Tuesday 3 January 2017

All Good Things

All good things, so they say, must come to an end, and we are now at, or coming to, the end of some crackers. Once again, I do not have many pics specific to these subjects (at least, not ones I haven't already used), so I will fill in with some nice '365' pics. That is one of the "things" anyway, so it works... ish. The other two are Christmas itself and my week of being curator on 'that' Twitter account.

We would normally dismantle Christmas here at some convenient weekend between New Year and 12th Night, demolish the tree, pack all the 'stuff' away into its crates but we were both enjoying this one so much that we had decided to do the job on the 5th (the 12th Day and all that). However, one of the delightful kitten-cats (we think) did a very smelly poo, we thought, under the tree and Liz, faced with a pot-holer style elbows-down crawl under the low branches to locate and remove the offending item, unilaterally decided that enough was enough. Demolition day is today!

Some of the hens are coming back into lay at last and the
surviving Marans hen has started (dark brown egg)
This afternoon, then, we have been finishing Christmas including me going back over the rooftops etc and all along that 48m fence you have heard about in other posts concertina-ing up the fairy lights. We're done. We both agree that this has been our nicest and most enjoyable Christmas for a while though it is hard to pinpoint any specific reason. Everything about it seemed to go off well from the start - planning, lists, preparations, the visit and everything we wanted to do. The food and drink were well judged and superbly executed, the present buying/giving was a success and the subsequent wind-down has been beautifully relaxing. Peace and good will to all reigned. We are all still smiling even as we pack the paraphernalia back in its crates. May we have many more as good as this one was.

Horsehair caught on a fence.
I noted in the previous post that inter-leaved through the back end of this Christmas was my week of being curator of the @smallholderIRL Twitter account. That too went very successfully and well and seemed to hit the right note(s) and has met with widespread thanks, approval and praise. That is always nice because you are always aware that you are firing off these soundbites that you think are funny, wise, appropriate, pithy or what ever but the 2500 followers out there are 99% unknown to you. They might vehemently disagree with your opinions, not find your quips funny, be irritated by your timing or tone. Some (we call them 'trolls') are just miserable gits who get their kicks by saying rude, nasty or provocative things just to see if they can get a rise out of people. All life is there and it can be tricky finding the right approach.

First 365 pic of 2017?
Lovely when you do though. I was fortunate in my assigned week running from St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) to New Year's Day, so I had a couple of rich veins from which to draw my 'copy'. I had all the 'Wren Boys' tradition on St Stephen's Day, all the leftovers cookery, cold turkey sandwich jokes etc and then I came up with an inspired plan for New Years. Again, no idea if it would work - it might have fallen flat. I decided to 'First Foot' any followers who might not have a bloke to do it, or might not have heard of this Scottish tradition.

Happy New Year! First Footing 'treats' for the
Twitter account
I had set the account up during the day, telling them what to expect and all about First Footing, told them they needed to have the back door open before they open the front, to let the old year out, then I'd "arrive" (on Twitter) to greet them and hand them (a picture of) the plate containing the bread (signifying food), coal (warmth), salt (savour) and whiskey (good cheer). It was easy enough to do and went down OK - there was a reasonable smatter of comment, 'like's and thanks, though I did get the impression that most were a bit flummoxed and plenty had either gone to bed early or were at a 'proper' celebration with real First Footers. Ah well.

Icy Puddle
Nobody boo'd me off stage anyway and I woke up that day to run the account till 5 pm. when I had to hand in the 'keys' so that boss-lady (Margaret Griffin) could set it all up for this week's curator, a lady who does her small-holdering in up-state New York (would you believe - the account does 'foreign' guests now and then). This lady is currently amazing us all with tales of farming among her neighbouring 'Amish' folk and lovely pics of the area with snow on the ground and all those lovely Amish horse-drawn carts and buggies trundling through it. She tells us that they sometimes see bears and moose strolling about. They are, I think, only 'small' by USA standards - she talks of 100 head of cattle including a 60-70 head milking herd of Holsteins. They are within spitting distance of (I think I have this right) a National Wilderness Park called the 'Adirondak Park' - a MILLION acres of wilderness!!! Makes my week seem quite pedestrian!

Incoming female Mute Swan. I thought for a while she'd
land on my head but luckily she veered off. 
Also now in its final month, a project of which I have spoken countless times since we started back in February 2016 (and before it was actually born). This is our '365 Lisacul' thing, a photo 'diary' of the year (actually 366 as it was a leap-year) in, of and from the 18 townlands around our village. This was Liz's 'baby' really; she had borrowed the idea from our good friend Nathalie Banaigs who was in charge of the one done by Faversham, the town we lived in in the UK. This with Nath's blessing, of course.

I agreed to be the safety net / back stop. I would take at least 1 (actually always 3) usable picture EVERY day without fail from 1st Feb 2016 to 31st Jan 2017. I am delighted to be able to say that, so far at least, I have delivered this with no missing days. It has had its moments and frustrations and I have been unable to make some of the pics I had dreamed up work but over all it has been a blast. I have learned a lot and certainly hunted down all manner of nooks and crannies in the 'patch' which I would probably never have been to without the incentive.

I guess I know more bridges, lanes or corners where one townland finishes and another starts, than do most of the locals. I have also met lots of lovely people whom I would not otherwise have encountered. Plenty of them stop in their cars when they see me nose-down in a ditch trying to get just that angle on an orchid or something, or trying to pick my way through a bog where they know there is no safe path! Oh, so YOU'RE the camera guy!

New Year's Day sunrise through the trees.
Well, just 28 more photography days to go on that one - wish me luck. I'm not out of the woods yet. Then Liz and the team have the fun job of selecting which pics go in for what day. She has 30 contributors at this stage. It would be quite fun to be a fly on the wall that day.

Roast lamb, sprouts and chestnuts.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are now settling into the New Year and starting to think about 2017. 2 livestock issues are pressing. We are off to meet our prospective piglet supplier in a couple of days. This guy is a new breeder of Oxford Sandy and Blacks (OSBs) who was setting up last year when we got our pair of gilts from our man in Kildare - you may recall that we had only to do the short drive to Boyle because he was driving up here anyway. It was to this new guy that he was going, to retrieve a sow, to take her back to Kildare to get her 'in-pig' (pregnant) by one of his home boars. Secondly, we have some duck eggs in our buddy Sue's incubator. These were laid by our surviving duck and we hope, fertilized by our surviving drake. Those two (William and Mary - some kind of connection with the 'of Orange' royals due to the Duck and Orange thing) are now our "parent generation" thanks to Mr Fox removing all the competition. The slap of tiny webbed feet is expected any day now (5th to 8th -ish). This will be our first Christmas (Re)Stocking. Geddit? OK, sorry. I'll save the witticisms for Twitter.

No comments: