On the 6th July we had what Mum describes as a “pootly-pottery day”. Mum and Dad moved Stalag Bunny, so confounding Padders latest attempt to tunnel out. They then spent some time looking at the weeds on the allotment bit, but it's too wet to even try to get on it so we have to hope the veg gets away quickly. They weeded and thinned crops from the kitchen garden instead. Lunch featured beet leaves, other salad leaves and radishes from there. After lunch we let the chickens out to mooch around – Mum describes this as “closely watched by Deefer and Coco who disapprove thoroughly of this proceeded but are willing to indulge us for the moment”. Supper is heart and mushrooms, with baked rhubarb for pud. John Deere Bob turned up just as Mum and Dad were finishing so we had a nice gossip and some more gentle instructions on how to manage the land (raise the skirts on those trees, dry the wood out for a year, put the trenches in the allotment in north/south so the rain runs off towards the bog, etc) along with some praise for what we've done so far. Love him.
Saturday the 7th sees Dad head to Dublin to help Sparks with the first stages of an attic conversion, leaving Mum in charge. At one stage she is telling internet friends that, “Right now, there are three chickens in the run and three in the rain gully (a four foot ditch) that runs from the back of the chicken run down to the bog. And they're finding so many grubs and yummy stuff that grain is so not tempting them out. Devils! I've been calling 'chook chook chook' till I'm nearly hoarse and Deefer and Coco are trying to tunnel out of the house to join the fun. The three feathered hooligans in the run are alternating between laughing themselves sick and whinging about not being out there with the other girls. Meaniess.
Dad claims to be “Very busy at present due to helping Sparks to start the conversion of the attic. This means all the heavy stuff, hefting 8 foot RSJs up into the attic from front garden, sticking these into the walls and bolting together into one 16 foot beam. I hate to complain after a month and a half of wet miserable weather but it was BLOOMIN' HOT up under those roof tiles in the Dublin sunshine! Having done the 'steels' we then started on rafter beams, doubling up the flimsy rafters with sensible '5 by 2' timbers, so again, all that wood had to come up through an upstairs front window, then a hastily cut hole in the boy's (5) bedroom ceiling ("Daddy! Why is there a HOLE in my bedroom?"
On Sunday 8th, Dad reports a “big ol' fried breakfast up in Dublin cooked by Sparks for whom I was steel-erecting Saturday”. Dad fills the little Fiat car with scrap wood for range down here, and some kitchen goodies dropped off by Steak Lady, plus spare soda bread and SuperQuinn sausages. Dad headed for Steak Lady’s as he needed to take pics of Tut (Tutankhamen) the tail-intact Yorkie for a friend of Mum’s but Steak Lady was sweating on feeding breakfasts to 8 B+B guests so was a bit brisk and Dad fled.
Dad reports that he is not 100% on the navigation yet round Steak Lady’s and out to IKEA on the ring motorway (M50) but knew it was near the airport, so set the sat-nav to “airport”. On our sat-nav when you don't know the street name in a small town or village but you want to go to the village 'centre' you click on the name and then "City Centre". Like an eejit, Dad did that to the Airport, so he went the 15 minutes from Steak Lady’s to the Airport in 45 minutes via the Dublin City Centre and O'Connell Bridge. Sight seeing tour! Yay!
Anyway, he dug himself out and got to IKEA as it was opening (11am) and successfully completed mission to buy two CD shelf units and found a utensils-pot for the draining board. Mum approved. Dad rocks as domestic shopper! He has a 2 and a half hour run back to the sticks, happy re-union with wife and we doggies and lazy afternoon letting chooks out, mooching about. He mowed the enormous front lawn enjoying attendant swallows swooping along next to him catching the insects he was half-killing with the mower. Delightful. Dad cooked lovely Cajun chicken and veg supper to which Mum added yummy mushrooms in cream sauce.
On Monday 9th we quietly enjoy our morning as there is no chance of a badly timed visit by near neighbour John Deere Bob . He has caught Mum and Dad out still in dressing gowns before now at 0900 but on a Monday he is otherwise involved, away in Galway. Lay-in! Late breakfast. Yay!
Mum attacks an alpine range of ironing while enjoying Lord Black in the Leveson Inquiry. Dad is off to builders' providers "Cooneys" of Castlerea (we think we were probably their best customer Dec 2011 to May 2012) to order wood and sheeting for this week's carpentry projects, the car port, the log-store and the wee housey for the Gas Cannisters.
Then... Weeding. Dad’s lovely allotment, 25 foot by 100 foot all proudly ploughed and rotovated by tractor this April and intended to be kept clean of weeds by regular hoeing, and to be full to bursting by now with burgeoning rows of crops has fallen victim to the ceaseless June and now July rain. Everything small-seeded has sulked in the chill, wet and gloom, and has been overcome by slugs and general malaise, and the weeds and grass cannot be hoed because it's been permanently too wet. Dad says, “It is an embarrassing disgrace”. Despite the wet this drives Dad to get amongst some of it on his hands and knees with me helpfully licking his face now and then and was a-ripping and a tearing out grass, creeping buttercup, baby docks and any number of other wrong 'uns. These were tossed into the Carver bucket and onto the ever-increasing compost heap. It looks a little tidier but not much. Still needs to dry out like JULY should be, and he can hoe it.
Sadly today also has its tragedy. Around 1300 we realise we have not seen little Coco for a while and start calling his name and then we start an anxious hunt. Outbuildings, sheds, fields and gardens are scoured. Dad’s heart sinks as he decides to check the lane outside and there he is horrified to find the small sad form of Coco by the side of the road. He is dead. The nature of the injuries tells us that it must have been instantaneous, quick and clean. Dad thinks he recalls a bulk tanker lorry going past at about the right time so maybe that hit him. The driver probably would not have even known. Dad gathers up the little fella and he gets a small grave in the kitchen garden close to Haggis’s last resting place. Poor little mite was only 2 years old. At least his final months were spent happily exploring and racing around on ‘the farm’ where he was loving it. We’ll all miss you, Cokes. “Small Brown Dog” Dad would call him.
On Tuesday 10th Dad is involved in heroic car-port building - big long 20' beams of '5-be-2' slung between the two sides of the former hay barn, 3-be-2's in the other direction and some nice shiny new corrugated sheets over the top. There is lots of iron-y clanging and banging. With Dad back in buildery mode Mum is encouraged back into "Catering Team" mode and there were, much to Dad’s delight, bacon butties!
It might have been the noise which put the Lovely Girls off their laying but not a one laid an egg in the morning. Only when they'd been out free ranging for a while did they all one after another get 'the urge' and like kids out on a football pitch being allowed sneak off back to the changing rooms for a wee, you'd see them slinking back to the coop doing their "I'm about to lay an egg" squawking and clucking. One poor lady ended up the wrong side of the chicken-wire. She could see the coop pop-hole but in her little bird-brain didn't work out that she could go round the other way to the gate, so was just fretting up and down the same 3 feet of fence till Dad 'helped her get over it'. I think the egg was so near she nearly laid it as she landed. Gotta love 'hins'. Not the brightest element in our menagerie.