Saturday, June 18, 2011

“Don’t be content to merely survive. You must demand to live in a better world, not just dream about it.” La Finestra di Fronte

Waking up to this view every morning, I don't know why I would want to be anywhere else. Until I came back to America and realized how much I missed my friends and family. 
But now, how can I resist this gorgeous view?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BEST Welcome Home Gift EVER.

My year in Italy at UNISG. Every picture, every blog post are included. every lower case letter and spelling mitsake are also included. My sister, somehow, formatted my blog amazingly into this hard cover book. All my efforts to capture each moment, to record memories, and to tell the stories we experienced seem secondary to the hard work and time my sister put into this. Tears and words could not express how much it meant to me; the thoughtfulness of it all as my family not only told me how much they enjoyed reading my blog over the year and how upset they were when there wasn't a new posting to start their day, but to know that they liked it as much as I loved living there. They realized how much it  meant to me that now I have all those memories in my hand to relive again with just a flip of the page. I just cannot love it or my family enough. Enough that I carried it out with me for the first couple days and people would ask me why I brought my yearbook to the bar. Then I would show it to them and gush about my sister and they too became obsessed. 

As I flipped through the book, memories jumped out of the pages with more stories to tell:
I'm published!! 
Created by Jessica Ryan. Produced by John Ryan. Written by Shauna Ryan.
UNISG memories.
Summers in Zso-ugly.
when mum and dad came to visit, trip to piemonte. (upside down)
enthusiastic!! pickerlicker!

i thought this picture deserves its own post, jess thought then it should deserve it's own page.

upside down, UNISG memories.

ciao ciao bene. i love you.
jess's favourite post.

Welcome Back.

So...I haven't written for a while. I have a lot of updates, which start with lambing season in Donegal (wait till you see the videos) then working in a pub in town and enjoying the pre-summer-rainy-season's week of extremely warm spring weather, I got distracted and didn't write. Then, there was a bachelorette weekend in New York for my brother's new wife, a fantastic wedding in Massachusetts, Memorial Day Weekend, my 5-year Bucknell Reunion weekend, an accident I'm still shook up about, and now I'm seriously trying to figure out life. I don't even know what that means. Some of my friends don't even understand me. I think I am in UNISG withdrawal...

Whenever we go on vacation, my dad always wants to get a house there. I have the same problem. We fall in love with places and dream of what life could be like in another place. I am happy wherever I am. After graduating in March, I was convinced I wanted to stay in Europe so I moved into our house in Ireland. I loved it there. There are two months - May and September - where I have weddings and events that I could not miss out on but also could not afford to fly back to each individually. So, since no job would allow me to have such time off, getting a summer job was the best idea and looking for a "real job" in the fall would have to wait. Alright, good plan. But then I come back to America, my sister is now living in the city, my parents are sometimes here, sometimes in Portsmouth - which I also adore - and I feel comfortable back being surrounded by people and places I know and love. Still struggling between where I want to live (am I still convinced I want to go back to Dublin or possibly London in the fall?) I am debating NH or NY. NY pace of life is completely different and the summer's heat is quite sweatily unbearable, but NH is so far from my Jessypoo.

Why am I so bad at making life decisions? I thought after graduation life was supposed to fall into place and it was supposed to give us direction, answer all the questions we had. It seemed so easy in Italy, I thought I almost knew what I wanted to do in Ireland to help promote its food, and now, I haven't a clue what to do. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Come For a Walk with Me Around Dunfanaghy.

 From Dunfanaghy to Port na Blagh
 Celtic Crosses.
 Famine Graveyard.
 Is this where Judy fell?
 Dad taking pics.
 Old Church.
 Thought he was going to come after me. Stare down.

 Red Sky at Night, Shepherd's Delight, Red Sky in the Morning, Sailor's Warning.
Double Rainbow for Mother's Day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Come For a Walk with Me on Killahoey Beach.

The beach from the road.


 Most peaceful place on Earth.

storm coming!

 Horn Head is getting covered.
 Angry waves.
 Clouds sneaking up from the back.
 Muckish has disappeared.

Tiny Treasures.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring Has Arrived !!

A Lesson on Lambing.

Ever since I texted Frazer that I would be back in Donegal in March after graduation, I have been looking forward to experiencing "lambing." He responded that I would be returning just in time for the ewe's lambing, or giving birth. How excited was I to witness such an event! Once I arrived in Ireland, my parents and I drove through the green countryside on the way from the airport to our house, and everywhere I saw little baby lambs fumbling around their mothers in the field. I was worried I was too late. Frazer assured me that, although one was born early, the rest were due on Monday. How did he know that the sheep were due on that specific day? My cousin just had a baby 10 months early, how could he possibly know when all the sheep would give birth?! (It's all scheduled, very romantically, with the rams). The next couple days, no word to visit his farm except that he was sick with a cold and not working. I was sadly disappointed that I had missed my first, maybe only, spring lambing.
Lambs everywhere...Did I miss the Lambing?!

but, today, today was the day.

