Friday 17 July 2015

Shears, Ribs and Bee Stings

Sue's ewe, 'Pink' back in March, when the lamb was new.
Shaggy enough then, never mind in July
A big ugly weather system rattles on through and does for our warm July weather. It's a cracker - a deep 'Low' with three fronts (warm, cold and occluded) all centred on us like the three-pointed star of a Mercedes Benz logo. We get 48 hours of strong, blustery winds from all round the compass and a rake of squally showers. It's not quite enough to pin us down indoors but it definitely feels a bit un-necessary for mid July. It is all accurately forecast, though, so it does not stop the main event for this post, a bit more sheep shearing.

Amusing "half a job" shot shows how they can change
'size' when sheared.  These pics by Rob.
This was 'Pink', Sue and Rob's semi-pet ewe who got missed last year so now had 2 years worth of fleece (and dags) wrapping her up like a 4 inch pile carpet. 'Pink' because when they got her, she had a big pink spray-on flock-mark on her rump. Now she was seriously shaggy and daggy and in need of a clip. Many thanks to Sue and Rob who allowed me to practise on their precious sheep; they got a free shear but this was only my 3rd ever sheep, 4th ever try (our 'Lily' took 2 'bites') and my first try at doing someone else's animal. If you mess up your own sheep you can hide them in the back field and never post pics on Facebook, but if you mess up someone else's, it's all a bit more public. I was nervous.

Not a bad job - just the one tiny nick and no bleeding!
Pink is also trained to a head-collar so might give us a chance to shear her up the right way, standing on her own feet, which has got to be a lot less stressful for the animal than all that wrestling and up-ending them. If Rob could secure the front end and whisper sweet nothings in her ear, I could work away at the daggy end without her leppin' about. Her back end was completely obscured by the long and thick wool on each 'buttock' which joined together like 2 thick daggy, dread-locked up curtains, completely hiding the delicate bits which I must try to avoid cutting at all costs (udder and vulva) but with Rob holding her I had a hand free to part the 'curtains' and could slide the clippers in and around safely. Sorry if you're having yout tea!

I'm the sweaty one recovering here. Sue, the "client" definitely
looks like she is weighing up the job quality. She pronounced
herself very pleased and praised the result generously. 
Anyway, it all worked and I soon had her back end completely clear and was able to strike some 'blows' all up the spine and round the flanks and belly at which point we stopped as Rob was going to get sheared if he stayed where he was. Hence the amusing "half sheared" shot above which is a stage you'd never see on a "proper" shearing job. We took a breather, then Rob was able to move back and just hold head and collar, with Pink increasingly used to this idea, so I could get up her shoulders, forelegs, brisket and neck. Job done. Everyone gathered then to say nice things about the result before we moved Pink back to the field where the ram welcomed her home and she now looked smaller than her March-born ram-lamb . There is just a mountain of daggy fleece to pick up and clear away. It had been a good afternoon.

Towser ripping into a big raw beef rib. 
While we are 'on' all things Sue, she has also found a lovely beef butcher in nearby village Frenchpark. This guy apparently slaughters and butchers his own animals and hangs them for 2 weeks in between. The meat looks lovely and is cheaper than town and Supermarkets but even better, the guy cuts joints to suit the Irish customer which means well away from the bone and membranes surrounding them. His 'scraps' and bones for the dogs are therefore the meatiest we have ever seen and Sue showed us a 'trimming' that was so meaty and non-bony that you could have actually fried it for a steak for your own plate. She passed us a sheet of ribs a foot square and the dogs had (bits of) that for supper - much shlurping and ripping till the ribs were 'handed back' to us stripped "to the bone" like some dry white sun-bleached skeleton in a Western movie.

Common spotted orchid on the verge
actually ON the nearby bridge.
There are apparently around 30 species of orchid native this Island and plant spotters vie with one another to try to find them all. Even good experienced spotters only manage around ten and I am sure I've only ever seen (and definitely identified) one. That is the common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) which we found, to our delight, on the local bridge; actually in the verge on the bridge structure, that mess of old leaves and bits not trodden by the passing of car tyres but on top of the tarmac. Anne (who knows more about these things) tells me I might also find the greenish white 'Lesser Butterfly Orchid' (Platanthia bifolia) on my Kiltybranks (bog) meanderings but they are off to a special known site near Sligo town tomorrow to try to spot a few more. We were up in Sligo today but only for shopping.

Ouch - don't grab a bee when you go to pull up that
flowering weed!
Meanwhile, 'note to self'. If you are weeding near the hive in the sunshine, do go careful how you grab up those fistfuls of weeds. Don't go grabbing up a bee with them or she will sting you on the thumb. I have now been stung 4 times since we had bees and while I am delighted to find I am not a 'reactor' with all that anaphylactic shock drama, I get the sharp 'stab' followed by a mild tingle on the day but then a painful swelling overnight. Not enough to stop me handling the sheep shears but not nice.

No comments: