It also means that every month, I have to dispose of sixteen litres of waste oil. Here, most people just dig a hole and tip the waste oil into it. After a few years of that you do not need to be an environmental scientist to appreciate what the ground looks like or how unproductive it has become.
Fortunately, I still have a use for it. I soak the bottom few feet of the wood piles that support the new cottages I am building in it to stop them rotting and to keep the termites away. I drain the oil from the generator into a bucket and then I carefully transfer it into a 200 litre drum. This time, however, I was distracted so left the oil in the bucket.
I was sitting on the sofa watching the news when the kids ran in shouting excitedly that Goosie had 'painted' himself. We have no paint here. How the hell had Goosie managed to paint himself?
Place three children together with an easy going adult who hardly ever raises his voice and never offers corporal punishment and you have the ideal environment for budding pranksters and practical jokers. Some of their pranks are really quite good. I smoke SL cigarettes, a local brand. They are white their entire length. One day they carefully extracted all the cigarettes from a nearly full packet and replaced them the other way around. An experienced smoker can remove a cigarette from the packet and light it without taking his eyes of whatever task he is engaged in. I know I can. It is highly unusual to have the kids sitting in a row, being perfectly still and well behaved, while watching me type. Being a heavy smoker, however, they knew their patience would not be overly tested. I finished the paragraph I was typing and then, as I was proof reading it I reached for my cigarettes. They all stifled sniggers.
'What?' I asked turning to look at them as I placed the cigarette between my lips.
'Nothing, Daddy!' squealed Alex. Mauro and Marta were squirming, their faces twisting as they tried hard not to laugh. Well something has obviously tickled them, I thought as I lit up and dragged in a lungful of the poisonous fumes produced by the burning filter. As I hacked up my sphincter the kids shrieked with delight and rolled about in paroxysm of mirth.
'Very funny!,' I told them, but I meant it; it really was clever and I told them so while lighting up another cigarette. A DOUBLE whammy!' The kids howled, they couldn't believe their luck!
With that kind of track record, I wasn't just going to take their word that Goosie had somehow managed to paint himself without first considering what practical joke I might be walking into. Ever more insistent, they persuaded me out into the garden. Goosie had indeed painted himself.
|Can Geese look sheepish?|
For some inexplicable reason, Goosie had stuck his head into the bucket of waste oil.
|One unusually well behaved oily goose|
Nothing else for it but to get out the detergent and give him a good but gentle sponging followed by a bath in fresh water.
|My God! I am going bald!|
Wash Day at Uncle Tom's Cabin
Normally, Goosie is, as our American cousins would say, an 'Ornery Critter'. He must have known I was trying to help because he stood there between my legs and let me get on with it. For a goose whose favourite pastime is to hide under the house next to the steps and then burst out suddenly surprising the hell out of anyone descending before chasing the unfortunate individual across the garden, wings outstretched administering painful pecks on bare calves, he was very well behaved.
Afterwards I went to decant the oil into the drum. As I got to the bucket, I realised that under the sun, the still surface of the oil made a surprisingly good mirror. I resolved to redouble my efforts to find anyone round here with a couple of female geese for sale. If poor old Goosie tried to mount his own reflection, clearly he is in desperate need of a leg over.