Tuesday, 31 May 2016

First there were 2 Goslings....

First time on public view and, here, 'photo-bombed' by one of
the male Guinea Fowl 
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, we are suddenly goat-less again for the first time since early January. We shipped Nanny Óg and the new kid (Henry Óg) home this morning to their new abode in Sligo in my trailer. K-Dub and I had been hard at work in the blue sky, sweaty heat (OK it's only 21ºC but this IS Roscommon) of Saturday, creating a third paddock at the Sligo rebuild house while being eaten alive by mozzies. Luckily for me, anyway, K-Dub is like Lizzie in being a very attractive target for these bitey b**tards, so he was the one being eaten. They don't seem to find me palatable. But then, it WAS his fence.

Only days old here. 
The holding over there includes a nice big and smooth but slightly sloping 2 acre (?) field. The field, though, has been left to go to ruin dominated by huge tussocks of rushes and thickets of bramble and 'sally' willows. The tussocks trap water and the whole field can get very boggy - way too boggy to risk driving the yellow 'JCB' tractor onto it.

This green stuff is grass, children and we eat it.
Never mind - Carolyn is an experienced and cunning improver of grassland and knows that by using combinations of grazing by the mini horses and goats, brush cutting and loppering, the field will soon be brought back into good heart. Razing the rush tussocks to the ground helps water run off and allows grass to recover faster than the rushes by growing up through and between their clumsy root pads. The horses and goats WILL eat the fresh green rush regrowth. We know this works - we have no more rushes on either our front lawn or the East Field after we 'borrowed' the mini horses and the field in this village where the horses were up till recently was also a rush-bog a few years back, when Carolyn's squad moved in.

Baby pears, or an excuse to photograph those
glorious blue skies?
The secret is to divide the field into paddocks so that you can concentrate all your grazing into one small area at a time preventing anyone from being choosy and just eating the sweetest grasses. When the field has been 'hammered' down to the 'clay', you take all the animals off to rest the paddock and let the grass leap into action. Several cycles of this and you have a good field and continuing to rotate the grazing by this 'mob-grazing' system keeps it that way. Hence K-Dub and I sweating and beating off mozzies in the sun.

That (lovely) straying dog, our most frequent visitor, again
Meanwhile the humans in this saga seem to be pinging about all over the place also. Liz went down to Silverwood-land to see the First Holy Communion (and party etc) for youngest niece 'R'. I must admit I cried off this one on grounds of livestock, newly hatched geese and not being Catholic (OK, maybe not that last one) so Liz went down to spend the night and would return on Monday in Mum-in-Law's car (with M-i-L, obviously) so that she could spend a couple of days here catching up with the farm and the various animals. Last time she was up we had the lamb bottle-feeding incident. We were to remember this yesterday evening. There may be a pattern forming.

Bobby the Dog. His brother, Shep, is just as gorgeous.
During this break Charlotte came home from college for the Summer and hence all the goat-moves. Charlotte is our go-to animal wrangler and we know she can usually help if we are doing anything live-stock. She wanted to gather up the goats to bring them home (where she now is, of course) so that she can try out some goat-milking, and we knew we could 'borrow' her to grab my ewes one by one while I trimmed off the last fuzzy edges of my shearing. Everyone's a winner!

Early Purple (?) Orchid
Ah but the livestock "incident" I mentioned. Sad to say we synchronised a bad event with this visit by Mum-in-Law. I had gone out to lock down the poultry for the evening and found one of the goslings looking like a casualty. He had either taken a bad clout (peck?) from an adult bird or been trampled underfoot. He was lying on his back in the dirt on the coop floor with his legs twitching and his head trying to get upright. He was stuck like that, as if a tortoise had been flipped over. Adult geese are massive strong beasts compared to the few-ounces fragile balls of fluff goslings and they can be very clumsy with their feet set so far back on their bodies. It was not looking good.

Some first fox gloves
We rescued the gosling to the sickbay via a warm-up cuddle down Mum's "front" while the 'electric hen' warm-plate warmed up. The brooder box is in the same room as Mum was to be sleeping but she said she could cope with his little pathetic cheeping so we all retired to bed quite hopeful. The little guy was still alive in the morning but although he could sit upright and squirm back up the right way if he toppled, he could not walk. Gander George was all over him when we tried to re-introduce him but that was no good to us if he couldn't move about with the family. Back into the brooder box then, with the little chap, hoping that maybe he was only bruised and might recover over the next days.

One of our big red showy poppies. 
Sadly no. He went downhill mid morning and died while Charlotte and I were doing our goat-taxi run. Ah well. You don't win them all. The other gosling seems to be thriving and is out and about in the orchard today with anything from 1-4 adults depending on who wants to stay near the remaining eggs. Sorry, Mum - we will try to arrange a visit soon where livestock does not die at you!

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