Tuesday 27 March 2018

'Tis the Season

No Turkeys! Out on that bank on our boundary, where Mr Fox
definitely comes patrolling, is NOT a good place to nest.
British Summer Time. Nice long evenings and the dogs waking me up a good hour later than they have been, driven as they are by their own light-level triggers. Spring is sprung and all that. 'Tis the season for procreational activities to break out all over, sometimes covertly.

Occupational hazard of fencing in these parts.
'Tis also the season for everyone to shore up those winter-damaged fences prior to letting the cattle out to the welcome grass. I got involved a bit in order to help a friend and came back with the usual lacerated forearms from the brambles, hawthorn and blackthorn. This was an early morning job, so Elizabeth found herself in charge of fox watch. The fox has never (yet) attacked in an early morning, so she thought she'd be safe enough snatching a rare 'lie-in' and covering the task sitting up in bed. The dogs were up there too so surely nothing could happen 'out there' which she'd not be aware of. Safe enough, you'd think.

Turkey eggs "hidden" in the scrub.
The morning's peaceful relaxing was shattered when the dogs suddenly started shouting and bouncing around on the windowsill. The Guinea fowl were also yelling and a quick look showed our fox-watch that at least one was up on a high perch. Jumping to the conclusion that Brer Fox was among us again, she raced down and outside, releasing the dogs to go do their thing.

The three ducks gave me a scare when the female fell asleep
on an dead clump of Lady's Mantle. She was so well matched
in colour, I thought we were down to 2 ducks.
A few minutes of retrieving Towser from the tarmac lane where he'd gone to round up the confused Guineas and the only reason for the shout seemed to be that 'tis also the season for roosters to start fighting and two of them were going hammer and tongs in the middle of the front lawn. Our dogs are, by now, pretty cool with 'ordinary' chickens but if they see a fight going on, fluttering and kicking, feathers flying the 'distressed prey animal / easy target' thing kicks in and they will as likely as not have a lunge.

So Mrs C was by now wide awake, of course and in her thorough search of the area, came across another 'Tis the Season' thing, a little clump of three turkey eggs hidden under some fine tree branches but right out by the bank over which Brer Fox comes when he does visit. Not a very sensible place to nest, Mrs Turk. (Gloria or Deo, we do not know whom yet.).

Some first "dandelions" for the bees. These
are coltsfoot, (Tussilago farfara)
Friends of the blog may recall that we lost our first turkey hen when she went right off site to go broody and never came back, presumably discovered by an earlier fox. We are pleased that this girl has at least nested on site and that we have found her. If we leave her a few eggs in the nest, she should keep laying there and not get upset and go off to find somewhere further afield to lay. If we let her build up a full clutch and go broody, we may be able to move her and the eggs to a safer place without making her desert.

Gandalf. King of the Hill.
So, as I said, 'tis also the season for roosters to start eyeing up their rivals 'women' covetously and even making the odd move on them. Our alpha-male, Gandalf is top dog here and it is his much smaller rival 'Herme' the Buff Orpington who is always looking to take over. We have two other much younger roo's, who run smaller gangs of peripheral hens, but they are not moving in on the top spot just yet. It was Gandalf and Herme who were doing the kick boxing display on the lawn that woke the dogs up.

Battle scarred Herme.
We wish these boys had a stronger sense of 'self awareness' and copped on a bit quicker that they were losing this fight and should probably pull out and run away. Herme seems to have no such rationale and he keeps in trying even though he is getting 7 bells kicked out of him. He comes away with his facial bits (wattles, comb, beak) well blooded. Those are long, sharp spurs on Gandalf's legs and Herme has no such equipment. Ah well. The fights are fast and furious but always finish just before we need to intervene. It's nature's way and we have plenty of space for the boys to keep apart if they prefer to.

Mucking out the lambing pens and
dismantling them. I get my shed back!
'Tis also the season to be done with lambing and I get that lovely (well, I enjoy it!) seasonal landmark task of mucking out the lambing pen(s) and dismantling them. I get my shed back. This year we have a minor 'hang-over' of that lamb, Bábóg, who needs bottle feeding and will continue to need that till she is weaned off the milk.

Rosie and her twins. Bábóg is on the right.
She is now on full bottle (500 ml) feeds 4 times a day, all now out in the field where she lives happily with her Mum, brother and all the other sheep. Mum likes to keep her close but will not let her suckle. The final feed of each day, 10 pm, is now in the dark, obviously, so we have fun wandering about the field with the LED head torch looking for the reflections of eyes, then hear the excited bleat and watch one pair of eyes detach from the group and come bouncing across the field in the darkness, homing in unerringly on that bottle-teat.

All is now well on the laptop. The PC is destined for the WEEE
What else is new? I am now settled into the laptop after causing only one quick wobble when I logged in as the owner and somehow changed her user account name to my email address. There were a couple of anxious hours while Mrs C worked out how to get admin rights and change the name back, plus to set me up an account where I could safely clomp about in my size 12 boots and not do any damage to 'her stuff'.

Finally. 'tis the season for baby chicks. These are Silvergirl's.
Finally, I just want to note the passing away of an English 'character' from this blog but way back in the Kent days, when life was all about the rebuild on the Thames sailing barge, SB Cambria. Two colleague-volunteers, Mark and Cathy Chapman had been on that project for years by the time I started and we had plenty of good times working with them. Cathy was English born (Edmonton) but unknown to me then, her roots were right here in Co Roscommon. Her Mum is still very much alive, but her Grandma was buried 20 minutes from here in the small town of Bellanagare. There are no other family here now, though some cousins live down in the SE, around Tallow. Cathy has since, sadly, died of cancer (aged 52) and expressed a wish that her ashes be brought 'home' to Grandma's gravesite for scattering or burial. So today a small dozen of us gathered at the graveside with a Priest to bury her ashes-urn and pay our final respects. Rest in Peace, Cathy and commiserations to Mark and to the rest of the family. Mark was delighted that he has an old friend reasonably near to his wife's grave who can "keep an eye on her".

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