Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Natural order of things.

New years Day has arrived, bringing with it continuous drizzle, it would have been nice to have had a drive to the coast but with grey sky's we decided to catch up on things we should have done last month, culling and processing the remaining table birds. It's nice to think of stock as a larder on legs, but there comes a time when you are feeding too many birds or rabbits that have reached their optimum weight, to keep feeding for no extra gain is false economy, of course it helps if you have plenty of space in your freezer, or in our case four freezers. Some re-organisation was called for, the next four days meals have been removed, I'm not sure what a couple of the bags contain as they have lost their labels, rabbit skins and heads have been buried, we had kept these on ice as I had plans for curing the skins, a job I never got round to. I will have to have a re-thing on this idea, if I did cure the skins what would I use them for? Even with the re-organisation we still only have room for four birds, they have weighed in at 2.5kg average oven ready weight.
Cornish game on the left, La Bresse on the right.
One of the birds was a Cornish Game bird, although a different shape, far more rounded, stubby with a broad chest, he also weighed 2.5kg. We have pullet from this breed so she will be crossed with Francois, a La Bresse cock.

Of all the birds that we keep the Muscovy is my favorite, they are a bird with real attitude. Things must be done in the correct way, this includes them going to bed at night.
Head girl, bossy boots.
First in the house is a chocolate girl, Bossy Boots, she is head duck, following her is her daughter, Jemima Puddle Duck, then comes Donald Duck, the drake, followed by Dilly Duck a lavender colour, bringing up the rear is Daffy Duck , if the correct sequence is not followed they all troop back out again until  natural order is resumed. This is fine from a ducks point of view, they love the rain, not so much fun for their human, standing in pouring rain, waiting for them to sort it all out again. 

The recent rain has caused flooding in many parts of the country, here the rivers are over flowing and the Turlough's are full.
Turloughs provide good summer grazing for cattle, sheep and horses, partly because of the annual deposition of lime-rich silt.  However, for many years, farmers have seen the winter flooding as a waste of potential and they have attempted to find some means of draining the turloughs so that they can be used all year round. This has usually been achieved by digging an artificial channel through the turlough, capable of carrying away any water entering the turlough from surface or groundwater – such channels have often been constructed as part of major arterial drainage schemes.
At least a third of the turloughs in Ireland have already been drained and more are being drained each year. This has very serious consequences from the point of view of the environmentalist , the unique flora and fauna of the turlough cannot survive in the absence of seasonal flooding. Even for the farmer, the benefits are not always as great as anticipated – the stopping of the annual limy silt deposit means that the soil may become impoverished and fertilizers must be used. Also, the poorly developed and delicate soil may not be able to withstand the presence of animals through the winter.
Turlough's are nearly exclusive to the Republic of Ireland, there are just three known winter lakes in Northern Ireland and one in South Wales.
Four Whooper Swans, the two on the left are juveniles.

Yesterday we visited friends and passed several Turloughs,
Swans everywhere.
one of which was white with Whooper Swans, two weeks ago we had spotted the first handful of  Whooper Swans, since then they have arrived in their hundreds from Iceland where they spend the summer months. In winter Ireland hosts over 20% of the European Whooper Swans,
And yet more swans.
on just one of these winter lakes yesterday we estimated there were around three hundred of these beautiful winter 
Lapwings Feasting.
                                                            There were also  large flocks of Lapwings.

Christmas was nice, good food, and some good company. Now it is time to get back to normal, whatever that means. No more rich food for another year,although we might make an exception for Sherry Trifle!
We are taking it easy with the cake.
All that remains is the Christmas Cake which hopefully will last us for a couple more weeks. It is a very rich cake, full of sugar, not from added sugar but it contains over four pounds of dried fruit, a small slice is all that is needed to fill you.

Hopefully this year I can spend time on craft work, Simon bought me a new singer Sewing machine for Christmas, my old one which I have had for thirty odd years was beginning to slip it's clutch, the new one seems to be an all singing and dancing machine, I am hoping to make Rag dolls again, I used to make these many years ago when we lived in Wales where I was a member of the Craft Workers Guild. The dolls used to sell very well, whether they still will remains to be seen in this day and age of of plastic throw away.
 For Simon I bought a set of wood crafting tools, plus a couple of books on wood carving, he has always had an interest in this, his father was a very good wood carver, so maybe it's in the genes. 
Hope you all had a good Christmas, and Happy New year to you all.


  1. It is so lovely to see the Swans at this time of year. Hopefully the remaining turloughs will be left as they are.

  2. I'm surprised that they are not all designated as S.S.I sites

  3. Would these 'turloughs' be basically the same as flood meadows, which get called 'Carrows' around the River Shannon, do you know, Anne? Love your ducks-in-a-row story by the way! Very funny (though maybe not for the 'human' as you say).

  4. Flood meadows are exactly that, they flood naturally as opposed to water meadows which are feed by leats or streams and are purposely flooded to bring on early growth of grass. Turloughs are mainly found to the west of the Shannon and form in limestone bowls, often fed by Swallow holes which is the same hole as the water will disperse through. You can often see the swallow holes during the summer months when the Turloughs are empty they appear as a group of stones in the bottom point of the empty Turlough.

  5. Thanks for that! Fascinating stuff. I had no idea that flood meadows and water meadows were two distinct things. Also did not know about the swallow hole fill/empty thing. I am going to have to get me a good book on the ecology of these areas, if such exists.

  6. I'm a bit late with this, forgive me - but here's wishing you and Simon a very happy new year. Mmmmm - that Christmas cake looks good. Just what's called for on a wet and blustery afternoon or evening after dinner, along with a nice cuppa (or something stronger) to wind down the winter nights with. As soon as we get a new oven (and a real one this time, not this contraption we naively thought would conserve space and electricity/energy), I think I'm going to bake several loaves of bread and many a variety of cakes.

  7. A happy and healthy 2014 to you all - keep on blogging. Ian and Luis x

  8. Wow, those birds look absolutely huge! Hehe, I like the story about them traipsing in in the correct order, poor Simon if he's stood there waiting! x

  9. According to the Muscovys things must be in the right order.