Sunday 3 March 2013

Bull and Barrel

Feeling a bit sorry for the guy (Mike the Cows) who rents the fields next door because he only had a scrappy warning sign up (faded felt pen on old hardboard) I decided to do him a secret favour, nicked his sign and painted him a decent one. He won't know it's me, and I don't even know if a) he's putting his cows in there this year and b) running Felix the Bull with them. I have now sneaked the sign back up and we are wondering whether anyone will comment, or suss us, and if so how soon. Hee hee! 

The sign looks very smart and quite professional. The white is just some exterior woodwork undercoat. The red gloss was left over from painting the Utility Room door and the dark green was just a small tin of wood preserving stuff useful for the rabbit hutches. The red was dabbed on using a half inch gloss brush salvaged from my jar of old brushes. The finer stuff was done with a set of kiddies 'art' brushes got from a local shop for €1.99. No expense spared! The design was just scratched out in pencil and then lashed in free-hand; hence it is a bit wobbly in places. 

Mike, though, does need to attend to his fences if he is going to put Felix and the gang back in there. I don't think I've ever seen such a rat's nest of scrappy barbed wire, rotting posts and baler twine set to hold back 800 kg (or so) of Charolais bull (and his wives and children).

I have now made and installed the Mk 2 version of the goose bath. The geese, you will recall, were using a temporary arrangement made from 4 lengths of timber and old plastic sheeting. This worked OK and the geese enjoyed it, but geese, although they have webbed feet, do still have claws on the end of each toe, which are reasonably sharp. The geese eventually puncture the sheeting and the water drains away. 

All around here, in almost every field, the locals use a type of blue barrel cut in half as food bowls and drinkers for cattle, sometimes plumbed in with loo-cistern style float valves and standing in posh frames. I tracked a supply of these barrels down to a local agricultural supplies place in Castlerea. They are 25 gallon capacity and nice tough plastic. 

They are empty but sometimes have the last 'dregs' of what ever was in them, still in there. Unfortunately (and rather alarmingly) few still have their labels on them, so you have no idea what this might be. One barrel in 'our' pile said simply 'flouride' and the shop guy had no idea what was in them. His attitude seemed to be 'buyer beware - at your own risk'. We believe they may be 'food grade' as an embossed mark on the plastic says "Do not refill with Food Grade product". The huge number of them around the local farms made me wonder whether they might be an ingredient in the local animal-feed milling industry. 

Ours proved to have a small amount of a white, milky, odourless liquid in it which diluted down with my rinse-water and was 'lost' as safely as we could. The insides of the barrel also seem to have some kind of wax protection, presumably to stop the contents picking up plastic taints, or the contents attacking the plastic of the barrels and becoming contaminated with residues. We scrubbed this off as best we could with hot soapy water. It then remained just to sink the half barrel into the ground and fill with water - three buckets in the barrow three times. We have sited the new 'bath' near the bottom of the orchard so that when I have to bale it out to clean it the water can run off harmlessly under the hawthorn hedge, though this made for a long walk with the water-laden barrow. We then steered the geese down past it so that they'd know it was there. 

We will see how it goes. That was yesterday. Today I fed the geese some sprouted wheat close by the bath and saw them drinking and head-bathing in/from it but we have not actually seen them climb in for a paddle about. If they do, this will be, we think, the first time they have ever been in water deep enough to swim on so it might be a bit alarming for them. 

Finally, just a quick picture of me on the sofa surrounded by the dogs. Poppy is on my lap, Towser on my shoulder and Deefer sitting by my side. We'd lit the Living Room fire that day, so we were as warm as toast and recovering from the jolly gardening and dog-walking. 

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

I expect 'Mike the Cows' will think it was the little people, if he spots it I hope you can keep a straight face, it will keep him guessing for years.