Friday, 31 January 2014

A Man Who Writes About Nostalgia: Midnight In Paris. More Smallholding Nostalgia.

We watched an excellent film the other night: Midnight In Paris.  The main character: Gil Pender a novelist who is writing a book about a man who works in a 'Nostalgia' shop.  Any road: Gil Pender goes to Paris and ends up time travelling back to the 1920' and meets  some very famous writers and artists(Cole Porter, Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso), like you do.  Every night at 12 O'clock.  A 1920's Peugeot 176 turns up and the party begins.

A recurring theme in the film is nostalgia.  Here's a memorable quote:

"Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden thinking - the erroneous notion that a different period is better than the one one's living in.  It's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present. "

Hmm...?  What do you think about nostalgia?

Another great quote from the film from Gertrude Stein:

"We all fear death and question our place in the universe.  The artists job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence."

Congratulations to Woody Allen for such an excellent film.

Any road.  Shall we have a journey to meet our famous writers?  Like Rob Brydon says:

"It;s only a bit of fun.!"

Who would I like to have met?  Wilfred Owen, Thomas Hardy.  The Brontes - especially Branwell, Keith Waterhouse, DH Lawrence, Peter Tinniswood, James Herriott, John Seymour, CS Lewis, Hmm...?  Who else?  RS Thomas, Arthur Conan Doyle, Yeats, James Herbert, H.E Bates....  The list is endless.  What about you?

I often look out of my window overlooking the bay and feel like I live in a beautiful oil painting.  Remembering the days when we use to visit my grandparents farm and go hay making with the horse and cart, run about in the field full of vegetables, trying to sprinkle salt on rabbits tails and milking the cows by hand. My mum and dad were still relatively young and we had all our lives to hope one day we would live here.  Wish I could go back to those days.  Think that's why I like vintage tractors and old time farming,  There's nothing wrong with nostalgia, is there?


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?

Monday, 27 January 2014

"Bright Copper Kettles.." "These Are A Few (Couple Actually) Of My Favourite Smallholding Things."


Thought I would show you 2 of my Victorian Copper kettles.   The little kettle is only four inches high and the larger one is about 10 inches high.  I picked them up on my travels around Blighty and Ireland.  Think I bought the little kettle in Taunton on the way to Cornwall.

An antique dealer told me it was a iron monger salesman's sample kettle.  Instead of taking a large kettle up to 'big house' (pulling forelock..).  He would just carry a little sample kettle.  Somebody else told me it was made just for 'one' cup.

 "A nice cup of tea."

Somebody else said it's an apprentice piece.  An apprentice Copper Smith would have to make a miniature kettle to become a Coppersmith.  Dunno?  But it will get passed down to the kids.  Hope they don't sell them and my  vintage tractors.  I recently made a will.  It was very sobering and made me think of our mortality here on Earth.  We are only passing through.  Just tenants for the next generations.

Do you have any copper kettles or heirlooms?  Do you think it was an apprentice piece?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

More Smallholding Metal Work Projects.

Number one son constructed a new stainless steel trough for the cattle on Friday.  We bought the stainless steel  trough second hand for twenty two Euros.  Then he made hooks and welded them on.  To hook over the head feeders when give the bullocks and heifers their daily beef nuts and yellow meal.  You just lift the trough off the head feeder when they have ate all the meal.  Then they can get back to eating their silage.  He also made metal ends for the troughs.  All for 22 Euros.  Number one son  also made the head feeders recently.

You have got to make your own smallholding stuff when  Jersey Cross bullocks are only making one Euro and seventy a Kilo.  Or about one pound and forty three pence for two pounds of beef.  You try purchasing two pounds (in weight) of meat for one pounds and forty three pence.  I heard of Jersey Cross bull calves for sale the other day for 35 Euros.  All because they are born male and it costs a fortune to fatten them.

I have always said that the farmer should be assured of getting a minimum price for his cattle at the mart.  But it's a buyers market.  There's an old saying here in Ireland:

"The day you buy.  Is the day you sell."

Meaning:  You get what you pay for.  It makes you realise.  That you have to raise continental breeds if you want to maker any money from your farm.  Trouble is a lot of continental cattle are too expensive to buy.

