Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

Falling Slowly

I’ve been feeling very tired of late. I’ve had a lot of things on, and I’m trying to do too much for others. I need more rest. This weekend we have a houseful again, so no rest for the wicked. Maybe next week. The farm work is slowing down for now, but the social side of things is going crazy. So for now I’m just going to post this song form the Swell Season called Falling Slowly. Hmmmm, “we’ve still got time”. We have lots and lots of time.

Falling Slowly

I don’t know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can’t react
And games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ve made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You’ve made it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You’ve made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I’ll sing along

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Ah go on!

Walking down the street in town this evening on my way to post a letter, this girl stopped me. At first I thought i knew her, because she came jogging up to me, and I was wondering who it was because she had a big coat on, and a hood over her head. She mumbled something to me about a survey and free lottery scratch card and she was off. I hardly knew what I was in for as I stood there in the biting wind, answering her questions.

Her first few questions were something like this:

“Do you use the internet?”.

“Yes”.

“Have you visited these sites?”

“Hmmm,” as I scanned down through them. “Seven out of the ten”
“Do you use email?”

“Ummm, yes!”

“How many email addresses have you?”

“Hmmm, let me see …. “. Long pause as I do a quick count. “Somewhere between twenty and thirty “.

“WHAT!”

“Ah, yeah. They build up over time, and they’re all for different things”

“O.K.A.Y. … Lets move on”

“What kind of computer? (PC/Laptop/Games console/ ipod etc)”

“A PC only”

“Do you play games on it?”

“NO!”

“Do you watch TV?”

“Not much really?”

“Do you watch any of these shows” (She shows me a list of programs)

“None, well not regularly anyway”

“Do you remember any of the advertising for these shows?”

“Oh god no”

“Not even one?”

“No. Advertising is a waste of space … my brain just switches off if I see it”

“O.K.A.Y….”

I was wondering at this stage if she was thinking I was a bit of a weirdo or something … but she soldiered on. She then continued to ask questions about my employment status and then about if I knew the rights that employees have … and finally asked me for my phone number, name and address. I just made up those for her. No way was she getting those details. Once they have lots of marketing details on you, they can sell their marketing information on you to people or companies who would love to call you with something to sell.

I generally like to give surveys if I have the time. Sometimes it’s a game to me to try to find out the motives of why the survey was commissioned and what benefits it may give. The range of questions can be interesting though. But in this case I think it was just get the information for selling onto others.

It was my first time actually getting an incentive to do a study. But I wonder about the scratch card. Do they know that there’s nothing to win in the cards? can they get them printed out like that so it’s a guaranteed loss every time?

When I think about it in hindsight, I don’t like the way I reacted. I needed to stop her and explain herself more about where she was coming from. I am left with that void of information now and I feel stupid for making that mistake. Hopefully, I won’t make that same mistake twice.

Hanging on for dear life

While we all go about our busy lives the rest of the world goes on all around us. All things happening at the same time. Little did I realise on October 24th that this flower was still there. Outside my window, and walking past it a few times every day, I had stopped noticing it. To me it’s interesting to think that as I sit here in my own little microcosm, that there’s nearly 7 billion people out there doing their own thing, and many many trillions of insects and other life forms. Yet here we were together. One bee, one flower, one me.

Afterthought: You know the flower here is surprisingly similar to the one that I posted weeks ago: https://cowdunghands.wordpress.com/2007/10/10/ive-arrived/. I wonder if they are of the same type?

What happened to all the Mushrooms?

We normally have an abundance of wild mushrooms every autumn. Well when I mention mushrooms, I mean the white table mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus) that most have eaten or cooked with at one stage or other.

This year, because the weather was so strange, there was hardly a sight of a mushroom all autumn. They occur naturally in August or September when it is still warm and humid, and when the nighttime temperatures drop near freezing. Then they spring out of the ground, and you can find them especially where cattle have been trampling because there’s no grass to cover them there!

With our buckets and buckets of mushrooms, we take enough for ourselves and use the remainder to give to friends and family, who in turn give us things like tomatoes and gooseberries and other nice things they have too much of. So we all gain. So this year, there is none, and we are all disappointed. Trading for us is made a little more difficult, because others bring us their goodies while we don’t have much to give. Hmmm, well we gave away a lot of apples so I suppose we’re not too badly off.

