Tuesday 6 September 2016

Field of Dreams?

If I play my cards right, this should be one of my most carefully worded blog posts ever.

View from our '2nd' gate, across the lane to
the field opposite
Regular readers will recall that when we bought this place we bought the house and the 1.5 acres around its south, west and north but then put in a (successful) plea for the 1 acre field to our east, thereby getting a nice square chunk of land with the house and buildings at its centre. The total buy was just a tad over the hectare (1.03 hectares or some such). The family kept hold of the rest of the holding (28 more acres) at that stage. Those readers will also recall that we have since dreamed of buying the field opposite (1.5 acres) so that we could keep a Dexter cow and calf having first fenced it properly and put up a shelter for the animals which would also collect rainwater into a couple of those 1000 litre butts (IBCs). So far so good.

That field from its SW corner. You can just see the new gate
centre left. 
All of that is already 'out there' in the public domain. Newly 'out there' comes word that the family have now decided to sell the property via local auctioneer "Callaghan Auctioneering" as 3 options - all of it both sides of the road (28 acres) or, separately, the 1.5 acres opposite us and the 26.5 acres to our west and north. This is crunch time. If we want to buy it, then we need to make up our minds now and get cracking. Once 'our field' is sold it is unlikely to come up available again.

All of which pitches us into the murky waters of "Private Treaty" wherein, if you are wise, you play your cards very close to your chest lest you prejudice your or anyone else's moves. Buyers must bid for the property in a closed-bid auction, sealed envelopes discretely delivered to the auctioneer. You don't know what anyone else has bid or even who has done so for the very good reason that no-one wants anyone else to know their business or their worth. They might share a pint in the local pub, but they are, of course, rival businesses, farmers who might have to try to out-do their neighbour next time they buy or sell animals. It's a cut throat, hard nosed business, farming, especially since the crash. If someone is going under then you don't want it to be you.

Another 'flavour' of livestock feed in bulk;
another silly cartoon on a dustbin lid!
Obviously, in this fog of 'smoke and mirrors' a good few of them are also "experts" with fixed opinions on who has bid and how much. "Ah.... surely he will have bid", " Oooh, about €70 grand, I expect", "Ah yes, but he's just spent a load of money on xxx" and so on. Fevered conjecture with not a fact to base any of it on! A dream for gossip and village politics and mainly harmless fun.

Maybe I'll just buy a tractor instead. Love this local one.
Hence me being so careful about what I know and what I may or may not have done about it. Will we bid? How much should we bid - what price would secure the land (or how little could we get away with!)? When do we bid - smack one in early or bide our time and wait right to the wire. Do we have that kind of money? Can we winkle it out of dusty-laden reserves or should we start doing the lottery? Don't hold your breath waiting for these answers. A guy in the pub told me it'll be at least 2 months....... OK, not really.

Deefer loving the new bed. The old 2nd hand cushions were
well past their sell by date.
Meanwhile, as if all this fevered speculation was not enough Lizzie has been trying to commit suicide by excess committee work and is only now starting to see some light at the end of a very packed tunnel - committees on organising the local Half Marathon/10 k runs (she looks after the publicity and has introduced them to the world of websites and social media), on what play the drama group should do next, on the future use of the Village Hall (actually the "Community Resource Centre", no less) as well as establishing yoga sessions, restarting the pre-school and Active age groups. Then there is knitting (and now crochet lessons), plus we have had visitors and we are due some more.

Half Marathon-ers pull away from the start line. 
It is a real relief to 'finish' some of these projects and lay them to rest for another year and, this weekend just gone, 'we' (the village) landed the 10k and Half Marathon. It went like a dream and, on the day, there was no more publicity to be done, so 'we' (mainly Liz) were able to swan around the start enjoying the well organised chaos and busy-ness, talking to some of the runners (incl. one from Miami!) taking pictures, see the runs set off and then zoom back to our place to set up and run our watering station while we waited for the Half Marathon to power round the first 12 miles.

The front of the pack are the highly trained and motivated runners who tend to decline your offers of water; they stay focused on the steps, the times, their heart rates and so on, but you start to get 'customers' for your water from further down the field. Some grab your water, others even stop for a breather and a chat. "I have nothing left to give" they say before sprinting on over the crest and down to the finish. There's a fair amount of waiting around between runners and Liz filled it this time with a bit of crocheting, working her way round and round an ever increasing square. One lady ran by who we knew and joked that "It's nice that some of us have time to knit!" Quick as a flash, Liz countered with "It's crochet and, anyway, you've only been round once - I've been round this twice!"

Our MEP Luke (Ming) Flanagan does the 10K with a buggy!
As an aside, we also saw local MEP Luke (Ming) Flanagan set off at the back of the 10K course jogging but pushing a push chair with sleeping baby. I photographed him passing and later sent the pic to him via Twitter. He said that the girl in the buggy always seems to beat him over the line. Did she sleep all the way round? All 10K, said Ming. We can see her in a few years in the playground swanking it up... "10K? Call that a distance? I used to do those in my sleep!"

Back on the 'farm' a couple of less happy events. Our two ewe lambs 'for meat' came to the end of their journey and were deemed big enough to go on that car-ride to destiny (well, trailer ride). I was down today to collect the offal and the slaughterman amazed me by  saying that these were the best 2 lambs we had ever given him. He is sometimes a bit of a one for the tease or a curmudgeonly comment (too fat, too big, wrong sex (he 'hates' doing rams, he says), black wool (never as good allegedly)) so I take that as praise indeed. The same day as we took our two down, Sue asked us to take 3 (tiny ram lambs) for her to the 'other' butcher (which she uses) because Rob has allegedly chained their trailer to a concrete block and then gone on a trip to UK without knowing where the key is. Allegedly.

September is here, then.
It's a job you have to do, but it's never easy and it always feels like a bad betrayal of both the trusting lambs, and the Mum (in this case Myfanwy) from whom you have 'stolen' the children. Poor Myf' called for them through the gate for most of the afternoon. Then, as if the bloodthirsty gods had not given me enough angst, the now full-grown gosling who had already lost the use of one leg (see a previous post) and was coping OK, today lost use of the other leaving him/her helplessly stuck in one bit of field. That is the end of the road in these cases, so her end came tonight when she failed to make it home to the goose-house at lock-up. Again, not a fun job but a necessary one.

On a happier note, to finish, I received a gift from a lad in the lane, of a bucket of rather green windfall apples for the pigs. I was doubtful, thinking I might give them belly ache so I started gently (a few apples, rapidly hoovered up) and then dished out a dozen per lunchtime. They looked to be enjoying it. Sobering then to see poor old Somerville stagger out for her supper in a very moopy state and play with her food while Ross guzzled hers with the usual gusto. Poor girl did not look well at all - quite a scare for me as I have never had a pig go sick before. I was fairly sure she'd just got your standard kid's belly ache and the advice on the pig groups was consistent with that. Keep an eye, they said. She will probably recover overnight. Anxious morning rounds this morning, then, till I was delighted and relieved to see that familiar sandy coloured shape sprinting up and down the fence with her sister yelling for breakfast. Anyone would think she'd missed a meal.... oh yes, so she had!

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