We had a very short power cut yesterday, (which is probably what screwed up my computer!) but worse than that, I forgot what it also does is change the settings on the boiler, so NO hot water for an early morning bath – disaster!! And the answer phone message had to be rerecorded for the 95th damn time, because it wipes itself at every power cut, great design! Have you ever tried recording an answer phone message with two puppies having a riotous and very noisy game in the office!! It took five goes and I only succeeded after putting them in the kitchen, however I forgot that the back door was open, and so they had great fun with the plants in the courtyard, oh well they are only puppies once.
Holly has done a great job on the Pumpkins, she did one with our logo, I was amazed, and she managed to do the huge one that I got from Jonathon Low, it’s a monster. I finally got a small one done with very little imagination just before it got dark…………
Phew, I am exhausted, the owl evening went well considering it was our first one, the only problem was that we were only supposed to have 20 people for the first one, which we did have until about lunchtime today, and then 30 rolled up!! That made the guided tour a little busy, but once I have done one with Adam tomorrow night, he and Holly can help and so we will split the numbers up to have smaller groups.
The food was great and the mulled wine pretty good. Eager (Long-eared Owl) did his first indoor demonstration and was very good, Pan (Barn Owl) was his usual excellent self. The outside three did well, Papyrus (Savigny’s Eagle Owl) was a little confused to start with but got the idea. Oath (Ural Owl) was a little wayward, but willing and Hemp (Eurasian Eagle Owl) was an old pro!
The experience day went well too as did the chap doing a short bird handling – yes it was a busy day. And we were busy too, end of the half term, and there were lots of people there, and the birds did not let us down. I suspect that Hare will have his last day of flying tomorrow before his rest period because the weather forecast is dire for Sunday. The Peregrine (Fortina) was amazing, racing round the sky and chasing wood pigeons all over the place and even Casper and the Lugger flew well too. A good but exhausting day, and still not on Autumn Watch!!
My day started well, I got up at 5.00am, had a lovely bath, felt very virtuous, was feeding the dogs by 6.30, had the freezer shed open in time for the bird food delivery. Walked the dogs, had breakfast, got an article done that was out of time, and a letter for a friends planning application and its only just 9.00am! Not bad going. However the rest of the day was a little hectic.
Marcus and Harry left today, and so I took them to the station to catch the 9.42 train, or at least I tried, I took the little van which will need an MOT soon and exchanged it at the garage for my Range Rover which was there because the drivers door would not open from the inside – tricky that one! That was fixed, but I told Tony about all the troubles I had had with it over heating – bad move, I should never have mentioned it. We got maybe five miles and the bloody thing overheated. It has had a new water pump, a new head (whatever the hell that is) a couple of other new things and finally an new radiator, what else can possible go wrong I ask myself!!!
So I called home on Marcus’s phone, because I had forgotten to take mine, I am not good with mobile phones, asked Jan to call a taxi to get the boys to the station, and I try and nurse my car back, not a good idea. It was not about to be nursed anywhere. So I pulled in about two miles back towards the garage and home. A very nice chap offered me a lift to Bucklands, the third garage that I have gone to, and I suspect the one that will fix it I hope. By sheer chance he was going there to get a chain saw fixed. My luck was improving!! So, I deserted the Range Rover, collected the van, lobbed the keys to the Range Rover to Tony and he collected it later on (I did check!). Drove home only to find that we had forgotten that five charming ladies were coming for a half day of bird handling! They were very good about my late arrival and we had a lovely morning with them, however it meant that all the work I had planned to do, did not get done.
We managed to fly all the birds in the afternoon, the Lugger was great – hooray. Casper was very good, the day was lovely, all the birds did well, even the Steppe Eagle who is not easy I have to say. We had a great team of volunteers who did sterling work in the Owl Courtyard and were all plastered in black paint by the end of the day. Finished at about 5.00pm I should have lit a fire as it is a little chilly, but a coat will suffice! And then had a lovely phone call from Penny Carpanini, she has just had a litter of 11 lab pups. Well OK she hasn’t, but a very pretty bitch called Holly has, so we are in line for a black girl before Christmas – perfect. So if you want a gorgeous puppy that has excellent breeding for both working and show stock you could not do better and mine is going to be the start of our new line, along with Acer.
