Sunday, 21 July 2013

OK, I'm Ready Now....

Our heatwave has been running now since at least the 6th and Liz tells me that we are officially back in drought mode after the required 19 days without any rain. When it started there were the usual round of people complaining about the heat and other people telling them not to complain as it had only just got hot after them moaning about the cold and wet. We went along with this not daring to complain about the sweltering heat, not praying for rain and avoiding any funny walk that might be interpreted as a rain dance just in case we pulled down upon ourselves another rain drenched wash out of a season like 2012.

As you know, many local farmers not only have silage cut and baled away but many have managed to get good cuts of quality, dry hay; the previous post shows that we were out there too, enjoying the chance to get some hay in for the mini horses and our own stock. All over Ireland peat-turf for the winter fuel has been cut, and now dried in stacks and, much to everyone's amazement also now safely gathered into barns. Compare that to last year when our own John Deere Bob could not get his dry enough at all and had to wait round till spring of this year before he dared collect it and bring it home.

All the English vegetable growing expert books tell you that when your onions are ready and the leafy tops have sagged to the ground, lift them out of the soil to break the roots and leave them on the surface in the sun to ripen. Renowned local organic grower (he has a place in Co Leitrim, just next door to Roscommon) and writer, Klaus Laitenburger poo-pooh all that saying, quite truthfully, that this method won't work in Ireland and your onions will just lie there in the rain going rotten. You need to put them in a greenhouse or poly tunnel to ripen. 'Out in the sunshine' is no good. Well, this year we have been able to do just that and I see from a picture on Mentor Anne's blog that Simon is doing the same.

'Flavour of the month' in meteorological circles in Ireland this year is a New Zealand writer, Ken Ring who advocates studying phases of the moon and the 'tides' in the atmospheric air and publishes an Almanac each year giving long term forecasts for NZ and Australia and, this year, Ireland where the local farmers are snapping them up despite the €33 cost of the book and postage from NZ. Well, so far he's right for this year - the dry July which looks like collapsing into rain in the last few days and the prospect of a hot August so he's been all over the Irish papers and radio where he rather rudely tells home-grown meteorologists, Met √Čireann to 'stick to what they know and what they've been trained to do, which is the day to day stuff'.

Fair play to him if he has found an answer and I hope he sells plenty of books while he's in fashion but I can't help hearing my old Dad's voice in the back of my head. Dad (Stamp Man) was an old school Geography teacher and he used to say that even with the best Met Office computers in the world, there are so many unpredictable variables in British Isles weather that the forecasts could be 75% correct at 24 hours range, 50% at 2 days, 25% at 3 days and after that you might as well toss coins. Ken Ring would see him as one who should "stick to what they know". We'll wait and see.

Me? I've had enough of the heat and the stultifying inability to get on with jobs now and I am happy to wish for rain out loud. I don't mind if I do bring down a torrent upon myself. The garden needs it badly, the veg need water to fatten up properly (and to stop bolting away in the case of chard, calabrese and even a few of the onions) and the pond could do with a top up. No, I am not using mains water! The East Field, now being rested from the horses, could use a good soak to give us grass for the lambs arriving in a month. I have bought and, yesterday, installed our 2nd 1000 litre bulk water butt. This one is to be the reservoir for the sheep drinker. I'm ready now for some rain - may it come and fill my two tanks and the pond. Ken Ring can go back to being right after we've had a wet week.

The other pictures here are of a supper Liz prepared last night which we were proud to declare included almost entirely our own produce - we supplied the lamb, the French beans, lettuce, chard, calabrese, beetroot and mini-turnips, even the redcurrants. We are not quite there with the new spuds yet but they won't be long. The geese and goslings are by now looking like a group of 8 geese, with the big tall lanky babies now almost fully feathered, and Charlotte warning us that we might need to wing-clip them soon or we'll be watching Christmas dinner rising up into the sky and heading for the watery expanses of Lough Feigh and Lough Glynn. Perhaps if we pack enough milled barley into them they will get too fat to fly, faster than they get fully feathered. Huge leg muscles and puny chests!

Ah well, cloudy today and even Met √Čireann saying some chance of rain showers late evening or in the night. Liz has just nipped down to the shops and brought me back a mint and choc Cornetto ice cream. Signing off now!

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