Wednesday 29 May 2013

Water, water, everywhere.

By coincidence there is a lot of water in today's post even though we have a beautiful blue cloudless sky today as I type and a warm breeze blowing. Secretly and selfishly (for reasons which will become clear) we wouldn't actually mind if it was raining today but we are not wishing for that and definitely no-one is doing any rain dances.

First I expect you'd like a goose update. We have currently 7 healthy goslings on site plus 'Lucky' doing very well down at Carolyn's. I have started feeding them in the goose house and Liz has sunk a cat-litter tray into the gravel just outside as a paddling pool for them. Yesterday we noticed them for the first time being brought out accompanied by various grown ups, for a drink and a swim. Liz had arranged some flat stones to help them get in and out but they do not need these - they hop in and out quite happily.

Today they were taken on a big adventure as far as the orchard by both parents. Suddenly the sky seemed to be full of hooded-crow calls and then the shouts of magpies harassing the crows and eventually driving them off. I stayed around just in case and for the first time in my life, wished I had a gun. The mass exodus gave me a first chance to inspect the remaining nests and to collect up failed eggs and have a tidy up. I found, to my surprise another gosling but this poor little mite, though dry and fluffy, was stuck to the inside of his half-shell by his head, neck and shoulder. I freed him but he is very weak and wobbly, presumably as a result of not being able to exercise after hatching. More on him in a minute. First there were also 2 other stuck, half hatched goslings but dead ones, and 5 other eggs, now cold. 4 of these proved to be fully developed but dead, so I assume these were laid after we got started and have now been left behind. There was also a sterile egg (just yolk and white).

So, for my 17 eggs which I know were there at one stage we have

Lucky, doing well at Carolyn's
7 healthy goslings now being shown around the place
1 sickie
2 half hatched dead
4 fully developed but unhatched, dead
1 sterile
1 missing (no idea, the list above only accounts for 16)

[A quick pic of the chickens, now 5 weeks and let out to join the grown ups]

So, that sick gosling? Stuck in his shell he has not been able to exercise and develop properly so his neck is all weak and twisted and his legs seem a bit crunched up but he can kick strongly. He wobbles a lot, falls over and was lying upside down for a while this morning. When the gang go off for an explore, he gets left behind, so I have been able to sneak in there and help him a bit, holding him in the water so that he can drink and do his physio therapy kicks. I have offered him food but he just pokes at it with his beak. I didn't actually see him eat any. I am hoping that now that he is free of the egg and can struggle about, he might catch up but I don't hold out much hope for him. I am consulting with Nurse Mentor Anne.

Yesterday saw us make the long journey across to Allenwood, County Kildare to collect our pond liner from Rock-World. This could be rolled up reasonably tight so would fit in the Fiat, but weights 150 kg, as much as 2 people, so was actually offered up to the car with a fork lift. Poor old car! This is the last real ponds and water-features business in Ireland after the economic woes and probably survives in Kildare only because this is one of the most prosperous counties, home of The Curragh race-course and all those rich race-horse folk. The 'shop' we noticed was well stocked with huge pumps and filtration gear for massive ponds and fountains - prices of over €1000 per pump and outputs of 18,000 litres an hour. Impressive.

Allenwood is right by the Grand Canal so we opted to take a picnic and we sat in a very nice moorings to eat our sandwiches and salad, remembering all those brilliant narrow boating holidays. Not a single boat went by and we know that the canal is barely used. As well as being clear of boats, it is also amazingly clear in the water-clarity area - unlike a lot of Yorkshire and Lancashire canals, you can generally see right down to the bed, seeing all the little fish ('Pinkeens!', said Liz) and the pond weed. We watched the strange dog-foot-print shadow cast on the bottom mud by pond-skaters on the surface.

With the liner home, I was going to rest up and leave the installation till 'tomorrow' (now today, of course) but Liz was having none of that! It was heavy to move about, but we got it in place north-south-east and west. First, of course we had finished preparing the bottom, going over it with the back of the rake and a yard-brush to clear up any possible sharp stones and bits that might puncture the rubber sheet. It seemed enormous! Well it's in now and we have started to fill it with the 1010 litres from our bulk-tank plus a little rain last night but, guess what. it has stopped raining and the sky is blue! The tank full, we calculate, resulted from 1.3 inches of rain falling on the car port and the car port is smaller than the pond so, as you'd expect, it has spread back out to being only a shallow pool in the bottom of our rubber. The advice from the guys at Rock-World was to get half an inch into the bottom to help with pulling out wrinkles. That's ab out the stage we are at.

[Cats playing with the first rivulets of water into the pond liner.... "Can we start fishing yet?"]

If we can, we want the pond to contain only rain water, none from the mains here which are not the best chemical mix for a wildlife pond, even though the brave folk here drink it when it is not under 'Boil Water' notices due to the latest outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis. This might take a few weeks, though we now will get what falls in naturally PLUS the car port's gurglings. We will also arrange intercepts on the house down-pipes to collect some of that - fortunately the house is uphill a bit from the pond. We could just do with a bit of rain, but if anyone asks, I never said so.

So there you have it, Goslings a-swimming, a pond liner, a canal-side picnic and fishing for cats. One unexpected aspect which never occurred to me and I will now have to watch. The geese brought the goslings down to see the pond. They stayed up on the bank but the goslings all leapt onto the rubber and slithered down into the 'depths'. The Geese called them back and only three could climb back up. I had to nip in a bit smartish in my soft shoes and give the other 4 a bunk-up back to safety. It's nerve wracking, all this baby animal management.


Matt Care said...

Just a quick update on this one - the sick gosling was rejected from the nest tonight and has now been rescued to spend some recovery time with Charlotte and Carolyn and his former nest-mate, 'Lucky'. Some company for Lucky, who seemed delighted to see this rather wonky baby who, because Lucky is called Lucky, has been named "Dip". Carolyn's suggestion. We thought it picked up nicely on his current struggles to hold his head upright.

Matt Care said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Care said...

By Thursday night he is feeding and taking drinks himself, which is good news. Charlotte has had a go at creating a mini neck brace hoping that this might encourage him to hold his head up. She is due to start training to be a vet-nurse, so I guess it's good practise! Dip is less impressed.