Good­bye to a faith­ful friend A fresh take on pre­serves

The best ways to pre­serve fruit, veg­eta­bles, meat and dairy prod­ucts

NZ Lifestyle Block - - The Good Life -

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

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