Tuesday 26 April 2016

The North Wind Shall Blow....

An abrupt end for us, to our lovely foretaste of spring. The wind swings round to the North and strengthens (I have borrowed 2 weather maps from AA Weatherwatch and, for those who don't do meteorology, I have added two bloomin' great red arrows to show you how the wind is working.) Our lovely blue skies and sitting out by the pond in tee-shirts with a pleasantly cool wine, are replaced by dog walks clad back in the winter coats, gloves and warm hats. Today I was out helping a neighbour with a job out in one of his fields, and an impressive snow and hail storm came blasting through, sending both of us trying to hide in his one-man tractor cab (stationary of course). Liz is currently over in the UK for a funeral, so I am not sure what weather she is getting (Swindon) or how she is faring. Keep warm, Lizzie.

Here at home, we are chugging along steadily with no great drama or excitement. The local idiom would be "Nothing strange?" (meaning 'I guess you have no new gossip for me?') The reply is "No, nothing strange". There is a whole conversation in there.

On Sunday we have a National census to complete. We love this sort of thing so we are happy to oblige. Liz loves to look back at old census results which are mainly available free on line now to see how the various aspects change, rural depopulation and the like. An interesting aspect of this one has been a ground-swell of anti-church sentiment which follows the recent conflicts between the old Catholic establishment and the more non-religious younger people. The latter, of course, 'rule' the Social Media and have been spreading the word that it is OK to say in the census that you have "No Religion" if you are not a regular church-goer. The church, it is known, use the official census data to argue for a big share of any resources (teaching etc) because they can demonstrate that, ooh look, 80%+ of the population say they are Catholic even though perhaps only 20% of the population go to Mass. The anti-camp feel that if the people declared more truthfully their support for the RC church, then the latter would get a smaller (and fairer) slice of the Government finance cake.

Lambs looking quite chunky now at 2 months+
Meanwhile I have had a couple of queries about how those lambs and the kid are doing and a request for some update pictures, so here goes. The (5) lambs are over 2 months old now so we have been ear-tagging them. I was amusing myself with the thought that you know you are not a sheep beginner any more when you have to order your next batch of ear-tags. I have just one left from my 1-10 series so I have ordered #11 to #30. They look nice and chunky and are full of beans.

Goat kid at 3 weeks. 
They have adopted the new goat-kid (Henry Óg) and can all be seen playing chasing and King-of-the-Castle games with him. He bounces around like Tigger on all 4 feet or tries to engage them in gentle forehead to forehead pushing matches. He is still suckling and pays only scant attention to the mealtime feeds of ewe and lamb 'crunch' or to the browse which his Mum finds. Lily's lamb Rosie, our likely keeper, is all done suckling now. We still see Polly's boys at this occasionally and Myfanwy's girl twins. These lambs are all so strong now that when a pair of twins dive in to suckle both at once, and 'bunt' the ewe's udder with their noses, the ewe gets lifted off the ground at the back end. It is comical to see but I can't think it is that comfortable for the ewe and I assume she will be keen to stop all this 'nonsense' and let the babies fly the nest.

Just before the weather turned, I got a first grass-mow in.
My two on/off/on broody birds have now settled on the 'broody' option. The goose has settled now in the coop and sits glued to the nest in a kind of trance all day and all night (as far as we know). Barbara the turkey hen went AWOL again and has not been seen around here for 3 days. Poor Tom, the ''husband" looks very miserable and forlorn, abandoned by his wife and does not spend his whole day in display mode. As

We don't normally light this open fire
in April. This one was more about putting
off some jackdaws I had seen nest building
than keeping the house warm. 
I have said in previous posts, we can only guess where she is (out there in the fields somewhere) and how she is getting on. We are unlikely to see her for at least 25 more days in which time she could easily fall prey to a fox, pine marten or mink. Then she may or may not hatch any youngsters and may or may now be able to bring them back here. Domestic turkeys are notoriously bad mothers; big clumsy stupid things who tread on their own chicks and then do not realise that the screams of agony under their feet mean they should shift their feet or get off the nest. We can just wait and hope and pray till around the 16th May. You never know. Maybe it will go OK.

The blackthorn has started flowering in
all the local hedges
In an unrelated nest-building story, I had spotted a couple of jackdaws bring twigs to the chimney on the west end of the house and some of these were even falling down the flue when dropped by the clumsy birds. I do not have a jackdaw 'pot' (wire cage) on that flue yet so I lit a couple of good smokey turf fires in the grate to send them an unwelcome signal. They seem to have abandoned us for now.

Ah well, Lizzie comes home tomorrow; she is actually back into Ireland tonight, flying from Bristol, but will stop another night at the brother in law's in Dublin and catch a sensible train tomorrow. I will collect her from Castlerea station. She then has a couple of days of work-holiday before we are descended upon by three guests for the weekend. Two of these are 'returning customers' but one is a first timer.

Of COURSE there's room for 2 guests in this room.
Why would you doubt it?
This is going to be fun - the spare room is fairly well stuffed up with the boxes, bags, crates, sewing machines, a spinning wheel and even a dress-makers dummy we are minding for our not-quite-finished-building-the-new-house friends. Never mind, with a bit of judicious stacking, moving and hiding of 'stuff' behind the sofa downstairs, I have manage to uncover 2 beds upstairs and one downstairs. What could possibly go wrong?

No comments: