Tuesday, 19 February 2013

"Wash Day" For 'Domino' (The life and times of a smallholding cat).

"That's a strange television."

That's Domino our smallholding cat.  He's busy exploring the washing machine and 'Utility' room.  Or the 'Boot' room if you're posh!   He says he doesn't like washing machines and Hoovers.  Can't disagree there.


  1. Fine-looking litle fellow, doesn't look like he needs washed though.

    Lovely morning again here, blue sky, sunshine, touch of frost.
    Raggy cat living it up as usual in front of fire.

  2. Hi Cumbrian, Yes he's turned into a fine cat. Soon it will be time for him to venture outside. Hope he stays this time unlike 'Alan' our 'walkabout'cat.

    Dry here also today but still cold. Fields still wet and my back is giving me some jip today. Think it's because I helped number one son yesterday lifting a piece of farm equipment.

    Offered to give him a days work every week around the farm. He said:

    "What doing?"

    I said:

    "What ever I tell you."

    Even offered to pay him five Euros an hour. He says it's not enough and he's not doing any digging.

    Youngsters of today. If they can't ride on it, they won't do it. The wife won't help either. She she'll do farm work when I do house work.

    Sad to hear the demise of Richard Briars (Tom) the Good Life actor ,yesterday. Think every bloke wanted to be Tom and have Barbara (Felicity Kendal) for a smallholding missus. He always came over like a favourite uncle, allotment pal or somebody you could have a pint or ten with. God bless Richard. You inspired so many to try to be self reliable. Hate the term 'self sufficient'. Everybody needs people.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. I get the impression Domino wiil stay put, he'll find his territory and stay in it. As long as there's somewhere warm and sry to sleep with plenty of food I don't think he'll find anything better.

    Think you're right about the youth of today, work tends to something you do by looking at a screen and pushing buttons.
    Saw No 1 son briefly a couple of weeks ago in Tesco, Sunday afternoon, he's looking for something for himself and Carole (his latest) for dinner. Finished work at dinner time, they only work half day Sunday. First tme I've seen him in about 3 years, he's completely lost it with the drink. Sad case, a good worker, 3 craft certificates, Advanced Bricklaying, Plastering, and Roofing, 41 this year. Potters along with a small jobbing builder, who should have retired about 7 years ago but keeps going with a few small jobs.
    So we've all got our crosses to bear.

    Yes, The Good Life, a very popular sitcom, but I think Tom and Barbara managed to weave some real country magic into it.

    Sun's still shining, quite warm as well.
    Raggy cat gone out, sitting in the sun on the decking table surveying its domain.

  4. I hope Domino does stay put, Cumbrian. Cat's seem to be more individual than dogs. Dogs (bitches especially) are so faithful. Terrier walked all the fields with me today, checking fence posts and grass growth. Mowing the fields for silage really improved the pasture. Must keep on top of the rushes this year.

    Number one son is a good lad around the farm, he's very practical but I don't think he will grow vegetables for himself when he's older.

    Your son sounds a very good and able worker. There are no trade apprenticeships down here. Most employers and colleges insist that kids stay on at school until they are 18. Two years wasted messing about instead of learning a trade when they are 16. My son is not academic but incredibly practical. He just needs an older mentor like tradesman to show him the right way.

    My biggest disappointment in the Good Life was when they decided not to take the plunge and buy the smallholding in the countryside. I don't think a back garden, front garden, and an allotment would pay the rates in Surbiton back then in the 1970's let alone now. Also it was always cheaper to live in the countryside. Apparently it costs more now. I still think it was a brilliant sitcom and Tom and Barbara inspired thousands to get an allotment or a smallholding.

    Supposed to be dry all week. Hopefully I will get the veg plot dug over and the rest of the field ploughed? Still slippery under foot.

    Good old Raggy cat.

  5. Yes, my two sons are fire and water, but both good workers.
    No1 son as I said very practical on any building site or project, like a monkey on the roofs. Such a shame the drink got a hold, he doesn't seem to be able to function without it. Lives alone in a basement flat.
    No 2 son (37) sounds a lot like your No1, a natural mechanic / engineer, I don't think he actually has a trade certificate, but in the last firm he worked for, he was the only one who could use any and all of the machines. When he was looking for a new job last year, he got 4 offers the first morning. Currently working for a hydraulic hose supplier, he makes all sorts of special fittings. Lives in the house he bought about 15 years ago with his wife and son.

    I think the only people who can afford to live The Good Life in the countryside now are the ones with plenty of money to start with, the price of rural properties is just so far out of reach of the average working man, driven up by second and holiday home owners. And if they try a bit of self-reliance, it's only a hobby.

    Let's hope the weather keeps at least until you get the ploughing and digging done.

    Still a lovely day, sunshine, blue sky, no breeze.
    Raggy cat sauntered in to see what was for dinner (Cumberland sausage, bashed potatoes and baked beans) the sauntered out again.

  6. There are very few jobs for working class people here in the Irish countryside, Cumbrian. There doesn't seem to be any building work and silage cutting seems to be carried out by dairy men/contractors on a part-time/seasonal basis. The dairy money and EEC subsidies gives them the capital for hedge cutting/silage, slurry equipment. I bet, even they are always having to wait for their money.

    Your sons sound very hands on and incredibly practical. Our number one is talking of emigrating to Canada for a few years. We tell him that places aren't paved with gold, but he wants a job and a trade. There are cheap rural properties here but what would you do to pay for them? I think that's why people go to the towns and cities for jobs, infrastructure and more enjoyable life.

    Your Portugal smallholding idea really made me think about all that wonderful sunshine. But again, how could anybody make a living?

    Think a nice house in a rural village with an allotment or large garden/field with some livestock is far better than some isolated smallholding with few opportunities.

    Incredibly, we are having the same tea but chips instead of baked potatoes.

  7. Doubt the only way to make a living in the countryside is to be an atist or writer, and I don't think there's many of them making a living.
    As you say, everything is contracted / seasonal and done by ever- bigger and more powerful machines, usually paid for by subsidies to the select few.

    I don't think the streets are paved with gold in Canada any more than in UK, agree it's better to go with a trade of some sort, but how to get a trade now?

    Doesn't matter how cheap they are, it still needs money and unless you've got enough to buy outright and survive for a few years at least, it's an impossible dream for most people.

    Would have loved to live in Portugal, at the time it would have been a possibility, at least for a good few years, costs at the time (Escudos) were miniscule compared to UK, did I mention the communal Madronnya making?

    Yeah, my 2 acres on the edge of a village with a couple of Jerseys, a few porkers and some chickens. Maybe a little herd of New Zealand Whites, dead easy to keep and breed, fatten fast and no problem to prepare and cook. And a vegetable patch with a small greenhouse.
    Dream on I suppose.

    Raggy cat still out, must have pressing business somewhere.

  8. Oooh, this reminds me of the time years ago when visiting a friend we heard strange squealing from the drier - on investigation it turned out that the cat had got in on top of some towels and then my friend had come along and turned the drier on! The cat came out looking cross eyed, and stretched itself full length on the tile floor but seemed to recover from being tumbled for a few minutes reasonably quickly - lucky the towels were there, I guess. Cheers

  9. Hi Cumbrian, You are probably write about writers and artists not being able to make a living. I think there are lots of blog writers who write for free and would have made fine magazine and book authors, but like the music industry, the new technology means everything is free. can't remember last time I bought a gardening or smallholding magazine and I only buy cheap CD's when we go to Tesco in Killarney.

    The countryside is a really peaceful environment and it's better than living in on some rough estate in a town or city. I often look at the 'Diggers and Dreamers' site and see lots of people wanting to move to the countryside and escape the rat race. Can't blame them for wanting a better life.

