Travel: Competition: Literally Lost Number 86

This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30 worth of book tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday. Literally lost 85: The book was `View From The Summit' by Sir Edmund Hillary. The action took place in New Zealand. The winner is Ian Knox from Glasgow.

It was indeed. It had taken about three months for our pigeon population to increase from four ... to four. I began to see Old Man Domingo's forecasts as an optimistic target. At this rate we would be lucky to dine on one pigeon pie a year. In fact, it began to dawn on us that the poultry department as a whole was failing to thrive. We were putting in a fair quantity of the recommended input but there didn't seem to be much output at all. A general reluctance to breed or increase or grow, or even to lay eggs, has taken over. Clearly something was amiss. We did some observing, and some thinking, and came to the conclusion that it was mutual antipathy that was affecting performance.

The quails, the smallest of the menagerie, were frightened of the chickens; the chickens didn't like the guinea fowl or the pigeons, though they could live with the quails; the guinea fowl were indifferent to pigeons but were terrified of the quails and hated the chickens; the pigeons were affected by the guinea fowl's terror of the quails, nervous of the possibility of a chicken-quail alliance, piqued by the indifference of the guinea fowl, and shared everybody else's dislike of the chickens.

It wouldn't do; action needed to be taken. So we designed and built a contraption that came to be known as the Quail Recreation Facility. If we could get the quails out of the equation we might be able to make some sense out of the rest of it all.

We consulted a number of works on the subject and slowly a design appeared. The three factors we had to bear in mind in the construction were happiness, security and portability. In order to get maximum performance from our quails we decided that we needed to simulate, as far as possible within the confines of a wired-in box, the conditions they enjoyed in the wild.

We came up with a sort of portable ark with an enclosed nesting-box and night-quarters at one end, served by a cunningly contrived trapdoor. The other end was wired in, but the bottom was open to allow the incumbents access to whatever piece of ground the thing was standing on. A mesh skirt, weighted down with stones, surrounded the outside area. The finished thing seemed to me to be the very acme of modern, enlightened poultry-keeping.

The quails, sadly, had other ideas. When we introduced them to their new home, they beetled straight into a corner of the nesting-box and there lurked disconsolate and depressed. Then after a week or so of this unpromising behaviour they at last managed to experience one of the few conditions that quails enjoy in the wild, that of being eaten by a fox.

The removal of the quails was insufficient to settle the disharmony in the poultry house. The cross-currents of mutual antipathy continued to affect performance. So we prepared an appealing home for the hated chickens, an attractive, traditionally built stone chicken-shed with spacious outside recreation area and fox-proof door. In went the chickens and shortly after wards we were thrilled to be presented with our first egg.

I gave the egg full culinary attention according to the French manner as retailed by Elizabeth David ... It was like no other egg I've ever eaten, done to exquisite perfection.

Unfortunately, as I was eating the egg, a stoat or a weasel was eating the chickens. And it was not very many weeks later that first the guinea fowl and then the pigeons went the way of the others. Foxes, snakes, stoats, weasels, martens, wild cats, rats, were all lying in wait to discourage any move we made in the direction of poultry-keeping. Our skills and our facilities were not up to their onslaughts.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee