Today is Sunday. In theory we are undisturbed apart from Carlos coming to let out, and later close up, the sheep.
In practice it is nothing of the sort. Leo has resumed buying day old chicks for meat production and as, from a wheelchair, he cannot supervise them out in the poultry house in the rainy season he has had a cage erected on the balcony in order to follow their progress. For cage imagine something the size of a police holding cell, roofed against the rain and surrounded by plastic sheeting to keep the wind from the chicks, who bask under a shaded lamp.
The dogs also follow their progress…noses pressed against the wires of the cage, squeaks and bellows of frustration that they cannot get at them until they forget about it a few minutes later.
At feeding time the dogs have to be shut in the house as otherwise they would be in the cage as fast as you could say ‘Jack Robinson’, demonstrating nature red in tooth and claw.
The chickens, however, remain unmoved, eating, drinking – prodigiously – and sleeping under their lamp, oblivious to the outside world.
Not only chickens inhabit the balcony….he is also supervising the pregnant rabbits whose vast hutches spread across one of the windows, giving us unprecedented access to bunnyvision in the evenings – the munching, hopping and scrabbling considerably better than any local TV offering.
Add to that the potting shed corner. Being the rainy season, all the pots, vast deposits of different soil types, ashes and orchid mixes have been translated to the balcony, on the side protected from the rain, giving great enjoyment to Mr. Darcy – small French bulldog – who burrows into the lot like a demented badger, spreading contents far and wide and treading the lot into the house on his little paws.
Thus on Sundays I have the joy of feeding the chicks and cutting fodder for the rabbits to add to the general round….so after lunch I look forward to a couple of hours of peace.
The rain has started, bucketing down. We are up in the clouds, a white world stretching out from the balcony with the shadows of the canna india and palms wafting in and out of view. I have closed the doors to the balcony and preparing to stretch out with a book when there is a hullabaloo from the dogs, all pawing at the front doors.
Muttering curses I go to investigate, only to find what I first supposed to be the Costa Rican version of Grendel’s mother….a dripping figure, hair plastered to its head, bearing two unpleasant looking knives. An aroma of pig seeps into the house.
It is the young man from across the road….
I open the doors and the aroma of pig intensifies.
He has, it appears, arranged with Leo to kill the cockerels.
Though living in Latin climes for many years, the British restraint inculcated in youth still holds strong. Instead of howling abuse and slamming the door I usher him onto the balcony and summon Leo who can give me his explanations later when I deliver a curtain lecture….for the moment, let him sort it out.
He does so…a killing zone is set up on the outer balcony…in the rain. This does not seem to bother the young man in the slightest. He probably thinks that the rain will wash his clothes thus saving on washing powder. I wonder if the rain will lessen the aroma of pig, but doubt it…..with his unintelligible speech – and the aroma – he reminds me of Edwin Pott, Lord Emsworth’s pigman, but without the latter’s level of sophistication.
Cutting boards and plastic bags set out, I close the doors and leave the two men to it.
The dogs range themselves on the chest in the bedroom for a good look at the unexpected spectacle and I return to the book. Apart from the odd bloodcurdling canine scream of joy as one after another of the cockerels are killed, all is peace.
Until Leo opens the doors to demand smaller freezer bags.
Someone has blundered.
The dogs are off the chest like the Light Brigade, heading for the killing zone.
The young man holds three plucked birds to his bosom as the pack deploy around him while I hope to hell that the rain has washed the aroma of pig from his tee shirt…..
Leo has seized the bowl with the innards….
Napoleon makes a dive for the intestines, dragging them over the tiles to be devoured under the rabbit hutches.The activity makes the rabbits nervous…so hoping for no miscarriages….
Aunty and Scruffy take the wings..the remnants .later to be discovered in the bed…
Mr. Darcy seizes a head, only to be cornered in the shower by Podge…
Black Tot takes another head to her lair under the sink…
Plush has the third which, on reflection, he discards and is later discovered when I tread on it in the loo when going to bed…
Order restored, the chickens luckily having acquired no offensive aromas, freezer topped up, when Leo, beaming, tells me that he has found a Mexican recipe for chicken gizzards with squash…..
At the end of my tether, all I can think to say is ‘Gizzards to the lot of it!’ and go to bed.
Fnd Plush’s discarded head.
In the early hours, nipping out for a pee without putting on the light, discover that Napoleon has disgorged the intestines…..
Clear up and wash feet in the shower…..tread on remnants of yet another head….