Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Fastest Cheese in the Wesht?

Our Arum has finally produced some clean spathes. Last year
they all seemed to get frosted, drowned or munched.
...in which we saw an end to the blue skies, for now at least, experienced a 'first' in the wildlife dept, had our shaggy dogs visited by our tame dog-groomer and played host to some rels.

Yes, the run of blue skies and heatwave temperatures came to an end but we quite welcomed it and saw it as a bit of a relief and the garden has definitely appreciated the refreshment. The 'wildlife' drama was our first sighting, in Ireland, of deer and much to our delight and surprise they were just a mile away, in our own home lane, not even as far as the local village.

Bog Asphodel in Kiltybranks.
These were 2 female fallow deer and we 'caught' them wandering on the lane as we headed off to Balla-D on a mission to retrieve (would you believe) our chemical toilet. The lane is straight so we could see the buff/white shapes  at a distance and first thought they might be dogs. According to the bio-diversity maps, we are 'meant' to have fallow deer all over Co Roscommon and I've been hunting around with my eyes open as this is a species I know well, love and 'follow' from the Kent days. In Kent, when I was involved in the Challock Forest 'friends'
First peas of 2016 - in the poly-tunnel, obviously.
I was the one doing the 'expert' (ha!) guided walks for the public during the rut, and it was fallow deer that we were looking at. I have not seen hide nor hair, not a whisper of a fallow deer in all the 4 and a half years we have been in Ireland. I have missed them. Then there they were, not a 5 minute drive from home, clearly visible and definitely fallow does till they saw us arriving and nipped off down the bank into the young forestry to the left of the lane. We have been back that way many times since but, of course, not a sign. There is one not-so-good possibility for this sighting before we all get too excited. We know that there is a deer farm locally though we have not, so far, found it and I have no idea whether it is fallow deer the man keeps, but these two might just be farm escapes. Never mind. I have added them to the bio-diversity database with that rider in the notes.

Towser gets it in the neck from Charlotte. Everywhere else, too!
The dogs were long overdue for a clip and I took it easy with them all through the hot spell. Regular readers will know that I clip them myself and would normally do them around about my birthday in mid April. This year though, they were booked in long ago for some more special, 'professional' treatment. Our friend Charlotte, trainee vet assistant, animal wrangler and also dog groomer had her eyes on them for some pictures before and after of the 'Westie Cut' (and other styles) for her curriculum vitae, so we were saving them up.

Come on you boys in green? Poppea is ready for the footie. 
She loves doing the westies and as they are white, she can also practise playing with her colours/dyes. These are only the cheap, last-a-few-days, water-based inks which wash off so the dogs do not have to worry long about their street cred. There would be no market round here (says Charlotte) for the proper, €6-a-bottle colours used by the "Creative Groomers" that you might get to use in a city 'salon'.

Towser loves C anyway, even though she
has really 'done' him this time!
So, Towser got a (golden) lion cut which, once photographed, got all cut off again so that his head and shoulders would be cool and he finished up with a 'Gay Pride' style rainbow and many coloured dots. Poppea got an Irish tricolour on one side and a goal net on the other so she'd be ready for the footie (Euros). Deefer got butterflies on 3 sides and a desert-island palm tree (green leaves, brown tree trunks, golden sand) on her rump.

3 flavours of goat cheese - plain, garlic and chives.
There was, too, a nice bonus to this day. Charlotte is now milking that guest-goat (Nanny Óg) on a 50/50 share basis with the kid and pulling off more milk than they have need for over there, so she offered some to us and we, of course, spotted the chance to make some more cheese - we love a feta in particular but also all the younger, softer goat cheeses. I collected Charlotte and all the grooming gear plus the milk at about midday. Unbeknownst to me, while we worked outside, Liz had nipped onto the Internet and found a goat-cheese recipe which only needed lemon juice and heat and a couple of hours. By the time we had done dogs, Liz re-appeared with a chilled pink wine and three flavours of perfectly good goats cheese, plain, garlic and chives. I don't suppose cheese has ever been made faster than that (or eaten!). We are looking forward to more milk as it comes available and have also been offered some from friends Sue and Rob who have now sold all their kids and are milking 3 nannies. They have milk coming out of their ears by all accounts. Blesséd are the cheese makers?

The ducks finally work out what the pond is for. Liz and
Mary look on.
Meanwhile, we have also played host to the Mum-in-Law (Steak Lady)  and Auntie Mary who came up for an over-night and a relaxing look around the farm, plus a visit to Strokestown House. The weather held off for long enough for them to enjoy the out doors and Liz has also enjoyed a bit of feeding the pigs while managing this time NOT to be chased by the gander. The ducks finally worked out what the pond is for and are now regulars dabbling and up-ending so that the ladies were able to sit on our big ash-log and watch them busily going about duck-business. Mercifully, this has not, so far, been too damaging to the pond.

As I write this we are relaxing back indoors after the Strokestown visit (enormous Ploughman's Lunch but too much rain for more than one border of the walled garden) and soon to drop the guests back to the railway station. It has been a lovely relaxing interlude and all the better for being a shade cooler after all that heat but, no, that was NOT the sound of me complaining about the weather.

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