Friday, 29 January 2010

Who Killed Dave - reviews

Thank you to all you kind people who've now reviewed Who Killed Dave?
There maybe more that I'm not aware of, so if you have posted a review and it's not on this, please let me know. (actually Donna didn't) Not sure this is actually a review

My favourite review is still my mothers - as made in earlier comments.

Robyn's mother (the main character in Who Killed dave?) is based on my own. Though my mother isn't nearly so awful... but she does have the same verbal dsylexia. Spoonerisms, malapropisms are common fare with my mother. She has a repertoire of them that have entered into the Cockburn lexicon. Some of them made it into the book, the rest I made up. Mum's keen to tell me that she's never said Incompetence pads instead of incontinence pads.

Mum's review is based on a comment I made about 25 years ago when she recommended a Catherine Cookson book and I said CC was 'Milly Molly Mandy for adults'. I forgot all about this - naturally, but Mum never did.

During a telephone conversation (25 years later) mum suddenly blurted out.
'I've read your book. It's the sexiest Milly Molly Mandy I've ever read!'. Apparently it gave her nightmares.

Fair enough too - it's not the kind of book you share with your mother, but I couldn't see myself not sending it to her either. She did well to read it at all. Don't think Dad got past page 2 - can't blame him either.

It's not for the faint hearted. The screenplay version is almost complete... a fair bit of swear-age removed. Onto writing something completely different - literary fare this time, humour playing a very small role, if any. The change in genre is a rusty gear change in my head.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Three men and a sheep

Yeah, yeah, bugger off with the Kiwi/sheep jokes.
This was all above board, I chaperoned.

Our neighbour, Tony, gave us a couple of sheep to help keep the grass down. The amount of rain we had the growth has been phenomenal.

First they had to be caught. This is not so easy. It was the most exercise I've had in years running up and down hills, trying, vainly, to herd the sheep through a gate I'm not sure they even realised existed. Eventually two were rugby tackled, trussed up and put in a wheelbarrow, and wheeled over to our place for release. I admit, the scene caused a few outbreaks of cackling.

Trev catches a tiger

He did. He really did. We had a tiger in the backyard, and Trev caught it. Tiger snake that is. He kind of had to. He went to start on the mud pit and a tiger snake fell out from underneath the black plastic sheeting. It was in there after a mouse. About a metre long it was a youngish snake. Trev put on chaps, gloves, armed himself with sticks and went about demolishing the pit to find the thing. I was incredibly brave and perched on a window sill and gave directions (don't ask me to hold the bag, not going there again). Eventually he had it pinned down, it attacked the stick Trev used to hold it down, and even managed to bite itself a few times. Later we looked it up and found that snakes are immune to their own venom. Just as well.
Trev bagged him, showed the boys the snake, we all piled in the car, drove a couple of km's away to an uninhabited area and released him.

I made suitable fluttering of lashes and comments along the line of, 'You're my hero' for the rest of the day. Trev stopped trembling with adrenalin sometime after dinner.

House Massage

It's what it feels like I'm doing. Not in-house just yet, it's all external. Mixing up big mud packs of sand, clay and straw, stomping around on it till my feet are stained yellow, filling up a bucket climbing various arrangements of ladders, scaffolding and giving the house a deep tissue massage of mud, getting it right into its pores so it stays there, ready for the next coat. There are four layers, the first Trev did when he sprayed light clay slip onto the walls, in and out.
Then it's been packing the 'holes' around doors, windows, between bales with straw (if it's a big hole) or a mix of light clay slip mixed with straw. Once dry the wall is sprayed with water to make the next layer adhere to the first. It's the scratch or discovery coat, the one I'm working on. I started off with bare hands, but soon wore the skin off it. Back to gloves. Over three-quarters of the way there with that coat. Then it's the bulk coat - a much thicker coat that brings the wall, hopefully to level and packs out any hollows etc. Then a final coat or so of lime paint.

Not sure if I'll be able to do it, but we've found lots of natural ochre in shades from pink to red in the clay pile from out of the dam. Maybe it can be used to colour the lime paint - maybe by the time I get to the final coat I'll be happy to buy something off the shelf. Would be nice to know as much as possible came from our block. Having said that I just rushed outside for a 20 ton delivery of sand, our decomposed sandstone from the holes Trev drilled just isn't up to it.

This weekend we're having a strawbale 'thingy' where people can come have a go at rendering too. We won't even charge them for the experience, we'll pay them in beer and pizza. The whole thing is such a big job it's nice to share.

