Friday, 4 September 2015

Trimming the Edges.

Red Bartsia (Odontites verna)
In my dog-walk plant hunter amblings, I have 'found' another plant but I have to confess, completely failed to ID it until I was helped out by Anne. It is, in fact, Red Bartsia, a species I had not even heard of, never mind seen and it grows in good numbers in the verge ON the actual stone bridge at Feigh, as in on the few inches of soil on top of the tarmac. Liz and I had it first as Basil Thyme (which is Acinos arvensis in my ancient "Fitter, Fitter and Blamey") but when I tried to book it onto the Irish Biodiversity Database I could not find it listed, so I assumed I was wrong. I booked it instead as ordinary thyme (Thymus serpyllum) but by then we had met Anne at a garden centre and she had said 'send me a pic'. She advised that it was, in fact the Red Bartsia (Odontites verna) which is quite common out here. The Basil Thyme is, in fact, on the Irish list but is better known along the east side and, anyway, has since been renamed Clinopodium acinos. Every day is a school day. Fortunately, there is a helpful man at IBD who is happy to go in and edit your records if you find you have mis-keyed or made an error so that my plant will be Red Bartsia in perpetuity, not some dodgy thyme.

The geese clip a nice edge onto the front lawn. 
Most folk, if they want neat edges to their lawns, buy an edge trimmer or a pair of edging shears. Liz eschews such technology and lets the geese at ours. Every now and then the sheep-grazed lawn starts to creep shaggily out onto her new clean gravel of what will be the rose bed out front. We leave the sheep in the East Field and invite the geese to spend the day out on the lawn instead. They enjoy the grass not eaten by the sheep and also get into the habit of sneaking their long necks through the sheep fence to trim off the edge, very neatly.

Very very late this year but at last we are getting
a decent tomato crop. Just cheap old supermarket
plug-plants but they have good flavour. 
I have done stories in the past in here about old vehicles and we love that some of the old boys round here drive superbly disreputable tractors. Our near neighbour has an old grey Fergie, long since patina'd up with rust and often in Castlerea on a Saturday you can see an old red MF with a cab constructed from angle-iron, plywood, baler twine and with sheets of old plastic as windows. But our friend Sue took the cake this week with a description of an aul' fella who turned up to collect ten of her piglets (the ones we moved in a recent post) in the dodgiest combination of VW Golf and trailer she had ever seen.

Blue needs his sleep like the rest of us. 
"Well Lordy me (Wrote Sue in Facebook) ,,,you see all sorts over here,,, we have just had an old boy (lovely man) arrive to buy ten of our piglets, He arrived led in convoy by yours truly,,,,,in the oldest VW golf ever,,, think it was the prototype,,towing a ....and l say it loosely ,,,trailer... the boards on the sides that were there (originated on a pallet or ten,,,). They were rotted and split and an elephant could have walked sideways through the gaps,(I exaggerated about the elephant...). He took the trailer off the hook tow ,,,no chain ,,,no lights ,,,and he limped it down to the barn with my help...I prayed that the bit I was holding didn't fall off, the bar of the crossbar was two inches away from the main frame,,,tyres well , we have more tread on the stacks (of scrap tyres) we have here,,,should have sorted him out six for his car and trailer,,,(seven) a spare,,,,,he had wires sticking out of the black rubber lumps that went round,,,the rusted metally hub things,,,,,he looked at piggies ,,commented how fat and healthy they were,, counted me out the dosh,,,,no haggle....we loaded ten very quiet piggies ,,(cuppa declined),and instuctions onto the main road off our nice old gent and piggies went,,I pray that the floor of the trailer holds out and all piggies get to Ballina safely"

2 items of farm scrap turned up this week  - this mini 'horse'
shoe only 3 inches across which we are told may be from a
donkey. The sprung nose-ring is one you'd have fitted to
a calf to prevent it suckling when you were trying to wean
it and 'dry off' the mother. These are still for sale new. 
You just KNOW, don't you, that they all got home OK. Those guys just go on like that for decades - the trailer never quite breaks, the tyres are good for another hundred runs and the pigs would not try to escape just because he is a lovely old character. Ballina is at least an hour away up by Sligo town over some main roads. No-one will ever stop him and ask to see his NCT or driving licence and fair play to him for that. Good luck Piglet-buyer man from Ballina; may the wheels never fall off your ancient rig.

Meanwhile, we plod on with nothing much of drama to report. I am still in feeding JD Bob's cattle each day, a group of 7 bullocks the other side of Lisacul which is a car run, and another group down on his bank/bog fields, which is a borrow-the-tractor mission. I am also whizzing him to Roscommon twice a week to the out-patients. These are 'quick' missions which he often tries to convert into epic runs via assorted banks, cattle mart, the accountant, the Post Office, eateries (I never mind those!), can we just nip up this side street and call at this house (mysterious!) or just plain 'Scenic Tours'. In those latter, he knows these lanes like the back of his hand and obviously loves them but we guess does not get out down them much these days, so we take the back roads via Ballintober instead of the 'big' road through Ballymoe and he asks me to 'take it steady through the village' so that he can look. He tells me that "just round this corner, there is a 2 storey house" and delights to find he is correct as he tells me that if I take "this left at the cross roads" I will come out in Fairymount or Kilmurray. We have never missed yet. He must have this whole area imprinted on a mental map. "Ian KilBoyle is in that garveyard!" "That used to be a school house" "John Something or other lives there - he used to have a pub in Castlerea". No flies on Bob. Someone should write all this stuff down; a real aural history.

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