Saturday 2 November 2013

Our First Livestock Sale

We needn't have bothered with Hallowe'en, the pumpkin carving and the bowl of sweeties in the end. Not a single child came and tried to 'Trick or Treat' us. The small group from 2 families down the lane, the McG children who made it last year, although I'd seen them gathering in the afternoon, obviously went elsewhere come evening. You will recall that Liz was out at the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show, getting back to Balla-D by just gone 8 pm, so I was all set with the 5 pumpkins burning up the driveway from half five, but to no avail. Come 8 and I was expecting Liz's call, knowing I had to nip to Balla and I might miss the children, I put the bowl of sweets out front and decided to leave them a note. Feeling still a bit enthusiastic at that stage, I composed this silly ode.

Come ghosts, come ghouls, come witches all
You're welcome to our house and hall
I kid you not - don't hear me say
I got too scared and ran away
I had to nip to Balla-D
To c'llect my wife from Dublin, see?
But don't you worry, hungry friends
We have a way to make amends
There's sweets and smarties on that table (arrowed)
Grab big handfuls while you're able
We'll be back soon, before you know
But we'll be driving safe and slow
More scary kids I've never seen
Good Luck and Happy Hallowe'en!

It made me smile, anyway, so I thought I'd post it here. There! Art! Culture! Poetry, even! Are you impressed? No, OK. Nor were the local children who still stayed away in droves. The only youthful activity I saw was some herberts letting off fireworks from the lane down towards the nearby village of Lisacul but I guess that is the way of the world. I came back with Liz by which time it was raining, rescued the sweets and the poster from the wet and we retreated inside and finally had supper. I was amazed that the little pumpkins, which had been so hard to get alight with their little tea-light candles in the wind and drizzle, were still going strong at 10 pm when we went to 'lock up'. 

The next morning, the 1st November, is the regular and traditional date for a bit of a livestock fair in local town Balla-D. We are told that ten years ago this was a huge event, the streets crammed with folk, dozens of stalls selling stuff, huge rows of people with poultry in crates, geese sitting on the pavement restrained by being pushed into onion sacks with a hole cut in the bottom for the neck, trailers full of piglets and every kind of horse and donkey tethered to every handy bit of fence, lamp-posts and bollards, 4-wheel-drives and scruffy vans everywhere parked as only the locals seem to know how, double parked, abandoned at jaunty angles to the kerb, all across zebra crossings and double yellow lines. 

'Dublin Girl', one ear up, one ear down.
Now it is a much smaller event confined to a couple of streets and 'the corner' near the SuperValu supermarket, with maybe a dozen stacks of poultry crates, 15 horses and half a dozen donkeys. We have seen it before and pretty much avoided it, pigeon-holing it as a 'Travelling Community' thing, convinced that any stock you bought there would be in poor condition, dirty or diseased and over-priced. 

Our friend Charlotte from down the road, however, is made of tougher stuff than we are and uses it as a way of clearing some excess stock, in this case rabbits and ducks. She pitches up, snatches herself a chunk of pavement, sets up shop between the horses and stock trailers and is quickly surrounded by a hoard of children all trying to brow-beat Daddy into letting them have a bunny rabbit. On this occasion, having no female bunnies to sell, she said that if I'd drive her down and collect her again at 3 pm, she'd be happy to include some of my remaining females in the 'shop'. So there I was at 10 am, the little Fiat loaded to the gunwales with cat baskets of rabbits, cage crates 'flat-packed', drinkers, hay and feed sacks tied at the top with baler twine, quacking and writhing with their living ducky contents. 

We pulled up like regulars at a likely vacant chunk of kerb, unloaded, I helped Charlotte set up, wished her luck and left her to it. We dropped by during the day as we shopped in Balla, and she seemed to be busy with prospective customers. She had a good day, selling 6 of her 10 ducks and a good few rabbits including we were delighted to find, two of our females including our prettiest one, 'Dublin Girl', she of the multi coloured coat and one ear up, one ear down. This, we realised, is our first ever sale of livestock. Charlotte has also advised us that there may be more sales between now and Christmas at which she would be happy to work the same arrangement plus she may get customers she would pass my way (who wanted female rabbits) going into Christmas. The 'stock' will not be 'offed' for casserole  for at least the next couple of months. 

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