Friday 12 December 2014

Weather Bomb?

A nice seasonal ale from Wychwood, the
makers of Hobgoblin.
We had our forecast first big storm of the winter, with strong winds  from Tuesday afternoon, through Wednesday and into Thursday morning. There were some impressive weather maps on line, particularly one of wave energy or 'swell energy' which is a factor beloved of the surfers who try to ride the big Atlantic waves up on our NW coasts. This had a dramatic black patch in our corner of the Ocean (black being for wave energies of over 25,000 KJ per metre of wave height per wave) surrounded by vivid red rings fading through orange to the calmer colours. There were, too, some impressive graphs of wave height, with double deck buses on for comparison; they got 21 metre waves off Donegal. Possibly for these dramatic reasons, the media seemed to adopt this storm system keenly and christened it a "Weather Bomb!" and naming the bad day Black Wednesday to allow for eye catching dramatic headlines. I wonder what me aul' Dad, a lifelong teacher of geography and lover of meteorology would have made of all that. What's wrong with 'significant anticyclone' or 'deep depression' I can hear him asking, or even big storm or gale force winds.

We may only have a small kitchen but Liz
was always going to find room for one of
these bad boys - the new dish washer.
Anyway, we got our 'Yellow Warning' from Met Éireann so we battened down the hatches and listened nervously to the wind roaring through our big trees and the rain splattering against the windows, watching nervously in case the out-building roof(s) might move about but we survived both nights and I could report back to Liz after my first-thing patrol and dog-walk that everyone and everything were still where they should be. We had survived the 'Weather Bomb(!)' and Black Wednesday. Windswept and interesting. These systems then tend to move off across the Scotland, or nip round Ireland's SE coast and hit Wales and England and we feel sorry for our friends in those places who are reporting their own storm damage a day after we've been in the thick of it.

A light freeze after the 'Weather Bomb', proper ice on the
 pond for the first time this winter and some rime on the
Temporary disappointment in the sheep department; I must preserve my soul in patience a while longer. I was hoping to collect the girls this weekend and therefore be able to report some sheep on site in this year's census. But these things do not always go to plan, and my friend Mayo-Liz has been called to do some extra shifts and 'the boys' who need to help separate my ewes from the flock and move them up from the lower fields are not available either, so the ewes get to spend a few more days in Mayo. They are reported in good health, though and almost certainly 'with child' plus they have been given their Heptavac P jabs ( "For the active immunisation of sheep as an aid in the control of lamb dysentery, pulpy kidney, struck, tetanus, braxy, blackleg, black disease and clostridial metritis caused by (assorted Clostridia types)". So says MSD Health, the maker of this widely used sheep medicine. When Mayo-Liz gets a chance she will do the separation and bring my ewes up to her barn, then phone me to come and get them. These things can't be helped especially around Christmas and with livestock

The bees have not been seen outside the hive since December began, so we hope they are nice and safe in their football sized winter cluster. There was white rime on the hive roof this morning but deep inside they will be maintaining the temperature of the small amount of live brood which they keep going through the winter, buzzing their flight muscles to generate heat, or fanning their wings to get more air flow. They may still fly on warm days (over about ten degrees)  but one of the adaptations of the local subspecies to the local conditions is a higher than average ability to retain 'poo' in the gut. They need to fly to get rid of this to keep the hive hygienic and so that they do not suffer from dysentery, so they do better if Met Éireann give them a warmer day every couple of weeks so that they can do a few "cleansing" flights, but they can go months without if need be.

The electricity pole is finally swapped over
and the old one felled.
In the poultry department we may have some light at the end of the egg-less tunnel. Last week was our worst ever with just one egg from 9 hens, but today I got 2 eggs AND the Guinea Hen has re-started her annoying and incessant 'buck-wheat buck-wheat' mating calls. This is a relief - we have been buying eggs and Lidl's Connell Farm Organic eggs may be "freshly laid by hens with freedom to roam freely on organic pastures" but they are, to us, spoiled as we are by our own eggs, insipid and pale yolked things.

ESB (the Electricity Supply Board) finally showed up to swap our power lines across to the new pole and to delicately drop the old pole into our garden, neatly missing all my young trees. I enjoyed watching them - they do not use ladders, it seems, to shinny up these poles, but strap-on leg irons which hook round the pole and grip it, but then give each foot a cantilevered platform to stand on. The man then has a strap round his waist and round the pole and by shuffling his weight from foot to foot to waist he was up and down and round and round the pole doing up all his cables and iron work with the ease and grace of a monkey up a tree, with both hands free to use the tools hooked to his belt. He takes up with him a block and tackle to  so that his man on the ground can hoist bigger tools up and down to him without him having to come down for them. Very efficient. Power was only off for 2 hours and we slotted our shopping into that gap so that we now have our Christmas tree and a batch of white wine ready for our house guest, plus the almonds for the marzipan for the cake.


Anne Wilson said...

If you buy eggs from a supermarket that's what you have to expect Matt. I'm afraid 3000 birds in one house does not cut it with me, you could always buy eggs from Derreen we normally have plenty for sale, and they are Organic in the true sense of the word, and you nearly have to drive past us to go to Lidl.

Matt Care said...

We know that, of course, Anne and we should have called by. We also have a million egg boxes for you - two separate friends we had asked to save them both reported back this week with a stack - if they are of any use. I think we were already in Lidl when we decided we needed an egg for some baking. We seem to suddenly be much better off and our drought is over - I got 2 eggs yesterday and the day before. I may blow by tomorrow morning, if that's OK. I'll text first.