Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A Help-X No Show

A superb cheese souffle cooked by the girls on their last night.
They also did profiteroles. 
Regular readers will know that up till now we have had nothing but success, co-operation, hard work and pleasure from our involvement with the Help-X (Help Exchange) volunteer system. As at the last post, we were about to bid farewell to our latest pair, Emma and Flora and then collect our 'August booking', a 17 year old French lad called Rafael.

This weekend was a Bank Holiday,so the girls had an issue with their next posting. They requested the extra night (Saturday night) which we were happy to give them and, out of gratitude, they cooked that night's supper for us, a rather superb cheese soufflé followed by profiteroles filled, unusually, with ice cream. Nom nommetty nom! This move also landed them trying to reach Sligo town on a B/H timetable - no trains or buses except for one via Dublin. Elizabeth generously offered to taxi them. After all the hospital runs, she said the car practically knows its own way by now.

The finest cauli we have yet grown in Ireland
So that was that for the girls, but through these closing stages I had been expecting some contact from the next lad, Rafael. His silence and lack of responses to our emails etc had me worried he might have blown us out. Back in May he'd been asking for "the whole summer", had taken a 2 weeker and then enthusiastically added a 3rd week as that became available, but now he was gone all quiet. The girls had suggested that maybe he had no broadband and might show up anyway, but he would have had no full address or phone numbers yet.

This enormous fennel attracts hundreds of bumble bees despite
being in the poly-tunnel. They all seem to get out OK.
Ah well, we waited expectantly through the whole weekend and through today but still no contact, so we now assume that he has just let us down without word. This is a real pain. He was going to be key to our plan to re-roof the chicken house, helping K-Dub with the lifting which is currently outside my range, plus in digging over that big raised flower bed cleared by the girls. He is also needed for jobs like mowing which is now coming due (and will again), and some log-splitting.

We do still have all 4 goslings. One must be hiding in this pic
behind a grown up bird.
There is little we can do to 'get back' at the inconsiderate, unhelpful behaviour except mark him as a no-show in the bit of the Help-X website reserved for volunteer references. If anyone reads that, they will at least know not to book him and get let down as were we. I have also changed our host 'advert' to read "Help Urgently Needed for August". We may just get a replacement volunteer in time but most people seem to only go in in Spring, when they are planning their Summer's work.

Splitting the ram lamb. Sorry poor pic due to
taken on the phone.
Meanwhile the other main job this week was to get those lambs back from the butcher and into the freezer. Forgetting that Monday was the B/Hol, I shot down to Castlerea in the morning, also intending to order my woodwork for the new Chicken House roof (ker-ching €360). Of course. all the roads were lined with no parking cones for the Castlerea Agricultural Show, all the shops (looked) closed, lights off and nobody about. I turned round and came home again. My butcher lads had said "next Monday" but I guessed they'd just forgotten the B/hol. Apparently not. They were in the shop, out back, feeding some horses, fully expecting me to turn up. When I went down today they were asking why I failed to keep "our date". Easy mistake to make, we all agreed. They were happy to 'do' me today.

Half a ram lamb carcass
They were also very impressed by the lamb carcasses which they described as "just right". The big ram lamb made a carcass weight of 24 kg (50 lbs), the ewe-lamb a lighter 19 kg (40 lbs). These guys do the butchering on lambs for us (we do our own pigs as you know). We just have to specify the cuts (individual chops or racks? whole shoulder or gigot chops? legs as half-legs? etc).

Bagged, labelled and ready for the freezer. 2 lamb carcasses
They are a pleasure to watch at work. They even bag the individual joints and label them as if the shop was selling them (with name of cut, date, cost per kg, weight and price). This saves us a lot of messing about, reassembling the animal back home so that we can correctly bag and label it here. They are, as the saying goes "a great bunch of lads".

Lamb labelling
Which about sums it up for this one. I am still clinging to a faint hope that French Help-X-er Rafael is out there somewhere, lost, looking at closed railway stations, bus depots and Internet cafés. trying in his 17-year old inexperienced traveller way, to make contact, but that hope is fading. Maybe by the next post someone will have turned up and I will be able to report progress on some of these jobs.

Good luck now.

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