This week brought the rain. It was inevitable, a good stretch of close, hazy summer days was bound to end with a bang. That bang began with the pitter-patter of raindrops on my tin roof as I sat by the stove updating my diary. A flash followed by a low rumble and the drumming began, I had felt rather cosy in my dry arboreal dwelling, the corrugated iron roof was holding up well to the downpour. Iron roof…big tree tall tree running through house…lightening! Shit!
Despite putting on the thickest rubber soled shoes I had on (reef shoes) and going to sit under the treehouse while the storm passed and count the seconds between flashing and rumbling, I was in the middle of a wood with plenty of other trees. Perhaps more desirable, isolated objects would be better targets?
The weather has become fickle, this means thinking ahead, plenty of pimps and faggots (yes, yes stop laughing, they are bundles of differently graded birch for burning) to stock up on, hammocks to be put away and more cooking inside. My food prep has become more sophisticated, less time spent rambling, hunting and fishing, things like bread, pickles and pesto (from nettles and an overabundance of rocket in the garden) have been top of the agenda.
(Collecting Faggots in the birch wood...)
Last week, I was thrilled to see “The Treehouse Diaries” In print for the first time! My column for Reader’s Digest has begun and will be running for the next 6 months- a slightly condensed account of how life is going down here.
This week I have been targeting the P’s, Pigeons and Perch. Perch have long been a favourite of mine, for both the table and their general appearance. They are the Jackals of the waterways, fierce little buggers with an appetite to match, when on the prowl in packs up go the spiky dorsal fins and woe betide and small fry in the viscinity. Their white, meaty flesh is fantastic and the best comparison would be bass. You would hard pressed to find them in a fishmongers…even Billingsgate, If you want to try it, you must get a fshing rod and some spinning gear. I did a post some time ago (see here) with a superb recipe for “filet du perche”, a Lake Geneva classic and exactly what happens to any I get my grubby little mitts on.
Pigeons have become my absolute nemesis down here. Their constant coo-ing and careless presence (whenever I am unarmed), has been getting to me. Pigeon is the tastiest of all wild meats and unfortunately, my skill with a gun does not match my abilities with a rod and line.
The Ojibwa birdpoles I made have still not bagged me a pigeon supper, and since the cows have moved into the field and knocked them over, I doubt they will in future. I needed to come up with a new way of trapping pigeons, hours of online searching and thumbing through piles of trapping books, led me to one conclusion: the gun is the most effective way…with decoys, which I don’t have!
Having found plenty of chicken/ garden wire on the fences at my mother’s house, used to stop her old cat Gizmo escaping, I went and ripped it down, determined to put it to good use. If my memory serves me correctly, I made a very cunning trap during my time shipwrecked in the Cook Islands- The Hawk Island No. 2 was not quite the Havahart No.9 but equally effective in the capture of chicken. If it can catch a chicken, it could, maybe, catch a pigeon…
This time, I had a lot more tools and fixings to put togther the same trap…and didn’t have to spend days building a cage with twigs and string (a relief to say the least…). Using a hammer and nails, some hazel and my staple gun from my set design days, I knocked together a new, updated version of the Hawk island No.2: The Treehouse No.1, I just hope it works as well!
The clever thing about this trap lies in its self-setting simplicity. The cage is held up by two notched sticks that rest on top of one another, around this is looped some fishing line that is attached to two stakes at the back end of the trap. Once baited, the greedy bird walks into the trap intent on a good feed, hits the fishing line which then pulls out the sticks and drops the cage…very clever!
Well that’s all for now, I have a few more to build and some serious baiting up to get on with. All this talk of pigeon is making me hungry…perhaps I will have a quick wander with the gun just in case.