Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hail as far as the eye can see

No, not as in Hail Caesar - we had a frighteningly severe hailstorm on Tuesday night. The hailstones were huge and quickly covered the ground. It looks like all our crops have been badly damaged (our crops are insured so it's not as bad as it sounds), my garden is devastated and it was just coming into flower. This is a big deal because the only flowers I get all year are in spring. But above all this I had pets out in the maelstrom.

As Graeme and I stood in the middle of the house, yelling at each other over the storm (we have a tin roof and the noise was unbelievable), Graeme worried about the windows breaking or parts of the roof lifting off. All I was really worried about were the animals I couldn't gather in my arms and bring inside for tender loving care. The chooks, galahs and pigeon were out there managing as best they could and I was inside frantic about them. As it turned out the chooks were smart enough to seek shelter in their little chook house - truth be told they were most likely already there, settled in for the night.

Tristan, my ginger cat, was outside when it hit but thankfully must have found shelter quickly. He came home a long time after it finished and was in a sorry state, soaking wet and covered in mud. He was frightened and spent Wednesday stuck to me like glue. He has wanted to sleep with us each night since, but with Graeme's wound so delicate after his hernia operation; I've had to close the bedroom door to keep him out. He spent part of the first night outside the door meowing pitifully and complaining about unfeeling family members who abandon a poor cat in his hour of need.

The Kelpies were beside themselves with fear during the storm but Billy remained as unflappable as ever and looked after them. The two quivering girls moved into the laundry with him and snuggled up as close as they could get to the huge mountain of calmness. He was so undisturbed by all the noise that they calmed down a bit. By that I mean they quivered less than before they joined Billy in the laundry. They were still basket cases mind you, just slightly calmer basked cases.

The birds in the aviary were a different matter entirely.

Hedwig and Hermes (the galahs) were my biggest worry. They have a protected area at the back of their aviary where they can seek shelter in the rain, wind or heat, but the front is all just chook wire - a lovely spot to sit on warm spring days. They sleep out there on a large branch every night regardless of the weather while Nova, the retired racing pigeon, sleeps in the protected part in the darkest corner. During the hail storm I got a torch and looked through the kitchen window to see how they were faring and then started to worry even more. Hermes was being the perfect, if somewhat stupid gentleman. He was literally standing on top of Hedwig with his wings partly spread out. He was protecting her from the hail assault, but he was taking the brunt of it himself. Hedwig looked less than impressed with his chivalry. I can imagine how I'd feel if Graeme stood on my head to protect me from something. I'd be looking around for something to protect me from Graeme's protection. Hedwig looked like she needed a new knight in shining armour to deal with the one she had on hand (or on head in this case). Thankfully he did seem to be a bit protected by the metal post that the branch is leaning up against.

Once the hail was over, and all possibilities of concussion with it, I grabbed an umbrella and went out to the aviary and moved Hedwig to the protected part of the cage. At first she didn't want to budge. She just wanted to tell me all her troubles from where she'd finally been set free from Hermes' protection. After a bit of a chat, in which my role was that of sympathetic listener, she consented to jump onto my hand and be moved to drier and safer territory. She was very upset and it took me a while with soft talking and lots of scratching under her wing (her favourite spot to be scratched) to calm her down. I eventually convinced Hermes to join her. He moved over to the protected area, mumbling under his breath about having the whole situation under control and there being no need for pushy busy bodies coming in after the emergency was over and taking charge.

Nova has more sense than the two of them and had taken refuge under shelter straight away. She usually flies away from me when I enter the aviary but tonight she was staying put come what may. I left the aviary and pulled the shade cloth cover I have for summer over the wire part of the cage in case Hermes moved himself out from undercover, which he did as soon as he could convince Hedwig to join him. I'm having serious thoughts about the intelligence level of some galahs.

The next morning both galahs were still asleep (out in the unprotected area of course). Whenever I checked on them during the day they were still asleep, in different spots around the aviary, but with their heads tucked under a wing snoozing the day away - they had a hard night.

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