Snapshot Saturday: Oooh, ducklings!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge invites us to share images of those things that distract us from the important business of Getting On With Daily Life.

This is an easy one.  Since about Easter, here in our village, the distraction has been ducklings.  Sweet little balls of fluff that appeared at Easter, rapidly matured towards lankier childhood then … oh!  …. vanished.  A jealous mallard?  A fox?  Who knows?  Another brood appeared soon after.  Here are two of them.

Ducklings on a sparkling pond.

This time, they’ve managed to grow up.  They sit around the pond in bored huddles in the manner of teenagers everywhere.  They’re still charming enough to be distracting when they put their minds to it though.

But those moorhens who moved in.  They’ve been nothing but a worry.  One day, a chick broke its foot, and distressed us all by somehow rolling and dragging itself forward across the grass as its mother looked on with apparent indifference.  Since that day, we’ve had occasional sightings of a lone parent, a lone chick.  But the family seems to have scattered.  This has been distracting too.  But not in a good way.

Is this the moorhen chick who broke its foot? We’ll never know.

‘Here we go making mulberry gin….’

My morning sortie to gather a bowlful of mulberries for breakfast (actually, forget the bowl.  Mulberries go directly to mouth) has suddenly got much harder.  Autumn’s in the air as I traipse across the dewy grass.  The mulberries are fewer.

The mulberry tree still bears fruit.

This isn’t just the fault of the weather.  We have some new residents in the garden.  A family of moorhens: mum, dad, and five chicks.  They like mulberries too.  The windfalls that used to be mine, all mine, are now theirs, all theirs.  But who could begrudge such charming tenants?

 

Anyway, I suddenly realised that if we were going to have our much talked-of mulberry gin in time for Christmas, we needed to act.  We had a houseful of helpers.  Not just Malcolm, but Emily and her boyfriend Miquel, over from Barcelona.

Out came the bowls.  Out came the small steps.  Out came the team.  We stripped the tree of any berries that were ripe enough to fall into our hands, as the moorhen chicks cheeped and protested from their lair in the flowerbed.

Emily concentrates on the task in hand.

The rest was easy.  Wash the berries.  Half fill an empty bottle with gin.  Poke berries into bottle.  Add sugar.  Argue about whether to follow the recipe that suggests adding a handful of roasted almonds or not.  Decide to leave almonds out today, but add them to the next batch.  Screw cap on bottle.  Shake.  Place in cupboard with note to self to shake bottle daily for a couple of weeks, then wait for months.  That’s it.  Tidy up.  Before Christmas we’ll strain off the gin, re-bottle it … and look forward to sampling it on Christmas Day.

How many people does it take to fill a mulberry gin bottle?

Or … if you’re on our Christmas present list, you might get a bottle too.

Mulberry gin in the making.