Tuesday 26 July 2016

Work(s) in Progress

Those beautiful floors made of Indian limestone slabs and
skimmed skinny-size scaffold boards. 
This pic does not really do justice to the intense torquoise
colour of the hand made kitchen
I got so carried away with my bats in the last post, I completely omitted the biggest news story that week, the (near) completion of the Sligo house rebuild to the point where K-Dub and the family were able to finally move in. 'Near' here is just because there is a small amount of the inevitable de-snagging - touch of paint here, connect up something over there, plumb in the hob, that sort of thing. But we spent most of Thursday scrubbing those floors to within an inch of their lives so that K-Dub could spend the evening sealing the woodwork and lacquering the stone, leaving them overnight to dry.

The "we" here as with all these Sligo house posts, you will know by now to mentally add "Mainly K-Dub" to every time I use it - we built this, we moved that, we painted the other. I have helped, but I am only the part-time labour. All the skilled stuff and the lion's share of the man hours are definitely due to K-Dub himself and I know he is as proud as he has every right to be, of the house "we" have built, as are the ladies (who have also helped). I have moved endless amounts of rock, shoveled and swept tonnes of sawdust and wood shavings and run a gazillion 'mixes' through the cement mixer, but in the house itself I have laid at most half a dozen blocks (mine are above the front door!) and stuck a few stones in the exterior stone-masonry. I have 'held' some stuff while the boss screwed it into place and that kind of thing but, as I said, 'we' is definitely K-Dub for 99% of this house.

I love these stairs also built from skinny
scaffold boards. 
So on the Friday (22nd) the buildering paused and we turned our minds to humping furniture about. The family have all the 'stuff' from their old house stored in a single storey abandoned building over the road and in our spare room here. We got into a good rhythm with K-Dub and Charlotte pulling the stuff out of the store, me bringing it across the road to the new house and Carolyn blitzing it with cleaners and furniture polish before it could be assembled , the cushions added or it be moved into its final position. Finally K-Dub and I, 2-handed the heavy stuff (Welsh dresser etc) across before we started on boxes of kitchen gear, bags of bedding and all the other bits that anyone who moves house will know all too well.

K-Dub and Carolyn feeling like they are in. Young H (4) is there
too but has curled himself into the easy chair in such a way that
you'd miss him if you looked quickly.
The family were looking at a fairly mad weekend - no gentle getting moved in, unpacked and sorted out for them. K-Dub's best mate from Dublin was down on the Friday night (there might be drinking involved with that one) and then K-Dub's sister and her little boy are down from the Saturday round to the Thursday (28th). It all sounds a bit hectic.

'Medieval' tented round houses. 
Meanwhile, in archery land, I have been helping with a completely different 'build'. Instructor, 'Con', is a man of many talents. As well as a former army weapons trainer and now archery coach for us lot, he is an ace leather-worker and respected national expert in the construction of medieval footwear (for which he makes 'repro' copies for shows and museums) but is also a knowledgeable enthusiast on all things medieval, Celtic history, Druid-ing and the like.

Inside one of the round houses. 
At his place near Castlerea he has created the earth-banks for various forts and encampments and every year he hosts a "Celtic Lughnasa Games" (Lughnasa being a Celtic festival which happens at the end of July into August). Families can come, camp the nights, socialise and then try their hand at the 'taster sessions' on games like spear-throwing, axe-throwing, knife-throwing and, of course, archery all in a controlled and safe, strictly managed (and sober!) environment. For obvious reasons Con forbids the mixing of booze with dangerous sports; he also (maybe more tongue in cheek) forbids discussion on Religion or Politics while anyone is armed!  

We got the car through the NCT at the re-test stage.
In the centre of all this - the public and socialising areas - he creates a tented 'village' a bit like the space for a jousting tournament, with wooden framed (and skirted) round houses and stripey 'viewing tents', plus a big fire-pit for the evening storey-telling etc. That was our bit - a couple of Saturdays spent as volunteers banging in posts, fixing planking, erecting the middle post and the 'rafters' and then wrangling the tarpaulin canvas 'hat' over the whole thing. Con and co kept us supplied with breakfast, cups of tea and a bit of lunch and we all had a great deal of fun and happy banter throwing these buildings up and getting to know each other. Different but brilliant. I assume we will all reconvene after the event to pull it all down again but I have not heard of that yet. Good luck Con over the weekend. Hope the rain holds off and you get a good croud of reasonably well behaved 'students'.

Meanwhile we chug along through a very wet July, making progress in some other departments, too. The Hubbards continue to thrive and put on weight. At 70 days they are looking decidedly edible and we are looking forward to starting to 'harvest' the big ones (mainly the three roosters). The ducks are also definitely starting to look adult and, so Charlotte tells us, we should definitely start to consider a couple of them who are getting a lovely dark green 'Mallard-ish' sheen to their heads, as drakes.

Note dark green 'mallard-ish' sheen on the heads of the
two rear-most ducks here. Drakes, maybe?
Houdini Duck continued to escape every day through the sheep wire of the orchard and would go on the pond but as there was only one of him he seemed not to be doing much damage and the pond was starting to recover. Then H-D made a fatal mistake and showed one of the others how to get out and invited her to join him on the pond (or poss her/him/her). I have had to nip out today and invest in some 2-inch-hole, 2 foot tall chicken wire to run along these fences to stop the rot. I seem to have settled their hash for now.

One of the Hubbard roosters at 70 days
The very-baby Marans chicks are coming on well too and are getting well feathered despite being only 14 days old. They spend their days out in the rabbit run, all be it able to retreat into the nice, dry, warm, draught free 'bedroom' bit if they fancy a break from the fresh air. We bring them back indoors at night and they can huddle under their 'electric hen' warming plate but on these very warm nights we are looking forward to thinking about risking them outside. It won't be long (maybe 2 weeks?) before we scratch our collective chins and say.. "No...... I think they're done" and pack away the brooder boxes and the elctric hen. Our breeding season will be over. The year is flying by.

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