Crafty cows and wascally wabbits

Posted January 5th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Happy New Year! Ours was its usual quiet affair, with everyone staying up as long as they could on New Year's Eve but still managing to fall fast asleep by 11.30pm regardless. Noel added up his final tally of homegrown fruit and veges for the year and the grand total came to a whopping 222.5kg! Mind you, there would have undoubtedly been a few more kilos to add to the total, were we not currently experiencing an invasion of sneaky garden thieves. A baby rabbit has made himself a home in the corner of the shed right next to Noel and Ali's garden. While he's delightfully cute and it's lovely to have him around, he is starting to take advantage of our hospitality by helping himself to Noel's broccoli seedlings!

It's the pesky birds who are causing the most havoc though. First to be hit were the strawberries. Next was Ali's first ever crop of tomatoes, just turning ripe and ready for picking. They pinched the whole lot! Most annoying of all however was when Noel had just given his garden an overhaul. He had spent ages tidying everything up, making little pathways for easy access and applying a liberal amount of horse manure. It looked great! Unfortunately, all the horse poo attracted an awful lot of insects, which in turn attracted the birds. They had a field day scratching around in the garden catching all the bugs and by the time Noel discovered them the next day, they had pulled out every one of his sweetcorn, watermelon, pumpkin and yet more broccoli seedlings. Talk about soul destroying after all that effort!

Even my mum is having problems with vege thieves. Noel built her an awesome raised vege garden for her birthday. It's a huge construction with the main growing areas at the top, then several smaller compartments underneath for growing seedlings. It looks brilliant and everyone always comments on it. Noel filled the beds with a mixture of soil and mushroom compost and Mum's veges have been taking off like rockets, much to her delight. Unfortunately the neighbouring cows have also been stopping by to admire it and despite Noel's best efforts to animal-proof it, those crafty bovines have found a way to snaffle Mum's seedlings. Poor Mum is powerless as she watches them all line up along the fence, politely taking it in turns to pull out her beetroot!

We have almost completed our first week of No Screens Month and it's not going too badly at all! The first day took a little getting used to but I have to admit I relished not so much as turning my computer on all weekend. Ali doesn't seem to give a hoot about not being able to watch TV or play video games. As far as he's concerned it's a good excuse for him to spend even more time outside! When he's not practising his cricket, he's pottering around on Liam's motorbike, making little circuits for himself.

Liam on the other hand has been acting as though he's lost an arm. Funnily enough it's not the lack of video games or computer that he has been finding hard; he hasn't really worried about that at all. It's not being able to watch TV that he has been really struggling with. So we have amended the No Screens rule so that he can watch the cricket on TV, but that's all. It's something we like to watch as a family and as keen cricketers the boys learn a lot from watching their heroes, but all other programmes are prohibited. Still, Liam seems more than happy with the deal so it just goes to show how little all the other rubbish on TV really means to him!

On the whole I think everyone is really enjoying No Screens Month. We seem to achieve so much more in a day, are more organised and are enjoying finding new ways to pass the time. I can't remember the last time I read so much! I've tried reading 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' by Barbara Kingsolver three or four times now but have always given up as I've found it too hard going. This time however I'm determined to finish it! Surely it will get easier... I hope.

The boys really look forward to our nightly family board games after dinner. We've had some hilarious games of Scrabble but it seems we are going to have to invest in a dictionary as things are getting a little too competitive! The boys are getting fed up with their dad and me coming up with such obscure and random words in our efforts to beat one another and are threatening to boycott Scrabble in favour of Monopoly. Still, no matter who wins, it's a great way for them to boost their vocabulary!

Today is an absolutely beautiful day, far too nice to be stuck inside so the BBQ table has become my 'desk' and I'm working outside in the sunshine. Minnie thinks it's great as she can fit on the seat next to me! Noel and Liam are having a father and son day of good, honest backyard labour, chopping down trees, mowing lawns and other blokey stuff. When they've finished their toil for the day, the pair of them are planning to cycle into town for a well-earned swim. Mind you, by the time they cycle 10km home again in the heat, they'll probably be ready for another one!

As for Ali – well, goodness knows what he's doing right now. Yesterday he was cleaning up lemur poo! He's doing a three-day zookeeper course at the local zoo. It's meant for older children up to 17 years old but thanks to his maturity and previous zoo experience he was allowed to participate. Yesterday we was studying primates and herd animals and today is carnivores and birds. Who knows what tomorrow will bring! It's a full-on day from 9.00 – 4.30 and he's exhausted at the end of the day but he's absolutely loving it. Best of all, he's been accepted as a zoo volunteer so once he's completed the course, he can go and help out as often as he likes!

Just wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has emailed me over the last month or so. I'm really sorry that I haven't been able to reply, I've been having dreadful computer and Internet problems for some time now and we are waiting to get the darn thing replaced. Please be aware I haven't forgotten you! I love hearing from everyone and will reply just as soon as I can!

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