Monday 29 August 2016

I Ran Out of Bullets

Nice surprise for Liz sneakily organised by the guests - the
Dining Room got decorated while she was outside, seeing
to some catering.
First a big Happy Birthday to the lovely Lizzie for Saturday. She bravely agrees to remove all chance of rest and swanning around getting spoiled, by inviting two guests over to stay the night (and then a 2nd night). These are a lovely couple and the best of guests, Dan and Danielle who jointly get referred to as "the children" even though they are grown up, working adults. This is because Danielle is daughter to Liz's closest cousin while she was a child, Cathy, so both of them should feel like a whole generation 'below' us (hence 'children') but, of course, we are all young at heart (cough) so they are just like 'normal' friends and we thoroughly enjoy their visits.

One of the ducks does the honours here. 
Dan lives a fairly high-power, management life, so he mainly loves the chance to relax in our brand of serene calm, but Danielle is mad keen to get involved in the small holdering, dealing with the stock and asking a gazillion questions. If anyone was sure to have her own place 'one day' then it is this Lady. Joking around, we have assembled a training course with tasks at various levels of difficulty and we sign her off as she progresses up through the "Stock Wrangler" skills.

Happy Livestock Wrangler. Here with a rather anxious
looking 13 day old Hubbard chick. (Pic by Dan)
Level 1: Basic early morning rounds, feed, water and release and basic evening round locking up.

Level 2: Shepherd 6 ducks to and from sleeping quarters to orchard without losing or panicking anyone. Mimicking duck's waddle as you follow them optional.

Level 3:  Load 12 Hubbard chicks from brooder to cardboard box and transfer to warm, sunny rabbit run without losing any.

That was going to be it for this visit but then she got bumped up to the next class when she was suddenly asked to do....

Picture by Dan
Level 4: Sort out which chick currently under successful broody hen B is actually in the wrong 'family' having snuck across from hen A when first brought off the nest for an explore. This only really possible because nest B chicks are either still a bit damp from the egg or less mobile than the 'A' chicks which hatched 2 days ago. The boss Stockman will help by lifting Hen B up a couple of inches so you can see under her skirts.

Danielle is no longer "The Children" but is now "My Level 4 Stock Assistant". All good fun.

Dustbin Lady shows off her first hatched.
While they were with us we were delighted by a huge amount of luck in the broody hens dept. In the last post I wrote of our 2 broody Buff Orps, Dustbin Lady and Crate Lady who had started on 6th and 8th Aug respectively, and as a result we just might have happy events while the guests were here (21 days later). Well in the event, both girls hit the target so a delighted (even tearful at one stage) Danielle was able to see 2 new chicks under 'Dusty' on Sunday and then a 3rd plus 2 under Crate Lady this morning (Monday). Dan was happy too, of course, but is a bit calmer and says he is "only the official photographer".

...and then a second.
Danielle also got involved in the chick-abduction mentioned under 'Level 4' above. One of Dustbin's three, when brought off the nest by Mum, wandered round the divider to Crate Lady in the 'next bed', walked right up to her chest, looked up at her huge 'same as my Mum' shape and presumably asked "Are you my Mummy?" Real Mum was going nuts behind the chick trying to contain the other 2 while calling the wanderer back, but Crate Lady said "I am now!" and promptly scooped the chick up under her skirts. It was a theft so fast and efficient that, had I not been there, I would have assumed all was well till I counted the 'dud' eggs left over, by which time the abducted chick would have bonded to not-Mum and would not have been returnable.

Dan takes some time out to study for his
soon-to-start first year at LSE and the kitten
may not have been much help. (Pic by Danielle)
What ever the outcome, we currently have 5 chicks from ten eggs which is not a bad score. The whole visit was the usual feast of excellent food, sensible drinking (yes, we do that now!) lovely chat and relaxation in lovely company. The guests' first plan was to stay one night here and go camping on the 2nd night somewhere in Wexford but they were so happy here and not entirely convinced they actually wanted to camp, that when we offered them a 2nd night, they jumped at the chance.

Blue gets 'Danielle'd. Pic by Dan
They took themselves off touristing on the Sunday instead, exploring Killala Bay, Enniscrone and the Ceide Fields. They had lovely warm weather for it. This morning we fed them the traditionally full-fry breakfast and off they went to find their ferry home. They have already booked their next visit. What do we give Danielle for her Level 5 test?

'Moloch' gets it in the beak
While the guests were away, I went, as usual on Sunday pm, archery-ing. I still love this and Sunday was a beautifully warm, sunny one, so we were out doors shooting at the foam rubber animals again. I was doing OK and managing to hit most targets plus, at one stage, for the first time ever I nailed the elusive 'Moloch', a fist sized owl who sits glaring at you from 25 yards away. If you need to know about the name Moloch, I refer you to 1 Kings 11:7. Impressed? Don't be. I only know this because our 'coach' Con told us. He is some flavour of dodgy Israeli false god. The owl, not the coach. I got him right in the beak (again, the owl, not....) and we were all so amazed we had to take a pic. Of course the lens-man and a friend and fellow archer, Paul, then went one better by nailing Moloch and the equally difficult 'Log Rat' with 2 SEQUENTIAL arrows. Show off! Also of course, neither of us could do a thing to refute the 'fluke' accusations - we never got near either target again.

Poppea not quite eclipsing my ample belly with
her own. 
Don't get too excited about looking for me in the Olympics, however. This was an out door shoot so all of us, expert and beginner alike, tend to lose a few arrows in the grass, or shoot high over the bank into a bramble patch, or ping the arrow, nose first, off an underground stone, or undershoot the target and hit the woodwork of the stand. This arrow-carnage can run you out of 'ammo' in a bit of a hurry and, since starting back in spring, I was getting through my original dozen and another 6 I had bought from a local guy. Fortunately some of the damage was only tips broken off at the 'join' and I have the tapering tool, glue and tips to repair these.

That day, though, I lost 2, snapped 2 more in half and someone smacked one of my successful arrows up the back end like Robin Hood, breaking the 'nock' into which the bow-string fits. It was half past 4 by then and I'd had enough when the instructor asked "have you run out of bullets?" Nothing for it but to pack up my stuff and head home to rejoin the house, where the guests were already back from Mayo/Sligo. Since then the archers who stayed to the bitter end actually found 2 of my lost arrows in the grass and I have been able to re-tip 5 more, so I am good to go back into action next week. Watch out Log-Rat.

1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

There's a competition coming up in Mayo that we want to go to, it's a 3D animal round, I take it you will be at that, we are all planning on going up, there is a few more inbetween as well, you should go to some, you do lose arrows but they are great fun. We have a bit of a thing going in Laois Archery, the trad shooter (there is about 6 of us) with the lowest score gets a wooden spoon, all good fun.