Saturday 29 October 2016

Namaste, Goat Meat and 'Mush'

We love this conjunction of an orange
"red hot poker" and the autumn leaves
at the 'top' of Ballaghaderreen. It needs
slanting morning sunshine to set it on
fire but this pic gives you some idea
"Namaste" (nama-stay). Roughly translated from the Hindu, it says "I bow to the Divine within you" and is said with that well known palms-together, fingers pointing upwards, greeting gesture you see on so many statues and pictures. It is how Yoga students traditionally greet each other and thank each other at the end of a session. So at the end of 8 weeks I come to the end of my Yoga instruction 'term', 6 weeks of 'men's beginner' classes and then 2 more sessions we "might as well do to bring us up to 'half term' "

Liz found this lovely bowl at the Dublin "Knit and Stitch" Show
We started out with half a dozen blokes but that suddenly crashed in week 4 to just 2 of us, myself and a lad called Jim. He then dropped out and was replaced by a guy named Padraig so I was the only person to do all 8. Unfortunately this attrition has made the instructor decide not to run the 'men' sessions on after Hallowe'en, so if we want to continue we'd have to brave the ladies' "mixed ability" sessions or seek out a men's session somewhere else. We'll see.

The remaining orchard pears were used in this gorgeous
pear and chocolate gooey dessert with almonds, best eaten
warm with ice cream, advised Liz. I'm not arguing!
I feel that the sessions have done me a world of good in terms of increasing my flexibility, suppleness and, yes, my strength and balance. For those who have not met the 'discipline' those pictures you see of people in odd poses are not the whole story. The exercise and the good it does come from getting into those positions. They work by forcing the student to bend or balance or lean like that and then, when the hamstrings or joints are twanging and screaming for relief, encouraging him/her to stay in that pain, relax and breathe, allowing each exhale to 'sag' the body into even more stretch. In theory the instructor is saying "Don't over-do it. Only go as far as is comfortable, If it hurts too much come back into the 'child pose' or something easier on the joints or muscles"  In practise you are warmed up, into it, focused and you push yourself. All the major muscle blocks warm up beautifully and the sweat starts to drip down your face and your back and there is no way you are going to 'wuss' and sit that one out. Namaste.

Note the bare brown mud inside this run and the green grass
On a completely different subject, one of my private bug-bears is small holders who over-stock their ground so intensely that the vegetation is annihilated and the animals or birds are walking around in a brown desert of bare mush or wood chippings. The animals get bedraggled and sorry looking. Chickens in particular hate to be wet and to have to stand somewhere wet. They like to be able to get dry and (preferably) to be able to dust-bathe. They like to preen and I love to see them on dry, green, sunlit grass, bright of eye, clean of leg and immaculate of feather. 'Mush' is bad.

A rather grubby collection of "white" Hubbards at 80 days.
Most 'petting zoos' fall into this trap, cramming so many birds and animals into the space either side of the visitors' path so that the kiddies can be near them, that the visitors only see muddy, sad birds wading through the dead mush where no worms or grubs have lived for ages. We try to keep all our birds fully free range but you will recall that we made an exception of the Hubbards this year, looking to keep them (and their voluminous poo!) out of the yard and the barns. Well, we had such a wet summer and autumn that the big pen I built for them was rapidly destroyed by the growing poults and I found myself doing exactly the 'mud farming' here which I have just said that I abhor. As a result, the Hubbards at 80 days, have been allowed out. I was sure they would not invade the yard nor stray too far from 'home' and this proved to be the case. They wander out of the run and enjoy the green grass and the willow 'fedge' and the margins of the pond. They can scratch for grubs here successfully and dust bathe in the dry bits. They are immediately cleaner and happier looking. Every time I feed them they follow me and my food-tub back home and they still gravitate to their house at night. Everyone's a winner.

Goat chops
Meanwhile, we got to try some goat meat from that kid in the previous post, Henry Óg (Henno). Owner Carolyn very generously passed us a dozen chops in gratitude for our haulage, grazing, help, midwifery and other goat-based services. The verdict? Chops are slightly smaller than a lamb chop would be and have way less fat on the rib part. Taste was like a slightly stronger lamb flavour (maybe mutton, but I've never tried that) and there was absolutely none of the 'goaty' smell or taste that we were slightly worried about (this was a 7 month old billy and was starting to honk in life). The 'eye' muscle (round lean bit) was possibly a bit tougher and chewy-er than our equivalent lamb would be but I just fast-fried it 3 minutes each side. It was pink in the middle (how we like lamb) . I have been told since that it really needs a bit of slow cooking - fry it by all means but then simmer very gently in something like onion gravy or a sauce for an hour - it then melts like butter!

We progress by stages on the kitchen extension. K-Dub arrived on Friday with the window and door panels. That was fun and more physical than I'd imagined. A double glazed door and frame make a lumpy piece of kit (2-man lift) and it took some steadying while K-Dub secured it with the requisite number of screws, fixings and 'anchor's. It all looks very well, all be it still covered in its white tape to protect the (wood grain) finish. It also gives us a nice idea of how big the new space will be. It has yet to receive its trims and facings, plus the fascia and rain-guttering. We also have to do the lead 'flashing' which binds the roof to the walls and stops rain water sneaking down the walls past the roof.

On time and on budget and in spec! Liz lands her main
autumn project, the village calendar. 
I have also alluded to a village project being landed by Liz about which I was sworn to secrecy. This has now hit the ground and all can be revealed. We have a village calendar. It is a thing of beauty and will make superb Christmas presents or something to have on the kitchen wall. It is based around the pictures taken by the 20  contributors to the Lisacul 365 (Year in the life) photographic project and is receiving wide acclaim and praise.

Village Tea Party
The first batch came from the printers in Balla-D on Thursday, so was ready to "launch" at the village Tea Party last night - our annual gathering of anyone who fancies cooking food to share, a bit of a fund-raiser for the village. Liz gets heavily involved in that, too, both organising it, publicizing it and then, on the day, preparing the hall which spends most of its life as the pre-school room, full of children's toys and furniture and beautifully decorated with all the children's hand- and foot-painting (this week it is all scary spiders and Frankensteins for Hallowe'en)

Another Lizzie project landed - my
lovely new jumper!
Finally, then, for this one, one more project landed. A lovely new country-knit jumper for my good self with a beautiful cable panel up the front. It fits perfectly and is going to be a firm favourite through the winter months.

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