Tuesday 28 June 2016

Of Kittens, Lambs, Streaky Bacon and Bins

When I went "to press" on the last post we had one kitten and just the one picture of same, taken by Liz on the phone-cam. I also noted that we had decided to take pity on the one lonely sibling-kitten left behind and not yet found a home. We figured (and were proved right) that the little mite(s) would settle in much faster if they had each other to play with than if we had to teach the baby to love Soldier or Blue and vice versa.

'Little Chip' 
Back to the vet for us, then, on the Saturday morning as soon as we were allowed, to collect the 2nd kitten, which proved to be a female (the receptionist assured us but we will definitely get Charlotte to double check next time she is here). She is named 'Little Chip' after the 2nd brand of marmalade, this one an Irish one which Liz knows of old. The boy is, of course "Chivers". Unlike Chivers, Chip has both eyes clear of infection and seems to be in the pink of health. Chivers is recovering after his antibiotic eye-drops.

With great timing, we had the perfect place for these kittens to 'land' - our Sitting Room is not due any sleeping  humans for a while and now housed the incubator with its dozen Marans eggs, so the door was locked to stop doggie and feline interference. We put the dog-crate in there with a cushion and blanket, the cat litter tray and feed/water/milk bowls and the kits had 24 hours in the crate while they got used to house sounds and smells, before we opened the crate-door.

They now have access to the whole room and, being cats in a new environment, they have promptly vanished into and under the put-me-up bed. They emerge when they want to play, feed or use the facilities (the cat litter tray is still in the crate). We have declared the crate a safe zone for them - if they go in there then we do not touch them - and we are making frequent visits in there and letting them get used to us and our comings and goings. They come to us and we then are 'allowed' to pick them up and cuddle them. Chivers is 24 hours ahead on this 'taming' and will sit happily on your lap purring madly while you pet him around the head, neck and shoulders. Chip still tends to wriggle and try to escape - Gerrrofff!

Ivory and Ebony loaded in the trailer awaiting their last journey
Meanwhile, our two ram lambs, Ebony and Ivory came up to their 4 months birthday and, though they were still not as big as lambs we have sent to the butcher in the past, they might have started 'bothering' their female cousins or our adult ewes. This is not a part of the job either of us enjoy but it is a necessary evil. These guys had to go on their final journey to our man Ignatius G in Castlerea Main Street.

Half 'cooked', the dozen Marans eggs in the incubator.
The way we do this is by gathering all 8 sheep into the cattle race where we can grab the two we want and steer them into the trailer. Easy? Well, not this time apparently. The boys are young, fit and strong and took some catching. At one point I mis-grabbed Ivory and ended up doing a failed version of a rugby tackle, landing with a real crunch on my right knee. 2 nice abrasions even through the trousers and some good bruising, I shouldn't wonder. I am hobbling about like an aul' wan and unable to do any jobs which involve kneeling. We got the lads into the trailer and away to our butcher/slaughterman, Ignatius G so that today I had to nip down there to collect the offal - kidneys, hearts, livers and a lung (for the haggis). The main carcasses hang for a week in G's cold store, before we nip down next Monday to see them cut up, collect them and possibly pass Steak Lady's one to her.

Streaky bacon - dry cured Berkshire bellies.
The pork bellies I had salted down and then air dried came ready today, so I was able to de-rind the bellies and then slice the bacon up into 250 g packs of good streaky bacon. We have a cousin visiting at present, so we were able to try out the rashers for a nice breakfast which went down well with all customers. The cousin (Keith) commented that it was the "proper smell of Sunday" he could remember from childhood.

For a while, we thought we were being converted to a pay-by-weight system on the wheelie bins. These have up to now been just a standard charge for each 6 months (€175) but a law has been passed which would make the waste companies charge in a more complicated way. You would think the companies would be keen to write to their customers, to warn us and explain this change but no. In a rather shambolic advisory campaign we finally got first notification about a week before the change was due AND it comes in the form of a strange cartoon-ish "The good, the bad and the ugly" sheet of A4 from which you'd be hard pressed to tell how much you will be charged.

I think the €175 fixed charge has been replaced by a €102  'service charge' with blue bin recycling free but black bin (land fill) charged at €0.22c per kg of "lift". The good/bad/ugly sheet then tells us that if you keep the landfill to below 16kg per (fortnightly) "lift" you are "good" - I take that to mean my total bill for the 6 months might be less than I am paying now, bad is 25kg (about par) and ugly is 34 kg (pay a lot more than now).

Yellow loosestrife
I would reckon that our landfill bin is always so empty that sometimes I don't even bother taking it down to the gate, so I should be OK but we will not be lobbing any more 8 kg dead turkey cock bodies in there! To add to the confusion, inevitably we were just about to go live when there was such an uproar in the Dáil (Parliament) that the Dept got cold feet and are rumoured to have suspended the go-live for now. Naturally, we have heard nothing from the waste company again on this, so I will put my bins out on Monday completely in the dark as to how I am paying. I have paid their suggested 'pre-emptive' charge, so I am covered for 6 more months plus/minus any weight adjustments.

No comments: