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About the lodgers

Two years ago, we got a new, state-subsidised composter. It was much larger than our previous one and seemed to fill up surprisingly quickly. However, in reality the composter was counter-intuitively roomier. Five minutes bashing with a spade can work wonders.

Last year, a rodent saw things from a different perspective. She thought it looked very roomy indeed, and the en-suite facilities were excellent. That’s how we gained our compost mouse. And subsequent micelings. This caused problems with spade bashing campaigns. My wife was in favour but our daughter against. Of course, the wishes of my wife have priority, so I handed her the spade and hid in the shed. Both mouse and daughter were satisfied with the results. I eventually risked breaking cover as tea-time approached, and survived.

Some problems can’t be resolved by hiding in the shed, especially since the door fell off. Obviously, I tried reattaching it and predictably failed. Still, if you position it at a sufficiently jaunty angle and look upon the result as a lean-to door, then it still appears to perform some kind of function.

It might be thought that a lean-to door is an invitation to burglars and there’s certainly an element of risk. The door’s heavy and the law of gravity strict. Breaking in could be painful. Besides, any self-respecting burglar would miss the element of challenge, and much prefer clambering in through the substitute-glassless window.

That was my theory but nothing on Earth runs exactly as expected. It was the Guinea girls who prompted the discovery that our shed had been violated. As is known, left to their own devices, Guinea girls (and boys) are at home in the Andes of Guinea. Consequently, our two are happy to spend winter at altitude in the attic.

However, my wife’s a strong believer in fresh air and exercise. Knowing the children are getting plenty of both also means it’s quieter in the house. The Guinea girls are rarely noisy but, as April progressed, my wife decided they’d enjoy the garden. This meant someone had to retrieve their run from the shed. My thoughts on the inherent dangers of lean-to doors proved more secure than the heavy object which hit my head.

No matter. At least, my wife said it was unimportant when I asked what she was laughing at. Having disarmed the door and various other hostile forces in the shed (aggressive pots, rebellious bikes and vindictive tools and poles), I was surprised to discover the far end of the Guinea girls’ eight foot long run was already occupied. An itinerant bird had decided to build her new apartment on top of it.

Seeing my wife was standing threateningly close to a garden fork full of fearful prongs, Mrs Bird had obviously made a mistake. As much as I may oooh and aaah at the sight of fluffy hatchlings, I’m not prepared to scream aghrrrr! for the privilege. I’m sorry, but an eviction was unavoidable. Thankfully, the single parent-to-be wasn’t at home.

I grabbed hold of the run and began pulling, lifting, shoving and struggling. It wasn’t heavy, but the bicycles and bits and pieces which were partially entangled were. The whole thing tilted and the nest began tumbling in my direction. Startled to see two small, blue eggs roll accusingly down the chicken wire in my direction, I began whimpering and called for comfort.

Surprised and curious, my wife looked in to see what was up. “Oh,” she said as I pointed to the eggs. “Hmmm, I’m sure they’ll be OK, perhaps.” She sounded unconvinced and wandered off. Psychologically challenged, I followed her example and went further, to the cellar, to seek an infusion of nicotine.

I returned to find my wife wearing rubber gloves, which don’t generally form part of her attire. She’d relocated the nest into the basket of a bike, and had put the eggs back in. “There’ll be no scent and the bird might not notice,” she offered as an explanation for the gloves. With lip aquiver, I resumed my wrestling match with the run.

The Guinea girls didn’t seem impressed with their open air accommodation. They snuffled around suspiciously at the strangely rooted green stuff on the floor, and then retreated to their little house to relax. This seemed like good advice so I did the same. Different house.

A couple of weeks later, I was informed of my need for a bicycle pump. Apparently, I wanted to attend to our son’s flat tyres. I went to the white cupboard but that pump had disappeared. As my wife had gone out I couldn’t ask for instructions. It occurred to me that such implements can sometimes be found hanging out with bikes and, with the shed now accessible again, that seemed like a good place to look.

Against expectations I found one quite quickly. I happened to glance up and saw a bird busily warming a nest in a basket. She was a couple of feet away and looked furious at the intrusion. She shifted her body subtly around and threw daggers at me with her eyes. Severely chastened, I bowed apologetically, briefly explained about the pump and withdrew. The bird continued to vary her position as her severe stares escorted me to the door.

I mentioned this to my wife. “But of course,” she said. “I was wearing gloves.”

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