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Saturday, 6 February 2021

New Fangled Gadgets



For some, Sunday mornings are relaxing, sadly not here. It’s that time when I reluctantly drag out the duster and other cleaning kit to do battle with the upstairs housework. Jack, my husband, has his routine which involves maintenance on our battalion of ageing machines.

Last weekend our state of domesticity didn’t last long. Aby and Max, our Australian Shepherd dogs, signalled that something was amiss in that unique way of theirs. Chairs and cats went flying as Aby howled like a demented wolverine and Max hurled himself at the door. You’d never think they were a couple of softies.

Something was amiss.

I opened the door to the sound of baying dogs, tooting horns, and shouts. It’s an unmistakable clamour. The local chasse (hunt) had arrived.

Jack, who had already reached the hunters, charged across the drive towards me. He was followed by an anxious-looking Jerome Bernaut, president of the commune hunting association. Jack was cross.

“Bloody hell, they’ve lost their dogs in the forest again. He says a boar has charged through part of the fence and they’re after it.”

“Oh dear, how many?”

“God knows, they certainly don’t. About five, they reckon, and they’re casting around the enclosed area.”

This didn’t bode well. About 300 acres of our land is enclosed by a two-metre high netting fence with supporting electric cabling.

Wild animals are free to come and go via the stream beds running through but may panic when pursued. For that reason, hunting is not permitting. Instead, we have designated the area as a nature sanctuary.

“Do you need me to do anything?”

“No, you’ll have to stay here in case any of them turn up. I’ll go in and get them with Jerome before they cause any damage.”


Jack took two orange-clad hunters to our 4x4 truck, and they trundled into the forest. Frustrated, but with nothing further for me to do, I rounded up Aby and Max and returned to the dreaded dusting.

Fairly soon after, the dogs started sounding the alarm. Once again, we were surrounded by the sounds of chaos. Much to their chagrin, I left Aby and Max in the house and went to have a look. This time, several hunters had assembled near the forest gate. 


Oddly, Jerome, an amiable chap, was with them, which suggested he had been jettisoned by Jack somewhere along the way. I asked what was going on.

“We found three dogs,” he said, pointing at a car full of hounds, “so Jack has gone back to fix the hole in your fence.”

“Well done, but what about the other two?”

“That’s no problem, I have a GPS (global positioning system) thing on the collar of mine, look.”

Jerome proudly held up his tracking unit, which looked like a walkie talkie. It’s so unlike our local hunters to have new-fangled equipment. It was clear I was expected to comment.

“Gosh, this is an impressive piece of equipment, Jerome, is it new?”

“Yes, it’s very helpful. My dog has a sensor on his collar, and I receive a signal to show me where he is.”

“Excellent.”

“Well, it would be if it worked,” he said, tapping the dial.

“Um, if it’s faulty perhaps you could shout for the dog instead? We need to get them out of the forest as soon as possible.”

“No problem, I’ll soon have this working.”

Jerome started thwacking it on his knee.

“Batteries?” piped up, Bernard, one of his fellow huntsmen.

“No, don’t think so. I only replaced them two days ago.”

He squinted at the little screen. Sadly the whack hadn’t worked. Frustrated, he gave me a half-smile.

“Okay, this usually helps,” he said.

Turning to his truck, Jerome and gave it a bash on the bonnet. He peered again, as did I and his mate. It was pretty clear to us all what had happened. Jerome had killed his GPS machine.

Woof!

Fortunately for his diminishing male pride, we turned to find his lost dog panting happily at the gate.

I opened it, and he padded up to his master. While Jerome was apparently technically challenged when it came to handling his GPS, he knows how to look after his animals. They are a lean and undeniably smelly lot, but well fed. And they dote on him.

After checking his youngster over for signs of injury, Jerome led him to the truck flatbed. I had already been having a chat with his other hounds, who were stashed away in multiple cages.



“They all look full to me, Jerome, which one does he fit in?”

“He must go in this cage on the right. They others will fight with him.”

“I see. The ones on the left are beauties, what breed are they?”

Jerome paused for thought.

“Good question. A mixture, but they’re first-rate.”

A small cage was above theirs. It contained one little dog.

“And what about this cute lad?”

“Ah, that one. This is a Jagdterrier, Beni, he’s one of my favourites.”

