Thursday 6 December 2018

Where there is Livestock there is Dead Stock

Gandalf's end. The stock pot.
My title this week is that hackneyed old trope much used by we smallholders as a form of tough, fatalistic sympathy (not good to show too much emotion - these are not pets after all!) when we or colleagues lose an animal. We'd love to be able to keep them all alive and healthy for ever but, no, as Shakespeare would (nearly) have it,

"All the farm’s a stage,
And all the birds and animals merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances......."

New Sheriff in town..... "Lucky"
So on Monday 3rd Dec our lovely 'alpha' rooster, pure-bred Marans "Gandalf the Grey" died for no discernible reason. He was in the coop and fell off his perch in the afternoon, found stiff and flat on the ground (but not fully cold) by Elizabeth at 'supper' time. He'd be about 2 years old, hatched in July 2016 from eggs we bought from Mayo-Liz's farrier and has been a fine rooster, beautiful looking and an excellent minder of his ladies. He was also very fertile and his DNA is in most of this year's hatch babies.

This made us smile - a gift of 6 cushions depicting cats on bikes.
Ah well, he ended up in the stock pot and his replacement, as far as we can tell (for now anyway) is a honey-coloured 6 month old youngster whom we are calling 'Lucky". Now THERE is bird who deserves his name and has had a very interesting life. He is lucky to be still with us. We are fairly sure "it was him" anyway. Back in May (22nd or so) he hatched under the hen we were then calling 'Cat Basket Lady' but got left out of the nest one 'nap time' and could not hop over the lip back to Mum's warmth. We found him 9/10 dead and cold on the concrete. I cupped him in my hands to get some warmth back into him and over 10-15 minutes he slowly came to, kicking and wriggling with increasing strength till I thought he was back with us. I slipped him back in under Mum and he lived to fight another day.

Plenty fruit in the diet now.
Weeks later he managed to hop up into a bucket, half filled with water and then jumped down in. The water was too deep for him to touch bottom, so he couldn't jump out again and was doomed to tread water, squeaking pitifully till he got waterlogged and sank. When you have tiny chicks, never leave them able to access water deeper than about 2 inches. Luckily I happened to go into the yard and heard him so was able to save his little life again and put him back with Mum. Since then he has survived all the fox attacks and also our culls of excess roosters. So, here he is now, promoted to the New Sheriff. Big boots to fill, Lucky. No pressure. He may only be 6 months old but I saw him 'nail' a hen this morning so at least he understands that part of the job description.

The fruit for the Christmas cake sits overnight steeping in an odd
mix of booze. Mum-in-Law had had a de-clutter of the dog-ends
from her drinks cabinet from last year.
What else is new as we bimble gently in towards Christmas like ski-ers on the gentlest blue run? Stir-up Sunday finally arrived on the Tuesday and all those part-mixed bowls of goodness were moved on to become cooked pud or cake. The cake is sitting a few days to mature before I will get amongst it with marzipan and icing. I have a good idea for the design but I'm keeping that under my hat for now.

Village Christmas Party
There was a very successful Christmas Party for the villagers down at the Village 'Centre' (Memorial Hall). Everyone works really hard to make these happen. The hall is laid out magnificently with all the festive napkins and what-not and the ladies all bring along great bowls of the various foods. You pay for the food and (if you like) bring along your own booze and something to drink it out of. The place was satisfyingly packed and everybody was very happy with the evening. A good success.

Lisacul 2019 Calendar.
The 2019 Lisacul Village Calendar has also been designed and printed and is now being sold. Once again it is mainly based on photographs taken for the '365' project but this year has a nice refreshing theme running through it. Each month has a village scene but also an inset picture of some local refreshments - tea, cake, soup etc and the front cover says "Will you have a cup of tea while you're here?" It is a lovely thing to have. If you, dear reader(s) got one from us last year then, do not worry, you will get another this year. They are nearly in the post. If you would like one, the the Village website is the place.

Getting back into the sourdough making.
Meanwhile, lest anyone forget that I am still soldiering on, a martyr to my suffering (OK I'm basically OK and pain-free but bear with me while I indulge myself in a couple of amusing 'sick' stories). Fluid retention. It's gone decidedly weird on me. This, you will recall is due to the general inefficiency of the current version of my heart (leaky valve) which is failing to move fluids properly around my body. When I was in hospital back in July, this was all about swollen ankles and we all watched with interest as they swelled or deflated day by day. Then a few weeks later this problem went away and it was all about knees. Now that version is also no longer in fashion and I have a taut band of 'swollen' around my gut but very high up; liver/diaphragm level. I have always had a bit of a 'beer belly' down in the standard place, bulging gently over my trouser waist-band, but this is like a high-up 10-pints a night thing. It seems most unfair given that I have not touched beer for months and am eating precious little. I offer up a fervent prayer that the heart surgery, once complete will sort all this out and move all this fluid (if such is what it is) on and out.

We are both impressed by this tin that
came around latest gin. We think that,
with the (plastic) lid off, it will make a nice
Christmas candle holder.
Finally I am mercifully nearly through my month of iron supplement tablets. I hate those things with a passion. They upset my system in too many ways. Everyone gets the unpleasant black sticky poo, I think, but I also suffer a month of farting, belching and feeling a continuous, low level nausea. It is just on the edge, there, of nearly but not quite starting to feel sick. I never have (vomited, I mean) though I've had a few episodes of dry-retching. It's all very unsettling and depressing of appetite. I approach every meal wondering whether it is wise to eat it. Ah well, only 5 more days to go on that one. I will then keep a low profile and hope that the GP does not remember she put me on it and needs to see whether it worked! :-). Not really - I will, of course follow all the medical advice as best I can.

Enough for this one. Till the next time. Good luck now.

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