What to do for W?

Writing something for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge every day has been a good exercise but also a chore on occasion. Workload at work work (y’know, getting paid work) has increased as we reach mid-term, and it’s a week before a bunch of end-of-year exams pile the hyphens and stress on for everyone. Weightier matters of the world seem of distant concern, somehow.

Waxing Gibbous, Wibble, Woo, Wormwood, WWIII, and WWW: all topics commenced, considered and consigned to File 13, probably never to be seen again.

When in doubt, quote someone with greater wit… Within the pages of The Chickens are Restless, A Far Side collection by Gary Larson, lurks what I am fairly certain is my favourite cartoon (apart from “Cow Poetry”, of course).

“Well, sometimes..”

Why not set a reminder now to read next year’s W post, Welease Bwian?

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Having not been active in this space for (checks calendar) some time, what better opportunity than the hothouse spring schedule of A to Z blogging month to reconnect with online publishing?

The last post here was characteristic of this writer’s then mindset of disillusionment, cynicism and fatigue – which nest of deixis might be taken to indicate a certain kind of distancing. Such a reading would not be mistaken. The times they are always a-changing. Something about words I can’t quite shake off, though.

Yes, because words are very devils. Such was the sentiment guiding my abrupt abandonment of writing here. I was enjoying detailing movements in the garden, for example, but it became obvious that this was a process secondary to and less enjoyable than the actual gardening.

Broccoli, swedes, beans, rocket… Sort of autumn time.

… I’m conscious of sounding like I’m assuming some sort of horny-handed son of the soil pose of social superiority. I found I was drawing more enjoyment from the digging, and the words accompanying seemed superfluous. But, anyway, a toes in the mud sort of thing… and an equally obvious, trending, move away from being ‘online’ all the time. Not quite smashing the Spinning Jennies, but limiting my reliance on habitual info sources, turning off notifications, exploring other media. Writing, but longhand, and not for sharing. Reading and reflection. Kids to raise. Job to hold down; schemes of work to maintain. Tones to clip.

Yet, here we are, among the words again.

With that in mind, this A to Z is likely to follow a few threads on the lines of preoccupations, new and enduring. Tomorrow: Books.

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Work began on the fence, with the entrance being the first section. My dad lent a pair of hands, and a pair of spirit levels, to help create what appears, without fencey context, to be a Fringe-style portal to a parallel universe over by the hedge. ‘Tis a world much like our own, only sunny in summer time.

Some precision measuring, and less precise grunting spade-and-trowel work, took a couple of hours out of the morning. It’s over that side to take advantage of the paved path, mainly.

Note the partially-tidied privet hedge (left of pic), another fathers day tick list item, which had to be abandoned owing to short extension lead issues and on account of the June skies dulling once more. Solstice sunrise and full moon seem unlikely to be visible if the weather continues in its current sogginess. Got the lawns done, at least, so the grass is enjoying the showers.

June’s persistently dour sky cracked a grin twice today, which was all the time needed to dig in the legs of the platform base and heave the henhouse into place.

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Pallet screwed to four posts to raise it up for a little shady area, henhouse fixed on top of that. The base’s legs are dug-in about a foot, and the exploratory spadework for that revealed several areas where a former ornamental pebble garden has been submerged with topsoil. Not at all easy to dig through, and prompting a rethink of the positioning for the fence posts.

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These are eight feet in length, so  need about two feet of foundation. Can you dig it? I hummed, Mock Turtlishly. We need to fence in the fowl, to avoid any unfortunate incidents with the local cats who use this section of the garden as a cut-through, and of course to keep out urban foxes.  I’m fairly sure it’s only that one corner that’s pebbled, but the perimeter may end up taking an odd line if I unearth any other obstructions. Still hoping for a buried priceless classic car, obviously, although further discarded bags of cement that have become solid pillows of immovable matter seem more likely:

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Sleeping on’t, he dreamed of chickens ascending and descending a small wooden staircase, illumin’d by crepuscular rays.

So, yes, fence next.

Following a short hiatus for…well, I don’t know what one might call it without sounding like a ginormous ass: de-rutting, groove reclamation, headspace refurbishment (“Hey, I like what you’ve done in here…”)… a comfort break… The Mortal Bath resumes refilled, topped up, nice and bubbly.

It was half term holidays this week just gone, and some sort of physical distraction from the scholastic toil was required. The stated aim had been to build a henhouse. This is the second time I’ve built one, and it was much easier going now I have more than the barest notion of carpentry I did the first time. I’m still fairly cack-handed, but it seemed to fit together less troublesomely.

So, I’m pleased to record, this evening, as the sun shone over the garden (which it has failed signally to do the entire rest of the leaden-skied week, by the let’s-emigrate-to-the-Mediterranean-immediately way), the coop was completed:

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We cracked a can of Amstel to toast its wooden goodness, and as a libation for the future roosting joy and eggy successes of its inhabitants. (Clunk of cans, distant approving cluck of hens…)

This weekend, we have taken significant steps towards the reintegration of FOWL into our lives.

Saturday night therefore has been dedicated to hen research, principally the baffling permutations of space per bird requirements. ‘Baffling’ because these sums require a tussle not only with mathematics but also ethics: square metres times head of poultry divided by requirement to do the right thing by our little feathered pals.

Currently I’m swithering extensively between three and four chickens, and no amount of measuring, graph paper schematics and Lego models seems sufficient to resolve the issue.

And so Saturday night passed…

The weather has been full of drear this weekend, with the latest anthropomorphized storm (Imogen) making unwelcome overtures at the UK, and grey mornings turning to cold and windy middays followed by sodden evenings.
It’s keeping me out of the garden, and I’m somewhat fucking grumpy about it.

We took advantage of a break in the fronts to wander across to Starbeck, where the daffodils have been fooled into emerging early:

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Deepening the mood of impending global catastrophe, we then passed the McColl inconvenience store, which sported this poster in the window:

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Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Haagen Dazs and I heart wines… two products owned by Mars, all total tat. It’s a small world after all.

The downward spiral accelerated as we ambled round the corner to the park, and I was distracted by branded litter every three paces. I took a load of pictures, but it was the depressing end of photojournalism. This is not even rhetoric, by the way – it was, actually, every three paces.

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HSBC-Mars twofer

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Plus KFC, B&H, random boxes, more Mars products… I mean, I know it’s not these companies that are coming round and befouling our green spaces, but it was putting me in a very premillennial anti-brand, anti-humanity, anti-everything funk.

The eat-junk-become-junk misery continued at the supermarket:

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And, AND, packs of pre-made pancakes! Piles of them!

Bah!

We picked up our bottle of I heart red wine and skedaddled quick smart, off through the rain.

Fortunately, an hour or two colouring with the three year old before luncheon sorted it all out. And the wine, obviously.

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Not the right colours… Take THAT, The Man.