Saturday, 7 April 2012

Ups and Downs

I have several posts in progress, but find myself rather tired and stressed at the moment.  It's nice to have work, but I'm losing patience and interest in all the additional paperwork involved.  Spring has sprung, there are flowers popping up everywhere, we've had some nice sunny weather, and there was I a week ago, with nothing really to complain about but feeling disgruntled and demotivated.
I was mooching around the kitchen last Saturday, eating an apple and trying to pretend it was something more wicked, when I realised that actually I am feeling depressed.  Not seriously, but enough to feel listless and unhappy, without the energy to make positive changes.  At times like this, I always look for instant gratification, which is why I don't have chocolate, biscuits, cakes, sweets or crisps in the house.  Far too tempting, and besides which, it doesn't work.  I've always found that having something nice planned is better.
I was due to go out to dance at a charity event that evening, so had to shake off my blues and go and get ready.  Having got a shimmy on and got to the event on time, I saw an aquaintance and namesake who had also come to dance (though not belly dance, in her case).  The evening just got better and better, it was huge fun and raised a good amount.
I had seen a Flamenco workshop advertised for the Sunday, so I got my act together and went to that as well.   And I saw another acquaintance, so it turned out to be very social again.  The workshop gave a taster of Tangos Flamenco and Bulerias and was very well taught, with live guitar music and good attention to the rhythms - lots of clapping.  I had really sore feet, but I loved it.  I had an errand to run after the workshop so I went up to Aberporth and had a fish and chip lunch. It was sunny but not warm enough to remove clothing!  The sea was calm and looked so tempting, but a recent weather forecast warned that it was still very cold - under 10 degrees C.  As I was driving back from Aberporth, it struck me that I had my swimming kit in the car and could just call into a local hotel spa and get a day pass.  I like the Cliff Hotel out at Gwbert, even though the changing facilities are too small.  I took a couple of hours to lounge around.  The small salt water pool is my favourite.  There is a starry ceiling over the pool to gaze at as you float.  Lights around the sides switch from magenta to blue, gold, green, coral, lilac, casting shards and glints of colours as you swim and every so often urns and a 'whale tail' spout water into the pool, or a jet starts in the middle, creating a bubbling mound of water. I went from the pool to the jacuzzi, to sauna and steam and shower and back to swim in the pool again, and then dozed off, completely relaxed and happy, on one of their hot rock loungers.  Bliss.  I came away feeling completely restored and ready to tackle the world again.
I arrived home to find both of next door's beagles loose and attacking my flock again. They growled and barked at me when I screamed at them to clear off, so I took to throwing bits of concrete and stones at them (missing, unfortunately). The one remaining goose, Gracie, was shouting in alarm and trying to hide in the back of the silage shed, although that's not a safe place.  Gracie has been traumatised since Sid was killed a couple of weeks ago.  At the time, I attributed it to a fox attack, believing my neighbour's promise that the dogs would not be allowed to roam loose again.  However, a farming friend commented that he had seen one of the dogs loose at the time Sid was killed.   I chased the dogs off into the field, but one doubled back to have a go at Gracie.  As I reached the barn, Gracie took a short run, then flew over the head of the dog, past me, over the compost bins and landed, cackling in triumph, in the middle of the pond.  The dog ran off down the fields with me screaming swear words after it.
I found part of Ruby hen's rump and loads of feathers by the pond, and thought she was gone, ripped to shreds, but I couldn't find the body (like Sweeper in February). As I was calling the flock, I could hear my neighbour calling the dogs.  It took me an hour and a half to round up the rest of them and get them to bed when Ruby turned up, wet through, covered in blood and pond weed.  I took the poor thing through to the house and bathed her wounds as best I could, leaving her in the bath overnight.
Ruby picked up well after a couple of days, so I put her back out with the others midweek, although she preferred the safety of her henhouse.
I popped out to stretch my legs and post a letter late yesterday afternoon and came back to find my head cockerel Red wedged under a gate, trying to fend off an attacking beagle.  AGAIN!  The dog ran off when I shouted, but had evidently been there for a while. There was blood on Red's spurs, which I hoped was the dog's, but I doubt it. His feathers were all over the place - it looked as though he had been chased out of the back of the barn, through the house yard, past the pond, up between the sheds and he had obviously been making a bolt for the safety of his ark when he was trapped, only a few metres away. He has lost a lot of feathers and may be wounded, but seems feisty enough.  I had left Ruby in her house with my favourite Candy as company.  They were safe, but had evidently felt trapped and would have seen the dog attacking Red.  Pickle was hiding in the other ark, but I couldn't find any of the others. Number 2 cockerel Blue (he was no.3 until Sweeper was killed) eventually emerged and I found Shyannie in a bramble patch.  There was a pile of feathers from Fudge in another shed and I feared the worst, but eventually found her hiding underneath a roll of fencing wire, with wounds where the feathers have been ripped out.  Solo eventually made her way back, having successfully hidden somewhere.  That just left Shirl, who had recovered well from her previous bite wound.  I found her dead in a field, clumps of feathers bearing witness to the chase.
When my neighbour got her first dog, I found it barking at a ewe with a lamb, which had become separated from the flock and had run into another field.  I warned her at the time that this is not acceptable and that farmers may legally shoot dogs which are running loose and attacking their stock.  While I was rounding everyone up this time, I could hear ewes and lambs in a nearby field bleating and a beagle barking and baying at them.
I am seriously unimpressed at the broken promise, upset at the death and injury sustained by my birds and stressed that I cannot let the birds free range without risk of the dogs appearing again, until my neighbour takes some action.  And a booking to dance this weekend has fallen through.  I have a friend's burlesque birthday party to look forward to next weekend, but just at the moment, going out to buy some chocolate  seems like a nice plan.

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