Sunday, September 26, 2010

Perimeter Walk

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Early this Sunday morning I set out with Munson and Smeggs to walk the perimeter of the farm. I wasn’t actually sure of the exact boundary, but I figured that following a few boundary fences and hedges would allow us to take in most of the 69 hectares of pasture, cornfield and vineyard around us.

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I’ve kept Munson on leash for this as he has less country common sense than Smeggs, and I still have visions of him chasing down one of the local adders as he plunges into a pile of logs or blackberry thicket. Possibly worse is that he should find one of the other small lakes and immerse himself in brackish gunk.

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Along the way we encounter a pair of hunters and their dogs. I engaged the elder of the two –father of the other – and identify myself as one of the new residents of the farm. I’m reminded that I need to get a bright orange collar to make Munson more visible and a less likely accidental target.

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Munson’s backyard size jumped from about 50 square metres in Sydney to more than 10 times that in our Comminges yard, and now 200 times as big again with the farm. One of the main reasons for the walk is to satisfy some of his curiosity about what might lie more than 5 minutes from the central farmhouse so that he is less likely to wander. About six years ago I took Bondi and Dougal to stay on a friend’s property in Kangaroo Valley in Australia. On the first day they sniffed out the boundary fences, and thereafter hung around the verandah or sneaked inside to curl up on someone’s bed.

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Munson needs to transition from city dog with regular daily walks and play companions to beast of the countryside with more open space and unstructured time, albeit with Smeggs, Tosca and the kids around to entertain him. For the near term, I’m keeping him inside at  night, so he’s less tempted to chase loires further afield from the house.

Loires are the local “fat” dormice, certainly much louder and more active than the Dormouse that sat around the Mad Hatter’s tea service. Back in the Comminges they lived in the interstices of the building and could be heard every night scratching and screaming in the walls, ceiling and chimney spaces. Late at night I would be sitting at the computer while things fell off the walls or bits of ceiling detritus dropped around the table, disturbed by rodent histrionics.

There’s a wood pile not far from the house which I believe houses a number of loires. Each day Smeggs and Munson leap and paw at logs and holes trying to uncover one of them.

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The central part of the day is taken up by more work on the main house. Mark, our handyman is due to return tomorrow to finish running a water supply to my quarters. Brent and I have been given instructions to hang some piping across the ceiling of the cellar at the back of the house. Brent’s also managed to install a toilet upstairs, which is one huge improvement for me, although with 3 locked doors and a few dozen steps between me and it, it will still be a carefully planned manoeuvre to reach it during the night.

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The day concludes with kitchen demolition and cleaning. The old galley kitchen needs its ratpoop-lined cupboards removed as well as various wall-mounted gas and vent fixtures. After that, hours of scrubbing of sink, wall tiles, cupboard doors and floor to obliterate decades of oily residue. At the end of that we have something that actually resembles a kitchen.

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After so much fun with exploration, and the feeling of achievement in the house, I’m rather pissed to discover that my Panasonic camera has decided that both my batteries are fakes and now throws up an error message “This battery cannot be used” and turns itself off. I think I’ve pretty much had it with their camera products. This does mean that I don’t have a decent camera for the foreseeable future so will be falling back to using my reserve point and shoot.

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