Tuesday 17 February 2015

To Kildare in the Car Boot!

The 2 surplus Buff Orpington roosters, now gone to Kildare
Our advert in the classified ads website 'DoneDeal.ie' to sell our excess roosters bore fruit and a gent promised to drop in to collect both the surplus birds en route home from Donegal to Kildare following a weekend family event 'up there'. He had a long journey in front of him and no real idea when he'd arrive; some time between 4 pm and 7 pm, he guessed. In the event, we had 'company' that evening, with Sparks and his Good Lady down for some good Indian cookery but I had no problem adjourning to the yard for the few minutes it might take to hand over the birds.

Celeriac, surely the ugliest veg, but delicious and flexible.
My man (Derek) phoned at 18:30, as instructed from the local village, to get directions and for me to go and stand in the lane in my big yellow Hi-Viz coat. They actually drove in in a 2-car convoy, it turned out that the birds were not, in fact, for Derek, but his brother in law, in car 2. The cars seemed to be full of people, kids asleep in the backs and so on, but only the 2 guys hopped out. They declined tea. They just wanted to get on with it.

Striking some dogwood whips.
Actually, they did not seem to have much clue; I tried to show them 'round' the birds health wise but they were not very interested. I like to at least do a superficial health check on any bird I'm buying; just the basics like bright eyes, bright red clean wattles and comb, clean legs with healthy feet, good clean cover of feathers and a quick check on the bird's vent (stick his head under your armpit!) for lice and fleas. I had also warned them that I had no box to put the birds in and they assured me they would bring their own box. Maybe I should have thought twice about handing over these birds, but I judged the man to be sound, so I handed over the pair and relieved them of the money. We all walked back to the parked cars, where upon the bro-in-law opened the car boot, empty but for newspaper down to protect the lining, and carefully placed the birds in. It was pitch dark except for my head-torch, so the chickens just settled down there and the man gently closed the boot lid. That was that. The convoy moved off, headed for Kildare where these two roos are promised a life of looking after a flock of Jersey Giants and Buff-Orps which has recently lost its own rooster who, the guys told me rather non-specifically, "met with an accident". I assume fox, but I didn't ask. I guess not the best ever transaction we have been part of but acceptable, we thought. Good Luck boys.

Feste with his new ear tag.
Today, Shrove Tuesday, was the day that our young lamb, Feste, came up to 6 weeks old so was due to be tagged. My 'bible' (the Tim Tyne book) says do not tag till the lambs reach 6 weeks as the ears are just too small to take these rather heavy-duty tags (they work well on full grown sheep). To do this we needed to get him (and the grown ups) into the cattle-race where we could restrict their escapes, so we took the opportunity to give Mum (Lily) a tidy up round the butt, where she had got a bit 'daggy' when she was scouring, living indoors. We both like to get involved in this and it is a whole lot easier with one person holding the sheep while the other roots around under the tail (or in the ears, in the case of Feste)

Grazing on the front lawn. 
I'd been assured by Charlotte that my dog clippers would be no good against a sheep fleece but (you know me) I felt I had to try in order to prove it to myself. If I could even just 'crotch' the animals with my clippers I would be able to produce a nice tidy animal with guaranteed no skin nicks. But no, Charlotte was right of course. The clipper head hit the wall of wool fibres and stopped dead. I was back to my dodgy scissors and, with Liz wedging the sheep against the gate with her knees, I was easing poo-y clumps of wool away from the skin of Lily's bum so that I could scissor them off without risking cutting her. She was quite happy with this till I got down a bit close to her udder, when she started trying to kick a bit, but Liz gentled her and made sure the lamb stayed close to her face (so she'd know he was OK) and we got the job done. You get all the most pleasant jobs, shepherding!

Top of the ditch. This was the easy bit. The ditch vanishes
into the background under the trees the other side of that
fence. It's a bit sloppy down there!
Talking of bad jobs, I was down in the rain gulley today clearing the ditch. The pigs use it as a wallow and had collapsed enough bank down to form a low dam at the fence line, so the rain water coming down our efficient under-yard gulley drains stops dead here and forms a pool. I had to create a slit trench through this clag to a point lower than the bed of the 'pool', so it was back on with the wellies and paddling around in the sucking swamp without losing a boot, weilding my traditional Irish pointy-end shovel. Liz could not resist getting a picture.

And so to Pancake Day! Lemon and sugar is your only man.

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