    Saw an house with land for sale in Bulgaria yesterday for 4000 pounds. But how do you make a living?

    Please tell me more about the communal Madronnya making?

    There are cheap smallholdings all over Europe. But it's a big upheaval moving and you don't want to become one of those expats who wish they lived in Blighty. I love the countryside, but I don't know how you make a living. Don't think even John Seymour made any real money. But money isn't everything. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said something like:

    "Having money means that you can be depressed in some very nice places."

    It made me laugh.


  10. Hi Carole, thanks for that. I can just picture the scene. Poor cat.


  11. Yes Carole, bet it's a long time before the cat goes near a tumble drier again.

    Madronnya is a local drink distilled from figs, and is made in turn by each farm in a big copper, the participants gather round and assist in the distilling, which can take a few days, sampling the product as it is produced. Then they go home, sleep it off, and move on the the next farm. It's a clear liquid of indereminable % with a kick like a mule, served in small shots, available at any farm or roadside bar as long as you're known.
    The practice is illegal, but the government buys the spirit, waters it down to reasonable strength, adds caramel for colour, and sells it to tourists. The big copper stills are available freely, displayed along the roadside.

    Bulgaria probably the cheapest place in Europe to buy land, but beware the houses aren't built to UK standards, have outside stairs, and are usually derelict. No problem if you're young enough and fit enough and can stand being snowed in for a few months in winter with only a petchka for heating. Lots of places no mains water and no mains drainage (traditional Bulgarian "garden smell"), electric is not particularly reliable.
    Some villages with all the old traditions intact (communal pig-killing and rakia-making) and free-range stock.
    I'd have loved it, but ex wouldn't have a go (heard that before), at the time I could have bought a fair-sized farm with substantial buildings and developed it with decent implements and quality stock, still had enouugh to live very well until retirement or decrepit old age. Cost of living there was miniscule, it's up a bit now (EEC) but still way below UK. And with a decent holding, good stock, no slaughter costs, easy-grow veg and home-brewed alcohol, how much do you need?
    Hard part is, there's less work there than there is here, and you can't speak the language, it's a difficult one, so self-reliance is essential.

    Doubt if JS made any real money, but that wasn't his aim in life, in fact his whole philosophy was about life without money and all the rules and officials that come with it. I really relate to that, our whole system revolves round rules and officials to administer the rules.

    Chese & onion quiche with chips and beans, Mrs says her stomach isn't up to proper food like steak just yet.

    Lovely sunny morning again, but a few white clouds starting to gather.
    Raggy cat back in front of fire (not on)

  12. You know your stuff, Cumbrian. Thanks for that. Think if I didn't have sentimental attachment to my smallholding here. I would try to sell up and move to somewhere warmer like Portugal. I think the Western lifestyle leaves everybody isolated or forever like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick, to pay the bills, cars...?

    I remember a pre-EEC Ireland where peasant farmers used to help each other with the hay harvest and always had time to stop and talk and put the world to rights.

    Perhaps if two couples bought a smallholding together it would alleviate the isolation and one man struggle against the elements and the recession? Imagine if they fell out though and you had to sell the dream rural idyll?

    Yes JS had fought in a world war and nobody was telling him what to do. He lived life to the full and seemed to make lots of friends.

    Could do with a good cheap family holiday in Spain, Portugal or France in April or May and free from lager louts. Any suggestions gladly appreciated?


  13. "Look at the price of land. Many people, who read my blog, would love to get away from it all and live a simpler life but can't afford to do so. Many people of South America, Africa and Asia live in a way that some of us would like to live. They have their plot of land, a simple house and they get by. For us to live like them requires expensive land and a house built to regulation to ensure local builders (who also happen to be town councillors) get their cut. We almost have to be millionaires to live like the rural poor of the developing world."

    Just read this on ecopunk.

  14. Thanks Cumbrian for that. I think the last sentence says it all.


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