Tuesday 4 February 2014

Bitty News

Sometimes I get a bit busy for 'proper' long stories on this blog and my news comes in little bite sized pieces. I hope you enjoy them anyway.

First up, this blog passes the 70,000 page views landmark today. I have long since given up on the dream that I will suddenly go 'viral' (as they say) and turn into JK Rowling, or even Barbara Kingsolver. Naive 'innocent abroad' that I am, when I finished the latter's book a couple of days back (It stayed brilliant to the end) and thought it would be nice to send her an admiring e-mail and offer her this blog address so she could see what we were up to here. Some chance! I forget that these best-seller authors are now so hidden behind walls of agents and secretaries that they do not even have 'Contact Us' links on the websites, probably to protect them from getting 70,000 idiots like me every day trying to cram their inboxes!

Down in the Silverwood's, Mrs S is having her own little medical drama and has spent some time in Tullamore Hospital, So Liz has polished up the shining armour and dragged the milk white steed out of his stable, she has zoomed off to the rescue, ready to do a bit of babysitting and house keeping to let Mr S go to work. Mr S works in the same outfit as I used to do and I know they run a lean, mean machine, border-line under staffed; they can rarely spare you to take time off. They allow but definitely begrudge time taken off for such 'silly' reasons as "wife rushed to hospital". Liz was last heard of up to her oxters in making 'cock-a-leekie' soup and 'sugo' (pasta sauce) to keep them all going. Steak Lady rides in on Friday to help out too, relieving Liz, I hope, to come home for a while. Mrs S is back home now, at least. Get well soon Mrs S.

2.515 kg of lamb leg.
By chance, prior to us getting the call about Mrs S, Liz had extracted a 2.5 kg leg of lamb from the freezer intending it for supper. We couldn't re-freeze it, so I was left on my own to cook it. It got a smear of anchovy and garlic and was roasted for 2 hours at 175 degrees C. It was delicious, even though I carved a laughably small amount off for my supper, barely scratching the surface. No matter. The cold remains have now been stripped off the bones into four by 250 g bags for the freezer and a bag for my supper cous-cous. These animals are nicely butchered by Ignatius G who leaves the long shank attached but folded round, so we get three nice bones off these leg joints. Handy when you have three Westies. The house, as I type this, resounds to the gnawing of happy dogs. They pin their three respective chunks down under front paws and grind away with their bums in the air in each of three rooms, well separated from their fellow dogs, so the gnawing comes at me from under the kitchen cupboards, over by the range and above my head on the bare boards of the landing (my computer station is under the stairs). It's a bit loud.

Ginny the rabbit escaped again. I have built a new run at the bottom of the allotment on a patch of lanky grass under an ash tree, in the protected spot where we intend to put the bee hive. The plan is for Ginny and Padfoot to keep this mowed and clear ready for the buzzing crowd. The run is a rather bodged, temporary affair and the chicken wire, though buried, is not fixed taut, tall and upright and Ginny had sussed that in one place if she stood up on her hind legs and leaned on it, it would sag enough to make a ramp up which she could hop onto an allotment ridge. She came into the yard to wish me goodnight and let me know she was out (!). Ginny, though, is not a very convinced escape artist and by morning she is looking to me for a carrot, back in the run, so she follows me about as I release chickens and shepherd geese about and then, this morning, was waiting by the new run gate to be let back in and given a carrot. Daft animal.

Our next dose of wind and rain. Map from AA WeatherWatch
The geese do not fly much and never high - they go in for a running charge with lots of honking and wing flapping which just occasionally has them enough lift to be a little bit 'flying' just above the ground. While the gander, George, is still doing his one-woman thing, I am shepherding them home separately, the happy couple first, down the left hand side of the out building to their door, then going back to the orchard to gather up the 'gooseberry' girl who comes down the right hand side and round to her door in the yard. She has, up to now, stood around in the orchard chuntering to herself while I do the pair though she is quite happy to come waddling home when I go back for her. But not yesterday. Yesterday I was part way home with the pair when I suddenly felt the whoosh of heavy wing-beats and Goosey (the loner) rocketed past me on my right at elbow height, cleared the pair of geese just above their heads (they ducked in surprise!), landed, and pulled up just short of the building. She had decided to fly home. Blow all this patient waiting mallarkey! Noisy chaos ensued while George tried to protect his woman from this airborne 'assault' and get by her to his door. She tried to work out where she was and how to find the yard from this new unfamiliar angle. We got there in the end.

Unusual sight lately - washing drying OUTSIDE!
We've had a break from the wind and rain these last 48 hours and the ground quickly dries out, the puddles draining away nicely. I was able to barrow the latest load of calf muck round to the heap, all be it going the 'long way' through the yard to avoid the sloppiest ground. Just as well, as I got another call from Bob, who was ready for me to go collect more. We seem to have got into a routine now and these collections are once a week. No doubt Bob is delighted to have someone else muck out his bullocks, but my heap is starting to get big enough now - it all needs to rot down for 6 months or so before I can use it on the garden. I don't want to say no to Bob, but I am eagerly awaiting his decision that spring is done, the ground dry, the grass growing and he can let the cattle back out onto the grass. This probably not till April, I guess, so I have at least another 8-10 muck-outs to accommodate on my heap. It will take several seasons to use it up, so I don't know what happens next winter. Thank you though, Bob - it is all good stuff.  AA Weather Watch have pictures of the next storm coming in from the SW today and through tonight. This had me nipping out to rescue the washing as the wind rose and the sky turned dark. Batten down the hatches (again), people!

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