Friday 2 September 2016

Who's Whose?

Dustbin Lady with her original 3. Crate Lady is in her crate.
It all got a bit more complicated later. 
You will know from the last post that our final score on the 2 Buff Orp broodies, Crate Lady and Dustbin Lady, was 3 successfully hatched chicks to 'Dusty' and 2 to 'Crate'. You will also know that the chicks do not see this as too fixed a family structure and are willing to keep their options open as to who is Mum and who is Aunt. This is now especially true with them having all left the nests and started their explorations of the greater shed and then the yard and fields.

A 1:4 score line. Here, Dusty is near the water and the babies
 are thirsty.
The 3:2 scoreline can swing anywhere between 5:0, 4:1, through the 3:2 into 2:3, 1:4 and 0:5 with the chicks sprinting from one Mum to the other. Liz used a pic of one hen and 2 chicks on the 'SmallHolderIRL' Twitter Account and phrased it this way... "The chicks in this morning's pic are 2 of 5 and the hen is 1 of 2. Who is mother to which chick is subject to daily negotiations" Nicely put.

The Mums lead the babies home after
a visit to the sheep. 
We have never had this synchronised hatching before so we did not know that this was an issue or whether we should carefully segregate the 2 families while they bonded separately. Once we saw a 5:0, though, we knew that boat had sailed and decided to watch and see. It has all worked out fine, with the grown ups being really nice to one another and sharing the motherhood pretty much 50/50. As long as the chicks are being minded by one, it does not seem to matter. More on this as it develops.

The Elephant's Grave in Castlerea Demesne
On a completely different subject, I was up in Castlerea last week mooching around the central car park, between car and bank, when I spotted a new map-sign describing the big communal park-cum-business area, the "Demesne" (Say it 'domain'). I was even more intrigued when I spotted a small area marked as "The Elephant's Grave" - that looked like a story worth following up.

Customers (and presumably beers) come in all sizes.
My next stop was the feed merchant where I suspected that the owner, a local man but no longer being young, or certainly his old farmer customers might have heard of this. Indeed they had but were racking their brains as to facts - it is quite an old story. There was mention of a famous photo framed on the wall of a pub (The Railway) now closed showing the elephant emerging from another town pub (also now closed).

Jackdaw pots for the chimneys.
More delving needed so off to consult well known Internet 'source' The Roscommon Herald. Here was the whole story. "The resting place for Castlerea’s most famous elephant, Cindy has been marked after 42 years. According to the history books the story goes that Cindy became famous when the late Patsy Glynn Snr took a picture of her coming out of Stephen Mannion’s Bar on the Main Street in the town in June 1958..While parading through the town, before the circus performance, Cindy wandered into Stephen Mannion’s pub on Main Street. Patsy Glynn Snr captured the moment and the photograph appeared in many newspapers and in the Vintner’s magazine with the caption ‘customers come in all shapes and sizes’. 

When Cindy died in Athenry in 1972, there was much discussion as to where she would be buried. Castlerea Towns Trust offered a site in the Demesne and Cindy was buried there. It wasn’t until 2014 that Seán Browne got the brainwave to mark the grave site and with the help of local businessmen Benny O’Connell and John Keenan and the expertise of stone mason Declan Hawthorne, his dream became a reality. Chris Kane from Williamstown wrote the epitaph. The grave has become quite popular with locals and visitors alike. If you’d like to visit Cindy’s grave, enter the Demesne through the gate on the Ballindrimley Road and walk along the path until you are opposite the entrance to Cahill’s SuperValu / Mart" So now you know.

Repairing some arrows for which I had broken the points off.
The tapering tool for the wood is like a big pencil sharpener.
Meanwhile some bitty jobs to keep the place ticking over and tidy. It's not all mad tearing hurry or sitting around sunning ourselves wondering what to do next. We finally got jackdaw pots fitted to the chimneys - jackdaws had been no problem for 3 years or so but last winter and spring, seem to have adopted us and, despite us lighting fires under them as a deterrent, were lobbing sticks and masonry down the flues. Not any more. Local tame roofer, Brian, was good enough to also slap some cement round in the loosened pot and repair a couple of slates which have needed doing for ages.

The pigs gorging on 'pomace' (cider pressings)
Some round here have started harvesting apples. They are a bit sharp and young yet but one lad, making cider, didn't mind that and I joked with him as I walked the dogs by that if he had any windfalls or bird-pecked or wasp eaten ones, not to forget my pigs. He was making cider, he said, so he'd be using them all but he then delighted us by turning up at the door with a huge bucket of the 'pomace' - the crushed apples from the cider press. Liz gave him a load of fruit cake in return. Everyone's a winner.

Rush hour in the lane outside our house.
Since then we have done rather well for donations of this ilk. Another local thought of our pigs when gathering up his windfalls and the archery dept handed over a huge bag of ripe, organic cherry tomatoes and a goodly haul of beetroot. I also have 7 litres of goat's milk to 'process'. Liz had already got a load of liver out of the freezer to thaw for paté and is soaking some chick peas for hummus. Busy time in the kitchen over this weekend, then.

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