Monday, May 10, 2010

Pesky peacocks

Our nearest neighbours are lovely people with a larger place than ours and a menagerie of their own. Parts of their farm have very high fences and a  fox proof electric-fenced enclosure they call "the sanctuary" so their numerous tame animals stay on their place. Well mostly. Sometimes sheep explore out on the road, the last time was a ewe and lamb just moseying along the verge. At one stage their Saanen goat went for a wander, as goats will, and the odd dog gets out. A couple of times cows have jumped the fence into our place, and numerous times onto the road. I've been coming home from work several evenings to find bovine road blocks just standing, thinking, quite unperturbed by large metal objects on wheels hurtling towards them. There's one of their cows in another neighbour's place just now.

So all right, the neighbours' animals don't always stay in their place. Most of them go back where they belong without too much protest however, and rarely do we get repeat performances from the same animal. Except for the peacocks.

Along with the more traditional feathered farm species the neighbours also keep peacocks. Except that when a peacock perches on a high electric fence the current isn't grounded by its feet like other animals, so it's a painlessly short leap to the other side. This way they feel no shock, and no prick of conscience either. The world is their oyster. And feed bowl. So the neighbours don't really keep them as such, just feed them occasionally when the peacocks drop home to say Hi, pick up their laundry and raid the fridge. Other than that they're always out. Party peacocks.

The peacocks just have a different map in their head of their territory which doesn't end at the boundary fence and our place is a favoured part of that map. Rapid natural selection by foxes (they selected the slow ones) has meant that there are now only two of the original four left but this may be a good thing. Those two get about. They're a bit more street wise too, roosting high in our gum trees out of the reach of marauders.

You may think it's lovely to see the splendid plumage in the roses, to see the dappled light on the metallic green, to catch a glimpse of the irridescent blue in the shrubbery and you'd be right. They are lovely, walking with a dignified strut up the driveway, laying in the sun glistening bronze, perching on the henhouse and harrassing the chickens.

They are quite beautiful whilst they madly attack their reflection in living room windows for hours on end, pecking violently at the glass and slashing the flyscreens with their claws. They are enchanting as they eat every baby lettuce seedling we plant and any strawberries the lizards missed. They are charming whilst they strip the peach tree sapling of all its leaves and eat all the cherry tomatoes. They are utterly delightful draped over the veranda railing, leaving rather large, squishy calling cards on all our main walkways. We just adore them. Really.