Monday, 29 September 2014

A Day Out At The Threshing In Kerry. All For A Good Cause.

 We went over to County Kerry on Sunday to see a vintage threshing event.  The event was on a kind farmers land in Beaufort near Killorglin.  The event was organised in aid of Cancer support in Kerry.  Last year they raised twenty thousand Euros.
 A Massey Ferguson with narrow back wheels connected up to a small vintage threshing machine.
 A collection of classic tractors.  There were Fordson Super Dexta's, Deutz, Ford 4600, David Brown and Harry Fergusons classic ;Grey Fergie'.
A modern New Holland tractor with a mole plough and pipe layer attachment.  The red machine is some kind of mechanical plough.  She was made in England and to she looks a 'mighty yolk'.  The Irish expressions are rubbing off on me, aren't they?
A 'Grey Fergie' with small baler.  We have a little tractor like her.  But she needs doing up unlike this beauty.  
 The Threshing begins.  I couldn't believe the power that one tractor can make turning the drive belts.  it must have been incredibly hard and thirsty work.  It made me feel sad thinking of relatives who have passed on and would have told me all about those great days when the threshing machine came around the boreens and set up in the haggard near the cow stall.  Happy days, gone forever.

 A picture from a distance.  You can just see the Major tractor on the left, driving the belt.
 A quern stone stone demonstration, crushing the grain into flour.  This invention is said to have been as radical has the invention of the wheel.  The farmer or his wife would crush grain for the family and for the livestock.
 Horse ploughing with the pipe layer in the background.  The sight of the horses and the ploughmen was a flashback to farming times from the past.  No sound of diesel engines, just the clip clp of hooves, bird song and the cutting of the furrow.
The world famous 'Celtic Steps' gave up their time to play a few reels, sing a few songs and dance for the audience.  The stage was slippy and two of the men slipped and fell and picked themselves up and managed to dance and laugh at the same time.  True professionals.  You can see their show at the INEC in Killarney until the end of October.  I think they are also on You Tube?

It was a good day out and a great way  to show people the farming of yesteryear and to raise money for cancer charities.  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Perfect Smallholding?

The weather is glorious today.  We had heavy rain Friday afternoon and now it's back to glorious sunshine, very heavy dewy mornings and clear skies at night.  I don't think it will be long before the first frost, do you?

I was reading about the poet W.B Yeats the other day.   Apparently he wrote his poem "The Lake Isle Of Innisfree when he was sat on a bus near Trafalgar Square feeling very homesick and missing rural Ireland.  I often feel the opposite and miss public transport and the bright lights of the city.  I find though if I go away for two or three days I want to be back to see our little farm in the countryside, next to the sea

I think this poem is rather wonderful:

What do you prefer, town or country side?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Does Democracy Only Work One Way? Another One Of My Favourite Peace Songs. "We don't need no uniforms, we'll have no disguise, Divided we stand, together we'll rise".

Every time I turn on the news it's nothing but Scottish independence.  It's starting to annoy me, a bit like when the Christmas songs start playing in the shops and on the old John Logie Baird Machine - television.  He was  a Scottish inventor, wasn't he?  The thing what really annoys me is why do English people and ex pats like myself not get a say and a vote on whether we want independence from Scotland?

Any road.  An old Marillion song started playing in my head when I was thinking about this.  I remember Fish (the lead singer) telling the people with county and international banners and flags to take them down at that great  Milton Keynes Bowl ("I was there") 'Garden Party' rock festival on Saturday June 28th (I looked it up) 1986 while Marillion sung 'White Feather'.  It's a song about pacifism and peace.  But I think it's lyrics are so appropriate for today.  Enjoy the video.
The Milton Keynes concert was excellent.  I think the ticket cost 12 Pounds?  The line up was Mamas Boys, Magnum, Jethro Tull and Gary Moore (r.i.p) and his band.  It was a glorious summers day and it was a great concert.  I have been very lucky to see some great classic rock bands in my time.  My favourites being: Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Marillion, Thin Lizzy, The Scorpions, Emerson Lake and Palmer and this year was my ultimate concert: Kansas in Warsaw.  Some people talk about Woodstock and Led Zeppelin at Knebworth being their favourite outdoor rock festival.   For me it was Milton Keynes 1986.  What was your favourite concert?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

"Please can I have twenty Euros of petrol, a pastie and a ticket for the rubbish machine?"