I'm on holiday till the 20th ... my holidays revolve around extended sessions of mud massage.

The image is Trev with his form work corners. He places the formwork, tamps down a mix of clay slip and straw, and works his way up the side of the house. It's incredibly hard when it dries and gives a nice sharp corner to the house.

Silly Bint

I'm not that keen on Anglo Nubians - it's true. I think they're stupid, docile, complaining and un-co. This uncharitable opinion is entirely based on purebred, papered Charity.

She looked the least pregnant of all the three does and as she's 'long in the wheel base' compared to the Toggs, she hid Bint well for most of the 5 months of the gestation period. In the last few days her rather large teats filled out, her pin bones became sharp and obvious, her vulva protruded, she made her way to the top of the block and stringy threads of clear fluid started to drip, - yep. Enough signs to know I needed to hang around just to make sure all went well. So far I've always been lucky, and just a small amount of assistance has been required. Caleb was with me keen to watch the process, eager for more babies.

Things didn't go well. A single hoof appeared, nothing else. Charity, who is a vocal girl, was clearly distressed. Caleb became equally so. Nothing for it but to find the missing hoof, locate the head, see if I could arrange them in the correct order. The leg was pulled back. I found the small hoof and very gently bought it forward. Charity pulled back her head and screamed. I've not heard a goat scream. Once the hoof was right I could feel the small face, the next push and out she popped.

Caleb wanted to call her Hope ... he hoped there was another one behind her. He'd then have Faith. Anglos are renowned for multiple births. We'd almost bought another goat instead of her, but once I found out she had 5 kids in difficult circumstances we decided on Charity. But here she was, her third gestation producing a single kid.

We tried to call her Hope, but Bint it has become. She had great difficulty finding the teat despite a lot of effort, once found, she would lose it, she'd come looking in our armpits, crotch, necks for teats, and bunt against us. We'd relocate her time again, and she'd repeat the same frustrating sequence. Trev called her Silly Bint and it stuck.

She may be silly, but she is without a doubt the most gorgeous, calico patchwork rag doll of a kid I've ever seen. Despite her mixed parentage she's managed to retain almost 100% of her anglo nubianism, with only a touch of Togg about her face in the white blazes.

Last night we heard a distressed bawling from Charity. The kind of bawling that alerts us that something is terribly wrong. Caleb and I went out with the torch and Charity rushed down the hill to us, hysterical.
'I've lost my baby!' she roared.
We checked the dam first. It's one of my fears, but no baby. All the other goats were rushing around frantically too. They knew the problem. Charity's distress reduced to small pathetic bleats of a mother in a supermarket searching for a lost child. Eventually we found Bint, fast asleep in long grass. We reunited them, and relocated them to the goat palace where they both should spend the night without losing one another.

Last on the list is Daisy, who is being rather laid back and lazy about popping anything out - she'll need too and soon, she's so wide I'm worried she'll brush up against something sharp and explode. No signs, she just keeps her head down, bum up and eats. It's her first time, I get the impression she thinks the additional girth is the result of all that mastication going on. She's in for a surprise.

Hopefully, with my new nickname ... the goat whisperer, I'll be able to help see her through.

The Pugalist

Pug for short - was born on Boxing Day to Bella, our way too old Toggenberg doe - we knew she wasn't pure bred, we accidentally bred her with a black Toggenberg who looks suspiciously like a Britist Alpine to me - and she gave birth to a wee buck who looks 90% Saanan with a bit of Togg thrown in. Generally goats have twins, but older goats manage to keep it to a dull roar with just the one.

Bella managed it with only a little assistance from me and, as in all things she does, with quiet aplomb.

She'd been producing copious amounts of milk for months and we'd had to milk her out as she'd looked like she was going to explode. Yesterday I milked 2.5 litres from one side alone as Pug only drinks from the other, her leathery teat is just too much for him. He's now over a week old and a wee ball of 'Yeah, I have legs and I can jump, and run rings around my mum'.

I've put in a few photos of his birth - they may not all be pretty, but they're a good example of how they are born. Two little hooves with a face appears, the rest is soon over. Mum licks off the yolk like sac, and when the afterbirth comes - eats that too. Not a pretty sight. But good for them.

The future for most bucks is either on a spit or wethered and tethered. Neither of which we want for Pug - we think we've found him a home where he will spread his mixed breed heritage of great milkers.