Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Heat was Hot.

We don't get many weather maps here with this much yellow
and brown on them!
Scorchio! Out of nowhere we have been delighted to receive 2 blisteringly hot days. No wind and very very close with the promise of thunderstorms to come on the Tuesday evening. As I write this we are clouding over and we can believe the storms, but we are waiting, as you do, for the weather to 'break'. We read that in yesterday's bit of the heat wave, our local mountain (Mt. Dillon, Co. Roscommon) was the hottest place in Ireland at 27.3ºC. Pah! (I hear you cry) Not that impressive by the standards of the British Isles as a whole, but fairly unusual for us out on the Atlantic margins. [Newsflash from Weds a.m. Mt Dillon repeated the 'hottest place' feat on the Tuesday with an even hotter record; 30.4ºC !]

It's official. Hottest place in Ireland!
We are amused anyway by being the record holders. We moved here from Faversham in Kent which had also been, since 30th Sept 2003, the hottest place in the UK. The weather station at Brogdale, the fruit research station, recorded a 38.5º on that date putting Faversham firmly on the map. I have just searched Google etc because in my head somewhere is a glimmer of memory that Brogdale was recently out-done and knocked off the top spot, but I can find nothing on t'Internet to confirm this. Ah well, we must enjoy this burst of heat while we can. We were wondering whether summer had come and gone with the lovely 3 weeks in May/June so we are relieved that there may be more where that came from.

Mumma-Buff with her two "black babies". We believe they
Araucana x English Game crosses.
The warmth has given us a chance to do a lot of livestock jobs out of doors. The little Marans chicks, still no more than a week old, have been allowed some 'out' in one of the rabbit runs. Typically for tiny chicks, they do not really do much with this time, making only occasional short forays out onto the grass from the safety of their dark, 'bedroom' section but they are thriving and I am very happy with them. That is, all be it that EVERYthing seems to grow very slowly compared to the Hubbard poults who, at 60 days or so are great big rollicking, fully feathered young chickens who are already starting to look edible.

The roses are doing a cracking job in the garden.
This is "The Lovers". Beautifully scented.
The one Buff Orp hen who managed to do the broody job correctly is now doing an equally good job rearing her two little sparrow-like offspring. The eggs were blue, so we thought they might be of the 'fancy fowl' variety, Araucana but Sue and Rob (who know these varieties and supplied the eggs) say that the flecked brown chests on them make them more likely to have been fathered by their English Game cock.

Apples coming along nicely.
Also outdoors for some first exploring are the two Marmalade kittens, Chivers and Chip. They, too, are thriving and Liz is trying to keep their lives full of stimulus and interest despite them being too tiny to risk any close interaction yet with the dogs. They are locked in the Sitting Room while the dogs are about and let out while I have the dogs out for a walk or in the bedroom for a nap. Today, in the heat and with the dogs tired from a long morning walk in the local bog, we sneaked the kittens out into the front garden for a chase about. They met the Guinea Fowl and our elderly Sussex Ponte hen (Enda) and survived.

As pants the Westie for cooling streams,
when heated in the chase?
One sad bit of news. A few posts back, I reported that one of the geese was struggling to get back on her feet after her session doing 'broody'. Well, she was showing no signs of improvement and I was concerned at the anguished cries of pain and upset she made every time the rest of the geese left her behind and she flopped about trying to struggle upright. Today I culled her out and as I type this, Liz is even now plucking her. We have no idea how she will cook and eat - she will be in very poor condition after the nesting and the subsequent inability to move about much to graze. She might also be quite old.

The pigs come up to 6 months.
If she is one of our original ladies from Jan 2013, then she'd be a 2012 bird and 4 years old. A challenge for Liz's slow-cooker skills, perhaps, or maybe a 'render down' for stock and goose fat (with the liver probably rescued!). She will decide when she sees the girl 'naked'. Even a fat healthy goose can look very scrawny and meatless along side a turkey for example.

Curly tail equals happy pig.
Also a teeny bit less "meaty" than previous efforts are our happy pair of piggies, Somerville and Ross. Regular readers will know that we estimate pig weights using a standard method out of our pig 'Bible', called the "Bust squared times length" method. [Search this blog for the link]. Well, these ladies are approaching 6 months and are around 48 kg. This, as I said, is lighter than our Tamworths (2014) or the Berkshires (2015) but we are very happy with this and it is deliberate. I am a bit of a 'feeder' (says Charlotte) and tend to overfeed my animals unless you beat me with a stick. Our pork up to now has been quite fatty. This year we are sticking more rigidly to the Bible's "maintenance diet" and these pigs are growing measurably slower than previous years, which we like.

Finally a couple of nice bits of nostalgia which came my way, deriving from my long interest in olde wooden sail-powered work boats. First we heard from a Kent friend (thanks Joanna) that there was to be a programme on Irish TV about the 'Galway Hookers' or, more specifically, about the last owners and sailors of the 'species', the 'Bádóirí' (boatmen). I managed to scramble up writing this on the calendar and tried to turn it on a month after it had aired, so I had a frantic search and rescue job trying to obtain a DVD or find a link to somewhere it might be archived. To the rescue the gents from the film company and a magazine which had set it up who managed to find me the DVD and posted it to me. Thank you very much Joe St Leger and the team. The film was superb but might be a bit 'specialist' if old boats are not your thing.

Nick Ardley's latest book.
2nd in the boats dept, a copy of the latest book by my friend from the Cambria era (he used to read my reconstruction blog and comment upon it), Nick Ardley. Nick is nearly the same age as I am but his family home was a converted Thames Sailing Barge (the May Flower) so there is not much he does not know about them. He is now a mad keen sailor who spends his leisure time exploring the creeks and inlets of his home county (Essex) looking at old barge ports, old boats and hulks, old military installations and industrial heritage. He has written a number of books starting with one about his childhood growing up on the barge. When I find out he has a new book out I always try to get hold of a copy and this latest one he generously agreed to post to me here and has written a nice inscription and signed it. If he ever becomes rich and famous....... If you are at all interested in the history of barging and of the Essex coast and Thames Estuary, I recommend it.

Injuns in them thar hills? OK, just a silly garden feature made
with broken arrows and holes drilled in the wood with my drill.
And that is pretty much it for this one. 21:40 now and it has started raining.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

We registered 30.5c in the shade here yesterday.