Tuesday 25 August 2015

All Growed Up?

We do not claim to be experts in Meteorology but we are reasonably knowledge-able (A level in Geography, Environmental Science as part of the degree, that kind of thing) and we are sure that we had around 3 inches of rain over Saturday night into Sunday morning. This would be quite amazing and I am sure I would think "pull the other one" if it was only being told to me by a "bloke in the pub". I remember that rain guages are all a standard shape and size, with known diameter, knife-sharp horizontal rim, placed out dead-level in an uninterupted air-flow and so on. Well, we don't have that but I did have a vertical-sided bucket which I am 99% sure was empty the day before, and accumulated a good 3 inches of rain overnight. My second witness would be the all night roar and hiss of rain on roofs and windows. My third the huge puddles all around the place on Sunday on what had been only damp ground and I would also draw your attention (M'Lud) to the River Lung under Feigh Bridge being higher than I have even seen it and Lough Feigh being fuller. Under the bridge a large diameter pipe drains water into the river from fields on the west bank and is normally a good 6 feet above the water so that water falls in quite an impressive 'force'. I have seen on previous wet spells, the water half way up this pipe but yesterday (Monday) it was over-topped. Finally in Met Éireann data, Knock Airport had 37 mm on the Saturday, up to midnight and I can easily believe that another 38 mm fell after that (data not yet published - perhaps they are double checking their figures too!)

A first tiny egg from 'OneChick'?
Meanwhile, back with the poultry, all hunkered down in the buildings out of this rain (and me hunkered down playing on t'internet) we think we have had a first egg from 'OneChick'. OneChick was hatched in late May by one of the Buffs in the Tígín, so she is only 3 months old; a bit young to be laying eggs but if not her, then we don't know where this came from. There has only been the one so far, so maybe she is just practicing being a grown up.

OneChick at 3 months.
Actually, we are a little confused by her parentage and as she grows up and starts to look like an adult bird, we are no longer so certain she is purebred Buff Orpington, which had been our first guess. She is losing her Buff-Orp shape and getting a bit longer legged and necked. Also she has a few dark feathers in her wings and one or two dark tail feathers, which I do not think Buffs are "allowed". She also has a dark 'cere'; the flesh where the nostrils come out, above the base of the beak. None of our pure Buffs have that. Her father will definitely be a Buff as these are the only roosters we currently have, but if biological Mum is not a Buff, she might have been either of 2 other red-ish 'breeds' we have. We have the red Hubbard, 'Miss Scarlett' still laying. We also have a couple of hybrids which we call the 'Mini-Buffs'. They were bought as Buff eggs but proved when hatched and grown to be smaller and short-legged like some kind of bantam as well as having dark feathers in the tail and cape, as per Sussex hens. Ah well, she is a delightful little thing and if she proves to be a reliable layer, she is welcome here.

Part of the last joint of the 2014 lamb meat, a leg coated in herby
bread-crumbs and then slow roasted at 100ºC for 6 hours.
Hot on OneChick's heel in the growing up race, come the Two Chicks hatched by the Buff under the elderberry bush. These two are now two months old, fully feathered but not very independent. Up till last night they had all crowded into the little space in the Tígín at night, where OneChick was hatched. Then last night at lock up I found the pair wandering in the yard, cheeping in a confused manner, but with no Mum in attendance. I eventually found her in the grown-ups coop happily settling down to roost with her 'sisters'. She had apparently decided to move house without telling the youngsters or they had not been listening. I had to shepherd them gently into the coop where they continued to cheep on the floor as if seeking permission to sleep in this strange adult world. I checked them a few minutes later and they had worked it out. They were up with the Mums and Aunts on the perching ladder. Poor sweet little mites.

Em-J in the Debs dress
Talking of growing up, another 'Proud Uncle' post - the niece and God-Daughter, Em-J who featured in a recent post as getting good results in her Leaving Cert exams is tonight making that modern Rite of Passage claimed by all young Irish ladies, the 'Debs' (Debutantes' Ball). Best bib and tucker for the lads, glad-rags, hand-bags and the best jewellery for the lasses, with Mums, Grans, Aunts and assorted family friends all converging on the place to help get the Deb ready and to see her off to the posh 'Reception' at 4 pm. Liz has hot-footed it down to Silverwoods to be part of this and to spend the night celebrating at the homestead with the Silverwood parents. She has promised to take some pics and ping them up here via the miracle of the Internet, so I promise in my turn to edit them into this post as soon as I get them.

I am unable to attend (though sure I'd LOVE to spend several hours in female 'getting ready' mode!) because I have 2 other 'growing ups' to worry about - our piggies Mary and Isabelle are now 'ready' and booked off on their final journey Thursday morning. Our experience tells us that the best way to persuade pigs to climb up an unfamiliar wooden ramp into a trailer is to start 3 days earlier, giving them their breakfasts and suppers up there. They soon learn that the trailer is 'safe' and full of food so that, on Thursday morning we can load them quietly and calmly with nobody getting stressed out. That is the intention - in an ideal world the pigs get right up to the slaughter-man's stun-gun (or humane killer) without a Scooby-Doo that they are in danger.

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