A crystal ball, conductor’s baton and a ram with a headache. What a week!

Published by Les on

As weeks were about to go, this one had lots of promise about it. It began with a dental appointment and that’s got to be something rarer than rocking-horse poo these days, so at last I got a chance to sort out a dental disaster that happened on the second day of lock-down….roll on Tuesday!

Tuesday was to be a little more inviting! I had booked a young couple in for a three-hour woodturning taster-session. These sessions are great for people who want to take part in a different sort of experience, or sometimes just to get a feel for a new craft to see whether or not it might be right for them. They don’t replace my 6-hour full-day sessions for people who are serious about learning to turn, but they do sit quite nicely alongside them, filling a niche in the market.

This week I had Kam and Kev booked. Kev was happy to make a small bowl, which we can just do on a paired session in 3 hours, whilst Kam had a more specific request. She wanted to make a stand for a crystal ball. They both enjoyed their session and each went away with their chosen project completed.

The stand for Kam’s crystal ball.

Fast forward to Friday and my workshop was booked for a six-hour tuition session by Urien, who repairs musical wind instruments, such as cornets and trumpets, as well as teaching music. Urien wanted to make himself a small conductor’s-baton, so I sorted out several different suitable pieces of timber; white for the baton and more coloured for the handle.

Urien – getting to grips with the skew chisel.

We started off by mounting some fairly basic, cheap pieces of timber on the lathe to practice with, then worked our way up to the more expensive and exotic types. By the end of the day, Urien had made two fine batons, one out of purpleheart and sycamore, the other out of mahogany and holly. I had thought that a conductor’s delicate swishes and swings of the hand would be the ideal basis for the delicacy involved in handling the dreaded skew chisel, and Urien proved me right.

Extra to that, he also made some button-inserts for the valves on a cornet….it really was a very interesting session!

If you have a wind instrument that needs repair….Urien’s your man and you can find his Facebook page here.

I was intrigued by the baton as a new project, so had a go at making one just so that I was properly prepared for Urien’s session, but then also made a few more, just for the fun of it. They’ll be going down to my display at Celf Aran Arts in Ty Siamas, Dolgellau, tomorrow morning.

….and so to Sunday morning – quiet, sleepy, uneventful Sunday morning (not!). I have just started work rearranging our veg-patch and installing a mini poly tunnel, which involves the removal of a few raised beds and the leveling-off and disposal of a few ton of good garden soil. Fortunately, a neighbour who owns the field immediately behind us, wanted some topsoil – sorted.

The field behind us is home to their three wayward lads, Peter, Sion and Dobby. Peter is a goat, whilst Sion and Dobby are young ram-sheep. All three are great characters and you may have noticed a post of a week or so ago, when I caught Peter playing on the family’s trampoline.

“What you looking at?”

I started this morning as I had on Friday, by dismantling some of the fence between out garden and the field, so that I could shovel the soil in my trailer. Peter thought this was too good an opportunity to miss and did his best to get acccess to our garden and all the lovely plants in it. We often feed him, along with Sion and Dobby, at the fence and Peter has a passion for fresh mint and horse-radish leaves. To stop him pushing his way through, I had to screw a few wooden rails temporarily back into place.

“Can I come in?”

Most of the morning went well and Peter ate loads and loads of the mint that I dug up (it’ll do his breath a power of good), but there was one major mishap. There is a hurdle, about 8ft wide, in a gateway between the field and a further field, where several rams are kept on grass. I’d had to untie the hurdle to drive through and had left it firmly in place, tied at one end and jammed in place at the other…..there’s a couple of big lumps of masonry sticking out of the ground which prevent it from swinging open.

However, I hadn’t banked on the tenacity of two delinquent rams and a curious goat, and they had managed to barge their way through a tiny gap that they’d opened up, so I ran after them, only to find Peter and Dobby standing and watching in awe as Sion reverted to his wild and wayward self in a battle of one upmanship with the five rams who lived next door. Poor Sion was heavily outnumbered but too stubborn to accept defeat and he just kept on charging and head butting. Sion’s a mere lad compared to them. They have fine spiralled horns, whereas Sion is a bit soft on top (in more ways than one). The poor lad kept getting knocked off his feet, then getting up and going back for more.

What was I to do? I couldn’t leave him there. It was early on Sunday and there wasn’t anyone around to help, then Peter and Dobby started wandering towards the fracas as well. Luckily, Peter is fully trusting of me, so I was able to grab him and lead him back to his own field, and Dobby chickened-out of the fight and followed me home. With those two safely put behind a further gate, it was back to the fracas to save poor Sion. I grabbed a few hefty sticks on the way then ran (I don’t usually do run) towards the rams, screaming and shouting. Three of the five scarpered, but two held their ground. Sion, daft as ever, took advantage and charged at one of the two, but failed to spot the other one charging at him. In a triangle of confusion it ended up with Sion on his back and the two rams picking on him. I laid in, screaming and waving sticks, breaking bits off and throwing them towards the rams.

Thankfully, Sion was well winded and laid on his back, seemingly unable to get up. The two nasty rams lost interest and walked away to join their three mates further up the field, grazing away as though nothing had happened. I started trying to get Sion back on his feet so that he could walk home, but he refused. I rolled him over, with his legs tucked under him, but would he stand up….would he heck. Then to my dismay, the two nasty rams head back my way, so I turned on them, shouting and waving and desperately hoping that they backed down, which they did, and Sion took his chance, rose to his feet, spotted the open hurdle at the side of his field then legged it just as fast as his four woolly little legs would carry him. Phew!

I got the hurdle secured, checked that Peter and Dobby were still where they should be, then checked on Sion, to find him chilling under a bush as though nothing had happened. If it hadn’t been for the bald patch on top of his head, where once there had been wool, a casual observer wouldn’t have known that anything untoward had happened. A little while later he was up and wandering around, checking on Peter and Dobby and pestering me for some fresh greens, which I happily let him have. His bald patch had turned a little red, so I wandered up to our neighbours’ back door and told them the tale of what had happened.

He must have a headache!

So that was it. A quiet sleepy Sunday morning. Next week I’m staying in bed….I can’t take all this excitement!

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