Monday 1 August 2022

Agent Fuchsia

Agent Orange is no longer available. Its zenith = nadir was during the Vietnam War, when the US military sprayed it liberally over the countryside - jungle, fields, gardens, whatever, whocares? - as a defoliant. That made it easier for helicopter gunships to spray death at anything bigger-than-a-breadbox that was still moving on the ground below. Agent Orange was a 50:50 mix of  two herbicides 2,4,5-T [2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid] and 2,4-D [2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid - prev] and particularly horrible because the 2,4,5-T was contaminated with long-lasting human- and animal-carcinogenic dioxins. 

Meanwhile back at the farrrm . . . Monday 18 July was the hottest day ever recorded in Ireland and the previous two weeks had been hot and dry; which is fine for holidaying city-folk but ghastly for sheep who are still togged out in winter fur-coats. It was a nick-of-time relief when Paddy the Clip promised that he'd come for shearing on Sunday evening. One of the ewes was in a particularly bad way having fly-strike at the shoulder which had peeled off the fleece and started a spiral of destruction as more flies were attracted to the damaged flesh. 

On Sunday therefore we [The Beloved, Dau.II and me makes three] went to round up the sheep for shearing. When we hooshed them out of the gate and up the the lane into the holding-unit, I was annoyed to count only 60 legs and 15 heads - one short.  And dismayed to realise that the missing data was our fly-struck ewe. We returned to the field, paying particular attention to the boundaries because sheep can crawl under hedgerow bushes for a snooze. TB and I had almost met at the far side of the perimeter when Dau.II called out "She's here . . . and she's alive" as the sheep wandered out from a shoulder-high stand of bracken. Shearing went off without further hitch: there were no more maggots and nobody died. The struck-ewe was drenched in a fly-lethal cocktail of chemicals and all the sheep were as ready as could be for the heat-wave the following day.

But damme if I was going to spend the rest of the Summer looking for sheep in a bracken forest which filled a square ~20m x 40m in the SW corner of the paddock. Walking sheep will usually scramble out of such places if you approach anywhere close making "hut hut hey-oop" herding noises; but a dead sheep is invisible in dense bracken until you trip over it. In a way you're better off waiting a day or two when the flies and crows start their noisy deconstruction. Easier to find and a bit less weight to get into the wheel-barrow.

0700hrs Monday morning found me (in my best pink Together For Yes t-shirt, all full of tea and with a sharp scythe) making a start on clear-felling the bracken forest. It was hot but I was hard and steadily mowed a neat enough 2 x 40m strip; paused to touch up my scythe with a whetstone; and then mowed another parallel adjacent 2m strip. I completed more strips on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday listening to my latest audio-book. By that time Monday's windrows were turning a pleasing dried brown and and I was confident that there would be no hiding-place for sheep. Agent Fuchsia?? that would be me! The After picture [above] would be more informative if I had the use of a drone.

Note to my future self: it took me a steady 15 minutes to mow one strip or 2 - 2½ hours to clear that forest. But 20 x 40 m is a tiny [8%] fragment of a hectare or maybe 1/5th of an acre. That suggests a day's consistent work will mow 1 acre = 40% of a hectare. My biceps are now officially massive.

1 comment:

  1. 😂😂😂 I will forever think of you as as Agent Fuschia or at least until my last few memory cells gather more plaque than my teeth.