Friday 27 May 2016

High Babies, Low Babies

Our high and low babies - the Buff Poults at 8 weeks meet the
tiny Hubbard chicks at 8 days. 
When Liz was coming up through school and later, when she was babysitting or minding children of friends, the young children who we, in England, called "infants" were always referred to colloquially as the "Low Babies" and the "High Babies". I suppose that they were officially "junior infants" and "senior infants" or some such (It was a long time ago - Liz can't remember that far back!) but I love the expression and it has come to be stuck to our two current groups of chicks - the Hubbard chicks at 8-9 days and the Buff poults at 8-9 weeks. All are thriving. We have passed 6 of the Hubbards across to our friends Sue and Rob to try out - they had not done pure meat-birds up to now and fancied giving them a go.

2 goslings. One just visible as an eye and a bit of face!
Good news at last in the goose dept, with the start of hatching. 2 happy healthy ones so far, starting to peep out from under Mum's (or Aunt's) skirts and sadly I can also see a sorry, flat inert one down under all those heavy webbed feet, presumably one that didn't quite make it out of the egg. That's the way it goes sometimes, especially in our rather chaotic system.

Should be safe enough with all those beaks protecting you!
There are plenty more eggs in there and regular readers will know that these get dropped into the nest by the 'aunts' all through the broody period. We have no way of knowing if they are new or contain part-grown or even ready-to-hatch babies. What generally happens if that the first goslings, when they reach 3 days or so, will be led off the nest and out into the grassy orchard for a first explore but will leave behind an 'aunt' still sitting on the rest of the eggs.

In the past these 'aunts' have hatched a few stragglers who then join the kindergarten in turn (more high babies and low babies?) so we end up with a funny looking straggle of goslings of various ages like "steps and stairs". We are happy either way. We do not really want to be breeding geese anyway so the fewer we have to sell or finish, the happier we are. Cute though, you have to admit and it is nice in welfare terms for the geese to do 'family' stuff, "expressing natural behaviours" and all that.

Turf extruded out ot dry by a turf-hopper in local bog, Kiltybranks. 
After a 3 week break while my 'boss builder' (K-Dub) was up doing some proper paid work in Dublin (a loft extension) it was nice to get a Thursday back on that job this week. The Sligo house project rather missed the deadline - they'd been hoping to move in during April - but K-Dub is a realist and knows he can't turn down good paid jobs like that one. They can use bits of the house - the heating and range work and they can use the shower for example, but the kitchen is still just carcasses and half built units and even the most advanced bedrooms need paint. A few more weeks of living in that (nice and big!) caravan for now, people.

Being a British citizen who has been resident in the UK in the last 15 years, I was eligible to vote in the upcoming 'Brexit' referendum (Britain's exit from the European Union, or not). I have heard so much scary nonsense on this one that I was happy to oblige. It was just a case of logging in to a website and providing various personal info, passport number and the like) to secure my postal vote. All the paperwork for that arrived on Wednesday, so I quickly did my form-filling, placed my 'X' in the appropriate box and posted that back off to Swale Boro' (Kent). I can only pray now that good sense prevails and wait for the results after the actual poll on 23rd June. I've done my bit.

A brace of cakes for the Faversham Friends
We were almost visited by some friends from our 'old' town of Faversham in Kent. They have relatives in Ireland (2 and a half hours away in Thurles) and were over for a wedding which was to happen in Claremorris, which is only half an hour's drive away. Liz baked a couple of nice cakes and there was home made bread and our usual range of jams, pickles and, of course, our version of 'Serrano' ham. Unfortunately a grand child got sick and then a grown-up in the party, so the run across from Thurles to the wedding was called off and they couldn't make it. Ah well, we will catch up with them on a future visit and we can certainly 'tidy up' the cakes.

First yellow flag iris opens in the pond.
Other than that I have been playing 'sheep' (well, in a way) in two different ways this week. Sue and Rob finally received their ear tags from the co-op, so asked me to come across with the pliers to do the job on all 8 of their sheep. Rob is in UK so we roped in grandson Lewis (him of the piglet-bagging) as sheep-wrangler and got them all done in about 15 minutes. The baby suck-lambs were easy, the shearling and the adult ewe took a bit of catching using bucket-of-grub bribery and some nifty rugby-tackling lunges.

Dog foot prints in your turf?
Then I was down in town Sunday to get a haircut and got chatting to my friendly barber (Barbara, yes I know!) about sheep shearing. She had never seen sheep shears close to and was curious when I said that they were much bigger, heavier , noisier and more 'industrial' than the quietly humming "human" clippers she was used to. She asked would I bring them down to show her and she could maybe frighten a few customers by pretending to use them. Well, I advised against that but took them down for her to see, hold and fire them up. What a racket they make (especially with the tension slacked off for storage) - she was quite impressed and agreed that you could do some serious damage to any poor customer in the chair even just joking around. I was happy to put them back away in their case.

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