Monday, 28 January 2013

I think I may have over done it a little today, I am very tired, which is ridiculous as I have not done THAT much. However the flat that we are working on is looking super now. I still have some painting to do and we have to do the bloody kitchen completely, but we are getting there. It is annoying to have to do all this only three years after we already did it. Woe betide anyone who spoils them now!!

The snow has gone, and it went really quickly. I think that there is nowhere so green as the UK and you notice it most either when it has been covered in snow and then is vivid green again, or when you have been abroad and are flying home in the daylight and you look down and see all that glorious green.

It has been a vile day, windy and then rain – lots of it, I am so tired of rain, I hope to God the bloody gulf stream moves and we get a drought for months!!!

Art has gone to his new home and is doing very well, they are keeping in contact and he is obviously being looked after well and he has company, which is making him very happy. I miss him, but I could not manage him at the moment anyway.

Holly is fine in the US, we have not heard much, but she made it to Houston and will now be in California, in lovely weather, hopefully learning about hatching and rearing. Not that I am concerned about rearing as I have lost count of the number of chicks I have reared over the years. Our new incubator should arrive soon as well. So there is plenty to do on the horizon.

I decanted my damson gin and plum gin over the weekend it is rather delicious I have to say although the plum gin in not clear which is disappointing.

The bathroom has ground to a halt as we are missing some bits that should have arrived today and did not, so I am pissed off about that. Athena has two eggs now, which we are delighted about and all the birds are sitting well, which is very good news. The weather although wet has warmed up considerably which removes some concerns.

We are getting birds flying again, regardless of the weather as we open to the public on Friday. I sadly will not be here as I have to go to Edinburgh to give a lecture, I am back on the following day in the afternoon. Which reminds me I need to find someone to give me a lift home!!
Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The snow is still here, although thawing fast apart from where we have been walking on it, where it is now an ice slick, which is a little scary when you have a fracture back. However we, OK John and helpers(!) chucked some salt down on the worst bits, so I don’t break anything else. I had a hospital appointment today, had my back X-rayed, its amazing how insecure I felt taking off the back brace during the day – will have to get over that! It is healing OK and I have another appointment in four weeks when I might be able to do without it. Four weeks, gosh, most of me wants it gone now and the rest is nervous about it! How daft is that.

Bramley looking wonderful in the snow

Holly left for the US today, for her incubation and hatching and rearing experience. She is going on a course at Houston Zoo – thank you Zoo for helping us on this one, it is greatly appreciated, and then she is going with Susie Kasielke who teaches the course to LA and working at the Zoo there for a few days on incubation and rearing. She has been teased mercilessly about going surfing while she is there!! I wonder if she will meet the man I once fell in love with immediately I met him, needless to say he did not treat me particularly well, as have none of my American loves!! Best to stick to Labradors I reckon they are guaranteed to be loyal and loving for all of their far too short lives.

Talking of which - finally the inevitable happened today and Shasta ate the TV remote control, it had to happen eventually and she managed it this afternoon, it worked a tiny bit for a short while and then gave up the ghost completely – actually when John showed me how to change the TV stuff without the remote I found it was a lot quicker, so I don’t really mind, although I am not sure where the bits are!!!

My staff knowing that I was not able to make a snowman and a snow dog, which I really wanted to do, made me a tiny one, he is rather cute!! Never mind, I will make some next winter instead and they will be brilliant!

The work here goes on apace. The new bathroom is going into the flats tomorrow, and I am going to attempt to get up there and do some painting as well. I need some furniture for Adam’s ex flat, but I am sure we will find something good soon. The birds are starting to lay, the African Fish Eagles laid today, which is lovely, I hope all goes well as it would be so good to breed them again. They are wonderful birds, although I have to say my absolute favourite of the Fish Eagles to fly is the White-bellied Sea-eagle, which is quite marvelous. Oh and I flew a bird today, can’t pick up falcons as I can’t bend down easily with this brace, plus I am a little nervous about it, however the owls are another matter and so I flew Bramley today, he went really well and it was great to get back into things again. Although I do have one problem, Holly washed my falconry bag after Christmas and it did not survive the experience, so I must get a new one. Mark’s is looking pretty much the worse for wear as well!!

Everyone has been so wonderful in helping me with this injury, people have dropped in, walked the dogs, taken me to the hospital, offered help here there and everywhere, it is very heart warming, makes you feel that all will be well with the world.
Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow day today, it started about  5.30am and kept going, not those big fluffy flakes, but small dry ones, so disappointingly we were not able to make a snowman as the snow would not stick. Shame as I was looking forward to helping make a snow dog.

I have to say though that every time we get bad weather and I look at the birds in the aviaries, dry, sheltered and looking cheerful, not wet, cold and miserable, I thank heavens that I chose to build the barn type aviaries that we have that are totally covered. There is no doubt about it the birds are very much more comfortable than in traditional open mesh topped aviaries. We also don’t have to worry about weight of snow on mesh rooves, because our barns are built to take the weight of snow. It’s great to look out on bad weather and not have to worry about them.

I am also delighted that Art is at livery and I don’t have to ask people to look after him in the snow. He will be much better off where he is. We advertised him on Friday and there was a great deal of interest, a high number of people wanted to come and try him, and the first people who did, want to buy him subject to vetting. He should pass a vet no problems as he did last March for me, of course the big problem now is will the vet be able to get there in the snow!! We should know on Monday. I am sad that he is going, but pleased that he is going to a good home with other horses and a good rider for him, they will have a great deal of fun with him because they are getting a great little horse.