Frazer picked me up and we drove to the barn where the 150 ewes were waiting in pens to give birth. they had dots on their backs indicating the number of lambs they were pregnant with. one. two. or three. the smell of animal sensation and wooly hay filled the chilled barn, or maternity ward, as I wondered why I hadn't brought my inhaler. Oh, right, I remembered: I was too excited to go I even forgot my proper poop-proof wellies and a jacket, only grabbing my mandatory camera as I left. Frazer's dad was there monitoring the action, or lack of action. It seemed to be like a lot of waiting around for these expecting ewes to give birth.

First, they are "sick" and scratch their front hooves on the grated ground. The scratching is, I guess, an old habit ingrained in the sheep, as they are pretending to dig and build a nest for their newborn in what would have been a grassy field. They make a lot of gruntled noise and restlessly move about the pen, kneeling and lying down with difficulty, as they try to feel more comfortable. Their water pouch comes out first, sometimes just dangling there all filmy and bloody, and that's the indication of imminent birth. The ewe we were watching, actually gave birth, just in seconds, as we turned our attention to another ewe in another pen who had just lost its water pouch. The new baby lamb lay on the ground cold and wet as three ewes licked off the sticky liquid coating covering it. 

The mother, still standing strong, still had another baby to give birth to. She just gave birth and was still standing! Their strength absolutely amazed me. Watching the ewes lick off this thick film was quite hard to stomach, pun intended. I think it was to warm them by removing the surrounding wet membrane. I'm not sure if this is true about the other ewes, but I think sometimes they get confused if it is their child or not, because they are all in the impending process of labour. It is imperative for the farmer to be watching and present at all times in case a lamb is born and the film is covering it's mouth and nose, causing it to suffocate. The ewes don't seem to start licking at the head first so they only have a couple minutes to break free of it. The diet of the ewes is what make the film sometimes thicker than normal. For one lamb, Frazer had to wipe the film off it's face and then pick it up by it's rear legs and swing it a couple times to make sure that the air could reach it's lungs. As much as you don't want a dead lamb, the lamb is a commodity to the farmer and a dead one won't make him any money.

on it's way out...
Frazer had to rescue this wee one. 

Sometimes the ewes will gently stomp at the baby lying there to make sure that it is alive. After a few minutes, Frazer picked up the lamb and coaxed the mother out of the pen to follow into a single pen where the baby could be properly licked clean, warmed in hay, and get acquainted with its new below!!

The ewes have to bond with their lamb and have their own pen to identify with each other before they move out to the field - depending on strength and weather. Sometimes, young ewes giving birth for the first time don't accept their babies, or not noticing what happened think they just pooped, so they are in a pen with their head sticking out, boarded in, so that the lamb can still be fed without the mother wanting to crush it. Other times, it is possible for a lamb to die during birth, so if another ewe has twins or triplets, a lamb can be given to the other mother. This is called grafting. The lamb must be properly washed and rubbed with the birth sack of the new mother so that she believes that it is her own. Way back when, I don't know when, but sometimes the dead lamb would be skinned and that fur would be attached to the adopted baby. Within five minutes, the lamb had wobbly stood up on its own legs and naturally knew where to find the nipples to be fed. Amazing. Some lambs need to be fed with a bottle by the farmer - which I did!! and the little cutie sucked toothlessly on my finger. Adorable.

I can't help but laugh out-loud when I watch this. The loud baa-ing, the sheep farts, and the little newborn trying to stand up, so fragile and awkward, but so determined.

Wrinkly little newborn. They have pretty long tails at first, but the farmer places a tight rubber ring on their tail and as they grow, the band doesn't allow the tail to get bigger, and eventually falls off so they just have a fluffy little nub of a tail. This is called docking and apparently it is harmless to them. It doesn't sound very natural, but the long tails that are often covered in a thick coat of wool get pretty dirty, which can be unsanitary and unhygienic for the sheep.
The dent on her left back side is where the lamb used to be. The bulge is also a pretty good indicator to the farmer how many lambs the ewe is pregnant with. 
This St Paddy's day baby was bigger than the twin lambs in the neighbouring pen because its mother had previously given birth. The neighbor ewe was only a year old and this was her first birth so the babies were much smaller. 

Born on St Paddy's Day! A real Irish lamb! He's my #13 :)

 They eventually move out to the field and are all numbered, grouped in families, according to when they were born.
My #13 all grown up!!