Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A Full Moon and a Mad 24 Hours

Every now and then we have a mad bad 24 hours to rival the circus around a Royal Birth. Welcome to the world, new Royal sprog - hope you can cope with it; it's a bloomin' mad house on occasions. We had our own happy event(s) here too. My day started at about 6 with a hullaballoo from the Marans, loud enough to have me up, quickly donning dressing gown and slippers and heading down to investigate.. So much happened though, that I am going to hop-skip through it in magazine style without too much detail, or we'll be here for pages!

The Marans, I think, were just shouting through to the rooster in the other house but going out there I could see 6 baby bunnies all over the orchard. I had done it again - placing the run neatly over a dint in the ground which gave them an easy, pre-dug duck-under the woodwork and a night of happy free ranging. 3 quickly sprinted back to the dent and dived back into their run and I caught 2 more by hand. The 6th escapee got wise by then and headed for the car port where he took up residence under the water tank and we named him Steve McQueen. We'd worry about him later.

The geese decided they were not coming out to play today and dithered, brainlessly, in their house giving me ten minutes of whistling and encouraging them, tossing them a bit of rolled barley till I got fed up and went round the back to shoo them out.

Main event today was a visit from Sparks, Mrs Sparks and Cotcho-Small (6) who we'd thought were staying over night. We had to whizz the 2CV into the garage for its NCT work and do a quick shop in which Liz managed to explode 2 big fizzy water bottles inside the car. On a day like today this hardly even made the back pages. I also needed more sticky tape to repair a new hole in the poly tunnel, torn, presumably by the same cat (Blue?) as last time.

For a bit of fun we'd made up a Job List for Cotcho-Small (C-S) which we'd deliberately written in a jokey confusing way. "Smelly Goose Poo Soup 1", "Smelly Goose Poo Soup 2", "Catch Steve McQueen", "Make Snot" and so on. As we went through the day he was to discover what these were. The 'Poo Soups' were cleaning out goose baths, Steve McQ was, of course, the rabbit, and Make Snot was helping Liz in the kitchen pounding garlic in the pestle and mortar which, if anyone has done this, will know what "pound the garlic to snot" means. C-S is like any other intelligent, fit, energetic 6 year old boy let loose on a 'farm'. He's Go Go Go! all day and wears us out but he is great gas and will spend hours peering under a water tank thinking he can tempt a baby bunny out by yelling Steve! at it and chucking lettuce in.

We had also now seen ducklings hatched under Broody Betty and needed to lift her off the nest to count ducklings and remove empty shells. We had 5 plus a hatched-but-dead one and 4 eggs left. C-S loved this bit and being able to handle tiny baby ducklings, some of which were yellow, others dark-fluff and with curious head-crests. I will get some better pics of these soon - I did not have time on the hatch day.

While that was all going on I took a phone call from our Sheep Man, Kenny asking could we take 3 store lambs today, a month earlier than we thought we were getting them. He'd be here at 17:30, he said. As is generally the case with Kenny, we waited till 17:45 and then he rang saying he'd been delayed and would now be here at 18:30. We needed to feed the visitors as they had to get away back to Dublin by 19:00.

Meanwhile, Mentor Anne arrived with Simon, Simon clutching a tub of chick crumb and the egg candler. No, they said, they did not have any sheep in the van (!). Liz meanwhile went onto the internet chat areas and asked did anyone have any ideas for fun names for 3 sheepy ladies and got a storm of brilliant ones including "Kebab, Moussaka and Biryani", "Blodwen, Bronwen and Branwen", "Una, Agnes and Baby", "PETA, Pauline and Mary", "Hopeless, Feckless and Pointless". The 'Baby' one pointed out the potential for a future filled with "No-one puts Baby in a Korma" jokes. Simon and I took C-S off to candle the eggs and were delighted to see live, wriggling babies inside the shells, but concerned as to why they had not started to 'pip' along with their same-age 'brothers and sisters'. Anne is just delighted that yet another batch of her call ducks are showing this amazingly high (90-100%) fertility rate. It rarely happens.

With Anne and Simon fed tea and cake and done and dusted, we could all go in to eat some delicious belly-pork and salad, with half an eye on the front gate lest Kenny arrived. He did, when we were about 3/4 belly-full. We abandoned supper to go wrangle sheep, got them all safely into the field and did all the Ministry 'movement' paperwork. It turned out that one of them was a ram lamb this time, so they have become "Larry, Curley and Moe" (The 3 Stooges; yes, we KNOW the stooges were all boys, but Curl(e)y and Mo(e) are kind of girls names too).

So, the guests all left and it all went deliciously quiet. Steve McQueen was still at large but everyone had survived. And so to bed planning a lovely relaxed Tuesday with no dramas to upset the day. A bit alarming then at 06:30 to go out and straightway hear from the baa-ing that all was not as it should be in the sheep. They sounded too far off to be in our field and too spread out to all be in the same place. There was a lot of excited mooing from the grazing rent cattle. Oh, as they say, My God.

There is a dip in the ground in the NW corner where the fence stretches taut across but 12 inches off the ground. I'd been meaning to stuff the gap with black thorn but had no idea that lambs could 'commando' under this on their knees. They can, and one of them had escaped through to Vendor-Anna's land. He/she was then baa-ing in separation anxiety and and had brought the playful, inquisitive baby calves running to investigate, followed by their anxious Mums and the Bull, Felix. Now I had 20 cattle chasing my frightened lamb about and 2 upset lambs in the field, missing him/her. I hoped the escapee would race back to his siblings, back under the fence and shot off to get some clothes on. Not a bit of it; the two followed the one, so I now had three escaped lambs being chased round 20 acres by the cattle. One bit of good news - Blue the cat decided to play-hunt the escaped rabbit and ran him to ground in the orchard grass where I could easily grab him and restore him to his run and his 11 cousins and siblings.

Ah well, to cut a long story a bit short I was not about to risk going into the bull field alone, so I phoned Mike the Cows who, Bless him, even though he had a full day himself and 'not a clue about sheep' (his words) helped me round them up (while fending off the cattle) and shepherd them back through the gap, which is now firmly stuffed with sheep wire, wood, blackthorn and all sorts. The sheep are sitting in our field chewing the cud and panting a bit from their exertions. I am hoping that my mad 24 (well, 26) hours is now over. I have calmly brought Liz her 'tay' at the normal time of 08:30 and told her my early morning story. I think I need a lie down!


Mr Silverwood said...

OK, I actually laughed at this, plus the thought that we are going to be up next week, I know it's bad but it did make me smile.

Margaret said...

God, this all sounds so familiar! Am so glad we are not the only madhouse in the world!