Friday 8 December 2017

Two New Girls for our Lads

A dusting on the ground and light snow still falling this morning.
A minor dusting of snow was our lot in the shirt-tails of Storm Caroline; very merciful compared to the dumps of snow experienced by 'The North'  and then down through Wales and the UK midlands. We are definitely not complaining. Neither are we complacent, as some Met Éireann Yellow Warning snow is forecast for Saturday into Sunday.

Snow on the new kitchen roof, as seen from
the back bedroom window.
I am here on my Jack at the moment as Liz is off 'minding' Mum (Liz Senior) down in Silverwood-land (County Laois). Mum has just had a hip replacement operation up in Swords (Dublin), so Liz (jnr) was off down to Laois on the train last night, where she will take temporary ownership of Mum's car, driving it off up to Swords to gather up Mum in the snow and bring her home. Liz will then stay there round to next Tuesday on this "tour of duty", when The Village Play (and other stuff) will call her home, at least for a couple days.

Not nice in the local village. 
I had my own little "necessary journey" in the snow this morning as I was off to Sue and Rob's to collect a couple of new Guinea Hens as possible mates to our lonely cock-birds, Apollo and Belvedere.

Might not want to park that one there mate - the Guards will
be at you..... Hope the driver was not badly hurt.
I also got a quick peek at the not-yet-hatched duck eggs in the incubator over there where, using Sue's candling lamp, I could see little feet kicking about. In my head, these eggs were due on Wednesday (Day 28) but Sue tells me ducks can easily go 28-35 days, so she was not expecting any hatches till after this weekend. Patience is the thing.

Easiest way to move Guinea Fowl is the kitten-box. 
The Guinea ladies were landed safely into one of our rabbit runs with the 'bedroom' compartment at one end. I gave them food and water and left them to settle in, as I always do. That way, they are able to see our sights and sounds but are safe from being beaten up by other poultry seeing them as intruders.

These are quite young birds - probably not yet sexually mature.
Their 'horns' (top of head) are not fully developed and the little
"chilli-pepper" wattles are pale pink, not yet bright red. 
I suspected that Apollo and Belvedere would find them fairly quickly. I wasn't wrong. I barely had time to take the 'landed' photo and the boys rocked up and were all over them from that moment on. They were walking all over the top of the pen looking down at the girls or running round the outside trying to make beak-contact through the wire, as the girls, in their turn, raced around the inside of the pen trying to get out and at the boys. The poor turkeys, up to now the Guinea cocks' bestest, inseparable chums, were just abandoned like last week's fashion. Fickle things, Guineas, obviously.

I was tempted to fore-go the usual 24 hours "probationary" period and let the 4 at each other but there are two things I know about introducing new birds to the flock, and Guineas in particular. First, if the new birds do come under attack it can be vicious, fast and deadly. Second, once a Guinea Fowl is out, you will probably never catch it again - they are fast and nimble as well as flighty and nervous. They explode into flight like a pheasant. Yes, if they go off to roost in your barn like good birds, and you have a ladder, you can probably nab them at night but these ladies had only just arrived and had never seen the barn, never mind the inside of it. They'd as likely find a tall tree for the night. Patience, again, is the thing. (It quite often is.)

The boys are all over the new arrivals. 
I let them be but put an inverted wheel barrow over the cage to keep the light snow and wet off. Come evening and everyone takes them-self off to roost in the barn, the new girls got left at the barn end of the temporary pen, calling hopefully after their new friends. It was quite a job to persuade them that the pen had its own warm, dry, bedroom and if they would only go in there they'd have a comfy night round till I could let them all out free-ranging on Saturday. They could be dry, preened and spruced up ready for their blokes. I hope they stayed in there for the night, otherwise they'll be stiff as boards from hypothermia by morning.

Blue looks comfortable.
With the return of winter, my long break away from the buildering came to an end. K-Dub has been too busy up in the City to be doing very much to his own place, and my last task was to help pouring that huge shed base in July, 30' by 40' and taking 3 big 8-wheeler mixer lorries. ( )

Well, last weekend he was going to build the block-walls for the shed in company with a gang of 4 of us. 3 were professional block-layers, 2 from the 'Smoke' one a near-neighbour of his. K-Dub's and my job were to support these guys with a constant flow of barrows of cement 'thrown' up onto their mortar boards with a shovel, and of the heavy concrete "cavity" blocks. Ideally, your block layer needs to be standing at his task and able to lay a block, then turn round and scoop more cement from the board behind him, or grab a block the right way up, stacked at waist height(+) also just behind him. Him, obviously whizzing along the length of the wall doing his course of blocks, so needing to pass a stack or a mortar board about every 6 feet along the base or planks-on-trestles.

Ah well. Only bought it to 'feed' the cake. It was never going to
see Christmas. Sláinte.
It is busy, heavy, unremitting work seasoned by happy banter among the blokes but, d'you know what, I love it! We got on well and in 4 hours, got loads done. I had to come away at that point, but we'd the wall up right round the building to around 6' in places and 8' at corners. The 4 other lads carried on into the p.m. (they all a good 25 years younger than me and they've been doing it all their lives!) but I've not been back to see how much got completed.

The Irish Government decided to not proceed with getting the
population to pay water-rates after all, and gave us back all
the money we had paid since the troubled start last year. 
My other 'builder-ish' job was at a friend's (no names, no pack drill) over beyond Castlerea where a 'new' generator was arriving to replace the old dead one. The 'new' one is an ex Military (British Army, I think) which needed a serious trailer to get it back from the seller's and a big 4WD Tractor with a front-loader to lift it and wiggle it into position. The tractor was being 'lent' by a young farmer's son, who was also going to be driving it - we had to wait for him to get out of school and then have his tea (God forbid an Irish Mammy would allow the lad to go out in the dark and rain without a belly full of grub!). He rocked up at about 5 pm, by which time it was dark and lashing down with rain. The dead generator also meant the house/yard was without power, so we were splodging around with torches, but at least the lights on modern tractors are like football ground floodlights. My job was to clear a pile of rocks and rubble to allow the tractor to swing about, then help the 'genny' to land, connect it up and test-fire it. This to give the batteries a quick blip which would allow the friend to re-start the tripped out wind turbine and (ha ha) solar array. It's all very well being 'off grid' and all green and low impact as long as your genny doesn't fry its crank on a near-windless fortnight such as we have just had, prior to Storm Caroline.

By the end of this post, then, we have 4 walls round a shed, 2 new Guinea Fowl sleeping in the comfort of their bedroom (I hope), my friends have a house with working electricity and the Ma-in-Law is being well looked after at home by her oldest daughter. By the next post we all might be under a foot of snow, but we'll worry about that when it comes. Hope you are also all warm, safe and dry... and lit.

1 comment:

Matt Care said...

Driver of that tractor is a well known local 'old boy', 83 and already had various heart surgery. He was apparently reaching round behind him in the cab to close the back window and momentarily lost the plot. As one of my neighbours said "...and when a tractor 'goes', it goes - you are not going to get it back!" Driver had broken collar bone but was not otherwise badly hurt but has been kept in at the hospital. As usual, everyone has rallied round, recovered a trailer which was on the back of the tractor and are now planning to get the tractor out using "a big digger". Meanwhile they have also looked after his farm, feeding silage to the cattle etc.