Monday, August 13, 2007


Here in the treehouse, we like to do things for ourselves.

When I first met Badger her idea of cooking was to put a Birds Eye frozen chicken pie in the oven for approximately the right length of time. To this day, if I make something really good, Badger exclaims cheerfully: "Wow - it tastes just like it came out of a packet!"

So, it was a major occasion this week when we picked and ate the first couple of Badger's home grown runner beans.

As well as Badger's homegrown beans (soon to be joined by tomatoes, cucumber and peppers) we have our fresh eggs from the girls, who have been pretty much bound to the shed recently after two of them were butchered by a vicious mink. We had a loose pen for them, which did a good job of keeping them from wandering off into the woods, but did nothing to keep out anything that might fancy chicken for lunch.

Fuelled by the recent tropical rains, the area by the chicken shed had magically transformed into a jungle ...

The problem of "how do we keep out intruders" has been debated by Dr But Why? and me for some time. We baulked at the idea of a concrete trench and instead began surveying the tumbled down outbuildings and piles of strange rubble that lurk in the woods. We eventually identified a dozen or so large concrete blocks, perfect for constructing a perimeter wall that would be stable enough to prevent entry into the bottom of the coop and yet unstable enough to fall on the head of any nasty stoat trying to dig a tunnel in. Perfect except for their location, deep in the woods half way down the quarry, somewhere behind the rhubarb field and the apple trees. Which is where they would still be if Dr But Why? wasn't significantly larger than me and fitted with the kind of personality defect that makes this kind of task a challenge.

I did manage to move some of the blocks some of the way. Which I think is no mean feat given that we estimate that they weigh only a few kilos less than I do. But I can't claim any credit for the moving of approximately 400 kg of concrete into position.

We had the sort of plan that an engineer-turned-software-programmer and a scientist-turned-consultant might come up with. A vague outline of our deliverables and a definite investment in the "Extreme Programming" methodology of basically striking out risks until the job was done. We reused a random wooden frame we found under the treehouse, a couple of long thick lengths of wood I had in the garage left over from building my sister a bespoke cabin bed, and the 'fence posts' from the old chicken run, which were actually old slats from Badger's single bed.

Staple gun, self-tapping screws, power drill ... and bob's yer builder, we have a chicken coop!

Badger was most pleased. The chickens were thrilled (in their own chickeny way) and proceeded to scratch, peck and rub themselves in the dirt in a very enthusiastic fashion. The discovery of a major ants nest just outside the coop was, I imagine, the poultry equivalent of realising you've moved in next door to a chinese takeaway.

Not content to stop at growing our own veg, keeping chickens and bashing things with hammers, we're a little bit partial to cutting our own hair. About every six weeks I undertake the interesting and somewhat physically dangerous task of attempting to tune in to Badger's tics for long enough to give her a quick crop without taking out my own eye or chopping the top off of her ear. Badger is quite a demanding client - she has very specific ideas about how her hair should be, and a tendency to only offer input about three quarters of the way through the process.

Many hairdressers will be familiar with clients arriving with a fantasy in mind - a dream of having hair just like Jennifer Aniston or Lady Diana (RIP) ... and Badger is no exception.

I would like my hair to look just like Wylie Kat ...

I rack my brains. Cat Deely? Cat Stevens? Nope ... I'm drawing a blank.

Wylie Kat out of Thundercats.

Oh. Of course!

And it does.


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Blogger Ms Melancholy said...

What is Thundercats, please? Lovely beans, by the way. Did you eat them both yourself, Badger, or did you share them?

14 August, 2007 21:55  
Blogger Stray said...

Welcome back Ms M!

Ah - Thundercats was a cartoon about some amazing cats who could speak and had superpowers and fought baddies and stuff ...

It was on during the late 80s, clearly a formative time for young Badger, seeking a role model around which to shape her identity.

We shared them - all 3 of us! They were super tasty, with just the perfect amount of squeak on the teeth.


14 August, 2007 22:00  
Blogger But Why? said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 August, 2007 07:18  
Blogger But Why? said...

Personality defect? Personality Defect?!!?!

I take issue with that. I've only just accepted being a geek. Please don't force me to come to terms with having a personality as well...

P.S. re: the deleted - damned typos...

15 August, 2007 07:19  
Blogger The Cornish Cowgirl said...

Badger looks very proud of her beans and so she should be.

Thundercats movie coming soon!

15 August, 2007 08:47  
Blogger Miss Tickle said...

You are a bit like the Waltons. Only slightly different in some ways.It sounds like you are having a lot of larks, and I like to think of you larking in and around your treehouse. It is a very happy-making thought.

15 August, 2007 14:59  
Blogger That's so pants said...

Dear Stray

You make me yearn for that countryside - but I'm stuck in my urban nightmare for a little while longer. I can only look at your beans and dream of lovelier times.



15 August, 2007 23:06  
Blogger Jon M said...

We let our chickens wander but they kept roosting in the most out of the way places and getting got. Not so much by local foxes as by local drunks passing by from the pub! Well foxes too.
So we have them in a run which is very 'Heath Robinson' but it works!

17 August, 2007 22:43  
Blogger Böbø said...

I remember watching Thundercats while babysitting my youngest younger sister.

(Or I just might of been a layabout student unable to change channels and YYS happened to be there at the same time).

Anyhow, yes - Badger as WilyKat. And why, you could be WilyKit - if you don't mind being the girlie one.

I'd vote to be Jaga the Wise myself - well it's an aspiration.

PS: Well done. Cooking food as good as it comes out of the packet. MMmmmmmm now that's home-grown cooking.

20 August, 2007 12:42  
Anonymous Hydrocodone said...

RPBFom The best blog you have!

02 November, 2007 08:25  

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