Any road.  Enough talk about money.  It's great to have a clever son who is not in any way academic.  But light years a head in practicality.  Think it's about time we went back to the Arts and Crafts movements that teach rural dwellers real crafts and practical skills.  Don't you?  Instead of them having to move to the towns and cities or even emigrate.  Smallholding families are a dying breed.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Rotovator Or A Cowovator? Cattle Feed On Kale And Till The Land At The Same Time.

Went passed this field in West Cork yesterday (Tuesday)..  It was full of Holstein Friesian cattle 'strip grazing' Winter Kale.  The farmer places an electric fence in front of them.  To stop them eating all the lot.  Rather like a donkey eating strawberries.

We were on one of the ever meandering rural

roads of West Cork.  On the way for yet another tractor part.  A cracked bearing needed replacing.  Any road.  I thought I would take a photograph of the cows for you on the way back.

One hour later.  The cows had only gone to be milked and the field was empty!  Not to worry. I couldn't get over what a good job the cows had done devouring the Kale and churning up the soil.  It gives me much encouragement when we start feeding our little field of Kale soon.  I was thinking of putting it back to grass.  But we might have a go at growing Fodder Beet.  All we need is for it to stop raining.  Don't suppose there's much chance of that?

What are you growing this year?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Looking Through Holiday Snaps. When We Had A Break From The Smallholding And Visited Warsaw.

Bullet marked Bank Of Poland ruin.
I have been going through my photographs from my holidays last year.  When we were lucky enough to visit Portugal and Poland.

The picture above really disturbed us.  It's the ruins of the Bank of Poland in Warsaw.  The building is in one of the most expensive prime estate areas of Warsaw.  There are plans a foot to restore the building to its former glory.  The bullet holes display the full horrors of war.  The building changed hands several times during the second world war..  It was attacked by German bombs and shot at by the German artillery.  The brave Polish resistance were often trapped in the building.  They either fought or they died.

Modern Warsaw is a massive city with superb and cheap public transport infrastructure.  I think public transport systems are the veins of civilization.  Rural Ireland (and England) often depresses me with its lack of public transport.  Why do rural dwellers have no public transport?  I often ask what's good about living in the countryside?  It's peaceful and beautiful.  But there are very few job opportunities or any kind of social life.  Rural Isolation is no good for you mentally or socially.  Thank God we have the Internet.

Watched some old trains DVD's when we had no satellite television.  The planned electrification of the railways was because the government planned to use the national coal for ship building, steel making and electricity to run the railways.  It seems like the governments of the last forty years or so have had a policy of running down the coal mining, steel and ship building industries.  Why do we import so much instead of making things?  Wonder how many kids today would have heard of Ford in Dagenham?  Or that Ford tractors were also made in Cork?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Fixing a 'Grey Fergie' 20 In The Cowshed. ( Doctor Frankenstein's Tractor?)

I told you about the 'Grey Fergie' we bought recently.  She turned out to need a lot more work than I thought.  I thought I had bought a load of old scrap. Then we heard of another Fergie for sale and she had all the parts we needed.  She was cheap and another tractor duly arrived on our smallholding.  Number one son then announced to me that he was going to replace the back end of one tractor with the front end of the other.  The two tractors were then drove and pushed into the cow shed and the pictures show what we (he)did.







Here she is put back together again.  Yes she works again and we have another tractor for spare parts.  The next job is to get her sand blasted, re-wired and give her a few coats of primer and paint.  I think Doctor Frankenstein would have been proud of number one son's mechanical skills.  Will post pictures of her when she gets her new frock (paint job).

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Smallholding Nostalgia.

Picture of a jigsaw puzzle box.

We found this rural picture on a jigsaw box in the attic the other day.  It's a painting of a hay making scene.  Think the tractor is a Ford-son Major.  We have a Ford-son Super Dexta.  She's very close to full restoration.  Will post pictures of her soon.  The Ford-sons and Fords were made in Dagenham.  They also use to manufacture them in Cork.  Not any more, sadly!

