Thursday 7 March 2013

Never Volunteer

Keep your head down and never volunteer for anything..... seems like good advice. So when the Irish poultry discussion website ( of which I'm a member was struggling under a barrage of fake new member names generated by a robot spam programme and the poor guy trying to manage it was working 70 hour weeks, why did I hear myself volunteering to help? At the time the guy (who owns and manages the site) thanked me but didn't take me up on the offer. Yesterday, though, he decided he could use me after all and here I am, "Global Moderator" for to go with my responsibilities as 'web-meister' for the Thames Sailing Barge Cambria website ( ).

The site is (obviously) mainly peopled by poultry keepers, breeders etc plenty of whom have interests outside of pure poultry; they are farmers, small holders, pest control people, writers and publishers, all sorts. They cross the whole rich brew of human life, all ages, 'classes', standards of education and strengths of opinion. They seem to go almost 24/7; certainly they can be up gassing way into the night way after I've gone to bed. It can sometimes get a bit heated but is generally harmless, just like a gang of friends bantering in the pub. There are a few muppets we need to keep our eye on but 99% of them are sensible. If anyone stepped over the lines in the past the Moderator had the option to "kill" discussion threads, warn offenders and ban them, sometimes for a fixed 'cooling off period', rarely permanently. A good few of them have given me their best wishes, some with a wry "Good Luck - you'll need it!" It should be fun, and, I hope, will not use up too much time. Feel free to look in on the website(s) if you'd like to know more.

Our drought is finally over. Overnight light rain on Tuesday 5th laid the dust and left us with a smeary, moist soil surface but no puddles. We have had drizzle on and off since then and enough quick heavier showers to fill up the car-port water-butt. The spring like weather, however, has set all the plants into motion and momentum for spring is building. We have now had a first daffodil open - this one courtesy of Steak Lady and her big net of bulbs given to us last Autumn. This whole net was planted in a curved 'drift' and promises to look superb.

Pond digging continues a-pace and yesterday I finally finished the first 'spit' (spade depth) all across the area so, for a laugh, I dug a small pit at one end down into the clay. I am hoping that the Roscommon clay will be sufficiently goo-ey that I can 'puddle' it into a waterproof layer so that we do not need to spend €860 on a butyl rubber liner. I was curious to see whether the geese might help me in the puddling process. I filled it from the water butt, scattered grain around the rim and whistled up the geese.

They were straight in, curious as anything, first dibbling their beaks into the water and then head-bathing. The sides of this mini-pit are rather steep so the geese were a bit alarmed when they sometimes slithered in down the bank. They made some amusing efforts to reverse out, but quickly learned that they could turn round and simply hop out. As well as the puddling thing, I want to know whether they will mess around too much and the water will never settle, especially as the pond gets bigger but that'll be for later. For now this pit does not seem like draining away, i.e. it seems pretty waterproof, so I will have to dig the rest around this pit leaving a dam to separate the filled bit from the digging. Slopping around in sticky Roscommon clay while trying to dig and push wheel barrows about is not fun.

There is little progress on the poly-tunnel front. The tunnel 'kit' was allegedly going to arrive either last weekend or 'middle of this week'. We have started to clear the site and the picture shows the two main horizontal wooden beams (5 by 2's) which will take the tension on the polythene sheet which we have bought so far. These are 20 feet long and , here, roughly 14 feet apart, which is the size of the tunnel ordered. The old hay barn floor is a mess of old peat turf, rotted straw bales and the old topsoil or underlying clay plus, inevitably, our local head-shaped, head sized boulders. The kit did not arrive and a chase phone-call today had the firm adjusting their ETA to 'Definitely this weekend, possibly Sunday morning'. This unlikely prediction is only credible because we know the main delivery guy has an Auntie in Loughglynn, our nearby village!

More successful is news of the return of my belov├ęd rotovator which you may recall died last summer (after I foolishly left it out in the rain without its cover) and then spent 8 months not being fixed by the tool hire firm Domac. I rescued it from Domac recently and entrusted it to the tender loving care of Felix-the-Fix (Chainsaw Genius) who has now fixed and serviced it. He tells me that Domac had tried to bodge on some lawnmower parts which were totally inadequate for the 3HP Briggs and Stratton motor. ("I love this engine!" says Felix).

Well, now I have it back and have seen it chug-chugging away in the sweet, relaxed, leisurely way it has. Diamond heard the noise while on her visit here last summer and, still in a half drowse in her bed, thought it was one of the small fishing boats putting out from Poros Island. Lovely. Felix being the kind of careful engineer he is, of course has also given it a huge clean up and oil and service, cleaning out air filters, fuel lines and the carburettor. He is also very careful to explain to me how the fuel tap and choke should be used. His charges were, as always, very reasonable and, as part of the deal, I'd agreed to give him the old dead Lidl chainsaw to strip for parts. In the event I was scrabbling in my pocket for the last Euro and he flapped his hands, grinned and said "Ahh... Don't worry... call it a trade in on the saw!" So, readers, the chainsaw was not a complete write off. I got €1 for it!

1 comment:

Renovation in Galicia said...

Best of luck with the site Matt, you will have your work cut out with some of them!