Friday, 3 April 2015

Spray Your Hands Purple.

Beautiful! Delicious too. 
We were hoping for better weather for Good Friday. This is the day when houses and barns get white washed. We assume it was always the case that this was the hired hands' only time off. We managed it two years ago in bright sunshine under blue skies and the bright white walls looked splendid. The plan was to re-paint every year and thereby gradually build up a good layer of the wash. There was a hitch last year and it never happened. I don't recall why, but we are determined to get back on that horse this year.

The new book cases are in and filled.
It was a shame then to wake up to splattering rain and the gusty last knockings of that major wind system that we have been troubling us for a few days. It is no weather to be up ladders with splashy, thin paint and it would not dry anyway, so the white washing has been postponed till we get some more pleasant conditions. It was good enough, though to put our sheep-wranging skills to the test.

A pedicure for Feste.
The 12 week old lamb has been a bit lame off and on favouring his front right and a week ago we inspected his feet, could find nothing specific wrong but did notice that the outside edges of his hooves, which grow quite fast like finger-nails, were a bit long. I bought the foot trimming 'shears' and a can of the purple footrot spray. They don't HAVE footrot, but this seems to be the advice - you spray the foot liberally with spray after trimming as a preventative. Since you always spray your hand too, this is apparently how shepherds recognise each other in the pub or at weddings so that they can start up a sheep conversation if it all goes a bit quiet in the snug. "So..... been foot trimming then?"

Like a pair of straight secateurs and just as
sharp. We were amused to note that the spray
is made in a place in Hoo Marina in Kent. 
Of course, by the time we got back to the lamb he was no longer lame but that was no excuse. I need the practice at sheep wrangling. Any shepherd will tell you that this, like shearing, is best accomplished with the sheep on its back with no feet on the ground - it can try to kick and struggle but cannot sprint off. Getting a sheep onto its butt is another technique which you must quickly learn if you don't want to risk your own back and injury doing it the idiot's way of grabbing the animal round the chest and lifting it off the ground, plonking it down on its bum like a small child lifting his baby brother.

Feste's left hind gets the purple treatment.
In short you trap the sheep against a gate with your knees and grab a handful of jaw in your left hand and a hand full of rump-wool (or the 'dock' (tail cut short) with your right. You then bring your hands together, like trying to fold the sheep in half, starting with the head and neck. The sheep collapses naturally on his left hind, sitting down and you can easily swing his top half upright between your legs. You then control him mainly with your thighs and knees but you can get to all four feet and you have not even tried to lift the weight of his body. Or her, of course.

Mum (Lily) gets the same
While Feste was in there under our control, I also inspected Mum (Lily). I knew I could invert a 12 week old lamb (all be it a big bruiser of a fella) but could I manage a full grown 'yow'? The answer was yes, the technique works for all shapes and sizes. We think now that the original lameness must have been where the lamb stood on a sharp object or thorn, or possibly took a whack (a 'puck' as they say here) from one of the grown-ups in a food-trough squabble. Maybe he had a stone caught in the mud under his pad which was then dislodged in our inspection last week. Anyway, he seems to be all sorted now and our foot trim and foot rot spray cannot have done anything but good.

Some poultry like a low perch. Min likes to be up among the roof
rafters and lighting. 
Meanwhile, in the poultry department the young Buffs have moved, one by one, into the proper chicken house, abandoning the young-bird box, their child hood home. Even The Captain has moved in despite his very 2nd-in-Command status relative to 'Sir Buffers'. He is even allowed onto the lower perches for the night. Sir Buffton seems happy to keep driving him off when he tries to mount one of 'his' ladies without feeling the need to kill him or hurt him. We have the amusing sight every now and then of one of the ladies sprinting for the main flock and the protection of Buffers. The Captain gives chase until he gets close to the boss but then slows down and strolls around nonchalantly, whistling innocently. Me? Chasing your women, Sir?

We have had a lovely result in the garden-buying department. Needing more asparagus crowns, I had decided to try out a new supplier, "English's Fruit Nursery" down in Wexford. These guys mainly do fruit trees and bushes (so we slung in a lingonberry bush) but we also found a green hop and the asparagus. I don't think I have ever seen such meaty, healthy, big crowns. These were €1 each but spread out to a foot diameter when put flat, with an inch-round centre and 10-30 long, plump roots spidering out, at least bootlace thick, and some as thick as an earthworm. The 20 (which turned out to be 24) sat as a hefty weight in a feed sack. I should have taken a picture but they are now planted in two beds and we have great hopes for them.

New Laptop for Liz. 
We end the day with no barns painted but 2 sheep pedicured and a goodly batch of hot cross buns baked, some eaten while still warm from the oven with hot butter spread on them. Fish on Friday this week, so a nice supper of fish and prawns, en croute, I think, but don't quote me on that one. The wine is a chilled rosé.

Happy Easter.

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