Shave and a Haircut: Compulsory

I feel like a right rotten sod for mentally moving on so quickly from my hen massacre. The king is dead, long live the king… and I’ve been thinking about what type of hens to buy next. Not even the sight of the kill-site feathers slowed me down, although I did feel strangely macabre yesterday, eating eggs from dead poultry. Mrs Brahma came out for a dust-bath today, attended by her paramour.

He didn’t look overly taken with the way things had worked out, to be honest. He spotted a alpha-male vacancy and made the move from next door in order to squire a harem of seven; he’s now stuck in a pen that he can’t get out of, with the one fatty of the bunch. (Lest you think me excessively pejorative, let me assure you that I am comparatively much rounder than Mrs B. I throw stones out of my glass house all the time.) Mrs Brahma was definitely Number One Wife to the recently deceased cockerel Colonel Mustard – her admonitory clucking when he paraded up and down for a new hen was hilarious – and she is obviously faithful to his memory. She is ignoring the new boy completely. The atmos seems frosty, and I think some new personnel are required.

I seem to function at Emotional DEFCON 1 when I’m tired, and I’ve been pretty short on sleep lately. So, no surprise that Harry is reducing me to tears today; the poor lad is still miserable, impossible to please, and difficult to console. His fever has subsided, but his rash is getting worse and is tormenting him horribly. We saw our GP yesterday, who shook her head sympathetically and said we could do nothing to help him apart from keep his skin cool. Sigh. His fine-motor skills do not yet permit focused, directional scratching, but he is flailing, clawing and wriggling furiously and by lunchtime today it had all descended into huge, roaring howls. I have to confess that continual screaming from my child sends me utterly demented. I get so frustrated by his seemingly groundless bellows that I bung him down somewhere, have a quick brew and attempt to calm down. I knew the cause of his wails today all right, and I sympathised completely. Yet I was powerless to alleviate his wretchedness, unable to put a brake on his crying and more frustrated than ever. The combination of his piercing shrieks and my frantic desperation led to a case of If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them, and hairy hubby arrived home for lunch to find two loudly sobbing, sad people and a fair sized puddle.

I’ve spent midnight until 1am trying hard to soothe a thrashing, arching, kicking, anguished baby. He’s spat out antibiotics, calpol and infant nurofen in lurid banana and strawberry flavoured streams. Nipples are greedily gobbled one moment, shoved huffily away the next. He is drumming his sturdy little legs on the mattress in distress, and I can do nothing. Presently he dozes, but I feel the respite will be brief.

I hate this virus. It has assaulted and occupied my baby. If I could personify it and spend five minutes alone with it, it would have no need of an ambulance. John makes no secret of the fact that he thinks I’m puny, despite weighing about the same as the average prop forward, yet he still marvels over the fact that I once heaved a ridiculously heavy trestle-table up our stairs single-handed. I have explained to him more than once that I’m Hulk-like when I’m cross; the table had evidently (although time clouds the exact reason) monstrously pissed me off somehow.

I am circumspect enough to pick my battles though; I never see John shear our rams without making a mental note never to pick a physical fight with him without first having to hand a frying pan with a solid base. Harry consented to sit quietly in his dinky pushchair and watch Daddy wrestle a handful of sheep and the five rams this afternoon.

The boys weigh upwards of 18 stone apiece and are always keen to avoid the clippers;

although if I had woolly bollocks and some random bloke pounced on me and started to wield whizzing blades around my nether regions, I’d probably exert myself a bit as well.

To John’s credit, it has only once descended into a mêlée to my knowledge, in 2003 – and he will be downright miffed that I mention his one failure. FIL and I had parked bums and were chatting away – exhausted from a long afternoon of fleece-rolling I expect – while John worked busily away on the largest ram. On this occasion, the ram caught him napping with a well-timed squirm and promptly pelted off across the field with a half-cut fleece wafting elegantly behind him like a bride who had altogether changed her mind. There was language; and this is why they are now brought back to the yard for their hair appointment and pedicure.

Five down, several hundred to go!

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