Friday 19 April 2013

A Complete Change

A complete change in the weather brings us some strong blustery winds from an unfamiliar direction (SE veering round to SW) and some lashing rain which quickly fills all our normal puddles and delights the geese. It refreshes all the greenery which had been on hold in the wind-drought and we can see real recovery now in the grass depleted by the rabbits. The local farmers are relieved and delighted; they will leave the grass a couple of weeks to put on some growth and then will be able to let the cattle out.

We sustain a little damage. An empty rabbit hutch is overturned and needs picking up and my Mk 2 cloche proved unable to cope with the SE winds (coming from the same direction as I have taken this picture) they struck it on the end and rocked it loose on the open-able side. The rain then filled the 'bowls' which had appeared in the slack plastic and flattened it into the (fortunately empty) bed creating a neat, 8 by 4, 2 inch deep 'lake'. I may improve it (Mark 3?) with Rebar steel rods running inside the water pipes to strengthen the arches, or I may simply dismantle it and do without now that we have the proper poly tunnel.

The poly tunnel itself, survived all this storm, sitting pretty, protected from the south winds by the wall of the former hay-barn. It is starting to look a bit lived in now with my spring sowings of flowers and veg in the motley collection of trays, module trays, sawn-off milk bottles, mushroom chips and so on. We have great hopes for it as a good productive area.

In terms of geese, our egg laying bird(s) are continuing to build up a clutch. There were, when I looked this morning, 7 eggs in a neat well in the hay-box, carefully covered with hay so as to be invisible from above. Curiously this clutch does not seem to increase by one egg a day but, rather, by 2 eggs at once every other day. This took us a bit by surprise but is obviously because we actually have 2 geese a-laying and they are taking turns in the hay box. This might, of course, end in tears when they both decide there are enough eggs and have an argument over who gets to broody.

When that time comes, we are told by Mentor Anne, you know because the would-be-broody starts plucking breast feathers to line the nest. We have decided to try to solve the sharing thing by installing a second hay box at more than goose neck-length away from the first (and actually the other side of a step ladder I have stored in there). We hope that one of the girls will adopt this and start laying in it. We may then sneakily start to even up the egg numbers in each clutch so that the new nest catches up and both reach 12 eggs together. We never count our 'chickens' before they hatch, but we have had some amusing conversations about how we will manage if the place is suddenly over-run by hoards of goslings.

Meanwhile I have dusted off the old pushbike. John Deere Bob's place is just that bit too far away to be an easy walk but too close to use the car with a clear conscience. I have had this bike for ages (15 years?) but had not used it much in Kent. Once I had dogs it always seemed more sensible to walk them if I needed exercise, rather than go for a bike ride. It languished in the shed in Faversham with 2 flat tyres till I decided to get it sorted and serviced to take with me to Ireland. The service was done by a great bunch of lads, the Thanet Cycle Recycle project run by Liz's 'firm', KCA (but now sadly defunct due to funding withdrawal) and the bike was as good as new.

John Deere Bob invited me to come collect some more calf poo but asked could I load it myself. Of course, I was delighted to and zoomed down there on the bike. Bob basically handed me the tractor keys and left me to it, doing my own loading, driving, tipping back here and then cleaning out the 'shepherd's box' on the tractor at the end. Many thanks, Bob. Readers will know that I will have enjoyed playing on the tractor as much as I appreciate now having the poo. We boys never grow up. The toys just get bigger!

We continue to be amazed and delighted by the quality and price of good chunks of meat locally. This "half a side of a pig", as Liz described it came from our favourite old fashioned pork butcher, Cunniffe's of Ballaghaderreen, cost only €14.50 (12 of your English pounds) and divided nicely into enough batches for 5 good meals for the two of us.

We are hoping to do a deal with some friends down the road who keep a few pigs, to swap maybe half a lamb carcass for the equivalent value in pig carcass this year. We have also had an offer of goat kids from the wife of Felix the Fix (Chainsaw Genius). She has a brother and sister litter of 3 week old kids currently being rejected by their Mother. They would need bottle feeding for 8 weeks or so before weaning and , obviously, the billy would need separating, neutering or... um... eating before they made 9 months. Mrs Felix is anxious that they go to a good home and will supply milk for the babies within a decent range. It is tempting and they would be impossibly cute but we are trying to be strong - we went on the goat course and decided against goats for all sorts of good reasons (fencing and housing for a start) and we now have takers for all our grazing in the form of geese, potential goslings and this year's planned lambs. Sorry Mrs Felix.

1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

Really starting to get there on the animal front, we will have to find the time to come up soon.