With that, Jerome gathered up his floppy-eared sweetie and bundled him into the correct compartment. Aside from a few introductory growls, they settled down nicely.

Meanwhile, Bernard (equally orange) was tapping a similar device. It seems he’d been given a GPS set for Christmas too.

“At last! I can see where Spiro is.”

“Is he close?” asked Jerome.

“He has just come into range, so he is a kilometre away, ooh, now 900 metres and closing. Oooh, 870 metres now.”

Bernard was thoroughly enjoying his latest pressie, which was lovely, but time was getting on, and we needed to get wailing Spiro out.

“Great,” I said, so he’s coming towards us. “Any idea of direction?”

Bernard, frowning, carefully rotated his machine.  

“That way,” he said, pointing vaguely toward the forest.

“It’s a big place, Bernard,” I said, “you’ll have to be a bit more precise than that.”

“Yes, um, he’s about 800 metres south, south-west of us. Don’t worry, I’ll find him.”

“You have three tracks just inside the forest to choose from.”

“The centre one will do. I’ll have him back here very quickly.”

Bernard opened the gate. Still glued to his screen, he strode purposefully down the track. There was absolutely no doubt about it, his hound’s excited yips were coming from a completely different direction. At this rate, we’d be here all day.

“I tell you what, Jerome, why don’t I get my quad bike and we’ll take the trail on the right-hand side? That way, if Spiro changes direction, we might see him.”

A nod of agreement was all I needed. I got my bike, bundled a rather cumbersome Jerome on the back, and we set off into the forest. 


Finding Spiro took far less time than I anticipated. We had been driving for no longer than ten minutes when Jack appeared in the distance with a hunting dog tethered in the back of his truck. He was still looking grumpy.

“Is this the last one, Jerome, or are we going to be at this for another couple of hours?”

“Yes, it’s Spiro alright, you did well to catch him.”

This was a good point. Frustratingly, in our experience hunting dogs on the loose are famously tricky to catch up. They have no interest in stopping what they’re doing, least of all when it involves being stuck on the end of a lead.

“It wasn’t difficult. He was standing bawling at the fence for no particular reason, so I just looped the leash around him.”

Jerome wagged his head in a Yoda-like manner. Jack had evidently said something of great significance.

“This can only mean that the boar they chased in has gone out again at that point. You will have no more problems from our hounds today.”

In such a large area with a multitude of different boar track scents, the likelihood of the hound following exactly the same boar was smaller than minuscule. I stared pleadingly at Jack to restrain himself from pointing out the blindingly obvious. It would only start an endless hunting debate. Fortunately, his reply was brief.

“There was no hole in the fence where I found him, Jerome.”

We returned to the cars and a new problem. All dogs were now accounted for, but we were now a hunter down. Bernard was still roaming around in the forest looking for his dog. Luckily, the only hazard he was likely to present was in terrifying a passing animal with his orangeness. Nevertheless, I suggested that we go and collect him.

“Oh, there’s no need to do that,” smiled Jerome, “he’ll see from his GPS screen that Spiro is back.”

“Not necessarily, Jerome, there are several areas in the forest where the signal cuts out because of tree density.”

“Never mind, I’ll ring him on his mobile phone.”

Jack gave a great sigh.

“Same applies, I’m afraid, Jerome. Come on; we’d better go back down and find him before it gets dark.”

Off they went, it was a while before they returned. Bernard was full of apologies and deeply disappointed with his intermittently working new toy.

“New batteries needed?” winked Jerome.

Noisy and full of apologies, as usual, they departed in an explosion of barks, promising not to bother us ever, ever again.  

I looked at my watch and shrugged, it was nearly lunchtime, and I needed to prepare a meal. No wonder I don’t get much housework done. At least the tranquillity of our forest had been restored.

As I returned to the house I couldn’t help wondering whether there was any risk of our local hunters getting the hang of their new gadgets. I rather doubted it.



 


18 comments:

  1. Love the Blog. In your books you mention your fencing and the hounds. In your blog you have the electric fence do the hunters have to compensate you for breaking through the fencing or is it just seen as one of those things living in the countryside.
    Sorry if it's a daft question 😊

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    1. Thanks so much for reading the blog, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Not daft at all, your question is excellent. I tell the story about us fixing the electric fence in Fat Dogs Part 5. For us, living with the hunting community is just a feature of living in a rural area. We have fewer of these instances since putting up the fence, but it still occasionally happens when a boar, at full gallop, finds a weakness in the fence. We have never taken action against the hunters, who are actually often desperately disappointed at losing their quarry!

