Sunday, 10 January 2010

Eating Crow


We're still snowed in and expecting more tonight. The pipes in the bathroom are frozen and the water won't drain from the sink.  Even the shampoo was congealed. Partway through my shower Mike came in and dumped a 5-gallon can in there with me. "The outside tap is frozen. Can you fill that for the horses?" I shivered while I waited for the can to fill up. Parts of me froze and congealed.

The UPS guy dropped off some post-Christmas presents from my family in the US and - oh joy! - they were packed in bubble wrap. I've used it to lag the outside pipes and hopefully prevent more surprise visits in the shower.

Hey - Where's our water?!? And breakfast too if you please.

The prolonged cold weather has been affecting the wild birds. Sadly I've found a few little birds dead in the snow. Their metabolisms are so fast that they live on a knife-edge when food is scarce. They use up their fuel reserves so quickly and have a short time to refuel before they go into irreversible starvation. I try and help by keeping feeders filled with peanuts and mixed seed. A birdy buffet.

Still a few fresh-laid eggs in the shed - thanks ladies

The cold is also bringing birds like woodcock and snipe to congregate around swamps in sheltered areas. Tasty game birds. Mike and I took a walk with a gun and a dog because I love woodcock, and because I found an excellent recipe for wild game tortelli that I wanted to try.

I should have never gone out thinking of the bird as if it was already in the pot. There were lots of woodcock and a few came within shot of me. But I missed them all. I missed a pigeon too. I couldn't have hit a cow in the ass with a banjo today.

In fact the only thing I shot was a crow. From game shooter to vermin controller. Such is the lot of the keeper's wife.

Still, it was a pleasurable walk in a snowy wood with my husband, looking at all the animal tracks and spotting deer laid up on the bracken banks. And Dulcie had a great time flushing birds for me to miss.

Mukluks drying over the wood stove

We have a team shooting tomorrow and Tuesday, weather permitting. We're short-staffed, so I've been press ganged into loading for a Belgian Viscount. He's a kind man, but I always prefer working the dogs over any other shoot day job. Again, the lot of the keeper's wife is to do what's needed, even if it means wearing an ironed shirt and tie.

I accept my lot. But is it wrong to pray for more snow and a tie-free Monday?


Pomona said...

I love those red boot numbers! Hope it snows for you and you don't have to spend the day waiting on the European aristocracy - I hear counts are two a penny on the continent!!

Pomona x

Poppy Cottage said...

Not working Tuesday if a novice is of any help!!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Surely, with a banjo ...

Our birds here in the northeast US must be more cold-hardy than yours. I marvel that the chickadees and sparrows survive single-digit temperatures.

May your temperatures warm and your water run once more.

Jennifer Montero said...

Pomona - Those boots have kept my feet warm for near on a decade now. They're like old friends.

You're right about European aristocracy - you can't spit without hitting one! But in my limited experience, they tend to be less formal, more blasé about it than the English aristos.

I was "downgraded" to loading for a Baron who was a fascinating man - had been a research scientist in the Antarctic in the 60's. I wish my French had been better, I bet he knew so much.

Tamar - Even with a banjo I would have been behind on my swing.

I've never seen so many little songbirds dead in the snow. I only assume because it corresponded with hard weather that it was somehow a causality. We get a lot of migrant birds, maybe they were already spent from their migrations? You've piqued my interest now to find out.

Temperatures up & sink draining once again. But now the mud's thawed hand giveth, one hand taketh away.

David said...

Jennifer we could do with you here in the North Pennines. Our crows are getting out of control! Great blog. Just added you to my blog list.