Friday 25 March 2016

Are You Kidding?

Nanny gets her nose into the trough. 
Guest goat, Nanny Óg is still keeping us guessing and waiting. Will she kid? How many babies? When? She seems to us to be continuously growing in girth but her udder should soon start to look full to bursting rather than just big-but-saggy. Owner Carolyn has recently upped her estimate of when things might start to happen. Going by our knowledge of when we collected Nanny from the breeder (and thereby separated her from her men-folk) and of the gestation period, we had mentally had April 14th as the last likely date. If she was not done by then, she must just be fat or very late.

3 of the lambs, nice and stocky now, start to show a healthy
interest in the grown-ups' food. 
Now, though, Carolyn thinks that when we brought Nanny Óg back to meet Billy and she didn't want to know him (so we all surmised that she was 'with child'), that might have just been a 'first impression'. The pair were left together for a couple of weeks(?) before Billy started showing signs of head-butting Nanny in the flank when she tried to eat from either of the food buckets (his or hers). Carolyn became concerned about injury to Nanny or to any unborn children in that abdomen and separated them. If Billy had, in fact, managed to get his wicked way while humans were off watch, then the 'last-likely' date might stretch as far as the end of April. As the song says, "It goes to show you never can tell"

Mum makes a comfortable bed. 
Meanwhile, regular readers will recall an angst-filled post about the issue of dogs worrying pregnant sheep ( ) which described the frustrations we were having with a local collie and its owner's inability to prevent the dog from straying (in our direction). That story ended with me having a bit of a rant at the lady of the house and, fair play to the people, they obviously heard me and strove to keep the offending lad under control. We never saw him again all through lambing and, in fact, right round to a couple of nights ago.

A nicer pic of the front of the house, sans trees
An apologetic Easter Egg from a dog?
When all hell broke loose among our dogs at 03:30 that morning we knew straight away that the dog was back. This time, we found, he was dragging 8 feet or so of chain behind him and I suppose that it was the unusual noise of this chain being dragged across our gravel drive and front lawn that was detected by our dogs. We sorted it in the usual way (all be it struggling to raise the owner in the middle of the night) and the guy could see from the fitting on the end of the dog's chain, how he had broken free. So, a load of apologies and off they went promising, as usual to hold the dog secure again.

No such luck that time, and we left the house the next evening so that I could drop Liz into the village, and who did we meet just outside the front door? Yes, our furry chum. More phone calls and a text message had us struggling to contact the owner, so I loaded the dog into our car and set out to drive him home, but then crossed paths with the guy half way there. He spotted us, turned round and followed us home. Usual apologies and promises but this time a nice sweetener. The dog had apparently been out and bought us a nice Lindor Easter Egg as an apology for all the trouble and inconvenience he is causing. Thoughtful dog.

Nice open view from the bedroom window. 
Back at the ranch our most pressing big (in terms of man hours and graft!) project is to start splitting our enormous pile of tree rounds into sizes that will help them season but will also fit into the solid-fuel range that does the heat and hot-water task round these parts. Local wisdom has it that this species of wood is easier to split up when it is new and green, than when seasoned. That is a bit counter-intuitive, as we expect log rounds to start splitting almost by themselves as they dry out. Black spruce, we are told, sets like rock when dry. We do not want to leave the pile there while we find out so I have had feelers out re log-splitting technology.

This little 'car trailer' sized splitter has a Honda engine and
punches well above its weight, with a 25 tonne blade force. 
I checked with our tree fellers to see would they come and do "some of" the wood - I don't need it all split just yet. They, however, have to come all the way from Strokestown so the 'logistics' (their word) of them doing it do not really pay - half a day's splitting would still cost €250 because of the 'call out' segment. They did say. mind. that they would kill half to 2/3 of our pile in that half day.

An hour's log splitting just to "make sure the machine was
working" generates quite a pile.
Step forward then, my bloke from down the road who came and sliced up the tree which got blown over in my pig-run 2 Novembers ago. He owns, I knew, a small car-trailer sized hydraulic splitter powered by a small Honda petrol engine. This beast proved to be very easy to operate once set up and is man enough to drive its wedge into your slice of tree with a force of up to 25 tonnes. That makes the engine grunt a bit but it soldiers on and to see a 2-3 foot diameter slice of  tree suddenly crack open is quite an impressive experience.

My man brought the machine here, set it up and showed me how to use it over the course of an hour's "checking it worked - it hasn't been used for 2 years". You can see from the picture how much wood we split in that hour. Loads of fun for me over the next few days or more working my way through the pile. All volunteers to help welcome!

87 growth rings on the stumps of one of the three trees. 1929!
On the subject of trees and wood we are still delighted with the new open views up to the house from the lane and from the bedroom window down the drive. The last few nights have been near-full moons so we get good views even at night across the lawn and, from my pillow, I can see sky and even the actual moon. It is quite bright all of a sudden. With all these logs it should be warm for years too.

Why do donkeys always appear to be judging you? This is not our animal, but I thought it would make a good '365' photo. It did, and it is now up on the Lisacul website (

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