sheep

Irish Recap 2016

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As mentioned in my last post, for the 3rd consecutive year, I dashed off to visit my friend, Karen, in Ireland. This time I took all three kids with me.

And guess what? I bought all three home, too.

Today, I’m posting some photos from our trip. (Pixs from previous Irish travels are here and here.)

Three kids meant three dog walkers… which was good, since Karen has 6 dogs.

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Included in the pack are two Greyhounds. On Friday night, we got to watch them race on a track near Cork.

Here they are earlier in the week, exercising at home:

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Valerie won her Friday-night race by 10 lengths.

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And here’s Karen horsing around with one of the lurchers.

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Speaking of horsing around, Brynn attempted to train one of the ponies to be “kid-friendly.” He looked the part:

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But looks can be deceiving.

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For the third year we returned to Inchydoney, a hotel/resort along the south-western coast.

Inchy is a popular destination for Irish vacationers, but it’s not well-known to Americans. So we stood out. And everywhere we went, strangers stopped us to talk American politics. Specifically, about Donald Trump. Sometimes, about Hillary. But always about Trump.

One day in Galway, I fielded Trump questions more than a dozen times. At Inchydoney, Brynn was grilled by a parent in the children’s playroom. On city sidewalks, people would hear our accent in passing, and simply yell out after us: “Hey, hey there! Donald Trump!

It was bizarre.

Here’s Cayden, getting shelled with campaign questions:

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Over 8 days, we logged 1,200 kilometers in our rental car. I’m fairly familiar with the roads but on a few occasions, I found myself hopelessly lost. Why? Two reasons:

1. In small towns, villages and along rural routes, the Irish don’t believe in posting signs that provide street names.

2. And when they do post the rare arrowed signs indicating the direction of a town, locals love rotating these signposts 180 degrees. Just for kicks.

Here’s just one example: Tynagh’s actually the other way.

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Fortunately, the country has a thriving pedestrian population and folks are happy to dole out directions… in Irish fashion: “Where you going? Oh yes, you’re headed the wrong way. Turn around, go up the road a ways. Then turn right. Keep going, and when you pass a stone wall at the bend, turn left, and at the next road, go right. There will be a hump in the road. At the second hump, bear right. Go by a stone cottage and then go some more and you’ll see the road you want. Can’t miss it.

“Thanks,” I’d say. “You’ve been very helpful.”

And then they’d lean in to ask, “You’re American, are ya? What about this Donald Trump?

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At the end of our trip, the big kids declared their intentions to swim in the ocean. Cayden and Had picked a nice windy afternoon — with temperatures around 40 degrees — to don swimsuits. They bolted across the long stretch of sand to the water, where the waves barely splashed their shins before they beat a hasty retreat.

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So there you have it: our vacation slideshow.

Here’s hoping for an Irish four-peat in 2017.

Sheep-a-thon

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Cloaked and content…

 

Another Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, come and gone. (For details on the festival, see last year’s post here.)

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Due to social conflicts, we blitzed the sheep show on Saturday — we breezed through the tents and pavilions and skipped the main events. We missed the “grand lamb cook-off,” and the “sheep and wool skill-a-thon.” We bailed on the crowning of the lamb and wool queen and princess.

We did, however, find time to wolf down lamb gyros, lamb kabobs, corn dogs and cotton candy.

Hands down, the family-food consumption award goes to Brynn, who singlehandedly polished off a platter of cheese fries.

Not too surprising, given Brynn’s penchant for grilled-cheese sandwiches, garnished with a wedge of soft cheese and few slices of cheddar on the side…

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The Chubby Club

 

The sheep are impossibly fat.

It’s no contest. They’ve earned the title of fattest creatures on the farm.

Granted, the horses are portly. Bugsy and one of the horses each graze with a muzzle — a nylon mesh bucket with a rubber bottom, and a quarter-sized hole through which to eat.

The cats take the bronze medal. Frog is especially waddle worthy (yes, a cat named “Frog”). Each time she slinks in the barn, I fear she’s pregnant though I know she’s spayed.

But Frog is twiggy compared to the sheep.

We haven’t been up close to the sheep since late fall. Then last Sunday, Martin and I rounded them up for a hoof trimming session.

“Sweet Jesus,” I whispered to Martin.

It was hard to tell where bulging torsos ended and spindly legs began. Each looked like a jumbo marshmallow, teetering on toothpicks.

The five of them barely squeezed into their corral chute. In fact Blackie — in an effort to evade handling — pressed his fat against the fencing and popped two boards loose.

(I should note that the sheep’s heftiness greatly hampered hoof trimming. They threw their weight around, trampling, squeezing and shoving Martin. He was smeared with mud and even peed on — one of the ewes urinated on his hand when he grabbed a hind leg….That last detail is unrelated to the topic, but was funny as hell.)

So the sheep are overweight. What to do? It’s hard to cut consumption. They receive no grain or hay and are cordoned off in a small pasture.

The accused, angled to optimize slimness.

 

I searched “obese sheep” and “fat sheep need to lose weight” on the web, but discovered nothing novel or noteworthy.

“Regulate supplementary feed,” advised owners on various forums.  “Increase your sheep’s exercise.”

Increase exercise? I thought. What am I supposed to do, sign them up for the gym? Teach them yoga?

There’s Maisie, of course. She’s eager to chase them, but that’s a hit-or-miss exercise regimen.

Before giving up, I searched the web for a sheep version of the horse grazing muzzle.

And — surprise — such products exist.  But they’re marketed to prevent sheep from eating bedding or biting other animals. They’re not designed for weight loss or 24-hour use.

And after viewing photos of the products, I think I’d rather the sheep die fat and happy than wear Hannibal Lecter headgear.  

Behold, protection when handling serial killer sheep:

 

 

Just spare me the Silence of the Lambs jokes…