Friday 1 June 2018

Tigger is Almost Done.

'Shtumpy' brings her 4 chicks out into the sunshine.
As we all sat down to supper tonight at about 7 pm the much-forecast end to the lovely heatwave was sounding very 'imminent'. Distant thunder rumbled ominously from the direction of Moyne (East, then), setting the dogs off barking and grumbling. Dark clouds had been gathering all evening and soon the distinct pitter-pat of rain drops hitting the big tarpaulin roof of the chicken house could be heard.

'Cool' haircut for a heatwave. #2 all over, please.
As we took our places this turned to the roar and hiss of proper rain and we could see the big drops bouncing back up off the sheep-fence. The sheep had taken cover under the trees - this would be the first thunderstorm the lambs had ever seen and the first heavy rain to hit the ewes since their shearing. I knew how they felt - I too had been down for my spring-time "shearing" (No. 2 all over please, guv) and I could feel the rain on scalp, rather than via the hair.

Promising looking new asparagus spears from the new babies.
We've all been loving the heat after the long cold, bitter winter and we were never going to be the first to complain, but some of our friends had started to comment that they "needed" rain for their plants or for the grazing grass growth. Many neighbours have raced a first cut of silage in from some fields, so they would be feeling happy but Elizabeth did see one farmer turning hay this morning despite the Orange-status weather warnings. Once you've cut it you are committed, really, so you might as well keep turning and hoping. The rain we got, did not actually amount to much. As I type this at 9 pm it is all over and we are back to a lovely sunset. It is cooler though.

A mesh 'porch' to keep those hens out of Donaldina's
broody house. 20 eggs is enough for anybody.
The hot weather has also meant that we could get on with garden stuff, assisted by our current, wonderful Help-X volunteer, Laura. She goes at every job I have given her with 100% commitment, focus and work-ethic. The place has never looked so tidy and well kept even when the heat has made some of the jobs quite unpleasant with sweat, dust with no breeze to clear it, still, hot air in buildings with corrugated roofs and the need to re-hydrate at breaks with copious quantities of  the house home-made cordials.

Laura in muck-out mode. 
While I have managed to get 'away' to build mesh covered frames to keep chickens off raised beds and unwanted egg-laying out of poor Donaldina(hen - see previous post)'s broody house, Laura has mowed the whole site a second time, gone round all the edges and young trees with shears, mucked out the long overdue chicken house including scraping/sweeping all the yard paths. Today, with me, she has then gone on to do the goose house and the feed store and brush-cut all the billowing cow-parsley in the lane verges.

Those 20 eggs which Donaldina is currently sitting on. 
Indoors, she has slotted in as very helpful around the kitchen, (un)loading the dishwasher, washing up, laying/clearing tables and even cooking more desserts. We have had a very creditable chocolate marbled cake and, tonight, partnered with The Woman of the House, chocolate brownies. Mid week, she came and tentatively asked whether, if she could not find a place for next week, she might stay a 3rd week here and we both agreed without hesitation. She has been a real 'find' and a joy.

Meanwhile, in the livestock department, everything has been chugging along equally nicely. Mr Fox has been mercifully absent. Cat Basket Lady (hen) has kept her 6 chicks alive and well and 'Shtumpy' (another hen) has now brought her four out into the sunshine. She looks like mothering them as well as she did the 2 broods she reared for us last year. Donaldina is sitting tight on her 20 (see last Tuesday's story) and now protected from any more 'cuckoo' hens by a mesh covered porch. A 4th hen has now gone broody in the corner of the Tígín under the work bench. 

It gets like 'Bake-Off' sometimes in the kitchen with three
of us all rattling off favourite recipes.
In the incubator, having briefly been sharing with the Cat Basket eggs, are the 14 duck eggs due to hatch today or tomorrow. I hope you have more patience than me - I am anxiously checking them several times a day looking for any signs of movement and listening for any cheeping. I cannot wait for them to get a move on.

Still in full fleece (you don't shear the lambs), Tigger looks
nearly as big as his Mum. 4 and a half months old, he's nearly
The pigs continue to thrive, but even closer to a visit to the butcher is our January-born ram lamb, Tigger. At nearly 5 months old and still in his full fleece (you don't shear the lambs in their first year) he looks as big as his Mum. He is still sneaking the occasional suckle but it will not be long now. We daren't leave him past 6 months - he is already 'playing' with his sisters/cousins and we cannot risk him getting Mum or an Auntie pregnant.

New shoots at last on the evergreen oak.
Ah well. That is surely enough for this one. I am off out to breathe a bit of that refreshed, cooler, evening air. Good Luck, now.

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