The rest of the week is hard work with Simon gone, he is safe in India, Chris Bowden has just emailed me to tell me. OH yes, the email, that reminds me, guess what, BT strikes again. I had a phone call from them telling me they were going to suspend my broadband – why I asked (!!! And yes I did ask politely) because you have not paid the bill, they said. But I have a ‘One Bill’ which covers all my phone lines, and we have paid it, so what is the problem, I said. Well first they wanted my account number – you would think they would have the damn thing otherwise why did they phone in the first place. So we found an old bill, by this time two puppies were yelling for their lunch and I had 20 minutes until the next flying demonstration, its half term and we are busy!! I gave them the account number and after another wait, by which time I am getting a little annoyed(!!) they said that my Broad band was on the one bill but had ceased. I pointed out that I have had this broadband since January and it has not ceased, plus I could not sit on the phone for hours waiting for them to sort it out, could they phone me back once they had got a minor inkling on what the hell they were talking about. So finally with about ten minutes to go before the demonstration time they said they would phone back at 2.30pm – did they phone back – I am still waiting!!!
Adam is off for four days, and Holly and I have an interesting day on Saturday, plus Friday evening is our first Owl Evening, heaven knows when I am going to find the time to buy all the stuff for the mulled wine, which I make, although if I do, there is, sure as hell going to be some major tasting to check it is OK!
The clocks have changed, although you always have to go and find the ones you forgot, and the day is perfectly lovely. Nathan is hoovering up leaves, I guess it is worth it, but there are a hell of a lot still to come!! He looks very sweet doing it though. I love walking through piles of autumn leaves, they are better when they are dry, but even wet they are fun. The dogs have nearly finished the pears from the cider pear tree. There is a tree towards the bottom of the field at the far end of the upper pond (it was described as a lake in the house particulars when this place was put up for sale last year!! Some lake!). Its an old Cider Pear tree and if you pick one of the pears and bite into it your cheeks will meet and your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth, they are very bitter. But once they have fallen and started to soften and rot on the ground my dogs love them. Generations of Labradors, starting at Bramble and Tomale and going on through to the sixth and last of this generation, Rush and Indigo, and the first of the new line, Acer, have lain in the autumn sunlight munching rotting cider pears until the last one is gone.
Hummmmmm the weather forecast was wrong as ever, the day started well, but just as we had got all the birds out and sitting on the lawns, with their fresh baths, it started to rain. We left them out until about 12.00 noon, giving us time to clean their compartments and then put them all under again. It rained and then shone, and rained and shone again until about 2.00pm when the sun came out and stayed out. Holly and I managed to get all the birds done, we left Oath (Ural Owl) until the sun was down and tried him in the semi dark with the spot light torches. We tried it with Woodland Venture a couple of days ago and both of them appear oblivious to the strong lights and they both look wonderful flying in the beam and going up into the trees, its going to be fun doing the Owl Evenings. The Gymnogene is continuing to improve, he was keen for me to come through the door today, the new Harris jumped to the fist for Steve, Fortina was just amazing in the wind, I struggle to swing a lure for her at the speeds and angles she is coming in. Dawn Run did 27 stoops, counted by one of the smaller visitors for me, and my Steppe Eagle even behaved on the fist just before dark.
The Hunter Trials were not as well attended as we would have liked, but the volunteers were amazing and helped Adam and Micaela get through the day. I did not go and fly the birds as the attendance was low and the weather was not good at the time I would have flown. Still it was worth while and we may do it again next year, but earlier in the year.
Acer is completely flat out on the floor by my desk, back legs stretched out behind and looking like a somewhat flattened frog! She has settled so well and she and Sedge adore one another.
Invasion of the toads started the night before last. Every year once the weather gets damp in the autumn a stream of small toads come into the house, I have never understood why as I thought they liked the damp. They come under the back door and hop up the hall, it will be a little more hazardous for them this year as the puppies are going to think they are edible until they learn they are not! I don’t mind them, they are pretty cute actually, but if they don’t get put out again I find them later on as a sad little desiccated toad in a corner or under a radiator, which I would rather not have happen to them
My record in one evening before I left for my ill fated sojourn in South Carolina was 34 toads, one frog, who was extremely difficult to catch and a tiny newt! I swear they were hoping round from the French windows back to the back door and coming in again! Still I would rather have them that the invasion of spiders, who run at you viciously gnashing their teeth and waving their eight legs menacingly at you, and then rush under the sofa so you don’t know where they are…………………
Having watched the PowerPoint programme about bottled water, for the third time and which Linda has put on the Latest page on the website, I am pleased to say that we have decided to change from selling drinks in plastic bottles as of the end of this season. All our drinks will either be cans which will be recycled, or paper cartons which will also be recycled. We will sell NO BOTTLED WATER, if you would like a drink of water we will provide you with a glass of water at our expense, it will be free to you.
I don't know where this fad of carrying round drinks has come from, we never used to carry around water in a bottle, and it is completely unnecessary, and wasteful, not to say incredibly expensive. We are trying not to just talk conservation but to do it as well – why don’t you!
Buy a nice metal water bottle and fill it up before you leave home, it will be fresher, cheaper, nicer and better for this stunningly beautiful planet that we are fast ruining. If you run out we will refill it for you. Be sensible, be responsible and care!
So this morning it was invasion of the wasps, having got up before light, it was pretty dismal outside, and after turning on the light in the scullery, a few minutes later the whole window was covered in wasps. Unfortunately I did not spot them before Sedge had trodden on one out in the courtyard, you could have heard the yell from Newent. He does not deal well with sharp pain, he yelled for minutes and then needed a lot of TLC, and is still feeling a little sorry for himself even now.
Although I have to say I am feeling a little sorry for myself as the young Lugger bit through my tongue while I was doing up the braces on his hood yesterday. As I could not yell for help, the only thing to do was tear him off it, and my tongue is definately the loser in the experience! He is an odd bird to fly, OK some days, it is very early in the training, and then its as if he is focusing on something else rather than the lure. I think he will come right though. Casper let me down and sat in a tree, which was not good. But the Gymnogene was getting better every day. Clocks change tonight which means we will have even less daylight to finish the day, better start earlier I guess!!
Its nearly coffee time and the dogs are waiting......................!
The meeting went fine, it was very interesting and I met some kindred spirits and learnt a great deal, I hope it will lead to other things. I left before the afternoon session as my part was over and so this time I find a socket on the train that is working. My computer comes alive again and asks me if I want to save my work, not surprisingly I say yes, but the computer says, well actually you can't, I am going to lose it!! And promptly does so. So nothing daunted I start again, its a lovely afternoon, and what the hell, and guess what it loses it for the second time, well hoobloodyray! So I gave up and read a book instead.
It was a misty (doesn't that word misty evoke such pictures, trees looming up through the mist, autumn smells, dusk coming early, consummate autumn everything slightly out of focus, fire lit in the office!) when I got home, the owl day had gone well and all the birds had behaved beautifully, Adam had a good time at Neil Forbes course and had been to the Hawk Conservancy as well. The two injured wild birds that he took with him for check ups are doing fine and the peregrine can now be registered, trained, flown, hunted and released. The Hobby will have to winter with us and we will see how he does in the spring. Simon's visa is through, the torches are here for the Owl evenings, all in all everyone seemed happy and the dogs were very pleased to see me.
All I have to do now is the third attempt at the lecture for tomorrow and the day will be done!
The great people looking after us had brought a picnic so we all sat and watched vultures, talked, ate good food and had an excellent time. I have to say the cow bells were a little annoying and if I were one of the cows I suspect I would find a way to get rid of the damn thing, but I imagine that eventually the noise which is constant and all over the mountains soon becomes unnoticeable. We were allowed to walk down the hill afterwards, which took I guess about an hour and was a lovely walk – it was a good start to Ainsa.
The conference went well, a few too many talks to assimilate, but great food, company and I love the Spanish red wine!
Now its back to autumn in the UK, which I love, back to the dogs and the birds and the challenge of training a young Steppe Eagle, which is going to be fun I hope!
It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.
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- First Owl Evening day
- What is it about coal and puppies, they, over all...
- Went out to dinner with some friends last ni...
- As soon as you hear nothing with puppies around, ...
- Invasion of the toads started the night before las...
- A touch of rain
- Not quite so sunny!
- Winter sunshine
- Back again!
- Hooray, all staff in today which is...
- Another day!
- Bravo ITV Tonight programme, how nice to see a st...
- Back home again, thank goodness, every time I leav...
- Phew I am exhausted! The conference was great, it...
An interesting video on Lead
I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................
NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!