Soft As a Whisper

One loss and a near miss

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At just six days old the first cygnet of the three has vanished. The family had been doing so well – swimming and promenading each day along our riverbank, so it was a shock

Soon after realising this, C spotted one struggling frantically half way up the steep garden steps, where he must have slipped. The two adults and his sibling were at the top and the entire family were frantic, squawking loudly. Luckily, Baz was able to pick the little fella up, ignoring the aggressive threats of its parents a few feet away, and to place him near them before any cats could pick him off

IMG_9685We’re all very attached to them, but from previous experience we know how difficult it is for the parents to keep these little ones safe while they’re small, due to mink and other predators, and also presumably because of their natural curiosity

And in case you’re wondering, Baz said the little one felt wonderful, just as soft as he looks

A Feathered Nest

Who says swans are graceful?

It’s getting harder to mow the top lawn. It’s not so bad when the female swan is sitting on the eggs, but the male is very aggressive, and I decided to leave the bit nearest them

This morning we watched Mrs S get up from her beautifully soft nest, carefully turn and then cover the eggs. She stopped to take a drink from the ‘Miniature Heroes’ water container that the neighbours have thoughtfully  provided, and then advised Mr S that she was going to cool off and it was his turn to sit in the heatIMG_8892.JPG

At first he looked a bit surly. But she wasn’t stopping so he stomped over, resignedIMG_8891.JPG

He hesitated, looking at the nest

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He looked at me. I nearly backed offIMG_8896

He looked at the nest again. She made her break, waddling down to the riverIMG_8895

And then, in a very un-swanlike manoeuvre he sort of ‘flumped’ down over the eggs, arse in the air, and settled himself in. It was less than gracefulIMG_8910

Of course, he soon recovered his composure, and looked sereneIMG_8915

My neighbour tells me that swans, like dogs, cannot sweat. When they are hot they open their mouths and they pant. They have picked a particularly sunny spot to nest in, and I imagine that she really needed to cool off. I was tempted to join her…IMG_8901.JPG

 

 

One-Trick Pony

If you only have a very small talent, use it as much as possible

I only really have one real answer to a problem: WD40

I’m not brand-specific, but when a screw doesn’t budge I squirt it, if a lock or hinge doesn’t work I drench it, if I need to polish something I cover cloth or wire wool with something WD40-ish. I guess there’s just a lot of rust in my life

But birds are true artists of make do and mend. The swans have nested on the bonfire pile that I never quite got around to burning or moving from the river bank in the autumn. Three eggs so far, they have created home from our negligence. They have tidied and trimmed the weeds around it and they have bizarrely trashed our neighbours’ (Spanish) bluebells, and left them strewn on the bank

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Yesterday’s main project for me was the shed door, rotten from the bottom up, having withstood two floods in the time we’ve been here (seventeen years last Thursday – I hold this anniversary as dear as any other). Baz was busy adding fox-proofing around the garden to give the chickens a bigger run, so I helped Baz lay wire under the grass

Normally when we use electric tools I’m the lowly facilitator, finding things, suggesting things, holding things firm while Baz performs the nobler and more responsible task of cutting. I got help from him for trimming the new wood for the bottom of the door, as much out of habit as anything. I salvaged most of the original door (even the old hinges – thanks to WD40) and now it’s primed and ready for a coat of ‘Garden’ to match the window we rebuilt in the autumn, (I just looked at that post and saw our beloved – and sadly now departed – Percy)

Baz and I have worked together professionally for over twenty years now, as well as living together. We have differences of opinion – sometimes very loud differences – but winning arguments has never really been on the agenda and that’s obviously part of what makes us a successful team: we’re not scared of each other’s point of view

The swans also work as a team. The male chose this nesting spot and persuaded his partner that this was the place, and since that time they have worked together to create their abode, both taking time on the eggs. Just after I snapped this the male came at me and I had to leg it, but I don’t know which of them has bluebell issues

And the renewed shed door? I’ve added 10 % new wood and maybe 5% WD40