Friday, 22 May 2015

Goats and Votes

The white goat loaded.
Let me just set your mind at rest - we have not finished today owning any new species. We remain firmly in the 'No' camp regarding the goat species as a good plan. The billy-goats in these pics we were just moving for friends as we have a trailer. Phew. That was close.

Well, THAT was a big busy day for the trailer and even busier in other ways, too. We had three jobs for the beast today - collect pallets from JD Bob, move goats and then go shopping for hay and straw for our horse-rescuing chum, who we will call, for the purposes of this blog, for now, "Murphy's Mum". You may also know that it is voting day for the Referendum and, just to put some icing on an already rich cake, T McC's main hive decided to swarm so we got involved in that retrieval. It's all go.

Out frightening voters in Ballaghaderreen with
our new chum Tommy R. Canvassing.
For Lizzie, certainly, the vote was the main event and we were down at the Polling Station nice and early. The turn-out is reported to be very high but even then our tiny local Polling Station had been amazed to have had 48 people through by the time we got there. Liz had been out on the mean streets of Ballaghaderreen, canvassing with our new friends Steve F and Tommy R and I'd even joined them on the Tuesday after livestock lock-up. The feeling was that it was all a bit 50/50 on the doorsteps and we had a superb time at one where the household were even 'arguing' at the front door and using Liz as a referee. We don't know if a high turnout is a good thing for 'yes' or 'no' but it is surely a good thing from the point of view of democracy - the answer they come up with will be more representative of the national state of mind.

The geese may also be voting 'yes'.
The pallets were an easy one. These were some boards on which JD Bob's "bag manure" (as they call it here; it's basically pelletized NPK fertilizer) was delivered to his fields and he knows that we can always use an empty pallet. He can too, but he has an outbuilding full of them. We use them intact for fencing/hurdles, or we use the wood for scrap wood for making things, or in the end for kindling. I just needed to nip out to his field to collect them in the trailer.

Next up were the goats. Another family we are friendly with are selling up and moving back to the UK, so they are off loading as much 'livestock' as they can to make the journey home easier, plus the likely move they will have to make, short-term, into rented accommodation, where pets may not be allowed. We have inherited a new cat, Soldier, of whom more later, but today was all about collecting their two billy-goats, Jean-Paul 'Goat'ier and Sebastian Farquahar. These guys were a pair of boys originally rescued by our chums from the local forestry where they'd been abandoned and gone half-feral but then more recently kept tethered on their grazing to keep the rushes down. Being 2 boys they were kept a bit apart, so they'd not fight and each a bit spoiled with a make-shift weather proof shelter.

Safe at Carolyn's the boys catch up on some horn-clashing
head-banging, grudge-match pecking order stuff. 
Charlotte and Carolyn of the mini-horses are taking these guys. They are well equipped in the horn department and allegedly can be a bit spiteful but Charlotte, not willing to put up with any such nonsense, gave us a master-class in goat-wrangling. You don't need any of this tempting them with feed bowls and leading them - they have blooming great "handles" on their heads by which to grab them and yank them in the direction you want them to go. Something about being used to getting a 600 kg horse to do what it's told and not putting up with any argy from a 60 lb goat.

We inherited this very smart, young cat, 'Soldier' and now
need to settle him in to cope with the dogs. 
We quickly and efficiently got them loaded and home where we steered them by the 'handles' into a bit of Charlotte's yard. No sooner were they in there than they decided they needed to settle all those grudges they had built up by being tethered 30 yards apart in their field, so we all watched an impressive head-butt fight which Charlotte assured us would not last long; they would quickly establish who was boss. I'll take her word for it - they seemed fairly evenly matched to me but it was an impressive battle. The boys would rear up on their hind legs then smash together, often bouncing their back legs off the ground at impact. An impressive noise. They must have very hard skulls!

From there, the car and trailer came home briefly but then had to head for our horse-rescue lady friend's place to go buying hay and straw for the big, impressive Irish Cob gelding (Murphy) she rescued, who is now in a nearby livery/racing stable. At this point there was a brief hiatus when a phone call from T McC told us that he "thought he had a swarm". This from his biggest hive, which we'd actually cracked open yesterday. We'd found queen-cells but had been unable to locate the queen. At the time of his call he'd been imspecting a different hive and had suddenly noticed that the air was full of flying bees - the swarm was on! Now, 'Murphy's Mum' is quite keen to get into bees, so I wondered would she like to come along, out of curiosity, to watch the action, en route to the hay-shop. We ended up being given bee-veils by T McC (and, in my case the video camera) so we rather nervously (aware of our bare arms etc) watched and video'd as he got to work. By now the swarm had coalesced around the queen in a nearby hawthorn tree so we watched (and filmed) a pretty impressive loppering of bush and gathering up of the swarm in a basket, then T walked across to a hive he had ready and tipped the basket full of bees into the hive. We both may be inept beginners who happily laugh at our clumsy blundering efforts but this time it seems he got the queen and the bees in the basket/hive were straight way "fanning". When the workers have landed and are happy with their location they fan off volatile 'pheromones' (scents and chemical hormones) to call all the other bees 'home'. In this case they fanned both their own smell and some queen pheromone (9-ODA) out into the air and quickly gathered all the flying bees and the ones still left milling in the hawthorn bush to them and in an hour or so, seemed to be settled in the new hive, so that T could make his way happily to Dublin to do his own voting. I am going round tomorrow just to check on the new hive and make sure there are bees coming and going. Job Done.

Hay for Horses? Murphy's Mum is just finished working.
The posh tweed coat and strappy pink sandals may not be
the most sensible attire - open toes that close to Murphy's
great big hooves!
From there, off to the hay-shop with Murphy's Mum and then round to the local livery stables to meet the famous 'Murphy', a huge Irish Cob she rescued. Poor MM was just out of work and still in her posh dress, coat and strappy sandals, so it might have been a bit unfair to take her off swarm-wrangling and then horse attending but Murphy is a calm lad with a quiet power and does not skitter about stomping on people's feet uninvited. We got him out to the sand-school, delivered the hay, changed his bedding and stabled him up again without drama.

Meanwhile we are having some fun bedding in the new cat. The three terriers are still in 'mink' mode and think that any slinky black furry creature is game for a three-dog assault, so we are keeping 'Soldier' in a separate (locked) room for now and doing the rehabilition in a series of controlled sessions with dogs on leads or (singly) with grab-able collars. The cat has been no problem - Blue and he are now the best of friends and play like Blue used to with the late Rolo, but Soldier has not yet learned of the need to get up somewhere high when the dogs get a bit feisty. It will work, but it's not going to be a quick fix.

Getting into some Greek food care of a Lidl promo.
Clockwise from top, Squid, green beans in tomato sauce,
 filo parcels with feta and spinach, 'dolmades' (rice wrapped
in vine leaves) and garlic mushrooms.
The broody Buff Orpington in the Tígín has had her hatch(es). We have seen her off the nest with one chick and suspect that she may have another under her skirts. Unfortunately she hopped off with these (?) two during the night and the remaining eggs were well chilled by the morning, so that might be it. Still, the one we have definitely seen looks like a pure-bred Buff, so it will be quite charming to watch mother and daughter(s).

The count on the Referendum does not start till 10:00 tomorrow and the results are expected by about midday, so at least we can get a good night's sleep after all this drama and Liz only needs to be glued to the internet and TV for the morning.


Anne Wilson said...

Lovely looking cat, he's very much like our Felix.

Matt Care said...

Ha ha. Thought you'd like him. We had a 'Felix' too back in the UK, similar markings but we only owned him once he was already grown up.Feisty boy though and nippy - he will nip out between your legs through the crack in a part-open door before you know it!