I reckon Health and Safety would have something to say if smallholders made hay in the same way.  Wonder what the lad has got in the stone jar?  Cider, real ale or perhaps even Adam's Ale - water?  Love the Border Collie (sheep dog) in the painting.  They are such an intelligent creature.  The one in the picture looks like its supervising the hay making or perhaps looking for rats or rabbits?  Do you remember Timmy the dog in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books?

Those days are gone for ever, sadly.  I bet it was nothing but sweat and toil.  But doesn't it look so wonderful?  Rather like a graceful swan going across a lake.  So graceful and sedate, above the water and feet paddling like mad, under the water.  Do you get nostalgic about old tractors and rural scenes from the past? Think I need to visit some vintage tractor shows.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Something To Do On The Smallholding When The Satellite Receiver Gets Struck With Lightning.

 The electricity supply was restored on Monday night.  So I turned on the old computer and nothing happened.  The broadband wasn't working.  Then I switched on the television and satellite receiver and they did not respond.  Further investigations found the satellite receiver had taken an hit courtesy of the telephone cable.

I am informed that a certain telephone company doesn't appear to 'earth' landlines.  Any road we lived to tell the tale and the Sky man is supposed to be arriving tomorrow to reinstate our television and satellite.  Don't know when the telephone company will arrive?  So folks.  Always make sure you unplug your television and telephone when its going to thunder and lightning.  Sky says they won't charge us anything for replacing our receiver.  I just hope the old goggle box still works?  

Lightning strikes our satellite receiver.


It's been quite boring not having no television to watch the last few nights.  We have no street lights for 4 miles.  So you can't go a walk with the terrier.  There's no pub for five miles and we have no public transport.  So we watched some vintage tractor DVD's the other night.  This led to me and my eldest son giving comments about every vintage tractor and wasn't Harry Ferguson a genius...?  Last night we watched 'Some Mothers Do Have Em'.  Why can't they make a new series?  Michael Crawford is a legend.  

I wonder how smallholders passed the long dark winter nights before the days of radio and television?  I suppose neighbours called round and  conversation was still an art.  I don't think I could manage without a television.  Just wish their were more programmes about vegetable growing, smallholding and vintage tractors.  


Dog and cat aren't concerned about having no television.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Scary Seaside Drive To look At A Tractor. ( A break from our smallholding next to the sea.)


We went to Galley Head in West Cork on Friday to have a look at another tractor.  Number one son said he knew where there was an old tractor for sale.  He was spending his own money and I wanted a break from looking at the sea from our kitchen window.  So we went for a drive to the sea side.  Like you do!

The coastal road was like the Grand National at Blackpool Pleasure beach.  It was blowing a gale and the white horses were quite mountainous.  Never in my life have I ever seen such a sight.  We could see why they built a light house there.  If only we could harness all that wind and wave power?

Any road.  We followed our tractor mechanic friends car to a house perched high on the cliffs.  We were in the middle of a gale and several Frisian bullocks huddled together in a Kale field.  They looked like die hard none league football fans.  I felt sorry for the cattle.

Eventually after a very precarious and long and meandering journey along a single track road.  We arrived at the house and noticed the tractor parked  in the drive.  I wasn't coming back to look at it.  So me and number one son pushed the car doors open and attempted to walk to the tractor.  It was blowing a gale and icy sleet smacked against my face.  Tractor mechanic got out of his car and began to turn the key and turn the engine.  Guess what?  Yes she started first time with no pre-heat.  You can't beat a Ford tractor!  Number one son bought her and she's being delivered this week.  Yet another restoration project for us both!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Turf in The Range On Our Smallholding.


That's pictures of  our Stanley stove this morning.  We found the 'Turf'  (Peat) for sale at a builders merchants yesterday.  It was only four Euros bag and its dry.  The turf smell reminds me of when we use to get off the ferry in Dublin years a go.  A  wonderful aroma would hit your nostrils.  You can also put the wood and peat ash straight on to the vegetable plot.  Its great potash for the onions.  Glad I did my digging when we got the uncustomary dry weather in December.  Still don't know why Sky television stopped showing the old gardening shows.  At least there are millions of blogs to read.  Blogs about allotments and smallholdings especially.