Saturday 14 April 2018

Dee and Luke

Dee, Luke and some sheep
Happy Birthday to me! 61 today and starting to wonder just how long you can go on saying "Yes, but that's not REALLY old...." We had planned for a nice quiet weekend, relaxing, eating and drinking maybe a little too much, avoiding doing anything unpleasant or arduous, and we had no idea we were in for quite a treat from an unexpected direction. This would rather snooker the "quiet" bit of the plan but left everything else intact.

Dee takes her turn at the bottle
feeding of Bábóg
Welcome to the happy home, long lost cousin Dee and her son Luke. Dee is the same age as Elizabeth but her whole family emigrated to Australia back in the 60s when the girls would have been only 6. There is famous family story that when Dee (and the rest of the children) were being brought round Dublin to say farewell to the various cousins and relatives, young Liz so didn't want to lose her playmate that the pair conspired to hide Dee in a wardrobe buried under a pile of clothes.

Luke, Elizabeth and Dee
Well, it seems the missing Dee was eventually liberated from her hidey-hole and taken away to the airport. Dee has never been back since and grew up and had her own family out in Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane in Queensland. One of those family is eldest son Luke (30) who has joined Mum on this trip.

The by-now-traditional dippy Lisacul goose-egg breakfast. All
our guests seem to love this.
48 years later, Dee decided on a trip back "home" - a 3 week mission to see a bit of Ireland and to catch up on as many of the rels she had left behind, as she could. She already "knew" us a bit from Facebook and this blog. She and Luke are now 2 weeks into this and have done a lot of the tourist-ing and have met 'Steak Lady' and the 'Silverwoods'. This weekend is our turn before they head on to Mullingar to find 'Sparks' and Kim. Thanks for coming, Dee and Luke, you have been a pure pleasure to host and you are welcome back any time.

Dee is obviously delighted with the toast.
One amusing anecdote from all this is that Dee has only now found out how her old family name "should" be pronounced. She has spent 50+ years saying it with a hard 'T' and a long 'U' vowel, as kott-yule-y. When she arrived in Ireland 2 weeks ago she found they were all calling themselves with the very different pronunciation , 'kotcherly'. It was quite a surprise, she says, like suddenly finding out you are adopted. She has a whole new family.

Fox deterrent - 3 dogs, a male turkey, a human and a
smokey fire
That visit has obviously eclipsed the rest of the news, such as it was. I'd just been quietly bimbling around enjoying the increasingly warm weather, the spring flowers and everything warming up. It was nice to be able to spend some quality time outside.
Making smoke
One of the mornings I decided to burn some of the brushy wood brought down from the larches by Storm Eleanor. This would kill 3 birds with one stone. I would be out there for hours in full view of any foxes peering in. I would burn a pile of brush behind which the fox could keep hidden while getting dangerously close to the chickens. I would also remove that same pile which the turkey had been trying to lay an egg in when she got mauled by our foxy friend last week.

Flowering cherry
So, we are all tidy now and that risk is removed. It is a bit ironic that we spend all day trying to stop our chickens dying at the hands of the fox but then, occasionally, we have to 'off' one ourselves. This was the fate of a surplus rooster recently. This bird was becoming increasingly aggressive and amorous so that a level of stress and intensity had built up in the chicken flock without us really noticing. Once we'd ended his little run, we are both delighted and amazed by how relaxed calm has descended once more.

Flowering currant.
You can go outside and watch the birds for hours - nobody is squabbling, battling or trying to sneakily 'tread' anyone else's harem. That's the way we like it. Millpond smooth and still-quiet. That's if you don't count the bleating baby lamb, the 'buckwheat buckwheat' cries of female Guineas, the gobble gobble and chirruping of turkeys, the occasional cock-a-doodle-doo and dogs barking and the cackle of a successful and proud egg-laying hen. Or 15.

Horse chestnut "sticky bud"
Ah well, That's enough for this one. I must away back to my guests and my Birthday.

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