Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Cabin Fever? Smallholding Pets (Ratters) Solution To What To Do When It's Blowing A Gale.

This picture was taken late Sunday afternoon when it was blowing a gale outside.  I was trying to watch the FA Cup on the old John Logie Baird machine.  The television picture get jumping like a scratched DVD and the commentator sounded like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz.

Talking of that film.  Did you know that the main theme of the film is about Agnosticism?  It was filmed at the beginning of the second world war and the message was to get on with your life and do things for your self. No matter what gets in your way.  Interesting stuff!  It sounds like a bit of good advice or for any smallholder.  If only we had been born with another hand or we were twenty years younger.  Smallholding makes you very pragmatic and stoic.

Any road.  Here's the terrier and cat sleeping in our kitchen.  Number one son made the coffee table.  We have had our Stanley range about ten years.  We had always dreamed of a Rayburn or a Aga.  The type you see on: "Escape To The Country."  Why are all the houses so expensive?  I could show the viewers lots of cheap smallholdings in Ireland for less than 100000 Euros.  Saw one last week.  Cottage with an acre for less than forty grand.

'Domino' having a cat nap on our display cabinet full of pot farm animals.  

Terrie a sleep in front of our Stanley range. 

Terrier still a sleep in front of range.  They ("Who are they?") reckon that your average dog and cat sleeps seventeen hours a day!
Our range heats 6 radiators, cooks our tea and heats the hot water for a bath.  Must take the coal out of it first.  The range cost us 1800 Euro.  I think a sold three of my cattle to pay for it? The best thing about the range is the radiators are always warm and you don't get a utility bill for it..  Unlike oil or gas that only comes on a few times a day and gets dearer every year..  Also it's solid fuel.  So you can burn coal, wood or peat in it.  We buy smokeless coal because it's had all its impurities taken out of it.  Ireland  is banning coal that isn't smokeless in 2015.

I read recently that there is at least 200 years of coal reserves left in England (UK).  Surely we could be making it into smokeless fuel instead of importing so much oil?  Or do we live in a post industrial society which does not allow smoke emissions?  They won't ban cars though will they?.  I was reading about one of my heroes: Rudolf Diesel the other day.  He invented a Bio Fuel engine in 1905.    What's the future?  Nuclear electric powered cars?  Or will we go back to horses and carts?


  1. I sometimes think our animals show a lot more sense than us people do.
    Can't beat the Aga type for all-round usefulness, especially the multi-fuel burning type, burning wood to provide heat must be one of the greenest fuels. And not tied to the grid either.

    Funny, we live in a smokeless zone, it became one the year after the steelworks closed, it obviously didn't matter about the tons of filth and toxic fumes it belched out for over 100 years, but as soon as it's gone, the relatively harmless open fire smoke is suddenly dangerous?

    But they won't ban cars and lorries, ships or airplanes, probably the biggest modern polluters; too much money involved for that to happen. And nuclear, they say it's so clean and efficient, but nobody seems to want to live next door a nuclear plant.

    They'll need to do something for when the oil runs out though, or wouldn't it be a more relaxed world if the horse and cart became the norm again?

  2. Hi Cumbrian,

    Our range is a Stanley Mourne number 8 me thinks? My grandmother use to have a creamy yellow version of it. We need to put coal and logs in it during the winter months. But its warm enough to use just wood for the rest of the year. We always have tons of hot water and it cooks meat just like slow cooker does.

    Yes they banned smoking but they won't ban car exhaust fumes. Wonder what's the equivalent in cigarettes for the carbon monoxide that comes out of cars? Even organic people drive cars. There is no real alternative. Think electric cars and trains would get rid of so much pollution and traffic congestion. Not to forget aeroplanes and oil tankers. Everything seems to run on oil.

    Believe in Ukraine they use horses and carts to get about and harvest their crops. Don't think there will be much nostalgia for today's agricultural machinery. Always smile when I see Irish post cards with cows stopping the traffic and the caption says: "Rush hour in Ireland." If only it was still true.

    I remember coming to West Cork in the late sixties and we would go about on my grandparents horse and cart. My wife use to go collecting turf (Peat) on the bog in Galway. When she visited her grandparents. Every body grew fields of vegetables and stopped to talk. Then the EEC came along every body changed and all we have is nostalgia. So sad. It would be wonderful to return to a more sedate life of horse and cart again. Thanks!

  3. Most Cumbrian farms had the coke-fired Aga, a massive warm cream-coloured presence in the kitchen, with hinged covers to the hot-plates, and a kettle usually simmering away ready for a cup of tea at a moments notice. And (never start a sentence with and) a tea towel or two hanging on the front rail to dry.

