Saturday 5 August 2017

Los Chicos están Despiertos

The boys offer to cook for us on Wednesday.
(The Boys are Awake) Finally a proper day off. The Help-X lads are off today on a train-ride adventure to the lovely town of Westport and I am just back from dropping them to Castlerea railway station to which they are not due to return till 07:15 pm tonight.

Chef and Sous-chef (we'll leave them to
argue over who's who). The food was delicious!
Liz has declared this a "Pyjama Day" and intends not to get out of her PJs till, at earliest, when I get the 'please pick us up' call this evening. I, too, am going to do only daily vital chores (live stock etc) and no big jobs.

It's not all dirty jungle-bashing for the lads.
They like a woodwork project for a change.
Don't be fooled, mind, into thinking that nothing will get done. Liz tends to start off with the good intention of a relaxing day and keeps the PJs on but as often as not slings an apron on over the PJs and gets just as covered in flour, the gentle bloom of oven-steam or the 'dusht' of a distraction into 'just tidying this'. I will have to go feed the bullocks for a friend and I also have a newly arrived smallholder couple to see, to sort out some safe storage for a motorbike.

Robbedy (9) gets to shoot a few arrows with the Roscommon
club, under instruction from our very generous coach, Con. 
Our 'days off' normally go this way. Last weekend I'd not long dropped the guys to the bus-stop (they were off to Galway that time) when Mrs Silverwood advised that they would be passing through here en route from home to Achill Island (Co. Mayo). Achill Island is 2 hours further NW from here and is in the Irish speaking part of the country (Gaelteacht) and older niece J-M was off there for 3 weeks incarceration where students are only allowed to speak Irish.

I can never see how this is comfortable but the stairs are a
favourite sleeping perch for dogs. 
Robyn did not fancy the extra 4 hours in the car so opted to stay here for the 6 hours and do a bit of 'farm' with Uncle Matt and Auntie Liz. Parents and grand-parents will know that a lively, excited 9-year-old, given an nicely unfamiliar environment and space to run about out of doors, is more than capable of turning 6 hours of relaxing day off into an exhausting marathon.

When Pedro told me that Spanish bread is mainly baguette-shaped
I had to have a go. Not as easy as it looks!
I took the lion's share of that, including taking her to 'see' the archery gang (which turned into shooting with them under the generously provided supervision of our coach, Con) while Liz realised the whole family would need feeding as they passed back through, and rattled up a splendid curry and the trimmings for 7 appetites. She'd already assembled a magnificent packed lunch for the Help-X lads, (Yay, it is written. No Irish Lady shall ever send forth their 'children' on an adventure to the foreign without a good pack-up!) so there was not a lot of relaxing going on in that kitchen, that day, either. We saved a bit of the curry for Manu and Pedro, who I had to shoot down and collect from Castlerea just after we un-shipped the Silverwood Five.

Beeblebrox (Beebs) with 6 of her chicks
Meanwhile, back on the 'farm' the various clutches of baby chicks are now reaching the 6-week age where their Mums lose interest in them and they are cast off to a life in the flock generally. Connie's three and Big-Red's 4 are pretty much 'flown' now, though Stumpy's 5 and Beebs's 7 are still hanging with Mumma. It is amusing to see these groups coalesce into bigger groups as they move about. Stumpy is regularly seen with 5+3 or 5+4 babies in tow and last night as I went out with the dogs I could see on the (nicely shaved) front lawn a coincidental Stumpy plus NINETEEN chicks. I wish I'd had my camera. Actually Beebs (Mum of 7) was there but hiding behind a tree stump and Connie's three were only passing through but it looked very sweet for that few seconds.

The new lambs, Pedro and 'Oveja' (Spanish for ewe)
We got word at last from Mayo-Liz that my lambs were now weaned and ready to collect from out by nearby town, Kiltimagh. I had 'ordered' these to meet our meat requirements when I accepted that we would produce none of our own this year and the freezers would be lamb-less. My phone call to Mayo-Liz though, found them still as "babies with their Mums", so I'd have to wait while they weaned. This sounded like an adventure the Help-X lads might enjoy. We hitched up the trailer and headed off to Liz and Ray's farm which sits a-top a mini-mountain jutting out of the Mayo plains.

The new pair (centre) in with the aunts.
The two lambs for us were penned but still needed ear-tagging before we could load which led to a bit of fun. Neither Manu nor Pedro had had any experience of handling sheep and between us we let the ewe-lamb escape with a flying leap past Manu's ear - she raced across a small sand-school to be with her gang. Easy enough to catch again and the boys couldn't quite believe their eyes when having cornered and grabbed the ewe, I flipped her up on to her rump while Ray ear-tagged her and then I lifted her up and carried her back to the pen and trailer. Pro-shepherd? Maybe not. The lads were impressed but I must admit I might have been showing off a little!

Photo-bombed by this Soprano Pipistrelle (circled) on a lovely
The new pair needed names, one girl and one boy. We toyed with Pedro and Emanuel  for a while but then went with Pedro and 'Oveja' which is Spanish for 'ewe'. We have a black hen sitting on eggs currently, due this Thursday, so we have told Manu that if he is feeling left out we will name the chicks Manu1, Manu2 and so on. As soon as I saw these beautiful lambs (Mayo-Liz's lambs are always well bred and gorgeous-looking), I wondered whether they might be a bit high quality for use as "just meat". They are Hampshire x 'mule' (which I guess just means they are 'mongrel' or, at best "half Hampshire") and the boy, especially might get saved his trip to Ignatius G (Victualler) and might bide a while here as possible stud-ram for our existing girls. Have to think about that one..... No such luck for Oveja, I suspect, or Liz's freezers will remain lamb-less and we would have to be looking for a butcher who does boxed, butchered, whole carcass deals.

New neighbours. 
What else is new? We have, at last, some new neighbours in the 5 Acre field to our west. Friends of the Blog will know that these fields around us changed hands last winter, so Mike-the-Cows had to take all his cattle off at the end of his tenancy. No cattle have set foot on this since and we have watched, nosily, as the fields seemed to be left to neglect. Occasionally we'd see the new owner's son exploring, taking soil samples or checking fences but he said that they did not have enough animals yet to sensibly use the land. Well, they have obviously been out shopping because a group of 30-40 mainly black animals were walked in there this week and set up with temporary fences and water bowser, "just to eat all that grass off". Welcome to our townland, guys.

Blue takes it easy in the sunshine.
That will do, I think, for this one. I will finish with a few random pictures just because I've taken them and don't like them to go to waste. Enjoy.
Veg garden looking a lot more under control.
If all these plums change colour and are not stolen by magpies
we are promised a bumper crop
Apple with a confusing variety name - "Irish Peach".

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