Friday 7 August 2015

The Donegal Postman

The pond is brim-full and still the rain falls.
After having finally found a break in the weather and enjoyed a whole day today out of doors in the gardening catching up with some much needed weeding and pruning, it seems mean to still post this post. Disloyal, ungrateful, even 'moany' perhaps, but I had this one all set in my head and I need to unload it to make room for the next one. We have had so much rain through July and into the first 6 days of August that even the locals are complaining. We have felt like we did on some of those narrow-boating holidays when we were all cooped up in the 56' by 6' floating "tube"; 8 of us and three dogs all steaming up the windows, wishing we could move.

Puddles on the drive.
Normally well used to the wet and stoic through the wet days the Irish seem to have run out of 'sense of humour' and given up on praying through the official channels. They turn their rain-splashed faces to one Michael Gallagher. "Who he?" I hear you ask (and well you might). This meteorological Messiah is none other than a country postman in County Donegal who has acheived local fame (and now, briefly, National renown) for being "always right" and, in the middle of the soggy month of July, was dishing out hope in the form of a predicted hot August. He is reported to be a keen studier of nature, convinced that the birds and animals KNOW stuff. This is not quite the clichéd "cows lying down" or "crows flying clockwise round t'spire" but it is close.

The 'waxies' get a re-coat of the protective wax. 
"For instance cattle and sheep will hide deep in the mountains in search of shelter when a cold spell is on the way.

Michael also said that a cold May is a good omen and a sign that we are in for a hot summer.

The cry of the curlew bird is usually a sign that we are in for heavy downpours but the postman has noticed a lack of them recently.

He also said that the fact that animals are not venturing to the upper plains of Donegal means that the good weather could be here to stay".

A lovely dark Delphinium drips after the
latest shower. 
Yes, I know it is all a bit of silliness on a slow news day (This one was in the Irish Mirror) but they lap it up here and the story was everywhere including all over National radio and everyone (including us, of course) was commenting that it might be wet but "there was some postman from Donegal who is 'always right' (apparently) predicting a hot August". Last year it was the turn of a sage from New Zealand who had a pet theory about the moon and planets aligning and who publishes an almanac which (allegedly again) "all the farmers buy". We looked it up and it was €22 plus postage from NZ so I doubt they do!

Dark purple buddleia. The bees love it but I've not seen any
butterflies on it yet. 
Well, I guess Michael Gallagher has gone a bit quiet as July's rain was replaced by rain from 1st to 6th of August but fair play to him. We hope he got a few pints in the pub from journalists trying to get hold of the story. Never say never, of course. It has been glorious today so we might be onto something. Met √Čireann might not know it all with their gloomy talk of more anticyclones and frontal rain.

Up to their trotters in muck and mire.
It has been ironic that the piggies in August are wading about in 4-6 inches of sloppy mud around the entrance gate. We deliberately timed them to start in the (wet) spring and finish in the dust of August this year. Last year's Tamworths arrived here in June and as they came up ready in October we were worried about getting the trailer up to the gate to load them. If it had turned wet, we might be slithering about trying to push trailer and 180 kg of piggies through a morass to reach the car which would be sticking to the hard standing. I had visions of having to borrow JD Bob's tractor to tow the trailer to the hard ground.

The bees found the buddleia at last.
In the event, we had no such worries - the weather stayed dry and the trailer was easy to wheel across the ground. We could even have backed the car across the grass to hitch it on. But the 'fear' was there, so we decided to buy our pigs from the first litters in March/April, and have them finish in the nice reliable dry month of August. How we are laughing now! Now, obviously with pigs you must expect some chopping up of the ground - some people get pigs mainly for that purpose. We luckily have a well drained piece of territory for Mary and Isabelle but they have chopped up the earth round the gateways quite impressively and I have taken to feeding them over the fence away from the gateway, rather than continue with my twice daily, wellie-clad wade through with them "snapping at my heels" to the old feeding station, trying not to lose a wellie in the muck and mire.

This (deliberately)  poor address still made it.
Finally, while we are on postmen there has been another bit of national 'silliness' following the fun and games with the new 'Eircodes' (post codes) system. People have been trying to test their postmen by writing very short or jokey versions of addresses to see would the mail still get through. Our friend 'Airy Fox' told of one where a student had addressed a letter to his friend (also in Donegal) with "Your man Henderson; that boy with the glasses who is doing the PhD up there at Queen's in Belfast, Buncrana, Co Donegal" The punchline was inside the envelope, with the sender ribbing his mate that if he got the letter then he must live in a village.

Hen and Two still go off to roost in the gap where they hatched.
We were joking around that we bet that even if an envelope was addressed to us as "your man with the three white dog-eens, near Lisacul, Co Roscommon, then local postie Ger' would find us. Unbeknownst to us, Airy did exactly that (well, nearly, she did put 'Matt and Lizzie' at the top) and, yes, it got here. We wonder whether you could now be found if you merely put your post-code and Ireland but we think that this 'fun' is a bit irresponsible and must waste some postman time, plus they may have had a flush of these and could by now be getting tired of them. Credit to An Post again, though, for getting this one and thanks to Airy for the fun and the lovely card contained there-in.

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