Friday 14 September 2018

All Quiet

All quiet now that the pigs are gone.
We are enjoying a quiet few days between the departure of The Dans and the arrival of the next Help-X volunteers. It is extra quiet here at the moment because we have now finished the pigs - a euphemism for taking them on their final journey (which is , itself, a euphemism for taking them to slaughter). It is not that they are especially noisy with squealing for food or craving attention. It is the very bass-y grunts they chunter out as they move about. The noise carries right across the garden so, no matter where you are, you'd know there were pigs close by.

The ark. Redundant now till next year?
The pigs were booked in for early Wednesday. We knew we could load the pigs into the trailer with no problem - these pigs were trained and would sprint up the race for their breakfast. We could snick the door shut on them before they'd hoovered up the tempting fruit.

However, in my current, weakened state, I was not at all sure we could push the loaded trailer, with its 180 kg piggy payload across the dippy grass to the hard standing where stood the car. Step forward our good friends Suzy and Rob who volunteered to donate their early morning muscle; they are easily our closest 'barter' partners when it comes to man hours of help. They were headed on to Castlerea afterwards, so they also opted to come to the butcher's and help us unload the animals, after which we'd adjourn to Benny's Deli for a coffee and croissant breakfast.

Blue among the hops.
That was the pigs "finished". The carcasses now sit in the butcher's cold store round to Monday while the meat sets. We collect them around mid-day Monday and have an afternoon armed with the bone-saw, knives and cleaver, breaking them down into kitchen-friendly chunks. By then, we should have the new Help-X volunteers with us (Sonja and Asbjörn), both chefs of a sort, so I am fascinated to see if they want to get involved or whether butchery is too far "up stream".

Work boots.
For the next few weeks, Elizabeth is calling Thursday her 'busy day'. Regular readers will know that she is currently on a once-a-week, year+ long Horticultural course which absorbs every Thursday.

Red Admiral.
For these few weeks, this has become a Thursday AND Friday outdoor module on Hard Landscaping. A gang of them are out by the church at Ballinlough finding out all about digging foundations, creating hard paths, building planters, erecting an arbour, doing stone-work and even learning about re-pointing walls with lime mortar.

On with the work-boots then, tough gloves and at least have your wet weather gear in the car. Elizabeth also needed a hi-viz jacket, so she grabbed one that had been hanging in the shed for who knows how long. She did not pay too much attention, but this one had my name and the name of "Exel" (logistics) on the front panel but "PROJECT MANAGER" writ large across the shoulders. This drew a fair amount of friendly flak and banter from the rest of the 'students' - "Come on then, YOU're the Project do we do this?"

Lupins doing well in the nursery.
Then, as if she'd not done enough physical stuff for that day, she signed up for evening classes on furniture restoration starting last night. I couldn't go to this one as she had to be there early to help set up and the birds here would not yet have gone to bed yet, but from the report back it sounds a fascinating course. Elizabeth had taken 3 pages of notes on tools and techniques and is now looking hungrily at a pair of old favourite blue chairs we have in the Sitting Room. Watch this space.... I sense a 'project' in the making.

Very slow cropping but tasty.
That's about it for this one.. I will just do a quick meander through a few other pictures. By the time I next post, we should have the Help-X couple on board and the pork in the freezer.

The 'Summer' 'Parma-style ham is only fit for the stock pot now.
Blackberries were a bit variable this year due to the drought.
We have not (yet) been out picking.

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