Thursday 5 March 2015

I am the Captain of this Ship

The Captain - our 'back up' Buff Orp rooster.
Of the 'Baker's Dozen' of Buff Orpington chicks hatched in the incubator ( ) we are now left with just four. One died of natural causes as a tiny chick, we culled out 2 roosters, sold 2 more and the marauding fox took mainly female birds, so we are left with three very fine hens and a lovely cockerel. The hens are in lay now, though not fully grown, and the rooster looks very healthy and well feathered. If you see him on his own, you'd know he was a handsome chap; it is only when you see him with the full grown roo', (Lieutenant Colonel Sir Buffton Tuffton, sah!) that you realise that he has a way to go yet.

The Captain (nearest to camera) is always on the
periphery of the flock. Sir Buffton (yellow circle)
holds the centre ground. 
He is still quite slim and rangey looking and about half the width of Sir Buffton across the chest. He lacks the boss's huge wide fluffy pantaloons and his confident strut. At present he is allowed to hang around at the periphery of the flock as they move around the 'farm', but makes sure he can always sprint off if the boss gets a bit close for comfort. He is always the bridesmaid at the moment. He does get to 'tread' the occasional hen when they have strayed from the group and if they are willing (the Sussex Pontes won't tolerate him!).

The purple sprouting broccoli in the latest snow.
For the moment we are keeping him as our back-up rooster should anything go wrong with Sir Buffton, but he needs to stay content in that 2nd-in-command position and bide his time. If he gets too much 'sap' rising in the spring and challenges his Father/Uncle he will get mullered for sure. We would have to cull him out. The three girls have now assimilated into the main flock with the 'boss', so they spend all day with him but then adjourn to the smaller coop in which they grew up, with their 'brother' at bed time. Because his boss is called "Lieutenant Colonel" we have decided to give him the rank of Captain, so that is his name. He may gain a promotion through the ranks. I will let you know.

A nice view of the back of the house - the snow nicely disguises
the rusty roof sheeting on the Tígín (outbuilding). 
More pretty snow falls overnight Monday/Tuesday earlier this week. This is all well and good from the point of view of picturesque photos and the sun shines to brighten up the day, but I am on serious business on Tuesday, trying to collect Lizzie from Knock airport, back from her long weekend in Bridport. There is a tense morning when we hear that flights are being delayed and (worse) diverted from Knock to Shannon. Knock is a very pleasant 20 minute run away through the bog-lane. Shannon from here is 2 hours and 12 minutes slog down the N17 (in good weather).

A Ryan Air flight gets instructed to jill around above Longford
before being diverted to Shannon Airport
As well as the airport website these days, you can get up to the minute flight information from websites which track all the planes in the air in real time, and you can find 'your' flight and see its height, bearing, speed and so on. Before Liz had even boarded I could see a Ryan Air flight out of Stansted get put into a holding pattern (see picture) above Longford before being sent south on its diversion to Shannon. Things were looking dodgy.

Liz's flight is well over the Irish sea and still heading in the right
direction as I hop into the car to drive over. 
Liz got re-assuring noises from the stewards on her plane, an Aer Lingus flight - they were "quite sniffy" about Ryan Air's performance. "Well, WE got in yesterday", they said. I watched the flight anxiously as it crossed the Irish Sea and was still aimed at Knock when I ran out of time and had to drive to the airport. Luckily, steward pride did not come before a fall this time, and Liz touched down OK on schedule. Indeed, she was early and the incoming flight almost took the roof off our car as I turned in off the N17. Huge relief all round. I had not been looking forward to a drive to Shannon as even then the clouds were closing in and sleet was falling heavily; I wondered would the airport get shut down with Liz's plane on the ground. Not in the end - that afternoon that weather system was all done, the sun came out and we have now all thawed out, snowless as if it had never been.

Goose egg double yolker. 
2 whooper swans flew over tonight while I was exercising the dogs in the orchard before supper. They were heading east, and I wonder whether they might be our last two wintering birds en route home to the north of Norway and Russia. These guys do not announce their departures like the swallows with their noisy massing. You see them moving about (I watched 4 others fly over about a week ago) and then suddenly on a crisp, quiet, windless clear night you realise that you can not hear the bugle calls any more. They have gone. I have seen just 2 down on the lough for the last week or so and now I see two flying over. Coincidence?

One solution to the egg glut - pickled eggs. 
While I'm on birds, we have moved from a shortage of eggs, without the 'proper' flock coming into full lay, to an egg glut. The young Buffs are now pumping them out and the two 'new' geese have come into lay to join the old girls, so we sometimes get 5 goose eggs in 24 hours. Each goose egg is worth about 3 chicken eggs, so Liz loves them for cooking and they make gorgeous scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel, but I was also able to pickle a batch of the young Buff eggs. 18 just about fitted into our biggest Kilner.

Anyone who regularly hard-boils eggs will know that 'fresh' is not necessarily 'best' - it can be tricky to peel the really fresh ones as the white does not separate  from the shell - the outer layers stick to the shell and you are left with a rough looking 'boily'. Having done 18 of them while taking note of dates, I can happily tell you that the cut off point is 4-5 days. Anthing younger was a problem, anything 5 days or more peeled perfectly.

We finally score some Gubbeen cheese, the subject of our Christmas
gift book. 
Well, there is enough, I think, on chickens, birds and eggs. We finally scored some of the Gubbeen cheese , subject of my Christmas present book. More important, possibly, was that we see from the label that there is an outlet for more of this, within easy range of Sparks. We just need to badger him to dropping by the shop next time he comes down this way. Meanwhile, thank you very much to our 'supplier' - you know who you are. We will be tasting it tonight in a cheese-course we have included in our supper.


Renovation in Galicia said...

I think you will find that the Irish and British whooper visiting swans are from Iceland, I seem to remember that they are now being satellite tracked.

Matt Care said...

...and Birdwatch Ireland agrees with you, Anne. Well done. I stand corrected. Wouldn't want them going 'home' to the wrong place! :-)