24.10.39

Evidently a good deal of rain last night. Today overcast, not cold, a few spots of rain in the afternoon. Leaves coming down pretty fast now.

Today went into Baldock. Bought small sieve (2/-). Impossible to get iron stakes for wire netting. Timber almost unprocurable. Managed to get 2 very poor 6 ft. stakes for gate-posts of hen-run. Put them up this evening & shall shift wire tomorrow if not raining. Tried to mow grass, but the machine in its present state makes no impression. Shall have to leave it till the spring, then get it scythed. Mr K.[1] mended the spade by using the handle of the broken fork. Quite a good mend but leaves the spade a bit short. Paid 1/-. Impossible to sow broad beans yet as the ground will not get fine. Clarke’s sent shallots today & shall plant them by way of experiment when I get time. NB. That 2 lb. shallots = about 60 bulbs (say 2 rows). There are now 2 barn owls which live in the stumpy elm tree, & evidently it is they that make the sawing noise. I suppose these are the ones that used to be called screech-owls, & the ordinary brown owl is the one that makes the to-whoo noise.

6 eggs. Started hens on course of Karswood today[a]. Also giving them more shell-grit.

[a] Lasted till 14.11.39 (26 hens). [Orwell’s note]

[1] Unidentified neighbour. Peter Davison

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4 Responses to 24.10.39

  1. He longed for a time when everyone would again have access to Grade-A stakes and the hens could run and not have to stand around elbow-to-elbow.

    The stumpy elm tree, in losing its leaves, reveals a minimum of three pairs of owl eyeballs and the origin of the mysterious soundtrack is revealed.

    Experimental shallots take their place on the to-do list.

    Meanwhile, the Polish gold reserves arrive in Paris, having traveled via Romania and Syria. The value of the gold is estimated at over £15,000,000. In London, the Polish Consul-General announces that Poles in Britain will be mobilized for service in the Polish Army in France.

  2. The Ridger says:

    I thought he must be wrong about the owls, but a little research shows that he is not. But here in the US, barn owls and screech owls are distinctly different – our screech owls are “eared” with those little tufts of feathers, for one thing.

    He prosaically states “Impossible to get iron stakes for wire netting. Timber almost unprocurable.” Why is left unhinted at.

  3. itwasntme says:

    You’re right, The Ridger, it’s interesting what he leaves out of these daily notes.

  4. Roving Thundercloud says:

    No, when he first mentioned that he wanted iron stakes, I thought, not happening. It went for the war, with everything else. Wrought-iron fencework was removed from a lot of city homes to contribute to the effort. (Whether it actually contributed, I don’t know.)

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