Friday, 28 June 2013

Breakfast Time On The Smallholding.

  That's the cattle and Shetland pony walking up to the trough for their beef nuts this morning.  I just shout:

"Sug, sug, sug. "

Po, po, po"

Also works.  Don't know why but the cattle always moo and respond to it.  Perhaps I am like Dr Doolittle? I can talk to the animals.  They also like it when I bang on the metal bucket like a drum.

'Bracken' shouldn't be eating the beef nuts but he always pushes in and helps his self to them.  We have four continental heifers and 4 dairy cross bullocks and a bull calf.  The bull calf lives in a paddock up at the farm.

I have also had to have to spread 'bag manure' (fertilizer) for the first time in 7 years.  A combination  of greedy cattle and lack of growth and ("don't say it") RAIN!  Means that yonder cattle need fertilizer to make the grass grow.

We also paddocked off a couple of acres to grow more silage.  It's supposed to be mad dear this year.  Cattle prices are very poor at the moment.  I heard of a farmer getting 2 Euros at mart for a Jersey cross dropped calf.  And (never start a sentence with and) he would have had to pay the mart commission to sell it.  Dairy cross cattle are only making a Euro a kilogram at the moment.   That's about forty pence a pound in Sterling.  I have decided I will keep my bullocks until they are really big.  It's the only way we will get anything for them.

We also set a field of fodder Kale this week.  Never grown it before.  Have you?

Friday, 21 June 2013

Fifty Miles To Tesco, A New Tractor Exhaust And Why Don't The County Council Cut Verges?

"As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains" (any one for a Thin Lizzy song?) yesterday.  I noticed how overgrown the hedges and grass verges are this year.  Perhaps its all last years rain?  But something needs to be done.  Why can't they employ smallholders like me to strim and cut back these dangerous road edges?

 I suppose it's all down to council budgets and the countryside wildlife legislation that doesn't allow for foliage to be cut during the bird nesting period - March to August?  So why are farmers allowed to cut silage or hay?  Does wildlife not nest and have young in the fields?  Hares don't make burrows and the Lapwing nests in grass do they not?

Apparently the making of silage instead of leaving the grass to go to seed and eventually become Hay.  That is said to be one of the biggest reasons for the decline of the bee.  There are not enough wildflowers for them to pollinate.  It's been mad busy in the Irish countryside with the farmers busy making silage (round bales and pit) and spreading slurry for a second cut.

Any road we got to Killarney and had an argument in Tesco's.  The usual one:

"What do you want for your tea?"

"Dunno."

Twenty minutes later.  We bought a cooked chicken.  Food for us and the 2 dogs and Domino the cat.  Then we went to Aldi and bought one of those 'patio' furniture sets (4 canvas deck chairs and a glass (real plastic) table top and a canvas parasol.  We saved thirty Euros by buying it instead of a similar one back in the town near us.  Then we went in Home Base and looked at paint and wifey said:

"It's too hot for that.  You are not starting bloody painting."

Well I did offer to paint the bedroom.  Not that I would paint behind the wardrobe or even empty the room!

On the way back we stopped at a tractor workshop/garage and I bought a second hand windscreen frame for the Ford 3000 and a brand new (they say "Span new" here in West Cork) exhaust for the Ford 4000.  I think I could get into this shopping lark!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Maggie The Tractor Gets Her Nose (even exhaust!) Pushed Out.

It's been fantastic weather here in southern Ireland for the last couple of weeks.  I have even been too busy to write the blog.  But don't worry other blog writers.  I always find time to read yours.

We have been topping and spraying and harrowing and trying to make the smallholding look like it's loved again.  We have even managed to sit on the benches on the patio (made for nowt) and have a few drinks, (Sangria and Newcastle (not together) Brown Ale!).  Whilst watching the bay and the farmers harvesting silage in the distant fields. We also sampled our first 'Orla' new potatoes last week.   They are about the size of a pigeons egg and tasted fantastic.  You can't beat fresh and homegrown  food.

Any road.  Maggie the Ford 4000.  Came home with a crooked exhaust the other day.  Number one son had been topping in the 'Corn Field' (all our fields have names) which doesn't have any corn growing in it and he caught her exhaust under a Blackthorn bush.

When I first started smallholding.  Once was tempted to go round the fields and cut down any overgrown branches.  Then I realised that cattle use the branches for sheltering from the rain and sun and having a scratch and eating the Ivy.  So I decided to leave the branches alone.  Maggie needs a new exhaust (second hand probably) and  now I am not so sure.

This morning (Monday) I went for my morning mile saunter to see if they cattle and the Shetland pony were OK?  I traipsed up and down the fields looking for them in the pouring rain and very blustery wind.  Eventually I found them all sticking their noses out, under some OVERGROWN Blackthorn branches.  They look at me with facial expressions that seemed to say:

"What's he want?

"Dunno."

"Wouldn't you think he'd get some shelter under these overgrown Blackthorn branches?"

You just can't win, can you?

Will post a picture of 'Maggie' the tractor, when it stops raining.  Free Nitrogen from above?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Smallholding Flowers Put On Their Own Display.

Stan Laurel once famously said:

"Haven't we had a lot of weather lately?"

It's so true and we have been blessed with fantastic weather.  It's years since we sat outside for night after night.  Just watching the bay and looking at the flowers and vegetables growing ever so happily.

This a picture of our front garden/path/drive?  We planted some of the pots with annuals and I bought the Greek lady (real plastic) for the missus.  Old Mother Nature did the rest.  Self seeding hardy Geraniums and the Valerian flowers.  Valerian is wonderful for calming the nerves and you can even get Valerian tea bags to help you sleep.  Valerian is said to attract butterflies and rats.  I have read that the Pied Piper of Hamlin used sprigs of Valerian.

It's very difficult to have informal cottage gardens in the countryside.  The surrounding fields and my cattle provide lots of weed seeds in their manure.  But like they say ("who are they?"):

"If weeds won't grow, nothing will grow."