Monday 10 November 2014

The 'Ramones' Final Gig

George Junior with his swollen neck. 
The "poorly goose" of my last post (George Junior) did not make it, but passed away quietly in standard goose sleeping position (beak under wing) in a box of hay and tucked under a blanket. We found him on the 2nd morning, so just 48 hours from first spotting that he might have a problem. Frustratingly, we have no idea what went wrong or what killed him. He had that swollen neck or crop but that seemed to be mainly full of air - when I gently massaged it at the bottom end the bulge moved up into his neck like playing with a part-inflated balloon.

Oven ready version - 2.2 kg
Finding him dead yesterday morning I hung him up head-down in the shed to relax into an easier 'shape' to pluck him and over the next couple of hours quite a lot of clear liquid (water?) drained down out of his mouth, so that by the time I plucked him the swelling was gone. The crop and gut cut open told us nothing - just some part digested food as you'd expect, small wads of 'chewed' grass, some grain. No obvious blocked places or torsion, but all of that could have relaxed away due to the head-down hanging. Ah well, some you win..... We decided to eat only the carcass (2.2 kg) and to bin the 'offal' we'd normally keep (gizzard, liver and heart). He was only a young lad so he is not really filled out enough to look like a proper oven-ready goose and does not have the usual thick layers of sub-cutaneous fat. The other 5 geese seem fine to us, behaving and eating normally. We remain completely in the dark as to what 'took' this fellow. Unusually, my on-line support (the poultry discussion groups) were also disappointingly silent on the subject.

What no sheep?
The open gate pictured, and the empty field tell the tale of this year's store lamb quartet having gone on their final journey, off with a one-way ticket for their appointment with Ignatius G (Victualler) in Castlerea Main Street. I did all the 'shock horror' pictures last year and the year before of hanging carcasses and of Liz dealing with the 'crop', so I will spare you that this year. These 4 were named 'The Ramones' after the punk-band by a friend (a pun on the fact that they were all, allegedly, going to be male (Ram lambs)) though in fact one was a ewe. The real Ramones (the band) had a song called "I don't want to be buried in the Pet Cemetery". Don't worry, you guys, that is no part of the plan.

The trailer is left open while the
chooks pick it clean of spilled food
They were easily the simplest and most trouble free batch we have had. Nobody escaped, nobody got their head stuck in the fence, they were all dead easy to bucket-train and then, in the 'practise runs' and today for real, they obediently followed me from field to cattle race and thence into the trailer. We had them loaded, literally, from field to ramp-shut in under 3 minutes. Yes, of course it feels like a betrayal as reward for their good behaviour but it does confirm that they are not scared or distressed at all by the loading and transportation. Trusting to the end, poor lambs, which in our case is when we encourage them out of the trailer and into one of the clean, straw-strewn holding pens at Ignatius's lairage while we chat to the happy butcher-man about his recent holiday in Canada and the birth of his newest Grand-daughter, Blaithín* (also in Canada).

Christmas Cake ingredients get an overnight soak
in apple juice
These lambs were two Texel x Suffolk Down and two Texel x 'mule' (the mule being a cross between a mountainy sheep and a lowland sheep). They may also well be our farewell to doing business with sheep-man Kenny, as we are moving now into in-lamb ewes and keeping sheep year round, rather than just buying Kenny's store lambs in Summer to 'finish' them in November or December. We've done it the 'Kenny' way for three years and 12 lambs and he deserves our thanks. It has been a good grounding in what was to be a new species for us. We feel ready now to get involved in all that shearing, foot trimming and dosing for liver fluke that 'proper' shepherds have to do.

Follow the yellow brick road to the spot marked 'X'
All around this sheep-work we have continued the sneaky 'drift' of the young Buff Orps' new house, down the cattle race and into the yard. We move the house a couple of feet each day and the chickens seem to be untroubled by the fact that their house each evening is in a slightly different place. We are both reminded of my mother's (Pud Lady's) wartime anecdote. Living at the start of the Blitz in Bromley-by-Bow on the River Thames, she and her 'big sister' were evacuated as children several times down to Somerset. Every time the Blitz eased and they could come 'home' they had actually moved house because their previous house had been bombed out in the intervening period. By the time we boys came along, Pud Lady had a framed map of the evacuation village on the Living Room wall as a momento, but amusingly the framing job had been done by 'cropping' a bigger map to remove the huge first S and last ET of the county name, so I grew up thinking Mum had been evacuated to a place called 'OMERS', The framed map is still there in the Hastings house.

Blue looks balefully at the metal duck
Finally, as cats do, Blue has adopted a new favourite sleeping place, on top of our Living Room dresser. This, of course, involves evicting any inconvenient "junk" he finds there (trophies, plaster kingfishers, a posh 'Moet' insulated sleeve for your champagne and egg boxes - this after riffling through the stack of open 'nested' boxes like a professional card-sharp). In this picture he has cleared himself a good space but doesn't look too happy about the metal duck ornament eye-ing him up from stage right.

*Another good Irish name for the British readers, Blaithín is pronounced 'Bloh-heen', the 'Bloh' having a short vowel like in the word 'Blo(ck)'. It translates as 'Little Flower'.... ahhhh!


Anne Wilson said...

Bit late now for George jnr. but he might have had sour crop. Was there any smell from his crop or the fluid?

Matt Care said...

Thanks Anne; someone on also suggested that, but no, no foul smell at all. The only smell was a slight fishy taint, probably from the cod liver oil we'd tried to dose him with the evening before.