Saturday 5 November 2016

Going Once....Going Twice...

Crack! The (nominal) gavel comes down on our long running local drama, "The Sale of the Land". Back in early September I posted that the 28 acres of land around us had gone up for sale and that we were considering buying one of the fields. ( ). Back when we bought this place we took a small (2.5 acres) chunk out of what had been a 30 acre farm, in our case the house and buildings and the fields immediately surrounding. In the process we became good friends with one of the three sisters selling the place, 'Vendor Anna' on this blog.

No relevance to this story - just a '365'
pic I snatched of a water-well drilling rig
which parked in the village.
The three sisters held on to the remaining 28 acres for 4 years but have now put the land up for auction. They very generously created an option for us to buy the 1.5 acre field opposite in which we had registered an interest. We had to have a good old poke around in the dusty corners of the cupboard labelled "Our Financial Life" but alas, no such lump of 'wedge' presented itself and we had to pass on the option. Well, this sale has now gone through without us and we have a new neighbour. You don't win them all. Never say 'Never', though. The field is likely to remain right there and just maybe, in a couple of years when the cupboard might be a bit more yielding.......

Dry cured hams awaiting their 8 months (or so) of air drying.
Meanwhile, back in the bit we did manage to buy, plenty of stories are still chugging along happily. The big, complete pig legs we saved at butchery time for our version of Parma/Serrano ham have now completed their 21 day stay in the dry cure mix (3 parts salt, 1 part sugar, various spices, refrigerator) and come ready to be scrubbed clean of the encrusted cure (using cider vinegar properly but I used white vinegar), bagged in their muslin sleeves and hung up in a well ventilated, cool, dry place for (the recipe says) 4-18 months. Our plan is to try the first one next summer (so about 10 months) and save one for Christmas 2017 (14 months). The air drying is to get the lovely sweet Serrano flavours. The salt cure is to give us a head start in the not-very-Spanish local climate. If you hang up uncured meat in the West of Ireland in October, I think you'd just generate a maggot-sanctuary in a bit of a hurry.

The hams hang in their muslin sleeves.
We will hide them up when guests are
using the room!
The first print-run on the village calendar has sold out and we know that many have already left the country en route to their delighted recipients. We have had delighted feedback from the UK  and I have also posted them to Germany and Canada. Liz is already taking orders for a 2nd print run. The village website is widely seen as a great success and gets plenty of 'traffic' both locally and from people who have connections back to the area but now live abroad, the 'Diaspora'. It is to the website that many people are going to register their interest and place their order(s).

Liz has given up trying to knit here and is reduced to playing
a game on the laptop as long as the 'kattens' do not try to
eclipse her view. The laptop is up on the cookbook 'lectern'
to stop tiny feet walking on the keyboard. 
Our other main  'project' if you can call it that, is to try to integrate the "kattens" (they are too big to be called kittens any more but not yet big enough to be called 'cats'). They are almost 6 months old now and not too vulnerable to doggie molestation. They can jump up onto safe high places and make themselves quite big by arching their backs, bog-brushing their tails and hissing and spitting. The dogs tend to stop and think about it now.

Lovely colour from the beech trees in the
(now empty) pig-run
Most evenings and sometimes during the day when we are around to supervise, we open the door through to their Sitting Room and let them come through to explore and enjoy the family, fire-warmed company of the Dining Table. They love it and we are starting to believe that we may actually get these cats through from kittenhood without either of them suffering death (or injury) by dog. We do not yet trust them all together unsupervised, however, so they can not yet have the "access all areas" freedom enjoyed by our adult cats, the fearless 'Soldier' and the big-enough-to-damage-the-dogs, alpha-male 'Blue'.

Borrowed ram-lamb Silas has still not, to our knowledge, succeeded in mounting any of the ewes (no give-away blue painted rumps at the breakfast bar) but he has settled down with the ladies and is now very much inside the flock. I frequently see him in close company with the big ewe 'Myfanwy' and the youngster, 'Rosie'. The experts tell me that this is all OK and that ewes, even when they are in season, only come receptive to the ram on a 13-18 day cycle (average 17). We don't know where they were before Silas arrived, so we have no idea how many days we need to wait. If they weren't on at all, then the presence of a ram should bring them round. Happily, Sue says we can keep Silas for as long as we like or need, even through Christmas, so the lad has plenty of time to grow into the big boots left behind by the mighty 'Rambo', our 2015 tup.

I owe him an apology, though. In my previous post, I suggested that he was named for the biblical Silas who spent time with St Paul; Sue had said something about the diagonal white cross he had on his face as a young one. Apparently not. He is named after 'My Uncle Silas' in the HE Bates books because he is a country boy and Sue hopes he will be a disreputable, fun-loving, philandering rogue. Especially the philandering, I would think. I had not heard of these books, but Sue and Rob loved a TV series from 2001 starring Albert Finney as Silas and gave him the name in memory of it. Go Silas.


Care Towers said...

Hi Matt. Re bidding for land, I have accessible funds... you should have asked! Please don't hesitate if the opportunity surfaces again - I'd love to be able to help.

Matt Care said...

You fancy owning an acre and a half of deepest Roscommon? Would have been about €8000. You do surprise me but hey, that was a very generous thought. Ah well, the boat has now sailed and we have had to go back to being realistic. We are very happy in our 2.5 acres and do not need the dream of more land, more fencing, a nice shelter and a little Dexter cow with calf at foot.