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  2. What a wonderful blog Beth, thank you.
    Poor Aby and Max not been allowed out, they just wanted to me friends, lol.
    It sure sounds like it was a bothersome time especially for poor Jack. I hope peace reigns this weekend for you.
    what wonderful photos. xx

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    1. Bless you, Lindylou, thanks so much. I know, poor Aby and Max get so frustrated, but we can't have them galloping around with hounds on the loose. It is frustrating, and happily doesn't happen too often now that we have the electric fence in place. This weekend was far more peaceful, thank you! :D xx

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  3. Quite the wild morning Beth ! It sounds as though the dogs aren’t trained any better than the hunters !

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    1. It was certainly pretty active, Sandy. The hounds will follow the scent, so if a boar charges in a different direction they will pursue it. Happily, this situation is less common now that we have the electric fence in place!

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  4. Goodness, Beth, you are incredibly patient with these hunters. I think I'd have been livid. Still, I'm glad all ended well and the dogs were unhurt. I'm also glad they lost the boar, but I probably shouldn't say that...haha :) At least it was a distraction from the dreaded housework!!

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    1. We go through a range of different emotions with them, Val. Actually, the very last thing they want is for a boar to enter our fenced area as that means (as you rightly point out) their hunt is over. It is horribly frustrating, but a feature of living here we have to put up with. Hah, at least it gave me an excuse to stow my little-used duster for another week! :D

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  5. HI Beth,
    Glad all ended well! It cracked me up when you said it was clear Jerome killed his GPS by whacking the bonnet with it! Glad none of the freely-roaming sanctuary animals were injured. It was touched Jerome's dogs adored him. Just want to add happy that Tripod seems to be doing better with his missing tusk!
    Thanks for sharing this experience with us!
    Amy

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    1. Thanks so much for all your kind comments, Amy. Bless him, Jerome is actually such a nice chap and it is obvious that his dogs adore him, which is a great sign. Actually, he and his friend are allowed to forage for mushrooms in the forest during the season and have a healthy respect for Tripod, although I do suspect they find our treatment of him rather quaint! :D And thank you, yes, I fed Tripod earlier this afternoon and he's looking stronger every day. xx

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  6. Love this. What would they do without their toys? Glad everyone was safe.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Oh, I know. One can't help thinking they'd be better off with a whistle each!

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  7. Oh Beth what an amusing blog. Lots of laughs and lots of info as usual. I am quite astonished that after all the hard work and expense you and Jack put yourselves through erecting those electric double fences that the Hunting dogs still managed to break through. I would be like Jack having a right old rant whilst you cheerfully and patiently deal with the Hunters and the GPS they can't fathom! It does come across as very funny but my patience would be sorely tried. Thankfully no animals Hounds or Wild Boars were harmed in overseeing the hound rescue! Bless you πŸ•πŸ—πŸ‘ŒπŸ€­πŸ˜˜ xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for reading it, Glynis. Happily, since we put the electric fence in place this doesn't happen very often. I imagine the boar would have penetrated the outer fence at full pelt and broken through at a weak point. If the animal is travelling fast enough it may not have felt the inner fence. It is horribly frustrating at the time, but we understand that it's a feature of living in a rural community. And, an animal-lover, there is a certain irony in that once the boar is on our property the hunt is over. No animals were injured, and the fleeing boar will have got away too. xxx

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  8. You had me giggling hysterically. I do K9 search and rescue and work with GPS all the time. I'll have to try slamming the device on the hood of my car the next time I can't get signal.

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    1. Ha ha ha, don't, Reyna! :D Ooh, how interesting, though, I would love to do that kind of work with our Aussies!

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  9. Having read your books, all this resonated with me. And the photos are great. At least the hunters appear to have 'accepted' you and Jack finally. I guess your lives will intertwine regularly. At least they love tveir dovs, if not the boars or ra bits or partridge! πŸ˜‚

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    1. Ah, yes, if you have read my books (and thank you for doing so) then you will know it is a familiar tale. There are still one or two hunters we struggle with, but they seem to struggle with other neighbours too. We respect that hunting is a way of life here so it is important that we all get on if possible. Hah! Yes, they do love their dogs, and their passion for hunting is only too evident!

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