Sunday 3 August 2014

An Occasion of Sin?

Class of 2014 try out the 'new' trailer.
On Friday the 1st, out of the blue, comes our long awaited text from that elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, Kenny, our sheep man. It seems he has broken his phone and lost a lot of contacts (Mmmm...) and has had to get back in touch via his brother Joe and our brother, Sparks. Kenny and Joe were part of the amazing stilt-walking plastering team of brothers who did such a good job on our rebuilt house. He was now back and offering us up to 5 lambs 'tomorrow' (Sat 2nd) and also suggesting that we meet him halfway at a car park in Ballyhaunis to transfer them from his trailer to ours. We asked for four. Kenny describes them as 'boys' so we put up on Facebook a jokey competition to name them and got back some very amusing sets of four names, everything from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, through the Ramones names, the Four Horsemen, the Rat Pack, the 'A' Team, the Goons, "Uncle, Tom, Cobley and All" to Eeny, Meanie, Miny and Mo, various recipe lists and even, cleverly "Post, Prey, Poon & AstedI'll leave you to work that one out!

Eyeing us up through the vent gap on the trailer.
I have to admit I was a bit scared of the trailer-transfer thing and had visions of sheep sprinting all over the busy town of Ballyhaunis an a Bank Holiday Saturday afternoon, with us in pursuit but that bit, at least proved that these sheep people know what they are at. However we suddenly had our Saturday now driven by the schedules of sheep-man Kenny. As well as a plasterer, Kenny is a small scale sheep farmer with a flock of one ram and about 30 'Mums' plus whatever singletons, twins and triplets he has managed to produce that year, and we have fallen in love with him over the years and use him as sheep supplier, mentor and source of sheep wisdom BUT (and it is a big 'But') he is a bugger for the lacks-a-daisical timekeeping and he will surely drive us mad.

Liz lets the sheep out in the East Field
He will text you one day promising to call back first thing tomorrow to confirm arrangements, but then he'll not text back, or it will be 'definitely around 2 pm'. Then as 2 pm approaches you will inevitably get a call saying he's fallen behind. Woe betides if you are hanging around waiting and putting off other jobs 'in case he calls'. One of our deliveries finally arrived at 11 pm and we were shepherding new sheep around in the dark with torches. It all somehow hangs together, though and we've not lost a sheep yet. This batch we finally got a firm rendezvous for the car park of pump-supplier 'EPS' in Ballyhaunis (which would be empty at the weekend and is nicely surrounded on all sides by fences but with an easily 'defended' open main gate). We backed our two trailers up tight together and guarded the side gaps while Kenny's son Oisín strong-armed the first sheep from A to B (the remaining three happily followed, as sheep do). The lads talked us through the sheep, which are an interesting mix of Mule and cross breed all with the same father (a Suffolk Down x Texel). Three ram lambs and a 'Yow'.

These Mayo-born babies taste Roscommon grass.
The 'Occasion of Sin' thing in my subject line? For the non-Catholic readers and anyone who was not schooled by the good Nuns who 'police' sweet little Catholic school girls, Liz tells me that as well as filling the girls with knowledge, a good part of the day was spent protecting them from bad influences and anything which might put at risk their purity and innocence. (Sounds like hard work to me, so fair play to the Nuns!). In this world, anything seen, read or come across which might give the girls a frisson of excitement or make their ears prick up and might cause a SIN to happen (gasp!) was referred to as an "Occasion of Sin". Liz tells me that Kenny the sheep man, with his devilish handsome, Wild Irish Rover good looks, dark curly hair, fine features, twinkling eyes, strong hands (swoon) and fit farmer's body is definitely an Occasion of Sin and would have been kept out of the school by Nuns armed with pitchforks and flaming torches.

Aren't these ear-tags meant to be attached to the sheep,
Ah well, the sheep are all home now and safe in our East Field, recently vacated by the last mini-horse to leave, Cody. There is plenty of grass there and the gang are patrolling around now seeing what it tastes like in all parts of the field. We have not settled on names yet - the choice was too huge! This was the first use of the new stock trailer in anger and we were delighted with how it all worked, all be it we lost the spare wheel from its mount at some stage and had to retrace our steps to go and rescue it in case it was lying in the road causing an accident - it wasn't, it was well hidden in a grass verge. Ah well, we've done all the paperwork and Kenny has given us the strip of ear-tags which he has promised (faithfully!) to come round and fit to the sheep in the next few weeks. Brace yourself, Lizzie!

Pirate after his most recent Vet visit
Meanwhile a quick picture of our old soldier, Pirate the Cat, now all goo'd up again with medical fluids, new stitches and scabby stuff. Poor aul' soul. We hope this is the last visit and now he can get better properly, put on plenty of weight and clean himself up a bit. He has effectively taken over the caravan now and won't let our other two cats in. It's his territory now. Our two cats don't actually mind, especially now that it has turned a bit autumnal and wet, and they are allowed indoors (Ha!). They are currently both stretched out luxuriously on a bed in the spare room. We daren't let Pirate indoors, as the dogs would try to rip him limb from limb. It's a shame, because he is so obviously an 'indoor' cat. We are secretly hoping that one of our guests or visitors will fall in love with him, one who can give him a proper indoor berth with no terriers. Meanwhile, though, we will keep him safe in his new life based around the caravan.

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