    I don't know how they got away with the smoking ban in pubs, I can agree with the old system on a smoking tap room and non-smoking lounge, people have the choice. But to effect a blanket ban smacks of Communism or Dictatorship. The argument was that non-smokers would be tempted into smoke-free pubs just didn't happen, because a lot of non-smokers are also non-drinkers. Most sensible people realise this, but obviously not the ones in charge. As for pollution, I'd bet that 1 mile of the M25 creates more exhaust pollution in an hour than all the smokers in UK put together in a year, but they don't ban vehicles.
    Smoking kills? So do motor vehicles, planes and ships. So does alcohol, but they haven't banned drink?

    Seen horses and carts still being used in Bulgaria about 7 years ago, and in Portugal about 17 years ago, they might even still be in use there in rural areas.
    People had the time to talk to each other, but now, to coin a phrase you quoted "greed is good" and any time not spent chasing money is time wasted.

    Bit brighter this morning, watery sun trying to break through, still not cold for January, just a slight breeze and dry.

    Raggy cat continues life in front of the fire.

  4. The Cumbrian farms sound just like the Irish farms I remember and have read about. Women would brush the men out the door and set about their tasks of cooking, washing and cleaning. My grandmother would feed the hens and give the calf's meal before she had ate her breakfast. Men worked the land and helped their neighbours for free at harvest time. Now the countryside is quiet in the day time and nobody seems to have time to stop and talk.

    I think the smoking ban was the final nail in the coffin for a lot of pubs. I some times see people (smokers) stood outside pubs, shivering in the rain. There should be smoking rooms in the pubs.

    I think your M25 cigarette analogy is spot on.

    Watched a superb programme on RTE last night. Eco Eye series 12 2050. You can see it on You Tube. Duncan Stewart visits Vienna. Where you can buy a public transport ticket for 365 Euros a year. That's a Euro a day. You can use the bus, train and trams 24 hours a day. It's really worth watching.

    The land is still too wet to work at the moment. Roll on Spring.


  5. I suppose rural Cumbrian and rural Irish farms hag lots in common, small family mixed farms, not many surviving now, they all seem to be operated by older people, when they die / retire, the acreage is absorbed into a bigger farm and the house renovated as a nice home for somebody but un-related to farming.

    Similar with the men, who were never seen inside the house during the hours of daylight except at meal-times. There always seemed to be somebody working in the fields, a bit of ditching or dyking, there wasn't many fences, it's dry-stone wall country and they needed a bit of up-keep occasionally. And they always had time to pause the task in hand to have the craic.
    Women worked hard as well, they always seemed to be cooking or baking.

    Didn't see the Eco Eye series, last thing I watched was Countryfile, last Sunday they had a look at the Lake District fells and debated what damage or otherwise the Herdwicks do. Most of the fells are grazed all summer, but the numbers are controlled, every farm has a flock total, to be maintained at that level as directed by the Lake District National Trust people, and calculated to keep the vegetation down without over-grazing; they tell us the fells would revert to ferns, gorse and bracken if the sheep didn't keep it down.
    It's fun working with Herdwicks, they spend all summer wild, then get brought down for tupping, lambing, dipping and shearing. They're very fit and agile and don't like handling very much, a good dog's essential. Not a particularly good butchers animal, it used to better as mutton; their wool was much in demand for carpets, it's very tough, but synthetic carpets have destroyed that demand, I believe they use some of it as eco-friendly insulation now.

    Better morning, dry and bright with a touch of frost.

    Raggy cat in a bit later, must be a bit more pleasant outside.

  6. I think its only the dairy farmers who really money these days. Today's smallholders and farmers (more than 20 acres) have mortgages and jobs and work to keep the farm going. Some people sell them for holiday homes or they rent their land to the bigger farmers. One lad will probably get the farm and the girls get shop, secretarial and nursing jobs and maybe meet another farmer.

    Suppose it was always difficult for smallholders to make a living? Especially if they were only tenant farmers. Ireland seems to go through cycles of emigration and there is always rural unemployment like most rural areas in the UK. Cornwall is said to be one of the worst unemployment blackspots in Britain. Despite all the seasonal tourism. Suppose it was the railways and the M6 that brought the tourism to the Lake District.

    I have read that thousand years of livestock grazing made the countryside what it is. Brambles and scrub soon take over if the land is not properly grazed.

    The sheep wool loft insulation is a great product. Suppose the tile and laminated flooring has took took away the demand for carpets.

    Raining here today. They seem to be having it really bad in Somerset. Makes you wonder if the mild winters are caused by climate change.

    Terrier asleep in front of range.

  7. Hi again Northsider. Unfortunately the picture is very pixelated when I upload it from the blog to the book cover. Any chance at all that it was a digital picture and you could email it to me?

  8. Hi again! I just emailed you @ your gmail account. Hope you can help! Thanks. Loretto at Breise Breise


Some Pictures Around Shaftesbury and Other Hardy Country.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.  Remember the Hovis advert?  I remembered watching the Grumble-weeds in Scarborough many moons ago doing Joe Gl...