Friday, 26 June 2009

On camels and poo

Lunch. Last mouthfuls being eaten. Car door slams shut. 'Oh who is that for Heaven's sake' we think to ourselves, seeing our after lunch half hour siesta disappear down the shute. It's Sara. But hooray! In the back of her car she has managed to jam in five black plastic rubbish bins and they are full of camel poo. NOT donkey poo, as has been already spoken about here, but nicely rotted down doings from her camels.

Wow, but wasn't Lester pleased, even though he was busy chewing the last mouthful of his lunch as he surveyed the aromatic bins. "Round the back" he said, and off they went to put their precious cargo on top of the severely depleted pile of donkey manure.

UG to the rescue. (A reminder that as helper to the Head Gardener known as HG, aka Lester, aka Hubs, I am sometimes designated with the title Under Gardener, aka UG) Into the motorhome I got, down the road I went, and an afternoon of camel poo shifting then transpired.

Thought you might like to see Sara's pad. The huge tree is a mulberry tree under which everyone sits and eats the mulberries as they fall onto the table. They are delish.

Oh now here is the white camel, busy chewing on a piece of grass. This is the one who has rickets, but is doing a whole lot better since it came to the farm.

And just to prove what a busy UG I have been today, here is the evidence of the new contribution to the poo-pile.

Things I have learnt today: That when a camel looks like it is going to charge you as you are carrying a bin full of its poo from its bed in the camel barn, across the camel paddock, under the electrically wired fence and then to the white van, that is really only trying to tease you into walking fast.

Best to walk slowly, as then the camel thinks that you are not fussed about playing with her. If you show any willingness to walk faster, then she thinks that yes, you do want to play and may then make a little charge at you.

Since camels are quite big, and we are quite small in comparison, this can make the whole experience of shifting the poo rather intimidating, especially because I had to make eleven trips across the enclosure for one van load of manure. We filled the van five times. 5 x 11 = 55. Fifty five trips through the paddock.

Not to worry though. Once you have bobbed under the electic fence then you are safe. Not that you are unsafe when you are with them but they look a tad on the big side when one is up close.

If the camel is bored it will hold herself aloof, and turn its head away. If she is willing to have a play, then she will look you straight in the eye and dare you to walk faster. She might even gang up with her mates along the fence so you have to either go round them all, or push through the middle of them, saying in a sing song voice "Coming through", meanwhile keeping a nice even rhythm to your stride. I erred on the sensible. I went round the long way.

I learnt that the electic fence doesn't actually pack too much of a wallop, but it is best to be careful especially if one is stroking the nose of a camel at the time. Only if one's elbow accidently touches the electric cable and that elbow is the same one which has the hand attached to it which is the same hand as is stroking the nose of the camel then the electrical charge will zoom up one's arm, through one's hand, and on into one's fingers. Unfortunately, when it has reached your outer limits it does not stop, but carries on. Right on into the nose of camel which one's fingers were gently caressing seconds before.

Not to worry though. The camel will only toss its head into the air with alarm, and will possibly do a couple of bucks and kicks in dislike of the transfer of the electrical shock into its body via its nose, but as long as one is one side of the fence and the camel is the other side of the fence then all will be well. The camel will soon forgive you. In time. Best to go have a glass of wine and wait a while though before going to get another load of manure from its house.

That it makes for a fun afternoon digging the poo with the camels keeping an interested eye on you just in case they can do a bit of mischief, and that the young man who was my assistant for the poo-dig was equally fun company and gave me a few hours of stimulating conversation ranging from space tourism (he was going to start saving up to buy a ticket for a trip into space) to Ibiza (he wanted to see the 'pretty ladies'), to driving with gears (they only do automatics in Canada, which is where he comes from), to 'how does it feel to have Chinese ancestry' (his parents are Chinese), to physics and the energy of life and the Open University learning I have done (wow, I could remember quite a lot of physics from my physics course sufficient to engage in quite an enjoyable discussion with him), to keeping chickens (we still don't), to keeping positive as best one can during the helter skelter ride that is one's life.

I felt I was making an difference to his outlook on life. And that, at the age of sixty plus, makes all the years I have travelled worthwhile.

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