All entries for March 2009

March 24, 2009

A smallholder's lot is not a happy one…

There was a massacre of the innocents in my garden yesterday at lunchtime. Three of our five chickens became a takeaway lunch for one of the local foxes and its young family. Foxes get brave at this time of year, they have young families to feed so they will wander around the local farms and gardens looking for food that’s easier to come by than digging for worms in the fields.

I lost one of my chickens a year ago to a fox, and that seemed a reasonable price to pay for the pleasure of owning them and the eggs they produce, but losing three in one go is harder. And a difficult lesson for the kids, too.

The chickens were roaming the garden quite freely, but unprotected. It seems cruel to keep them locked up for their entire lives in a box 6 feet by two feet so they were allowed to roam most days. It is a question of balance between giving them a decent quality of life and something approaching a natural life for a ‘wild’ chicken or keeping them alive simply for the eggs they produce for us. The foxes won’t come in the garden when humans are around but the chickens are a walking lunch box for them that they will wait for…


March 10, 2009

Funny? Well, I thought so…

A duck walks into a bar and says to the bar man: Have you got any bread?

The bar man replies: No we don’t serve bread

So the duck asks again;: Have you got any bread?

The bar man replies: I just told you we don’t serve bread

So the duck asks again: Have you got any bread?

The bar man, getting angry now replies: No, and if you ask again I’m going to nail your beak to the table

So the duck asks: Have you got any nails?

The bar man replies: No I don’t have any nails

So the duck asks: Have you got any bread?

------------------------------------

A guy went on vacation to the islands. When he got off the boat he heard the drummers playing an island rhythm. He found it fascinating, however, after several hours, the sound became an annoyance, so at dinner he asked the waiter “When do the drums stop?”

The waiter went pale and stammered, “No. No. drums not stop. Very bad when drums stop”.

After tossing and turning through the night, he called the front desk at 2am to ask when the drums would stop.

“No. No. Drums not stop. Very bad when drums stop”.

After a sleepless night he was waiting at the front desk for the manager. He asked once again, “When do the drums stop?”

Again came the reply, “No. No. Drums not stop. Very bad when drums stop”.

Grabbing the manager by his shirt, the man screams, “What happens that’s so bad when the drums stop?”

“Trombone solo” came the reply.


March 06, 2009

Finding the Good Life up a chicken's backside

I’ll bet Richard Briers never found himself having to do this sort of thing on The Good Life. Though they did film something similar in the James Heriot series, It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet. But, in that case, the prop was somewhat larger.

I keep chickens. Well, bantams. And they lay eggs every now and again. About every 30 hours or so when it’s laying season which is about 8 months of the year. So I have my own supply of eggs though with all the expense of feeding and housing the animals, I think it would be much cheaper to just buy them from the supermarket.

They’re a lot of fun, really. They have their own distinct personality. As long as they are far enough from the house and can’t see the sun, they don’t crow at 5 o’clock in the morning, either. And they normally put themselves to bed when it gets dark, though sometimes that is up a tree…

But one of them recently had a prolapsed cloaca. For the non chicken experts amongst you, that’s the bit the egg comes out of. Well, for a chicken, the plumbing is rather badly arranged so that everything comes out of there which is why you’ll get the occasional egg from a shop with a bit of chicken poo on it.

Right, a prolapsed cloaca looks like a dark brown sac hanging out the back of the chicken. Along with a bit of blood and egg yolk (seeing as this particular chicken thought it was trying to lay an egg that wasn’t ready). And the first aid approach to this particular problem is… to push it back in and hope the animal doesn’t push it out again…. so you use a finger.

I never ever thought I would ever have my finger up the back end of a chicken…

Life is full of surprises…


March 05, 2009

Cutting interest rates was never going to work

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7925620.stm

The Bank of England has, as expected, cut interest rates again by half of one per cent.

I’m no economics expert but I was never convinced that the repeated cutting of rates was ever going to work. Try it once, by all means, and on a small scale but this repeated chopping in my opinion has done no one any good.

The original idea was to make it cheaper for the main banks to borrow money from each other and on the surface the rate cut would reopen the gates of liquidity. The unintended consequence of this, however, was the swift flight of overseas money to more lucrative havens overseas. The clear indicator of this has been the plummet in the value of sterling as the investors have dumped the currency.

The effect of this has been twofold. First of all, there is less money than ever moving around the City but, secondly, the remaining industrial base of the nation has been hit by the rise in its export prices thus making it less competitive than ever and then to increase the price of oil in this country which had been dropping in recent months and and, well, have at least softened the blow had it not then been made to rise by the falling value of sterling.

The medicine has not gone down well. I wonder whether cutting the rates was ever going to work and whether a small increase of a quarter of a per cent at that point would actually have worked better. While other countries dropped their rates, overseas capital would have flooded in to the UK giving the central banks something to lend, thus increasing the liquidity in the market. And, assuming that Government went ahead with its ideas for forcing the banks to lend to industry and small businesses had still gone ahead, these businesses could still have been kept afloat. Additionally, we probably wouldn’t have seen taxpayers money being used in quite the same amounts had the banks had overseas money instead to invest (more wisely this time around, one hopes) and trade through their losses.

Had my idea not worked, then they could still have tried cutting the rates. In other words, they would have had somewhere to go. As it is, they have to print more money. Give it a fancy name if you want, but that’s basically what it comes too. And losing control of one’s currency has never been a good idea when it comes to stability.

Just ask the Romans. Or, more recently, the Argentinians.


March 2009

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