Best laid plans (54 days to go…)

by Max Akroyd

Cruising at 18000 feet, you could almost believe in a solution. It’s not like being in a proper jet aeroplane where you’re so high up you get lost in a dreamscape of clouds, or any visible land is so far away as to be slightly ridiculous. From the windows of this little propeller-powered plane, England is mainly green.

Seen from up here the villages and towns are diminished, almost trivial in scale. Commerce, work and other hustle is silenced. Equally unhindered by the reality of peoples’ present lives and expectations, you are able to imagine that when cars and planes and supermarkets are defunct, things could carry on. Look at all that productive land! From this height there’s no sense that the soil has been crushed by tractors or tortured by man-made chemicals. Instead, like a benign, cloud-dwelling despot, you can re-apportion the fields to the people in the nucleated villages and towns and, somehow, shuttle them out to work the land.

Before too long, though, we lose the perspective of height and descend back to ground level. The fields are out of sight and the confusion of normality returns.

*

Back home and there’s been a development. The white duck has hatched a chick!

Don’t worry, she’s confused too! Since my hens don’t know how to roost, eat corn or go broody like everybody else’s chickens, I had the bright(ish) idea of putting a couple of hens eggs under our sitting duck.

As usual, nature doesn’t welcome improvisation unreservedly. One of the hens’ eggs hatched before the duck’s own and now Mummy duck shares her precarious nest in the top of the haystack with a puzzling and slightly mischievous impostor. The chick climbs all over the duck’s back, pecks her nostrils and puts little holes in the other eggs. (The one’s that haven’t already rolled off the haystack thanks to the duck’s big, scrobbly feet).

In the old cow shed below, the goose has also been busy nesting and laying. Unfortunately the new gander only arrived yesterday – after she had laid six eggs. So it’s extra-nice cakes and quiche for us today and back to the drawing board for her tomorrow. Scant reward for a building a perfect nest, but at least she’s got a big, ungainly partner to help make perfect sense of it all next time.