Friday 12 May 2017

A Drop of Rain

A drop of rain overnight freshens up these "Red Robin" leaves
A drop of rain last night, and more forecast over this weekend, brings much needed relief to the dry-as-dust gardeners and a hope of grass growth to the hard-pressed farmers. More importantly its a chance to relax for the local fire crews who seem to have been on continuous alert or in action for a couple of weeks, battling those bog, scrub and forest fires.

These big dark tubs were part of my Birthday present and are
now covering the post-daff and post-tulips gap out front. 
No such life-or-death drama here, of course but it will be nice to put the watering can down. We tend to go in for a low-maintenance style of gardening and only grow stuff that can survive without being carted gallons of water but even so human mercy says you still have to look after the new stuff, the poly tunnel and the seedlings. The sheep grazing can definitely use it; we're well into May now and there is little grass for them to eat. I keep swapping them from East Field to front lawn as either recovers a bit from the last cycle.

Those pigs take breakfast in the early morning sunshine
While I'm on sheep, we are now closing in on May 25th which, on the calendar at least, is the last likely day for any lambs to be born. On 31st Dec we hauled Silas-the-Ram's lazy butt outta there and sent him home. We have no reason to think he scored a big fat zero for 7 weeks and then suddenly whipped round all the ewes in the final days doing the job intended. We are forced to admit that we are very unlikely to have any lambs this year, a decision which moves us naturally into 2 more plans from 25th May.

First, the ewes need shearing which we can do on any (3rd) dry day. You should not shear sheep when they are wet (electrical hand-set) and it takes them 3 days to dry out after rain; hence the "3rd dry day" rule. People with bigger flocks sometimes even bring them indoors 3 days out from shearing day lest they get rained on.

Second we need to buy in some store-lambs or we will have no meat for the freezer this year, so I've been back in contact with our original ewe-supplier, Mayo-Liz, to place my order. Her babies are still "on their Mums" at present so we need to wait while they wean. While we were at the livestock buying we also stuck in our order for turkeys from Sue and Rob. That should do us. We don't NEED any more chickens at the moment but if one of the girls were to go broody (stage whisper) we'd look kindly on her and give her a good clutch to sit on.

The pigs are in and well settled by now, all be it rather nervous and not piling in to food as much as I remember previous pairs have been. I am going through that stage of sitting quietly in there with them to get them used to me and they have started some very tentative approaches. They are nothing like as 'tame' as last year's; I guess because new breeder Adrian is not as hands on as our 2016 man, Dermot.

They do not polish off food anything like as keenly either, which is slightly worrying; I am not used to bowls still having some of last night's supper in when I turn up with breakfast. No need to panic yet, though - they are up and about, chasing around the paddock, bright of eye and curly of tail (straight tails are bad news on pigs; a sign of stress or unhappiness). No sign of 'scour' (diarrhoea) either - nice firm stools.

The River Lung at Feigh, as low, weedy and sluggish as anyone
can remember
Maybe they are just a bit out of sorts having been separated from their Mum (and in the case of 'Pride' also castrated on Sunday. He might be a bit sore still!). They may also be finding more natural food (incl. grass and herbs) in our wooded paddock than would have been the case in their bare field in Boyle. They may not need my offerings of commercial ration and apples. We'll have to see how we get on. More news on this in future posts.

Our hostas are doing well around the pond.
Our friend and neighbour down the lane finds himself tractor-less after the machine threw a sickie. One door is all bent out of shape after he got a bit close to a hedge while driving with it open and now it won't close. Also, his power-steering hydraulics have gone wonk to the point where they are quite lethal - there is a full half turn of steering wheel at the 'top' before any directional adjustment is detected at the tyres!

The lilacs are finally in flower after several
years of waiting patiently.
So that beast is in the menders and I am occasionally taxi once again as well as doing some runs out to check on the guy's animals. "Those down in the bog field", he advises. "How many should I be looking at?" I ask. He tells me there are 8 but I need to check whether this group include a bullock who has recently been treated for an eye infection. "So if I have 8 and no bad eyes, I'm OK then?", I ask. "Ah, sure, just rise 'em and make sure they all get up" he re-assures me. Easy.

Our young lime (Tilia) trees are doing well
I love these local expressions. The weed 'dock' is referred to as "dockin's" and last night's rain was "quite a good dash". You ask your neighbour whether he/she knows any new gossip or news with "Anything strange?" You often bid farewell with "Good luck, now"

Good luck, now!

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