Thursday, September 30, 2010

Birds and Bees

I woke up this morning in the soft blackness of the pre-dawn and have been listening to the magic sounds of the birds. There have been at least six different choruses since then. In the blurry state between dreaming and consciousness I thought I was listening to someone whistling a country music song. The back up music was a persistent and tuneless squeak.

Then a crow settled in with his desultory quwark and the music stopped. Not long after that, he was replaced by the more familiar chirping and tweeting of some smaller birds backed up by the lovely notes of a lone magpie.

I love it. It makes me think of forests and fields and all things natural. It also makes me think of the birds that used to wake me up in New Zealand.

Because we had six sons we lived on a one and a half acre hill top block in urban New Zealand. Over the years we had chickens, bees, several goats and an assortment of dogs and cats.

At one time we had several roosters. I thought they had a lovely country sound but obviously not everyone agreed. One day we came home to a note in the letterbox and a few less roosters in the chicken pen. Our three roosters had been confiscated by the city council after a neighbour complained. I couldn't understand it.

A few years later we had a feisty bantam rooster that used to locate himself under our bedroom window to crow, ……… at three in the morning. Suddenly I wasn't so keen on th sound of crowing any more and we decided he needed to become dinner.

My husband at the time had grown up in Samoa where killing a chicken for food was a weekly occurrence. In the years since he had softened somewhat and I had never aspired to be an animal murderer so we had a problem. Eventually I decided this was something I needed to do as a strong independent woman, so I caught the chicken and grabbed an axe. I set him up nicely on a strong board, raised the axe, closed my eyes and chopped down hard.

Opening my eyes I caught him running away in the opposite direction and the next morning he was back under the bedroom window crowing his heart out. We had to get my brother in law in to do the deed.

I made a very nice soup from him but none of our family enjoyed it.

I had fun with bees too. I thought it would be nice to have a productive beehive and read everything I could about it.

I was very proud of the few jars of honey I manhandled out of the combs and being able to give away a few jars of the beautiful golden liquid made up for the sticky mess it made of my kitchen for weeks.

Then one day I came home to men in white up on the roof of the garage playing inside my beehive. It seems the council needed to inspect all hives yearly in case any of them contracted a disease that wiped out the New Zealand honey industry. The pressure was immense. Since I was such a bee keeping amateur, I became concerned that I might be the reason NZ farmers lost millions in income and New Zealand kids could no longer have honey on their toast.

To add insult to injury, (or more correctly injury to insult,) the men checking the hive stirred up the bees and made them angry. As an innocent bystander, and the only one not wearing a protective suit, the bees made a beeline for me and I did a very unattractive and ineffective bee walloping dance until one of the men turned the hose on me. I ended up with ten stings on my head and a complete loss of dignity.

A few weeks later I sold my hives to a farmer with land out in the country.

1 comment:

Red Nomad OZ said...

Bureacracy - a fine way to stuff up a great idea!! Bummer about the bees - but farm fresh honey can be got from nearly everywhere!!

Happy travels!