Tuesday 30 October 2018

2000th Post

A first frost and an icy sunrise across the East Field
In the last epistle, I drew attention to some votes happening in Ireland and said that I might let you know the results, this mainly for my UK readers. Well the standing President (Michael D Higgins or "Miggledy") did indeed get re-elected by a huge margin and stands for another 7 years. The "crime" of blasphemy was also voted to be removed from the Constitution.

Vicky doles out breakfast on the early morning livestock rounds
Farewell to the Help-X lasses, Vicky and Judith who were our final Help-X guests of the year. We have received a couple of requests since but, honestly, we are so tidy and so ready for winter after the last couple of sessions, that we cannot see a week's work for even a single volunteer.

The ducks get their breakfast.
Vicky and Judith were brilliant, hard working, enthusiastic, hugely useful around the house and pure pleasure to host. They also bonded very closely with the dogs, especially Towser and Poppea (Deefer mainly chose to stay with her 'Dad'). We have never had the dogs so 'loved up' by any volunteers and we are sure the girls will really miss the dogs and vice versa.

First frost for the Help-X-ers' final morning
The last working day for the pair was Saturday and they chose to continue the pressure-washing job, this time on the back terrace, an area of shamefully broken up concrete which is forever growing grass in the many cracks and can be quite skiddy, partly with chicken poo in the wet. This is a high traffic area as it is the route from Kitchen to Utility Room, and is also in the "when we win the Lotto" plan; the concrete will be ripped up and replaced by new block-paving PLUS it will all be covered by a lean-to "cloister" arrangement. In the meantime, a good blast with the pressure washer at least has it free of grass, mud and chook-poo and a nice pale grey, dry, clean, concrete colour.

The ducks hesitate when they see the frozen pond. "There's
something wrong with the water, Dad!"
The Help-X-ers woke up to our first frost on their final morning. We were able after the breakfast rounds of poultry, to watch the young ducks discover the frozen pond and try to work out how to cope with it. The clocks had changed to GMT over night, so it was also bright sunshine. They were very wary. All 6 hung back, peering over the brim and wondering what was wrong with the water. Even the 'Mother' duck who had lived through at least one winter stopped but it occurred to me, she had lived up till we got her in a concrete yard with only paddling pools for water, so may not have needed to cope with ice.

Khaki drake does "ice breaker"
Eventually, having worked their way round the pond a bit to see if there were any less 'scary' places to jump in, the Khaki Campbell drake slid in and promptly skated across the pond to the 'beach' as if  frightened by the unfamiliar feeling under foot. This broke up the ice enough (it was only thin) that the rest of them felt safe enough to follow.

That was pretty much it for the girls. Elizabeth did them the house speciality "Eggs in Purgatory" as a light lunch before I dropped them to Castlerea railway station and hugged them a fond farewell. They would spend a couple of days in Dublin doing 'tourist', flying home to Germany on Monday (yesterday). They are, you will recall, 5 years into their Doctor-training, so they have completed the basic course and now get a year of learning their chosen 'specialities'  (one "radiology", the other "internal medicine"). This is going to be a parting of the ways for them after spending 5 years as best mates and fellow students. Judith will do one of her specialities in the island of Reunion, off Madagascar. They were sure they would meet up again in the future but possibly not work closely together again.

I have taken up card-patience again as a way of passing the
time while I can't work any sense.
We will miss them a lot, but we also love to get the house back. Help-X-ers are dead easy to host but they are here full time and sometimes you just want to be on your own, or just the two of us. I also get 10 days of making sure I am up for breakfast for/with them and sorting the  out tasks, showing them the machines or the jobs and generally feeling like I need to be on my best behaviour. It is a bit unrelenting and the end of it comes with a big sigh of relief.

200th and possibly final post 
...And so, my 2000th post. 12 years or so of posting 2 a week. Maybe I should have saved something momentous or land-markish to go in this one but, no, it has just come out with the usual hum drum everyday tale of small-holdering folk. I should probably say a huge thank you to all the readers out there and supporters - there are now around 130 to 200 of you look at each post. I must confess I am wondering whether to park it for a while, to give it a bit of a holiday. This being ill thing has me at a bit of a low ebb and, unable to actually DO anything round the 'farm', so it is a struggle to come up with material to put in here. Ah well. We will see. If a post does not appear on Friday, you will know what is what. Good luck now.

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