Saturday, 27 July 2013

Calm Before the Storm

Calm Before the Storm? No, actually I am not talking about the current run of thunderstorms now coming through each afternoon and nicely filling our water butts, refreshing the grass and topping up the pond. We are setting up this weekend for a week-long visit from the Silverwoods; just Mrs S and the children this time. Mr S has to work (we need someone to pay those taxes and keep the economy afloat!)  and the dogs are staying home tended by the lady from whom we got the cats last year so I do not have the slightly worrying prospect of 6 Westies chasing my sheep, scaring my poultry and harassing my rabbits.

This army arrives tomorrow delivered by Mr S who will the retreat till next weekend. We have the Silverwoods, then some barge-friends the following week and later in the month, Diamond, Mazy and John coming over from Kent. All roads seem to lead to here at the moment. We decided that our tired and eclectic mixture of guest beds would not really do any more, so we ordered 2 new beds from local supplier, Mulligan's of Balla-D. We'd selected a less expensive option on the beds from our short list of 2 types but in the event the shop found that they only had the one so, knowing that we'd want 2 identical beds, offered us 2 of the more expensive option for the same price! Only in Ireland, I am thinking!. These beds are now delivered, assembled and even made up. The futon, which was here, is now retired to the caravan stroke teenager-den. We are just about ready for the invasion. Bring it on.

Tourism in Ireland this year is all about a big nation-wide promotion called "The Gathering", the idea being that the Irish diaspora from all around the world descend on the country this year in one massive 'clan gathering' and all the towns and villages round here are supporting it and, presumably hoping for lots of tourist dollars (or Euros). Our own local village has produced a book which includes a lot of local history, stories (including, sadly, a rather horrible eviction from a local house by an evil landlord) and lists of the local families as at the 1911 census.

Our friend John Deere Bob has obtained a copy for us  and we are delighted to find that we get a mention, now listed as the new owners of the property formerly owned by TK Min and TK Max, all be it our surname has been lost in translation, we are Matt and Elizabeth Keigher. We finally got a real Irish name!

No sooner had the ink dried on my comments about the sheep not loving us very much and not being that easy to train to the bucket-feeding and close approaches, than they seem to have warmed to us. I can now appear with a bucket of feed, rattling it, whistling and calling, and they will all troop up from what ever corner of the field they are sleeping in to come to the gate and accept a handful of grub in the buckets. They do not let me touch them yet, or eat out of our hands, but we are getting there.

Good progress in the veg patch. I have pulled all the over-winter onions and dried them on a mesh rack. They are now tied into strings hanging up while they dry some more. I dug the garlic this morning - three varieties. This is now taking up the drying rack and, you can see from the picture that the 1050 litre water butt is brim full from the car-port roof 'catchment'. We are well through the calabrese pick now, still using the side shoot re-growth for eating and freezing but plants which are finishing and flower heads which are starting to open into yellow flowers are proving very popular with the rabbits.

The ducklings continue to thrive under Broody Betty's parenting and we are hoping they are not too madly 'imprinted' on her (or her focused on them) as, come Thursday, we want to 'steal' the ducklings back for Mentor Anne and substitute in our day-old Hubbard chickens. We hope she adapts quickly and just accepts them. If not, we are into 'brooder boxes' and heat-ray lamps. We will cope with that but it is so much nicer to see the 'hen-and-chicks' story played out in the free-range environment.

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