Tuesday 10 October 2017

AB's 6 from 6

AB 'schmoozing' up some bullocks with a bag of feed as bribery
We are now well into our 3rd week with Help-X volunteer, 'AB' and it's all going brilliantly. This week he has managed to add 2 species of domestic livestock to his 'list' of animals of which he has had experience, and two new species of weed to his 'bashed' list. The animals are sheep and cattle and the weeds are rushes and thistles.

A whole shoulder and front leg of venison, Fallow Doe in this
case. Slow roasted in a buttery foil parcel. Delicious.
The sheep were ours. One of our ewes, Lily, had gone lame favouring her front left. We think this was perhaps where she had trodden on a bit of blackthorn bush in the area AB and I had recently cleared of old prunings, tree branches and stinging nettles. Nettles are now known in these parts by the French name "Ortie", usually preceded by a rude epithet. We needed to get hold of Lily so that I could clean, check and trim her feet, giving the soft parts a good explore with my thumb to make sure there were no blackthorn spikes in there; a bit like getting a splinter in your finger.

It was AB's day off but he happily piled in with the shepherding back and forth to the Cattle Race  and moving gates about. I was worried that moving the 6 animals might be complicated by the presence of the 2 new lambs and, particularly, Pedro the Ram. I needn't have worried. It all went like clockwork and we probably could have done it without AB, but it was good to have the extra man-power shutting off the 'side-roads' and keeping the sheep on course.

That venison again. Couldn't resist another pic.
The cattle thing is just AB getting involved with the daily feeding job I am currently doing for a friend; 8 bullocks all coming up to 'end' weight. They are big animals, as you can imagine, maybe 600-800 kg (live weight) but AB, City boy with no experience of any kind of farming takes them all in his stride and moves confidently among them under my supervision, staying the right amount of quiet, calm and quiet-voiced. My 8 "boys" just accept him and seem to know he is no danger, especially when he is rustling a feed sack.

AB's 6 from 6 at 20 feet in Week 3
He's also made a good impression in the Archery Club - I have been taking him along on Sunday afternoons for a taster as the club's Coach, (Con) is currently running beginner training. Our club is a very welcoming group of people, happy to accommodate new members and enthusiastic in our encouragement of their early successes. The training happens on the right hand side of the hall, on the short-range targets (20 and the 40 feet) while we experienced regulars shoot down the left hand side to the full range butts.

This means that we each have to be very aware of where the 'other lot' are at and all stay in the safe areas till someone shouts "Collect" to the whole range. Quite often, therefore, we 'old hands' have finished shooting and can keep a quiet eye on the beginners as they go through their paces. We see when they get a bull's eye and, if appropriate (and allowed by Con), cheer, clap, whoop with joy etc. That's where we all were on AB's Week 3 when we all spotted that AB, who had been told to shoot off all 6 arrows, had got 2 bulls from his first 2 arrows.

We cheered his 3rd but were shushed by Con and held our breaths while AB focused on his 4th arrow. He knew we were all watching but you could have heard a pin drop as he planted his 4th, 5th and then amazingly his 6th right into the gold. Good shooting, AB. The lot of us went mad cheering and whooping and Con called for the photographer(s). He was as pleased as Punch, as you can imagine. His reward, of course, was to get moved on to the 40' butts, so he was back to square one but he will not forget that moment for a while. Because he is with us till 20th Oct, I have booked him in for a 4th session and he thinks he will keep with the archery when he gets back to Paris, trying to find a local club over there.

My only other news is that the Honesty Box for eggs is steaming along and spends a lot of its time sold out. I had to make a 'Sold Out' sign to fix across the main sign to save people fruitlessly getting out of their cars and checking the box. OK, we are never going to make our first €million as we still only have 3 ducks and about 7 hens in lay, but it is still a good feeling to know that local people like our eggs and our prices. We even made a couple of new friends when I spotted a couple of strangers rooting in the box and asked them in for tea and a look round the place. They are from nearby village Kilmovee. Welcome aboard.

No comments: