Tuesday, November 23, 2004

equable equine

Maybe I haven't been feeding the poultry enough. The last couple of days before my sister returned home, the chickens and a few of the geese have been following me when I go to feed the horse.

It's not unusual for them to hang around picking up anything that the horse drops, but this lot have been eating before the horse gets his head in the trough! He's quite tolerant really – if I was as big as he was I don't think I'd let these cheeky little intruders eat my food right in front of me.

There were some less amusing moments while I was baby-sitting the animals of course. Three chickens died at Julie's place, and two ducklings at my house.

But this isn't unusual. Ducklings, chicks and goslings are so fragile that it's a constant wonder to me that any of them survive to adulthood in the wild. That's why Julie grabbed one of the goslings and has been hand-raising her this year.

And she has certainly thrived. In the 2 ½ weeks that Julie was away, the goose has almost doubled in size. A couple of days ago, she got so excited when I went over to feed her that she started jumping up and down in her box. Geese have a rather odd centre of gravity, so during one jump she over-balanced and fell out of the box altogether.

Well, what to do?

I know from past experience that if I ran at her and tried to grab her, she'd probably panic. The result would be a noisy scuffle in the front hall. The complications if she tried to hide in one of the bedrooms didn't bear thinking about. But I couldn't leave her at large in the house.

So I did the reverse of what seemed like the obvious. I dropped to my knees and knelt there, completely still and silent. After a few seconds the goose waddled over and calmly sat down next to me.

I spoke soothingly to her, patted her along the wings a couple of times, then picked her up and put her back in the box with her lunch. "And stay there!"

Sometimes the best action is not to take action.

When Julie heard about this she nodded and said "Many a horse has been caught out in the paddock in just the same way."

Another worrying moment at the office. A letter I thought I'd posted early in the month never arrived, and now that I think about it, I can remember saying to myself "Did I post that letter? I don't remember posting it, but if I didn't then it would still be here."

Not necessarily.

Yet again I seem to have mislaid something between forming the intention and actually doing it. I don't know why I'm doing that so often nowadays.

I never used to be quite this bad, but I'm beginning to distrust my abilities to complete tasks – it's like being absent-minded but more like having gaps into which things just seem to vanish.

Likewise my latest bank statement has me sighing. It supports my late mother's contention that I would not be able to make ends meet after she was gone.

That seemed a bit sweeping to me, but after twelve months I'm beginning to agree with her. It's my own fault of course: the last few months I've bought things out of hand without thinking twice about the matter. Shirts, DVD movies, computer software – one week I bought a new television set which then sat in its box for a month.

The problem of course is twofold: firstly, I don't have the unconscious mental check to spending that I once had, and secondly I don't have any more money coming in despite the fact that the bills are the same or (in some cases) larger due to the lack of the concessions for carers and the infirm that used to apply in some cases.

Obviously it's time to put on the brakes and return to the old-fashioned virtues of thrift, restraint and prudence. Discretion may be the better part of valour, but it also helps keep us out of the bankruptcy courts.

I haven't yet seen the two episodes of Firefly that I have on tape. I mentioned this to a friend, and he raised one eyebrow: "A suggestion. Watch them in reverse order!" Oh, I said, you mean they've... "Exactly. The second episode is spent introducing us to characters that all seemed to know each other last week."

Annoying when that happens. The most extreme example I can remember was back in the 1960s with the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon show. For some reason our local television station ran the series backwards, which wouldn't have mattered except that the middle cartoon in the show was a serial – so it began with the adventurers returning home and ended with them leaving on their voyage!

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