typing. Even though we do have a decent forced air heater, the back rooms never get warm, as the windows are old , single panes from 1949, and do nothing to stop the heat from leaking out. Insulation? hah! If the heat stops blowing, it's almost like being outside, but with furniture.
I love your blog, it's wonderful!
Stay warm!