Tuesday, 13 March 2018

One Star on 'Trip Advisor'

When you're on holidays and you need your hair
done and you conveniently brought Mum along.
This post comes with a Health Warning regarding itself and possibly future posts. My trusty Dell 'tower' PC, at more than 10 years old, brought over from UK with us, may be about to expire. If it does, there may be an interruption in transmissions on here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. If I suddenly go quiet, don't worry for me. We will sort the tech out and get back on line as soon as possible.

The guests battled over goose eggs for breakfast.
My symptoms, should you be of a techie mind-set are an 'American Megatrends' screen appearing on boot-up. AM produce the bios chips that sit behind your 'Windows' stuff and , in theory you can solve this by changing a small flat, coin-size battery on the board. My experts think I may have gone beyond that, and my board is no longer charging the battery, so even if I change it, I will only 'live' a couple months more.

On Day 10, Polly takes her twins out onto the front lawn so they
can stretch their legs. They are soon racing about.
No problem. We have a handy solution - lose the PC, I inherit the laptop which is currently nominally Elizabeth's, and we treat herself to a shiny new tablet. I will also borrow the laptop in the interim so that the world is not deprived of my twaddle. I knew you'd be delighted!

Expert stock-man training. Danielle learns to lean professionally
on the fence and watch the sheep.
What of this 'Trip Advisor' header, though? In our house growing up, Mum (Pud Lady) was always the main cook and our family in-joke way of expressing pleasure at her marvellous food was something like "Mmmmm.... I will DEFINITELY be visiting this restaurant again!"

The girls hit the local fund-raising pub quiz. They came 3rd, only
3 points down on the winning table.
The modern version of this here, when we are visited by Danielle (plus Dan or, in this case, her Mother, Cathy) is that they pretend they are going to write us up on that website belov├ęd of travellers, stayers in guest houses and diners in restaurants, ( https://www.tripadvisor.ie/ ) Trip Advisor. This is a site where members of the public can write attractions up with star-ratings and, because it is all open and unsupervised, it can all get a bit brutal with little tiny disappointments and grudges getting aired.

If Danielle gets exactly the breakfast she desires (e.g. dippy goose eggs) she sighs out a contented "5 stars on Trip Advisor!" If we 'fail' in some way she gives us a twinkly eye'd dark accusing look and mutters (I promise jokingly) "1 star on Trip Advisor.... just saying...". All good clean fun; we are not even on Trip Advisor (as far as we know!)

Dippy Goose Eggs. The stuff of 5-star write-ups
on Trip Advisor?
Regular readers will know that the guest came this time in expectation of the usual good food, drink and hospitality but we dreamed that we might also be able to supply a successful lambing, a fox in a trap and a possible hatch of duckling eggs.  Well, the hard numbers will show that we failed to deliver on all 3 of these. Every morning on livestock rounds we found the trap empty and unsprung, and pregnant ewe Rosie piled into her breakfast like a girl not thinking maternal thoughts that day. The incubator stayed quiet and duckless. 1 star might be our fate after all.

The Parma-style ham is nearly all gone. 
Still, the guests had a great stay and loved it all anyway. Cathy learned some cooking techniques and how to make sourdough bread. We sent her home with a little starter culture to begin her own line. Danielle saw plenty of livestock action including running Polly and her 10 day old twins out for their first explore of the front lawn paddock. Liz and Cathy diverted off to Silverwood land on Sunday to attend the party following nephew Morgan's Confirmation and for Cathy to catch up with all the Irish relatives.

The first lamb's tiny front hooves appear at the 'exit'
If you follow us on FB or Twitter, you will know that the guests' run to Knock Airport for their flights home was the ewe Rosie's cue to start the long awaited lambing. They left at around 10 am and missed all the excitement by only 5 hours. They were spitting. We had to furnish them with plenty of pictures, text updates and (a new 'attraction' for this Guest House) video clips.

A (black) head emerges, bundled in membranes, and some
(paler) woolly neck. 
Actually being there for the whole thing was a lovely, thrilling new experience for me. I'd only gone out to scrub the wellies used by Danielle clean, and when I looked in on Rosie I could see that she was finally in the lying down, canted over with neck stretched up "star-gazing" position. We were on. This was quickly confirmed by the big whoosh of liquid and ropey membranes passed out, the big, pink, enlargement of the dilating vulva and the rapid emergence of the two, tiny, white-hooved front feet.

First born (ram) gets expertly licked clean. 
Rosie was a first time Mum so I'd been worried about all manner of problems (all except the one we actually got, in fact!) and sheepy friends chatting on social media had, of course, delighted in telling me all their horror stories and heroic rescues (thanks people!). My delight was well seasoned with relief, then, when Rosie shot the first one out like a sausage from a hot dog.

I had reached to gently grab it in case she needed help but the lamb came apart from the ewe "in my hands, guv". I only had to clear membranes from it's face and then swing it gently to start the breathing, before I could put it down in front of a rather surprised Mum, who quickly started licking it clean like a pro. Elizabeth actually caught this on video. The clip is on FB and Twitter and I sound, on the soundtrack, as childishly excited as a kid at Christmas. I was.

The new twins. Rosie only wanted the one, thank you very much
All shepherds know that the 30 minutes it takes the ewe to lick the new baby clean gives the uterus time to take a breather but then start labour on any 2nd lamb. That bit went OK and the 2nd lamb, a ewe-lamb, came out as quickly, cleanly and neatly as her brother. At this point we started to have a problem. That may be enough for this post, however, so I will be very brief and expand on this in the next post. The ewe is "supposed" to stop licking lamb #1 and transfer her attentions to #2, giving both fair treatment and bonding. Rosie was having none of it. Don't put THAT in front of me.... I HAVE the only lamb I want and it's right here. No! I insist. TAKE IT AWAY.

Hazel catkins
In brief, she rejected it outright despite my pleading, trying to persuade her, putting the new one in between her nose and the first born. She refused to lick it and even started to head-butt it away. We sought advice from all our tame 'experts' and helped it to get 4 good feeds from the uncooperative Rosie (by gently holding her against the pen side while we sneaked the lamb in out of view.). However by 8 pm we could see that this was not going to work and the new lamb would stay cold, wet, confused and unloved, plus possibly injured or killed by Mum unless we rescued her indoors, towelled her dry, and started bottle feeding her. Welcome to the world of bottle fed 'pet' lambs. She's doing OK, a day and a bit later but, as I said, more on that in the next post (if there is one!). We also have a first hatch of chicken chicks in that same shed. Too late for that Trip Advisor review, though, I suppose.

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