Goodbye to a faithful friend A fresh take on preserves
The best ways to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products
ZEB TURNED UP as a ball of monochromatic fluff, grew into a persona, won our hearts and kept them for more than eight years.
But it’s not fair to ask a Border Collie to live aboard a boat full-time so we have found him a block to stay on with people he knows and a couple of dogs he knows too. They’ll all sort it out.
Not that he was bad in a boat. In fact, he was about as good as it gets. His first trip when he was weeks old was in a hobie cat in a freshening breeze. He learned all about the slipperiness of wet plastic bows and I scooped the sodden little bundle of fluff out of the water as we came back past him. He spent the rest of the trip stuffed down my jacket, shivering, and never went overboard again.
His special forte was rescues. He would race along the narrow wharf, pick out ‘our’ inflatable and leap aboard. When we would come up to a capsized boat during race meets, there’d sometimes be flapping sails, slopping waves and ‘I just want to go home’ looks from the young sailors. Then they’d see a grinning Border Collie, tail wagging, staring down at them. You could just see the ‘if it’s alright for the dog, it must be alright for me’ thoughts as they happened. Zeb had no idea he was doing it, but as subliminal psychology it was unbeatable.
He could get into our dinghy with delicacy, scramble onto the yacht and then curl up across the stern in apparent contentment. He could even negotiate the quite steep companionway steps. As I write this, I’m still halfexpecting to see a furry snout poking through the hatch-way, a pair of bright eyes asking if we’re going home yet?
He also assisted in starting small motors, barking until they fired up or eventually getting yelled at if they didn’t. He has taught echelons of wwoofers to throw stuffed toys for retrieval. He chased the scrub bar so close he would end up covered in chlorophyll.
He was scared of chickens and scarce when cows needed herding, but had no problem walking past a sea lion.
He shared more of my time – almost every hour of every day of his life thus far – and many more than my official partner. He could be pitiful, cute, charismatic, endearing, frustrating, lovable.
There is a hole, a physical lack of presence with him gone. Life is just a little emptier, not quite right.
Zeb, enjoy the next phase of your life; if you’re still around when we get back it’ll be an honour to pick up where we left off. I miss you, old buddy. Go well.
The perfect chicken coop should be a combination of a number of factors. Most importantly, it should be comfortable for the birds and provide the ideal conditions for their health and well-being.
But there are other factors that will make your life (and theirs) that much better: • it should be easy to clean; • it should be easily accessible for the humans that have to attend to the birds; • it should be difficult for predators and pests like dogs, cats, rats, stoats, ferrets, hedgehogs and wild birds to get in. Often, readers tell me of birds preferring to sleep in trees rather than in the coop provided, so we should be asking why? • is the coop too cold and draughty in winter? • too hot and airless on a summer’s night? • is it accessible to predators at night when the birds cannot get away from them? • is it riddled with mites which infest the perches and nests and suck blood from the birds when they go in to roost? • is it in the shade or full sun, facing the prevailing wind, or facing south? • what is the ventilation like: is it open to the elements, or too enclosed and airless when it’s hot? • is the roof bare metal, so condensation drips on the birds at night when it is cold outside and warmer inside? • do the birds have to climb a ladder, or jump in through a small space? • can wild birds get easy access through an open door?
A coop should ideally be sited so that any openings face away from direct sunlight and the prevailing wind, and there are no openings facing south. This allows for temperature and air movement to stay fairly constant.
The doorways should have a ‘lip’ at the bottom to prevent the floor litter inside spilling out and onto the ground. A board about 10-15cm high can form a threshold across the bird opening and/or humansized door. Make these boards removable so you can easily remove litter during cleaning.
Window openings need to be covered with fine netting to deter sparrows and other birds, and should be placed high up