Monday, 11 March 2013

Dummies for dummies

This past weekend was the local Gamekeepers' Fair, sort of a trade show with assorted 'keeper necessities all in one place. As a rule, gamekeepers are solitary creatures averse to shopping and to leaving their pheasants alone too long. However, if you sell guns and duck burgers alongside shirts, coats, and shoes, you can lure keepers out of their winter dens, at least for a day.

Mike buys his tattersall shirts for each year's shoot season here. Then last year's best shirts become this year's work shirts - all will have L-shaped barbed wire tears, torn sleeves, half their original buttons, and frayed collar by July. I needed a new bone saw for butchering (its predecessor was weak and succumbed to metal fatigue), and a day away from the estate - I got both. We watched ferreting demonstrations, and the working gun dog parade. I had hoped to replace a couple of dinner plates we broke since last year - of course we get our dishes at the game fair! - but our supplier wasn't there.

This only gives Mike an excuse to continue eating his dinner straight out of the pan it was cooked in.

Mike needed to replace his canvas waistcoat this year. It survived two hard seasons admirably; the zipper was missing teeth, the pockets had no bottoms left, but the canvas was sturdy and hard wearing. I hate throwing anything away so I used the heavy canvas to make a couple of dog training dummies:

Handmade (top) vs store bought (bottom)

I whipped up three dummies - a 2lb, a 1lb, and a puppy dummy - on my sewing machine while I drank my coffee. The heavy dummies are filled with wheat I scooped out of the chicken feeder, and the grey strap was filched from a worn-out horse rug. I used the waistcoat's quilted lining to stuff the puppy dummy, so it's light and has good mouth-feel to encourage retrieving.

Handmade (L) and store bought (R)

The dummies were so simple to make: two seams, a bit of filling, then sew in a strap if you like. I'm not skilled enough to sew dog coats, and rely on my Aunt and my sister for that sort of quality, technical sewing, but it felt good to re-use what I had, instead of simply ditching it. And, the money I saved will pay for us to attend next year's gamekeeper fair. 

I just hope Mike's waterproof overtrousers can last that long.

No comments: