Friday 2 October 2015

Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

At last - some Autumn Fruiting Raspberries which are edible
I'm not so sure about the fruitfulness, but the past week has been solidly high-pressure, clear skies, warm and blue sky sunny afternoons. In Roscommon in late September, though, that means chill nights and usually waking up to a good mist, if not actual fog. The fog does not quickly 'burn off' like it used to in Kent, so it has been well into 2 o'clock or 3 before we got the sunshine. Never mind, we will take what bits of Keats's "bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core" we can take at this stage.

'Golden Hornet' crabs light up in the evening sun
This year that has amounted to a few very late raspberries now coming ready and edible and one or two apples, plus a decent show of crab apples. Through August and September the raspberries had been coming so slowly, at about one a day, that the blackbirds were stealing them and looking at me as if to say, "Is that it?" Finally I am getting enough that if the birds are getting them, then they are retiring sated and leaving me some.

Crab apple tree.
Most fruit trees were stripped of their crop by poor weather or magpies, but I am looking to go and pick the tail end of that tomorrow. The one exception is a Golden Hornet crab apple tree which is looking very good now for a young one. I am not familiar with this variety, so I am sneaking a well coloured fruit off every now and then and cutting it in half to look for dark colour on the seed-skin which denotes ripeness. So far the pips remain pale blond, so we are holding off picking the crop just yet. They look lovely in the golden setting sun. 'Mellow' is not really a good attribute of apples, but these will get used for cooking, so a bit of extra sweetness and softness will not hurt.

Festoons of hundreds of spider webs on these gorse.
The mists have given me some lovely sights in the mornings. When I am down about my cattle feeding business on the far side of the village, there is one particular gorse hedge which has picked up hundreds, if not thousands, of swags of spider web giving it an almost 'Christmas Tree' look when the fog and dew get on it in the morning. This morning I was booked to trim a goat's feet (I know... rock and roll lifestyle!) so I'd taken the camera. In fact I took no goat pics - too busy concentrating on those spiralling horns - but was able to snap a couple of gorse pics.

New shoes!
You may be familiar with the brand of footwear 'Crocs', a light, rubbery type of clog or sandal. I 'found' these when we first came over - I think Lidl supermarket had them on 'special offer' and they have become a firm favourite as knock-about small holdering footwear. They are reasonably waterproof and don't get wet like the suede 'desert boots' I used to wear, and you can easily slip then on or off while both hands are full of dog leads, eggs, the post or what ever.

At last - these flowered on 30th Sept!
They have two disadvantages - they are no good as a safety shoe for rough work being full of holes and very soft-soled, so blackthorn thorns and stray nails will happily some up through the sole and into your foot. Second, because they are just rubber with no lining, any wet, mud or (gasp) other agri products that get into them stay there as a film between skin and Croc, never drying out and giving you very dirty feet, so socks are a must. All well and good, you might think. Crocs, though, seem to be like Marmite in the public mindset, you either love them or you hate them and if you are a hater, then you cannot resist long tirades and scornful outbursts on social media like Facebook. "Crocs and SOCKS?!!!!!" They seem to be a sartorial mis-step way too far. I'll leave that one up to you. My other problem with them is more general - the Irish as a nation do not seem to have size 12 feet, so when Crocs appear in shops they are usually only up to size 11, so I have to order these new ones on line where a pair with postage, sets you back €42.

The wood store almost there. The pale wedgy stuff is the
big fallen black-spruce. 
I am on my own again, as Liz has hot-footed it away on another UK run, this time to the wedding of an internet chum on the Isle of Wight. She is joining forces with our good friend Mazy in Kent and they are running down together tonight, the nuptials are tomorrow. My role was to drop her to Knock Airport at lunchtime with case, passport, sandwiches and bag of Tayto crisps without which no flight would be complete. I am now general cook and bottle washer for a few days but I have plenty to do so I will not be mooping around bored and pining.

Spider web festoons on the gorse
Main task at the moment is filling the log store with the chopped up slices of the big fallen black spruce tree. Some of this splits nice and easily but some is quite knotty and is hard work. Also, despite falling in November, it has not dried out and seasoned much. The lower trunk is still quite sappy and tends to flex out of the way of the axe blade rather than split down the grain. Still, I am nearly there on the full store, so any big discs of tree than remain will be brought up to the yard and can carry on drying out stacked lying on their sides till I get some space in the log store. All good clean fun.


Anne Wilson said...

Dunnes store sell size 12 crocs in the summer season, they also do size 12 men's shoes, also Boles of Boyle stock size 12's, however I don't think too much of the Clarks shoes that Simon bought a few months back from Boles, the soles have come away from the uppers and they were over twice the price that he would pay in Dunnes. I don't know if crab apples ever soften, they certainly wont get any sweeter, but if you are making jelly it doesn't really matter, I guess you could use them in a pie but by the time they are peeled and cored there's not much left.

Anne Wilson said...

Simon has just reminded me, the last pair he bought he got in Tesco, they were even cheaper than Dunnes, six months on he's still wearing them, he thinks they under 10 euros.

Matt Care said...

Thanks for both of those Anne. I am also in search of some desert boots which seem to cost an arm and a leg here (Balla-D's Paul Byron seems to start at €75 and go on up to €165!) so maybe Dunnes will have them too? The crab apples are definitely intended for jams/jellies but we were thinking they needed to be ripe to the dark-pip stage.

Matt Care said...

If I find Crocs at under ten Euro I will buy as pair anyway just to have as spares.