I've been in my garden since mid-morning, and, although overcast, it's been calm and still and dry.
The rather savage storm we had a couple of nights ago appears to have done no damage, and it's amazing how many plants are still flowering out there. Roses, delphiniums, scabious, achillea and that lovely scarlet thingamijig whose name I can never remember. Well, whatever it is, it's still going strong.
As is the faithful, hardworking allysum. You'd think, after six months of continuous flowering, it would have called it a day by now, but no.
We spent a bit of time in the orchard first of all, but not, alas, planting daffodil bulbs - although I have some still waiting to go in up there. The orchard is the dogs' playground, and they race about while I keep my eyes shut. I don't know how they can go that fast without crashing into something. Model Dog is very fond of playing with a ball - the first dog we've ever had who is. She has a squishy football and an endlessly renewable stock of brightly coloured solid, smaller balls. She is quite happy to throw them for herself if no one else is willing.
The TeenQueen doesn't really understand this game, but she likes to get the ball and tease Model Dog into a mouth-to-mouth tug of war to get it back.
|Na-na, na-na-naa! I've got your ba-all!|
|You can try and get it, if you want! Go on, - try!|
|I'm not letting go|
|I'll bite your leg off if you don't give it back!!|
|Eeek - quick - run away!|
If TeenQueen does get it for any length of time, she bites chunks out of it.
She really has no idea at all.
What she likes best, is sitting on the sidelines waiting until the Model has got up enough speed to be worth chasing, then she charges after her and chases her round and round the orchard, growling ferociously all the time.
Honesty compels me to add that Model Dog adores this game as well.
I let them play this for a while, but eventually I went off to gather up my tools and some spring bulbs and of course they followed along behind. Dogs never like to be left.
I've been longing to get back out into the garden since my tulip-planting session last Saturday, but it was not to be.
The In-Charge has been in Venice all week at the Biennale (no, no, I'm not even slightly jealous), and I thought I'd spend a consoling few days catching up with my garden, putting it to bed and cuddling it up under a liberal layer of the delicious compost we collected from the Council place in Ballysadare last weekend.
Instead, I've spent great wodges of every day firmly attached to my computer, fighting with my inability to grasp the technical niceties of PayPal v Facebook, and website construction.
Never mind. All in a good cause (which I will tell you about tomorrow), and swearing loud and long at the screen probably does wonders for clearing the sinuses.
This afternoon, after I'd finished gardening, and the dogs had finished their bones, we all went and stood around in the hens' field for awhile, while I watched my new babies to see how they're settling in.
They are so tiny, I have felt a bit anxious about them this week. The littlest one is only the size of a collared dove. I even left the cats inside while I went to town the other day, just in case. I usually lock them out while I'm gone away, but I thought that, deprived of their cosy kitchen beds, boredom might take them to the hens' paddock and revenge might do the rest...
They are so dainty and very sweet, the two littlies. And very clever. I think they are the first hens I've ever had who went into the henhouse on their own on their very first night, and not just into the nesting boxes, which some hens do for weeks, but up onto the perches with the big hens. All without me having to put them there. All except one, that is. If I'd needed any proof at all that Napoleon was their grandfather, I had it on that first evening.
I went out as the light was starting to fade, just in case I had to spend time looking for them. Once I'd got over my astonishment that two of them were where they ought to be, dismay took over as I discovered that No.3 was nowhere to be found. I did the rounds of every possible place in the paddock twice with no joy. I got a torch as dusk had turned into twilight (or is it the other way round?) and searched again. Then, remembering Napoleon and the quirky (but terrifyingly risky) places he sometimes chose to bed down in, I thought I'd better widen the field before it got totally dark.
|Shades of Napoleon|
Eventually I found her, more by chance than anything else, perched on something in the turf shed where the cats sleep at night. I wouldn't like to guess whether or not she'd still have been there in the morning. Hobbes is partial to doves and pigeons, when he can stir his lazy stumps, and all birds look grey in the dark - don't they?
|Rapiers at dawn|
Tonight, when I went back out to shut them up for the night, they weren't sitting on the end of a perch, side by side as they have been. One of them was almost completely hidden from sight, tucked under Wellington's capacious wing. I've no romantic illusions about my huge black cockerel though, as he's rather tetchy these days. He was fast asleep and probably oblivious.
Soon I must decide on suitable names for them. They are granddaughters of an Emperor, after all.