Friday 6 May 2016

Enda Vaneera

Way, way back I posted that we in Ireland had had a General Election. I *think* it was actually 70 days ago. Nobody won (which is no surprise here in this land of coalition governments) and the various factions have been negotiating (or failing to talk) ever since so that even the political journo's have started to sound weary and impatient. Would the 2 main parties (Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) actually get together after 100 years of the main differences being what they thought about Partition (Ireland split into the Republic and 'The North')? Would we need some kind of Rainbow coalition of Fine Gael plus assorted minor parties and some Independent Members (TDs)? Well, they finally came up with a solution today and re-elected the previous "Taoiseach" (=Prime Minister, say it 'Tea-shuck'), Enda Kenny, though for how long this fragile peace can stick is anybody's guess. It got me to thinking about our various milestones and anniversaries here.

Looking decidedly nervous in this 4 year old pic, releasing
our first Irish chickens
Facebook has to take a lot of the 'blame' for my train of thought. They have got into a 'thing' now where they ping you pictures which you posted exactly 2, 3, 4 or 5 years ago and ask you if you want to share them back onto FB and comment on them. They dug up this 4 year old one of me releasing our first ever Irish chooks from their carry-box. I look very nervous. Nowadays I'd just tip the box on its side and let them walk out. They were our "Lovely Girls"; 6 (quickly reduced to 5) Sussex Ponte Hybrids. We were so green I'd even bought the "wrong" chooks - I'd intended to buy proper pure bred While/Light Sussex (Hadn't heard of Sussex Ponte). 4 years on we are evolving over to Buff Orpingtons and Cuckoo Marans and we have only one of these original birds left - we call her Enda (as in Enda Vaneera....geddit?.... and, yes, I do know Enda is a boy's name).

Meanwhile the piglets come up towards their 14th week and the ducklings and poults are going on 6 weeks. We are charmed by the ducklings now starting to change from the 'peep peep' noise of new hatched ducklings to some proper throaty quacking. Their voices are breaking, Bless 'Em! Both these clutches are now let out all day as long as it is sunny and one of us will be around. They tend to stay in the main yard, though the chickens have wandered as far as the front lawn before 'zooming' back to safety in that amusing wings-flapping sprint young poults have.

Buff Orp poults at 6 weeks
Today we decided to try to herd the ducklings as far as the big pond. They were not that keen and very perturbed at being hooshed out of the familiar yard. I wondered whether the sight of that big body of water might kick some instinct in and they'd happily dive in and play. Not a bit of it. We let them go at the water's edge and all 6 sprinted back towards the cattle-race and the familiar safety of their tiny cat litter tray 'pond'. That can fit only one or two at once now and then only paddling up to their ankles. We may need an interim "kiddies' paddly pool" solution in the yard so that they can experience water where their feets do not touch bottom.

Brooding in stereo. 
Our long-term brooders (the geese and Barbara the turkey) are still playing the waiting game. The geese, we know, are sitting on at least 12 eggs but we can not know how long these eggs have been in there. 3 have been in from the start. We may have the usual goosey chaos as the two Mums (Aunts?) hop on and off the nest and steal each others eggs for safe-keeping while the other female is out grazing. We hope that they will also do the 'aunt' thing once hatching starts. I'll take these 2 day old out to the orchard if you could just sit on those other eggs in case we get any stragglers hatching. Madness.

Not a happy bunny. Tom the turkey misses his woman.
Tom, is feeling very woe-begone with his 'wife' away in the fields (we hope). He mopes around all day and does not display even to us when we are seated by the pond. Hang in there, Tom. The 16th or so might see herself re-appear with babies. We'll give it a fortnight more and then possibly, try to find you a new love.

Damsel fly pupal case
I am still plugging on with the '365' project and trying to ring the changes to give the village website a good variety from which to choose. It is going well. Liz has upwards of half a dozen contributors now (and is trying to encourage more) so we have pics of children, ride on mowers, vegetable seedlings, the hand-ball courts, sunsets, pictures done by the pre-school (and flags by the National School). I am still here as 'back stop' to make sure we have no blank days. The end of April had us all a quarter of the way through the project. Fair way to go yet.

New log stack in the making.
I have managed to blag a couple of old pallets locally, so  the project for the end of this week has been to create yet another log stack against the barn wall up in the "Rose Walk". K-Dub would be proud of me. I am trying to build this with near vertical faces and even binding in the corners with log versions of "coin stones" like a bit of stone work. The plan is to roof this stack with my curved corrugated iron sheeting from the hay barn (you can see this in the photo, centre left).

Hornwort in the big pond.
This stack will be a good 4 cubic metres so should represent years 3-4 (maybe 5) of my store. It is a good feeling to be in May 2016 and to know that we probably have wood stored now round to Winter 2021/2. It will certainly have a chance to season (dry out) well and would also be a good hidey-hole for plenty of mice and voles safe from our cats.

Big boys' toys? Wide-track turf-cutting machinery
Ah well. That's probably enough for this one.

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