Friday, 2 February 2018

A Good Sign?

You may be able just to make out 2 sheep shouting for their
breakfast through the snow. Another dire morning.
We may be finally seeing signs of coming out of the long, cold and dark Winter. In the last post, I alluded to some data suggesting that most of Northern Europe had experienced the darkest (least sunshine) winter on record. Today we saw confirmation that Ireland had been soaked by the wettest January since 1885 (yes, I DID say Eighteen Eighty Five!). Come on Met √Čireann... enough's enough. We can all take a joke but.... I can hear the faint laughter of all those Kent friends muttering "Well, you DID move to Ireland"

Kato assists with the St Brigid's cross
assembly. 
Ah well, now that we are through the 1st of February, St Brigid's Day, Celtic / pre-Christian first day of Spring (Imbolc which translates as "in the belly" and refers, obviously, to all the new birth and fecundity). I promise you that today, in bright sunshine and no wind, I got a strong feeling that we might be drying out a little. The puddles have all but drained away, the concrete paths are that pale grey of dryness, not the shiny dark of wet or icy concrete. The mud underfoot, where we have mud, is now sticky, rather than sloppy. A good sign? There are people everywhere touching any wood they can lay their hands on and steeling themselves not to speak too soon.

Way more elabourate than mine, this St Brigid Cross was a gift
from our good friends Con and Niamh.
The output of eggs is definitely rising as the 2017 birds realise that there is (as they say here) a "grand old stretch in the evenings". They are now not taking themselves off to roost till half past five.

Last year's cross now all dried out and the new one. There
are various traditions regarding what to do with the old ones.
Today I collected 3 duck eggs (which is a 100% hit rate for them - we only have 3 females) and 13 hen eggs, which is a new site record. This is definitely enough hens for us - we don't want to be over-run with eggs. Still no action from the geese, though. In previous years they have come back in to lay in November but not this winter.

Spring busting out all over, at least in
the tubs dept. 
My good friend Miles (in Kent) says he goes with Valentine's Day but one of his geese started early this year, presenting him with an egg today. Like with all these things, we are in the lap of Mother Nature and we will have to preserve our souls in patience and wait and see.

Snowdrops down by the gate. 
In the plants dept, we have plenty of bulbs pushing up, especially in the pots and tubs. You expect these to be early because the tubs cool down quicker than the ground, so get frost-treated early, and then warm up faster to start the new season's growth. We have a good collection of daffs and tulips looking very promising this week and the snowdrops down by the gate are almost there.

That much heralded Blue Moon. This pic off the Internet.
We saw nothing of it due to cloud cover.
We had to smile ruefully at one 'casualty' of the wet. We alone in all the world seem to have been denied a view of the much talked-about and heralded full moon on 31st Jan which was going to be Blue and Super and even Blood in some parts of the globe. I was amused to see respected newspapers putting the 'blood' thing on their websites, possibly unaware that it was only going to be 'bloody' (eclipsed) in other parts of the globe, nowhere in UK or Ireland.

"Our" piglets at 18 days
Social Media was also chock-full of rather daft photo-shopped or double-exposed made up pics of the moon unfeasibly huge - filling half the frame as it rose through a city sky-line straddling several sky-scrapers or the whole width of rivers. What ever the case, we were not to see it at all on the 31st, due to the cloud cover. We saw it 24 hours prior and 24 hours post, though, so we will be happy with that.

The piglets look quite big till you see
them dwarfed by Mum's rump.  
Over in Boyle, half an hour's drive away, "our" piglets continue to thrive and grow on plentiful supplies of Mum's milk. Breeder, Adrian. generously sends me pics every now and then when ever we are in touch confirming quantities required and any friends we might have who also want them. The babies in these pics (which may end up being ours) were born on 15th Jan so, all being well, we can collect them on 12th March. Watch this space.

A pretty risotto under construction. 
I think that is probably about it for this one.

Rolled and tied shoulder cut.
I will talk to you again on Tuesday.

Taken on Liz's phone. I am joined by 3 dogs and
Soldier the cat as I read my book.
Have a good 'Imbolc' one and all.

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