Richard dropped in on his way home yesterday, and apparently Leaf is doing fine and has only chewed an envelope that arrived and not the book inside – thank goodness!! Shasta on the other hand chewed up the letter with my internet banking form inside, so we had to ask for another one! The dogs are loving the snow, I wonder what Leaf thought, because for her and Shasta it will be a first. Shasta loved it of course, and they all went for a lovely walk in the woods with Ben.

Holly took Orion down to the field, and he looked wonderful in the snow, and Dabinet – goshawk is going really well, although his tail is not wonderful. But we want to get him flying free before imping him. Now we need to get Cool Ground going in the snow and he will look great!! Pleiades is going well, she had a swollen foot, but Neil has sorted it out and said it is not anything to worry about now the histology report has come back.

It’s supposed to be cold tomorrow and Sunday so the snow will stay, but the roads will slowly get cleared I guess. Holly flies out to the US for the incubation course on Tuesday, so we are hoping that flights are not cancelled and she can go with no problems. I would rather the snow came now, than once we are open again!
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
One of the large UK zoos is doing an animal training workshop in May and is asking for speakers to give presentations. Some of it might be interesting and I considered sending one of my staff, and asked them if speakers could send someone for free. Not only was the answer no, but unless you are a Key Note speaker, I have heard of neither of the ones they have listed, you have to pay. So they want speakers and the speakers have to pay for the privilege of handing out their expertise - for free – bloody ridiculous I reckon!!!

Heard of a Hedgehog - here are Hedgedogs!
Art has gone over to Jenny’s for livery, so that he gets some work and remembers what it is like to be with other horses again, I am told he has not put a foot wrong! He seems to be settling so far. Adam Bloch, David and Sally and Mark had been to a meeting at the Hawk Conservancy, I should have gone, but can’t travel at the moment. I encouraged Ashley to go charitable about 10 years ago, and so he now has 10 years of experience that he very generously has offered to us for our working for charitable status.

It is not the easiest thing to do, but something that I need to get done to make sure that the Centre has a long term future and going charitable will secure a safe future for it.

Holly with the assistance of Ben and various family and friends has gone much of her flat decorated and looking nice. Next is the kitchen and the halls, then we start on the other flat which is rather more work. Holly’s is looking very nice, clean bright with new lighting and paintwork and blinds, both she and I are very pleased with how it has come up.

The car park drainage is almost done, the front bit by the shop is and now hopefully it will take the water down to the road, which then at the end of the road will end up in my pond anyway, so I get the water, but not where I don’t want it! To think that in February last year people were concerned about water levels and there being hosepipe bans and so on. Now it’s the opposite – still concerned about water levels but not too low – too high! At the same time we put down 29 tons of type 1 gravel in the car part entrance, which now looks soooooooooo much better.

Aviary cleaning and getting ready for the breeding season is coming on apace thanks to John and his sturdy team of volunteers. He is also kindly going to stay in the house with the dogs when I have to go to Edinburgh at the end of the month to give a lecture at the University. I get the chance to see my sister and stay a couple of days, and he gets the chance to be sat on by Shasta!

We have not heard from Richard and Janet so are assuming that Leaf is well, behaving and enjoying life there. Its amazing how much we all miss her, but its also amazing how much better behaved all the other dogs are. Shasta and Sorrel are playing together nicely now and Sedge is much happier now he is the only small dog again, his nose was most definitely put out of joint and he never would play with her.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The ruins on the right hand side of the drive going up to Duncombe
Finally I have started on the website for Duncombe and gone back to writing the next book on husbandry and training of birds of prey. It has taken me a while and one of the problems is that I try to keep up with emails, and I never seem to catch up. So I have said Sod It, and started anyway. I find that once I start writing I can usually keep going, but it’s the starting that is the tricky bit.

John and Mark liked the title of this book - working eh!!
Holly and Ben have been painting in the flats. We are going to have to completely redo the bathroom, but Simon’s old flat apart from some somewhat dark paint is not too bad. It is now white and looking much more cheerful. There is a long way to go, but it’s a good start. Adam’s will be needing rather more work as I have to try and get all the paint off the woodwork, which will be fun I don’t think, and we had to rip out the kitchen!

Mark and John did a film job on Sunday, in Tesco’s at Wembley. I am looking forward to seeing it on the TV. Needless to say when they text-ed us to say that they were on the say, they did not tell us how it went!!! However they phoned again and it went well! So another one under the belt done and dusted as it were. And useful at this time of the year.

The weather has been dry for several days now, wonders will never cease!! It makes such a difference. However Dave who wants to come and collect his logs that have been sitting at the bottom of the field since January has not got a hope in hell until the ground is a great deal better than it is now, and it is going to take weeks of dry weather before it is drive-able on I suspect.

I took the remainder of the Christmas decorations down. You have to do it on January 6th or it is unlucky, but I did not get much chance to enjoy them as I rarely get them up until close to Christmas Eve. So everything is now packed away for another year. Linda did the bulk of it for me on Friday, but we left enough up so that it did not count!!

Leaf is doing well with Richard, she seems to have settled and is playing with all the house dogs, we have to hope she will behave when he is away.

Interestingly it takes half as long to get through to anyone at Gloucester Royal as it does to get a bedpan!! And apparently you have to pay for your X-rays to get them, although a physiotherapist can’t treat you unless you have them. I think that might be construed as blackmail!!
We have taken nearly all the stuff that needs to come out of the flats, so the dog can see the rabbit as it were. The dump will have some, the bonfire some and the scrap man some. All will be gone by the end of the week I hope. They are going to look fine once they are redecorated and cleaned properly, they just need some serious TLC right now.   

And Mike has nearly done the new drainage in the car park so we hopefully will not get a flood down the back steps and across the front of the shop, should be great if it works!! We are also putting down new gravel in the car park entrance, so if you drive in in the next couple of weeks, come in and out slowly and drive a different route each time and you will roll it for us!!


I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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