Friday 8 June 2018

Donaldina in the Duck House

Time for a cuddle with Kato. 
Today's write-up brings us cruising slowly to the end of what has been a very pleasant interlude, our three weeks with French Help-X volunteer, Laura D. She's off on an early morning train from Castlerea tomorrow, headed (eventually) for Kilkenny and the next job. We have loved having her here and she happily admits that she has had a brilliant time, done loads of interesting things, learned lots of English and enjoyed our hosting. Everyone's a winner.

Wrangling new hatch chicks on the
Dining Table
2 other 'threads' are also coming to a close. These are the convoluted saga of first time Mum, hen, Donaldina-in-the-Duck-House (hereafter for this post, DitDH) and the lovely heat wave.

The latter seems to be breaking down now and has a few afternoons of thunderstorms and downpours lined up in our forecasts. Today's was impressively noisy and rattly but produced very little rain, barely laying the dust, and the sky quickly cleared. Roscommon's weather station on Mount Dillon was the 2nd hottest place in Ireland at 24.6ºC (after Shannon Airport (25ºC))

Clearing the gutters.
The forecast of rain had us racing around to complete Laura's last requested job, accompanied by the roar of engines from the local silage crews scrambling in those last (round) bales so that they could be wrapped up safe and dry. Whoa, though! Let me do these three stories in some kind of sensible order. Laura first and then DitDH.

Lemon meringue pie, Ardeche style. The
lemon-curd layer is home made and includes
very finely chopped hazelnuts. Interesting and
On these final days we were scouting around rather, both feeling that she had done way and above anything we had expected, so she deserved a few days when she could pick jobs she liked. She had already said that she would love to give everywhere a final mow on the last day, so that she could leave the place looking really tidy.

Fox gloves out front.
We re-assembled the trailer, looking very fine in its new yacht-varnish woodwork. We got the ladder out to clear the gutters ("Evr'ns" here (literally eave-runs)). We clipped the three dogs with Laura taking the same patient, exact care that she brings to the mowing job. She got another crack at the brush-cutter, tackling the tall weeds behind the goose house and the yard-wall. That last mow, at 6 hours solid with just 2, 20-min breaks was typical Laura work-rate, 09:00 to 15:00.

Love this ox-eye daisy growing out of
the wall.
For the last of these few days, we have been on our own, with Elizabeth down in Silverwood-land minding the parental home for 'Steak Lady' who is off on hols. I have been left, of course with plenty of part-assembled meals (and instructions!) so it has been easy enough to be out there working alongside the 'help' but still able to do the catering and hospitality bit. Need a light lunch of filo pastry flan with ham, tomato and goat's cheese? I'm your man. Tomorrow, it all finishes with our run down to Castlerea station for the 08:18 train. We will miss the lass.

Donaldina in the Duck House.
The Donaldina story also ends happily with 7 successful chicks now being mothered very well by new Mum. One more chick hatched but then died in the nest (trampled? smothered?) so she actually managed 8/8. Readers will know that the clutch was added to daily till it numbered 20 eggs, but it would be wrong to link the 12 fails to this hen.

Donaldina is now out and about with all seven.
As it was, we did have the usual fun and games getting to this point, but I will give you only main points, not bore you with all the details. We moved the 'house' in from the goose area with DitDH, nest, eggs and all, to the yard to save the babies from getting attacked by geese. DitDH started hatching right on cue (Wed 6th) but then started coming off the nest to look after the 24-hour olds and left one wet new-hatch behind.

We rescued this bird and one of the first 6 who was a bit 'lazy' into the incubator for some TLC and food for 24 hours. DitDH started roaming around with the 5 but we were sure we would be able to re-unite the helped pair with Mum the next day. This is, indeed, how it went and we were delighted once again that hens cannot count. They just accept 2 more as long as they are the right size and shape and making the correct noises. Now DitDH has 7 to mind. No pressure, Donaldina, just keep them safe and alive for 6 weeks. Job done.

That about covers it for this one. It is 21:42 so I am, as ever, waiting for the dirty stop-out Guinea Fowl to make their weary way to bed. Everybody else is in their 'rooms', perched patiently, waiting for me to lock the doors. I have 'waited' through so many lovely sunsets in this hot spell, that I am a bit bored taking photo's of them!

The rose "Rhapsody in Blue"
Ah well. Good night all. Wish Laura a safe journey, tomorrow, as I am and I will talk to you again on Tuesday.

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