The mushrooms taste wild, and have a strong taste, and are much nicer than those you buy in the shop. Neither are they button mushrooms, they’ve generally opened by the time we find them, so we must check that maggots have not gotten in by cutting the stem and checking for holes.

Mushroom soup made with full milk is something we all love through the winter. They would go into stews, or when fresh would be fried on their backs with a little salt in the cup for extra flavour, or they might just go into a stir-fry, or be roasted with some meat. We eat lots of them when they are fresh … and of course at times we have just too much of them. So they are washed, chopped and frozen in bags. They keep very well in the freezer. I know there are still some there since last year … but they don’t compare to those that are freshly plucked from the ground.

  • In the picture above are not white mushrooms, but some other type of mushrooms that we don’t eat that were growing behind our house a few weeks ago. We have lots of different types of fungi growing mostly in wooded areas here. Of course there are loads of typess that are edible. I think fifty seven in Ireland grow naturally, and many many more around the world.
  • Mushrooms purchased in the shops are invariable grown in climate controlled tunnels. It’s a labour intensive process, where compost is worn out quickly. They’re not grown here much any more, but there used to be lots of mushroom farms around. They mostly come from Eastern Europe or Asia now, because it’s cheaper for the consumer.
  • Below is a nice time-lapse video of a mushroom opening. I had been looking for a video on white mushrooms, but most of them seemed to be of magic mushrooms. It’s to be expected I suppose.

Reading between the lines

I’m the chairman of the local dairy discussion group. It happened to fall on my lap last year because we were looking for someone new to ‘lead’ them forward. Well actually no … the last chair had finished the year, and the group had to nominate someone else to be the chair. I sat unknowingly, saying nothing and trying to stay unnoticed. I think it was a bad tactic. If i had been quick enough to pipe up and nominate someone else, then I would have probably have gotten away with it. Nominated i was, and seconded too … so my fate was sealed. I couldn’t really say no.
It’s not much of a workload, just to invite guests if the group needs to know more about certain topics, or if someone would like to give a presentation to the group, then organise it and get things ready.
I was at the November meeting last week, and I was late (as usual) because I had to retrieve my stranded brother from the hills after the car died in him. As I entered the meeting room, trying to make as little noise as possible … while all eyes were on me for being so late. Then our adviser pipes up
“Michael, welcome. I have a question for you.”
“Uh oh” I said to myself.
“Are you the current chair of the group?”.
“Of course I am!” as I smiled broadly wondering how they could ask such a ludicrous question.
“We were just wondering, because we couldn’t agree between us. Anyway, you’ll be getting a letter in the post in the next few days inviting you to the launching of the restructured Teagasc Advisory Service. We want you to go if you have time, and report back to us.”
“Ummmmm, ok. I’ll go if i have time”.

So the invite arrived to me, I set a date in my calendar, and that day was yesterday. I had a hectic morning. I failed to get up in time … so I was under pressure to organise things for the day and get the important things done before I left. First I had to drive to the airport and retrieve my wandering brother and bring him home … so that was two more hours gone from my day. I got home, shoveled dinner into my stomach, and raced up to Blarney again, which is forty minutes away. Of course I was late… It’s genetically bred into the family problem to be late. Twenty minutes … it could have been worse. I walked into the conference room, and realised that most were wearing suits and ties. There was I in my jeans, hoodie and runners. Oops! I was slightly comforted by the fact that there were a few farmers in woolly jumpers sprinkled through the crowd of some 150 people. I found a spot and sat and listened to Billy Kelleher, the Junior Minister of State, Enterprise and Employment. Fifteen minutes later it was he finished speaking and it was all over, bar the teas, sandwiches and finger-food. AAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH. I realised that it was just a day out for people to go hobnobbing and feel important about themselves. Disgusted I was. Out the door I went, grabbed some finger-food on the way, and headed for home. I had better things to be doing with my precious time.
So maybe I’ll be more careful to read the fine print next time, and understand the lingo lingo used in invites in future. If the invite comes as a plain piece of paper, and looks unimportant, then it’s probably worth going to. If it comes written on fancy paper, and sounds important, well more than likely it’s not one bit important at all, so I’m definitely staying at home!

  • Note the smudges of ink that have run on the invite. That was another victim of my mug of tea that went flying.
  • And the hand writing. Well nothing is sacred on my desk. And it happened to be the closest piece of paper to me when i had to take down a number while on the phone.

Bite your lip and smile for the camera

He’s definitely a strange one. Born on the 2nd March 2006 11pm, he’s a half twin to a lovely heifer calf to a cow called Curious that I used to adore. I looked at him when he was born and my first thoughts were that he’s not going to make it. A tiny calf, half the size of his twin, he looked an albino, with very little hair colour, and there was a strange texture to his skin … kind of elastic skin… i can’t describe it properly because I’d never come across it before. And there was this funny thing with his mouth, he had no lip on one side.

He straightened up after a couple of minutes and all seemed just fine … except for the lip.after quarter of an hour I took some colostrum from mum, and attempted to five it to this lad.every time I put the nipple into his mouth, his tongue hung out the side, so if he got any milk, it was only a dribble. This continued every few hours through the night, and the following day too (helped thankfully by my mum and dad). (any farmer reading this would say to use a stomach tube and be done with it. I didn’t own one at that stage. I do now!

After about a week he started to drink on his own. That was some dose, but we got over it, and he started to grow, develop some colour, and you know he actually looked like he was going to make it … though the tongue still hung out the side of his mouth.

So here he is now pictured last April (he’s still the same now, only bigger and fatter). Healthy and carefree, happy to do bovine things all day long.

Another defect that I noticed as time has gone on is that the cartlidge in his ear doesn’t seem to be of very good quality.They usually have an ear tag on each ear. But the hole in his ear has stretched and it’s not very good any more for tags. I could make another hole, but I’m sure it would only have the same problem. I’m sure it’s affected to the lack of colour on his hair. Maybe he’s partly albino or something.

I used to love the mum ‘Curious’. She was always coming over smelling me, giving me big licks, gently horning me, looking for something nice, generally being a curious creature and sometimes being a nuisance too. Even when she was young and growing up, she was always the first one in the group over to me. In every group there’s always your favourites … and she was one of mine all the time. Alas only two weeks after having her twin calves (which she had no problem with), I found her one morning unable to rise. She had broken a hip during the night, probably in some shimmozle as she nudged her way through the crowd. We took her out, and gave her a dry bed, but she was dead by the afternoon. Either the shock got to her … or there was some major internal problem that wasn’t diagnosed. One way or the other, she was gone and I had lost a comrade.

But you know, he’s different from all the rest, and it’s a good thing because it’s interesting. Like us, if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place.

Autumn II

It’s the second week in November, since last August we haven’t seen any rain, wind or frost. The delicate plants are still surviving, and some might say flourishing.

The red one at the front is a Begonia. For a flower that us usually there for a few weeks in the late summer, this one has outlasted all the others. It’s nested in a nice sheltered spot, if a little dark to be honest cos it’s under some big trees. Well maybe it’s flowering well now because the leaves have come off the trees and it’s getting some much needed sunlight. I can’t say to be sure. The Kaffir Lillies in the background are flying too. This is their time of year. My aunt says that for most of the year, you think it’s a big ugly weed, but when they come out at this time of the year, they add wonderful colour to any garden. They can be got in lots of different colours, not just pink!

All this good weather in November comes at a price. The grass in the front garden has grown long and thick. My mum says she would like to put some sheep in there to keep it trimmed.  I would love to … but I fear she’s not serious. Tut tut, sheep in the front garden … what next, dogs in the house!!!

The Heap of Leaves

I remember when I was young and carefree, I loved nothing better in the autumn than destroying neatly piled heaps of leaves that were ready for collecting … much to the annoyance of whoever it was was putting them together. It’s nice to know that even in these days of every sort of imaginable toy, that some of the biggest enjoyment that children can get is from having free open spaces …. and heaps of leaves to go mad with. The best things in life are free.

Sorry again that it’s sidewards. It’s my niece last week on a few days here where she has more space than she could dream about. Sometimes she doesn’t know what to do with it all and is overwhelmed by it. Anyway, and she spotted the camera half way through … and then I threw leaves at her … but ah, it doesn’t matter. She was enjoying herself.

Rabbits, Dogs, now … Mouse

No new blog entry yesterday, I must confess that I did not have one scheduled earlier, but then when I was settling down to write a nice article this morning, I spilled my big mug of tea all over my keyboard, notes, invoices and my mouse. I’ve done this thing once before when I was working as an engineer, so I know how bad sticky tea can be to electronics…. BAD! I wiped out the keyboard that last time. This time I made a frantic effort to whip the battery out of the keyboard, and turn it at a good angle to drain properly. When everything was cleaned (or so I thought), I put my hand on the mouse, and lifted it gently off the mat. Tea literally flowed out of it. The prognosis was bad. Infra-red optical part was not flashing, I shook it frantically to get out all the liquid. New batteries, still no good. I opened it up and tried to clean it as much as possible inside. No response. It sat over the cooker before dinner, so it could dry out quickly. The flashing red light came back … but there was no communication between it and the computer *sob*.

I spent half an hour trying to maneuver my way around windows. It gets very tricky and frustrating when you can only tab your way around. (It might be a good way to test out how easily frustrated people can get.) So I gave up, and decided to get a new mouse when I was in town next.

The brother D was on the blower later and said there was a spare one upstairs. mmmm, a fancy new one to play with (for a while). It’s got a slightly different shape, and is built for a person with long fingers (not my short stubby little ones) …. but it is funny because it has a fan inside it … to cool the palm of your hand …. like it’s going to sweat or something with all the mouse pushing that I’ll be up to … and the fan makes a racket!

So I’ve still promised to get myself a new mouse, that is quiet, simple, optical, and watertight.

The picture shows the old and the new on my desk. Hmmmm, the new one looks kinds space aged or something. What you can’t see are the wear marks on the old mouse. I didn’t notice them until looked close. I have to ask where the paint went to? Interestingly enough, from the picture, you may notice the mouse-mat I use is actually the backing cardboard cover of a notepad. It’s much better than any mouse-mat that I’ve ever come across. It didn’t handle the tea wetting very elegantly though 😦 A good mouse mat would have been a winner there. You’ll probably also notice the mess on the desk … some day now, I’m going to have one of those manic cleanup sessions … some day now!

This is the inside of my old Dell Logitech mouse. How complex can these things get. Back in the good old days of the rollerball, there was no circuit board. Everything was simple … and they worked for ages. whatever happened to simplicity of design? Such is the evolution of hardware these days. … And, my attempt to draw a spiral (under the mouse) is pretty awful.

Barking up the wrong tree

Following on yesterdays series of pictures, as I had the camera out, I was able to take some shots and video of Shep and Buttons, as they barked up a tree searching for a cat to scare out of its skin all day long. They have a bad habit of sitting under a tree all day and night, and barking their hearts out. This particular tree is difficult for them, There is fencing on one side, and then there is a wall on the near side. So they stand up on the wall and jump up onto the tree. Shep’s balance is excellent, but buttons isn’t the best to be honest. You should also notice the lack of ivy on one side of the poor tree. Yes, that’s from Shep’s constant pawing. It’s often that he tears off the bark of the tree, which isn’t the best to be honest. Have to take preventative action when that happens. It is more likely to happen on evergreens rather than hardwoods.

This time around, I think they were just giddy from running around in circles playing chase. They seem to just like barking for the sake of it. I pointed up the tree ad off they went barking at nothing. Of course it’s great fun … unless it’s 2am and people are trying to go to sleep. When this happens, we have to lock them into their house for the night and let them out in the morning.

My niece tried to get into the action too, but her balance isn’t the best on top of a wall like that … but all the same, she didn’t fall and had lots of smiles too.

Finally there’s a short video here of some of the ‘action’. just barking and whining. Apologies in advance for the video below which is sidewards at the start but it’s better than nothing.