Z’s Ups and Downs

There’s good and bad news. And Meals on Wheels is shelved for yet another day because this is a journal of sorts and I’ll keep up to date.

My gas supply needed updating – I don’t know the technicalities and I can’t be bothered to refresh my memory on the subject, but the pipework needed to be upgraded – this is propane, which I have supplied by Calor Gas. I pay quarterly rental for the big gas tank and that also includes all the pipework. It was they who first let me know the system needed to be upgraded, but it wasn’t until there were problems with the annexe boiler that it became rather more urgent.

The job was supposed to be done in the spring, but lockdown intervened and it has been delayed. Meanwhile, the new boiler, which i’ve paid for, has been languishing in a depot. But the very helpful people at Calor arranged a new date and Ed and his guys came yesterday and today to do the work. They were superb, really. They’ve done a huge amount of work in two days, left everything immaculate and are really decent, good humoured men too. It was a pleasure doing business, as they say.

So, that was good. Also good was Wince and me clearing the Ups and Downs of ragwort. This is a rather attractive yellow-flowered plant that is very toxic to livestock. It damages the liver and has a cumulative, incurable effect. The plants don’t taste good, so animals don’t eat them unless they’re desperate, but the flavour fades when the plants dry, so it’s hazardous in hay. I just didn’t want them to seed, but I also didn’t want to pull them too early, partly because if it’s before they flower, they will grow again and partly because the cinnabar moth caterpillar lives primarily on ragwort and I’m all for wildlife. So today was the sweet spot. The caterpillars have pupated and the seeds haven’t set. All the same, it was two strenuous hours in the sun and I’ve had a headache ever since. But it’s done and I don’t go down the drive looking at the jolly yellow flowers and feeling dismal any more.

The third thing is the bad news. On Sunday morning I woke up with a start, thinking I heard a bird fall down the chimney. A minute later, Eloise cat arrived on the bed and I thought I must have misheard, because Tom the Tree Feller blocked that chimney with wire netting.

Next morning, I heard the same thing, just before Eloise landed on the bed. Then I went down to Wink and arrived back yesterday and this morning there was no sound. This afternoon, however, my headache was such that I went to lie on the bed. And, after half an hour or so, I heard an unmistakeable fluttering. I moved the chest of drawers, opened one window and shaded all the others and waited.

It was a dove, poor thing. It managed to flutter down onto the carpet but couldn’t fly and I was able to pick it up. I’ve put it in a chicken coop with food and water, and have left it. I put a white sheet over the wire so that it wouldn’t try to get out but would have light. Tomorrow, I’ll find out if it’s survived.

I don’t know what has gone wrong. Either there was a gap, which seems unlikely, or Tom put the netting on the drawing room chimney instead of the bedroom one, which also seems unlikely as only one of them was sooty. Plan A is to light paper in the grate and check which chimney the smoke comes out of, and compare it with the pictures of Tom and the cherry picker. Plan B is then to ask a farmer friend with a cherry picker to restuff the chimney/stuff the correct chimney.

I suppose I’d be bored with an uncomplicated home. It sometimes tempts me, though. Today is the 34th anniversary of moving here. More than half my life. Gosh.

3 comments on “Z’s Ups and Downs

  1. Scarlet

    Oh the joys of country life!
    I hope the dove survives. I once ended up with a bird in the wood burning stove – good job it was summer! It’s all been sorted now. I have a chimney that needs capping off, and I also need someone to go up on the roof and replace some tiles.
    Congrats on your 34 years – don’t move if you are happy.

    1. Z Post author

      Yes, it was very shocked and weak yesterday but it survived the night and had eaten. I just checked again and it looked much more alert, so I opened the coop and it flew off.


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