Tuesday, 2 January 2018

In with the New, (Not) Out with the Old

Roscommon has the eye of Storm Eleanor
pass overhead at around 6 pm.
Fox! My one word text brings Liz running to join me in the garden but we can hardly hear each other over the cacophony of Guinea Fowl alarm calls. We've not seen one on the property all year, since the November 2016 attack but now, two days into the New Year we are back in the firing line.

A new gin for Liz to try. Blackwater.
It was fairly calm (though we were expecting the latest named storm, Storm Eleanor by evening) but lashing down with rain. I was just wandering about looking for eggs, and had come round the corner of the barn, headed for the orchard when all hell broke loose 30 yards away at the top of the 'allotment'. Guinea fowl were exploding into vertical flight and shouting blue murder about foxes.

...and a weird new beer for me. Loved the
goat logo. Very quaffable. 
I saw the fella straight away, with a bunch of feathers in his mouth (but no bird). He was a fine big adult looking first a bit put out that he'd near-missed the Guinea but then a bit concerned that I was running towards him, flapping my arms and roaring swear words at him like some lunatic. He took off smartly through the hedge and was gone. That's when I got a chance to text Liz.

The Guineas having a fox-free dust bath in the tunnel.
The Fox-Success Gods were on our side this time. The pouring rain had most of the birds hiding in the sheds anyway and it was an easy job for 2 of us to shepherd the rest home - geese and ducks. The Guineas now settling down and chuntering and scolding loudly (as they do) could not wait to go 'home' either, so by 15:15, still broad daylight, we had everybody locked up for the night, safe in case Brer Fox should try again.

A baffled turkey?
Well. For a given value of 'safe'. Eleanor is now roaring around noisier, if anything, than the 'Orange warning' one, Dylan. I fear, as ever, for the tarpaulin roof of the chicken house. (We have just been out for a check round at half past six and so far all seems OK. It's just very very noisy. We mainly feel helpless and powerless.)

Meanwhile, away from Storm Eleanor and her kind, all is chugging along nicely as we chug gently through New Year and welcome 2018 in. The remaining turkey hen seems somewhat baffled but that might just be us anthropomorphising like we shouldn't. We were amused to ponder whether she is thinking that she has nothing in her folk-memory or hard wired into her DNA to tell her what to do with the 25th, 26th, 27th, the New Year and so on.

Baffled Turkey Hen
She is also a bit lost-looking now the Guinea cock-birds have  dropped her like a hot potato when they received their new 'women'. Up to then the boys viewed it as their duty to shepherd all three turkeys around and mind them. Now she wanders about wondering where her 'brothers' and her 'minders' have gone.

New Year's Eve supper.
New Year's Eve went very well for us, and nice and quiet. We ate the celebratory haggis supper and sipped Scotch Whisky (no 'E' because this was Famous Grouse, a gift from Santa). We watched a nice Irish-flavoured 'rom-com' movie ("PS I Love You", based on the Celia Ahern book) to fill the long evening and then did the 'First Footing' thing. We have both decided to try our hand at 'Dry January' - no booze till the 31st EXCEPT that we are taking the Scottish Amendment which allows for a dram of whisky on Burns Night (25th). We are not alone, by all accounts. Cousin 'Win'  and  her Peter are doing the same and bro' Mark is taking a gin-drinkers version in Swindon. There is a pre-booked gin tasting on 15th Jan which it would (obviously) be churlish to refuse, though he's not too bothered about Burns Night and Haggis. I'll keep you all posted on how we all do.

One off design handbag by Con and Santa
I can now, at last, post pics of this Santa delivery which I have been dying to show you but unable to do so lest I spoil the surprise. Friends of the Blog may recall that my good friend and archery coach, Con, is also a fine leather worker. He is the national go-to expert on Medieval footwear, frequently called upon to create repro shoes for museums and 'interactive' exhibitions (i.e. where the museum visitors get to try on the items) and asked to try to make a shoe using the archaeologists/historians' suggested techniques. "Nope, they WOULDN'T have been able to do it that way!"

Con also makes items for sale through the website - archery gear as well as shoes, 'jewelry', bangles and (ta-daaaa!) one-off design hand bags. With Santa's help we conspired to get Liz involved in the design without being allowed to know what the final result might be. She'd 'chosen' a cocktail glass for her 'logo' and Con was able to sneak off and contrive a cocktail-glass-based design for our bag. Liz is over the moon and the new bag is now the bag of choice, filled with all the usual 'clutter' of notebooks, spare tissues, lotions and potions and 'stuff' that keeps herself on the road.

My old favourite billhook may be 100+ years old.
Finally, that line in my title about "Not out with the old". I have in my 'man-shed' a treasured favourite farm implement, my bill hook, bought over 30 years ago 2nd hand in Surrey. It has a forged blade marked with the forger's stamp. "I.H.   J Harrison   Warranted" I was chatting away about favourite tools on the Internet and got talking to a lad who is a bit of an expert on old English toolery.

The stamp on mine told him that it was made by the company 'I Harrison', long since absorbed into Spear and Jackson, and forged by the son of the firm, John Harrison. The chap has all the pattern books from these firms and was able to identify my billhook as being originally from 1916, over a hundred years old! I loved it in an obsessive way before. It was my most precious piece of kit. There will be no stopping me now!

And there you have it. In the time it has taken me to type these last 8 paragraphs the roaring wind of Eleanor has quite died away... unless she is just teasing us as we sit right under that eye. More on all this soon. Happy New Year to all our readers and don't throw away those old tools. They might be historically important!

Possibly taking the love of Prosecco a bit far? Now you can
emerge from the bathroom smelling of it!
Just a couple more pics because I have them.
Final loaf of 2017.

1 comment:

Matt Care said...

Well, a new one on me (and I know quite a lot about Meteorology) but we seem to have had a "Sting Jet". That short lived burst of extreme wind and noise that came through at around half past six). The website 'Irish Weather On Line' has "A possible sting jet, which is a narrow area of very intense winds, has moved through the Mayo region within the last hour causing power outages in areas of Westport and Claremorris. Initial reports indicate 130kph gusts were present during this event. There is a continued risk of these intense winds through the central Connacht, northern parts of Leinster and east Ulster over the next few hours." Now you know.