Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Be Proud Of Your Poultry

Standing in the blend block the other day, pruning my way along a row of ancient Cabernet Franc vines, I had a very strong feeling of pride in our Bloodwood livestock. An investigatory vehicle had rolled up to the cellar door and, as is usual in these cases, Mum and Dad struggled out of the front seats, while a phalanx of kids, freshly blooded greyhounds that they were, bolted from the back of the vehicle, and raced towards the dam. A stylised stretch of the "ol' back" from Dad and a casual hopeful glance from Mum in the general direction of their rapidly disappearing offspring, prompted the usual introduction to this quite normal domestic  passion play. Says Dad,  "and don't go near the bloody dam youse bloody kids. Simon, Lizzy, Mark, Ed, Phil, Trina- did ya hear me,-- bloody keep outa the water"

Their familial duty done, Mum and Dad repaired to the cellar door for a quiet tipple in the magical afternoon sunshine just as their first greyhound slipped up onto the dam wall. Now, long suffering readers of these pages will have learnt, from time to time, of the extraordinary exploits of Bill and Ben, our psychotic Embden geese. You will have some memory of the mighty "Brian The Bull" verses "Bill and Ben" belly-flop championships conducted on the dam over the course of last summer. This was where Brian the bellicose Angus , (nose flaring as he busts through farm gates sideways in the stifling dust and emitting so much smoke from his ears that a casual observer could be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that he had just elected himself Pope), would hurl his terrible black bulk into the dam in tormented pursuit of these feathered avengers, only to find them behind him on the bank, honking their honks off and deriding his indignity.

You may also remember the case of the terrorised cyclist, the manure heap, and the complete indifference of both Bill and Ben to the whole smelly affair. It wasn't the poor cyclist's fault that they, at the very beginning of a glorious spring breeding season, had just come to the terrible realisation that neither of them was a goose and, ergo, both of them must be ganders. What they did to the pneumatic interloper is best not revisited here. Suffice it to say,  in short, without any more ado, these particular geese are completely nasty bastards.

And so to the scene at hand. Picture if you will, both Ben and Bill, awakened from their early afternoon slumber by the pitter patter of little feet approaching at speed from a south-easterly direction. And this, after a boring winter of hassling wood ducks and persecuting pathetic plovers. What joy! It was almost too good to be true!. They looked smirkingly at each other for an instant before going into what could only be described as a vicious kind of goose Haka. Without the war paint but with all the tongue flushes and mega-phonic hissing, they set sail for glory; two feathered robotic psychotics in pursuit of, well, kiddies.

It really was no match. In an impressive display of battle tactics which would have bought joy to Napoleon's heart, they out manoeuvred and regrouped the junior infidels with such glorious precision, that it wasn't long before they had herded them all the way back to the family Commodore, just so many cowboys, wagon-circled into submission. It was a wonderful sight; as if the mechanical ducks in a shooting gallery suddenly developed the ability to turn front-on and fire back.

And what did our ever vigilant father say as he emerged staggering from the tasting? "I thought I told you kids to stay away from the bloody dam, and Simon, how many times have I told you to stop foolin' with them bloody ducks".

Ah yes, in a world where the small framed joys of this life are too often overlooked for the bigger, bitter picture, it does one's heart good to be proud of one's bloody poultry.

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