Friday 7 November 2014

Poorly Goose

Dublin Bay rose in flower in November,
well soaked with the rain
These are surprisingly mild, unseasonably warm, days. Our bees are still active even early in the morning except for on one frosty morning this week, presumably working the ivy and we have plenty of 'summer colour' left in the garden, roses like the Dublin Bay pictured, purple verbena, a lupin and even a Spiraea (pink shrub) pushing out new flowers. The rain is rather frustrating our gardening efforts but nobody around here is daring to complain because we and they remember far worse Octobers and Novembers. Say nothing and act natural!

Dried 'Borlotti' and 'Gaucho' beans. Not a particularly
clean sample, a few with surface mould to sort out. 
The young Buff Orpingtons finally out grew their tiny 'rabbit hutch' so I have resurrected the former Marans house from the temporary keet run and parked that next to their familiar home, shutting down the rabbit run to deny them access. Completely un-phased, they quickly adopted this bigger house with its bigger pop-hole so, the next day. I 'disappeared' the old house. I am now sneakily moving the house a few feet each day, creeping it down the cattle race and into the yard, where it will end up cosily against the outer wall with its pop hole nice and close to the proper, grown up chicken house. We would like them to start using that one day, but we are happy enough that they use the Marans house. It is fox proof anyway.

Our first Tamworth pork chops - delicious
We woke up to a sick goose, George Junior. He looked all 'moopy' and did not want to join the other 5 in their roamings round the orchard; he just stood on one spot or sat down. He looked to have a badly swollen base-of-neck, crop or 'top-of chest', like he was growing a dewlap. With all these poultry types, there is a limited amount you can do in such circumstances and it is never really worth calling the vet for a bird 'worth' only €10 or so. Birds work to such fast and high energy systems, heart rate, respiration, body temperature etc that when things go wrong they go wrong fast and the birds seem to go from perfectly healthy to dead with little in between. Most poultry keepers just cull the sick ones out. I fully expected to have to do this to GJ or to find him dead on the grass by lunchtime.

New 'Bible', my recommended sheep
reading 'homework'
We were away today, on a rare sunny morning, helping Vendor Anna's partner to subdue a badly overgrown hedge, but when we got back we were delighted to see the goose raise his head - he'd been asleep in the sunshine but was still with us. I was easily able to catch him and then we could get a good feel of his 'swelling'. I was expecting the hard, grain-sack nobbliness of an impacted crop but no, his swelling all seemed to be the feathers fluffed up and then just soft, squidgy flesh, maybe 'trapped wind' or some goose equivalent of foamy-bloat. When I massaged him he showed no distress or pain, just eyes me with his calm blue eyes, curiously. I have no idea. I have, as usual, put it out to the poultry discussion websites and the Facebook group to see if anyone has come across this before. Meanwhile George Junior has received our standard treatment of a gloop of cod liver oil and isolation out of the weather. He can see and hear all his mates but he can't get to them and, more importantly, they can not bully him.

Ram lamb at the end of the rainbow. 
That hedge cutting was all a bit mad. Vendor Anna lives about 45 minutes from here, the other side of Carrick and her house, on top of a rise has a superb view of the Shannon River. Or it would have if this hedge had not rather got away from them with its tall ash, blackthorn, dog rose, hazel and some kind of large leaved lime. It is actually a double-hedge, running either side of a bank, with a big ditch on the lane-ward side. Our job was to get it back to "about head height" but that meant chain-saw work as some of the trunks were 3 inches plus thick. There are also telephone cables running along the lane, so we had to be sure and drop any 'trees' inwards, uphill, onto the soggy lawn.

Macaroni cheese.
You are not really meant to use a chainsaw up at head height (it is supposed to be used cutting downwards from waist height, using the weight of the saw to make your cut) but I risked it. I didn't manage to injure myself but I did get very tired, and 2 hours in I needed a sit down - I was also very relieved that the saw had also gone blunt by then, so we could, with clear conscience, call it a day and we all retreated indoors to a superb lasagna and apple crumble cooked by Anna. The glass of wine went down well, too - Liz was driving today. We did well, with Paul and I cutting and Liz dragging the cut bits clear of the hedge and secateuring the smaller stuff, we got all the way along the 100 feet or so of the 'inside' hedge. The outside hedge will not be such a problem, being mainly thinner, 'loppers-sized' whippy stuff. Paul can play with that till we all come back and, more importantly try to clear the new "hedge" of bits laid along the lawn. He will have shreddings and kindling for years out of that. I logged up some of the trunks for him, too, before the saw finally ran out of sharp. Two tired but well fed gardeners made their way home to rescue the poor goose, walk the dogs and retreat indoors to light the range before the next band of rain came through.

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