July 16, 2013

A New Friend

Our broody hen has now been sitting for just over two weeks. We have had to separate her from the others to give her some peace. They would try at every opportunity to add eggs to her nest and (perhaps out of jealousy) to nudge her off. She is now in the neighbouring stable room in the rabbit's old hutch and sits - calm and unperturbed - for days on end.

We have been told to lift her off every few days (if she doesn't try to do so herself) so she can stretch and offload. It feels counter-intuitive to interfere at all, but she seemed grateful for it.

Advice comes in abundance these days from a new acquaintance, an old man who lives at the far end of the village. He knows everything about everyone in the village, and if some new folk turn up, he makes it his business to know about them too.

He lives in a ramshackle old place with no obvious entrance. The first thing you see from the road is a creatively stacked wall of old bricks, tiles, rusted metal and wood, useful for something, some day...

Then a tidy path flanked by freshly cut hay, strawberry beds and lettuces - all neatly maintained – and a beautifully oiled, sturdy frame for peas.

Through a little gate, the chaos begins: stacks of potentially useful objects litter the space filling every available corner with something to attract your attention and make your head spin! A few hanging baskets with flowers decorate the junk and lead you deeper into the labyrinth of narrow, makeshift gates and skinny pathways snaking off into what feels like a neverending back yard. All kinds of ducks and chickens reside in unexpected enclosures as we pass, making agitated noises and busying themselves about, making the best of their quirky little homes.

We came to look at Laufenten (Indian 'running ducks') - reputedly the best slug-eaters around. We had heard of Mersiowsky through the vague description of a neighbour, but couldn't work out exactly where he lived. Then an ad for ducks in the local paper gave the address but no contact number.

Our presence on the old Halle Hof had somehow escaped Mersiowsky's attention, but now he is making up for lost time.