Friday, 13 November 2015

Covering (a small bit of) Sligo in Concrete

Nanny (Óg) arrives home in our trailer. 
I had a nice chance to tease the 'Facebook lot' this week, when I was asked by our friend Charlotte to provide car and trailer to go off to buy a female goat (miniature in the original plan) for them. This goat was to be a companion to their existing goat 'Billy' who was sadly pining for his buddy, the miniature (gelding) horse 'Cody' who will be familiar to regular readers who have been with me for the last year or so. 'Codes' had been put back in his field and Billy was very vocal in his loneliness, bleating all day and all night.

Ain't she cute. Love the beard.
Billy is a miniature, so he really needs a mini-Nanny, but they are tricky to come by (as well as costly), so Charlotte has put herself on a waiting list for the breeder and meanwhile, sourced this Nanny to keep Billy company. She is actually in kid anyway, so Billy took one sniff and then lost interest till she wandered into his house looking every inch like she was taking over now, thank you! I have this running joke going with the Facebook crew that I am always sneaking off to buy new animals, usually with Charlotte as my accomplice, while Liz sits at home trying to rein me in. Something to do with having gone off to "look at" young turkey poults early this year and returned with our full sized adulrs, Tom and Barbara. It's not like that at all really, of (cough) course. I had put up on FB, a 'status report' that I was "NOT off to buy a goat" which, of couse, they all took to mean that I was off to do exactly that.

Cake mix ready for the oven.
Anyway, off we went to Knock village and following superb directions, found the bright pink 2 storey farmhouse we sought and the man showed us to the barn where the goats for our selection were kept. They were lovely clean healthy animals except for the feet and we got the distinct impression that they were housed permanently on deep-litter - a foot or so of old poo and straw over which the guy might have thrown some new straw that morning to fool us. That was OK. We knew we (I) could trim their feet up when we got home. They were all ear-tagged and official goats, so Charlotte chose one, paid up and we all retreated indoors to do paperwork.

Not bad for a first effort. This cake now gets well wrapped and
stashed away till mid December marzipan and icing time.
The goat is home now and we did, indeed, have some fun trimming her feet. She is a very sweet, well behaved animal and was no trouble to hold while I did "farrier" on her, lifting each foot in turn. I have never seen such long toe-nails on a sheep or goat, so it was very satisfying to give her the pedicure. Some of the 'toes' had long 'nails' on both the inside and outside, as well as a big thick horny growth at the 'heel' end, so that she was walking on tippy-toes on basically a tube of horn. No wonder Charlotte could see and commented upon how much more comfortably she was standing and walking when we'd done. Very satisfying job. The girl is officially called just 'Nanny' but we couldn't resist taking her a wee bit into Terry Pratchett territory by calling her 'Nanny Óg' (Young Nanny in Irish).

Pouring concrete at the Sligo house
The big story today, though, is of the major landmark achieved in the house build where I help just inside the Sligo border, that of pouring the concrete floor(s). This was always going to be a serious job and one causing a lot of concern to the 'main man' as he got all his ducks lined up in a row - men, equipment and concrete. This was going to be a new floor all through the existing house and out into the porch out front and across a 22' square extension out back, all tied together with 8 mm reinforcing mesh. It would involve 2 full concrete mixer lorry loads which if memory serves, translates into 17 cubic metres or 24 tonne, which is 320 heavy wheel barrow loads. The lorries would arrive at 1 and a half hour intervals, and there was no stopping once they arrived, so the main man had laid on a gang of 7 of us, mostly big, strong, fit, professional builders, mates of his from the building trade in Dublin. I say 'mostly' - 2 of us were obviously me and a tiny bar-man who they call "20%".

Of course, the weather chose today to totally fall apart and we were quite alarmed in driving out to the site at 08:15 to be driving through heavy sleet, some of which was laying on the tarmac. The day also laid on a few heavy rain bursts and a hail storm. Still, short story is we made it and main man is delighted that he got all the concrete in, spread and tamped, then 'bull-floated' down to a glass-smooth finish. He had 4 of the best lads on barrows running a shuttle service to/from the lorry's chute, and three of us on spreading, leveling and tamping. In the picture (which 'main lady' took at about 1pm) we are at the start of this, with just the first corner filled. I am on the right, main man in the middle and ace-tamper on the left. This was a first for me. I had seen our paths laid round our house but those lads pretty much asked me to get out of the way, so I watched from a distance. This time I was part of it. I am in awe of the work rate of these guys and massively impressed at the team work. I can see now why main-man needed all seven (and also deployed me to leveling; I'd not have lasted 5 minutes on those barrows!)

So, now the job is done and the guys have all adjourned to a local pub to celebrate with a few pints and to watch the Ireland (footie) match. I cried off this bit (though I was, of course invited) on grounds partly of knowing I'd not keep up with a gang of Dublin builders around the pints, but also because we had a special meal planned here tonight (Duck in Guinness) and by the time I was in, livestock done, dogs walked, shower taken and a glass of wine or two to the good, we were both a bit cosy and 'home' here. Good luck lads, and I hope Ireland win the match. Maybe we'll meet again further down the build. It was a blast. I could actually listen to those guys all day - they have worked together for years and the banter is superb.

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