Friday 30 December 2016

Speaking too Soon

Our own ham and our own green tomato chutney make for
a delicious "left overs" sandwich. 
Sometimes I "go to print" on these blog posts with a funny feeling that I may have spoken too soon - my confidence and complacency; my urge to rush a good story onto these pages will be my undoing. This has been close to the truth no fewer than three times over Christmas as I will now relate. The pictures may not be relevant but you will probably cope.

Still some chocs left when I took this. All gone now!
Three posts ago I was happily relating that we had decorated the Christmas Tree, that the kittens had had a brief play with low-hanging baubles but then got bored and moved on and that we'd sat down with a Gluhwein thinking "Job well done". Not for us the horror stories of trees wrecked by cats. I even included a picture of my old favourite decoration, a plaster lobster dressed as a waiter delivering a tray of 'beignets' (fried buns), a prized souvenir of my one and only trip to New Orleans.

For a party claiming not to have drunk much
we were still well laden for the "drive of shame"
Well, no sooner had I gone to press and my back turned than the kittens managed to upturn the tree with Liz seeing it all in slow motion ("NooooOOOO!!!!) and diving to save it but too late. Very little damage done but my lobster hit the tiled floor and smashed into 3 pieces. We have found his body and his arm holding the tray of beignets but where his tail 'flukes' have gone we have no idea.

A first sign of Spring - the daffs in the
lane emerging.
Next up, my joy at having solved the jackdaw problem with my bloke, accompanied by Soldier the Cat, shinnying up those ladders to demolish the jackdaw nest and fit our jackdaw-cage pots to prevent anyone moving back in. Storm Barbara had other ideas. The next morning saw one of the 'cages' lifted out of the chimney pot and dropped into Liz's rose garden.

Odd disco lighting effects from the sun
reflecting off the fancy candle-cover at the
bottom of this picture. 
The design of these, you may recall, involves a flat cone top like a Chinese 'paddy-field' worker's hat, with a ring of outward-sprung rods which you pull together to fit the ends down inside the bore of the pot. You can imagine that the 'hat' must give a fair amount of lift, like an aircraft wing 'aerofoil' in a cross wind, and I suppose the wagging back and forth in gusts might 'walk' the legs up the chimney bore like a ratchet. Being worried about the lack of draw (caused in the end by the jackdaw nest) I had asked the guy to position the pots high up, well proud of the chimney. My mistake. He is coming back to put the fallen one back - I will get him to set them lower this time.

Our 3 roosters hang in the polytunnel to
await processing in the kitchen
Finally, I told you that we had taken the fox trap back to Sue and Rob's, confident that our fox was shot dead and the problem solved. I was not happy the following morning to find that *someone* had got at the three roosters we had hung in the poly tunnel overnight to await processing in the morning. A head had been pulled off one leaving a bloody, strap-like, skinned neck hanging down and a small puff of torn out feathers on the grass  outside the tunnel. My heart sank. I was convinced it was a fox, though I was surprised the beast had not ripped down a whole bird (or all three). Mum in Law (Steak Lady) has since suggested that it might, in fact, have been a cat. That makes more sense. I had not thought of that.

A litre tub of yogurt and one of those roosters make the basis
of a rather fine curry. 
Other than that, we have just been chugging our way through all those left-overs, recovering and tidying up the place, making the most of the relaxing days between the two main events.

The Ministry post us details of a new grant
scheme but we are too small to be eligible
I have been serving my 2nd ever week (1st was in January) as the "voice of Irish smallholders". Well, the Twitter voice anyway - I am this week the "curator" (= guest twitterer) of the @smallholderIRL Twitter account. If you don't 'do' Twitter or have no  experience of it, it is quite fun. It is a very fast and chatty but very lightweight and ephemeral space where you can look in, chat away to who ever is 'on' and then drop off again. You can only speak in 'soundbites' (140 characters) so it is no place to go for a heavy, wordy discussion, though some people do post links to longer articles. You can click through to them or not according to preference and time available.

The '365' project is about to enter its final month.
Like Facebook, users tend to accumulate like-minded 'friends' and coalesce into groups. The small holder group currently has 2500 'followers' not all small holders. When you log out it 'twitters' away without you with hundreds of snatches of chat a bit like stepping out of the pub for fresh air. When they are said, they are quickly gone, pushed down thread by more recent 'tweets'. As I said, 'ephemeral'. Nobody really goes in and then back-tracks down the old stuff, though there is a way of getting it to 'remember' posts where you were included, replies to your posts and so on. Occasionally posts or links strike a chord with lots of posters and the 're-tweet' them to pass them on and that story spreads far and wide, it "goes viral" in modern parlance. It is basically harmless fun but I love the fact that I can share my experiences with 2000+ other small holders all trying to meet and solve the same problems, enjoying similar weather, admiring the same sunsets and munching on their turkey sandwiches and pickles.

Talk to you again next year.

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