I think I saw the future ("Garlic bread..") the other day when went to a petrol station in Limerick.  You pay 6 Euros for a ticket and tap the code into the domestic waste disposal unit.  You have a minute to put to your two black bags of rubbish in the machine before the door closes.  I think its a great idea and it certainly saves people money not having to pay for their rubbish to be collected and pay by the wieght and a service charge.

Petrol stations seem to be mini supermarkets these days.  There's a petrol station in West Cork that sells pasties.  Just like those we use to eat when went on holiday to Cornwall.  We often stop off at petrol station for a breakfast roll.  But you don't attempt to buy food on a Sunday.  All you get is:

"We don't sell food on a Sunday."

Is Little Chef still open in Blighty?  I don't think there aren't enough service stations here in Ireland.
I wonder what happens to the rubbish?  Will it go to land fill sites?  We try to recycle what we can.  Councils should have a lot more litter bins.  Preferably one's that you get more than two fingers in.  Don't the wasps like the bottle banks?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Using Sheep To Build The Canals And Build Houses. Some Tales From The Field Gate.

We walked down the road to see the big cattle the other day.  They live across the road, next to the bay.  I always say that they go to the summer grazing next to the seaside.  Any road.  One of my neighbours and his friend who was visiting from England, commented how well the cattle look.  I told him that it was probably the minerals from the well water that gets piped to their bath in the fields.  He told me that in England they give fifty percent grants to build reservoirs for farmers.  Then he tells me he builds them.  So I asked him if they puddled the reservoirs with puddling clay like they did when they built the canals.  He explained that they use lime nowadays to line the reservoirs.  He then went on to tell us the the Irish Navvies use to run sheep along the bottom of the canal and over the puddling clay and all their hooves would tamp the clay into place and make the canal water proof.

Two of the cattle posing for a photograph.  You can see the bay in the background.  

The great landscape designer Capability Brown would use cattle and sheep to graze the grass and maintain his masterpieces.  In fact the countryside that what see is created by thousands of years of farm animals grazing and keeping the woodland and scrub at bay.

There is a lot of research these days into earth rays, Radon gas and the geological nature of the earth and soil.  I have read that the Romans would use sheep on potential building sites to see where they slept.  They believed that anywhere a sheep lay down it was safe to build a dwelling.  Cattle and sheep are said to use their horns to dowse for water.  The theory is that sheep would dowse for underground streams and the wouldn't settle on this ground because the damp would make them prone to headaches, rheumatism and arthritis.  It makes you think doesn't it?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Chronicle Of Village Life Gone For Ever.

I started reading: Cider With Rosie a few months a go.  I seem to only half read most books (too much time on the Internet) these days. They sit patiently waiting on a bookshelf or bedside locker, waiting for me to read them.  Anyway I was skipping through the TV channels last Sunday afternoon and by chance noticed Cider With Rosie, starring Juliet Stevenson.  So we cracked open a bottle of red South African wine and settled down to watch the film.

Guess what?  It's also on You Tube.  Some kind person kindly down loaded it for our viewing.  It lasts about one hundred and twenty minutes.  It's a chronicle  of Gloucestershire village life during the First World War and after it.  I found it incredibly beautiful, full of pathos and a joy to watch.

Laurie Lee writes with such wonderful poetic prose.  Here's a few quotes of his from Cider With Rosie:

"The prospect Smiler was a manic farmer.  Few men I think can have been as unfortunate as he; for on one hand he was a melancholic with  a loathing for mankind, on the other, some paralysis had twisted his mouth into a permanent and radiant smile.  So everyone he met, being warmed by his smile, would shout him a happy greeting. And beaming upon them with his sunny face he would curse them all to hell."

Laurie wrote the following about his mother:

"She was too honest, too natural for this frightened man, too removed from his tidy laws.  Shew was, after all, a country-girl, disordered, hysterical, loving.  She was muddled and mischievous as a chimney - jackdaw, she made her nest of rags and jewels, was happy in the sunlight, squawked loudly at danger, pried and was insatiably curious, forgot when to eat or ate all day, and sang when sunsets were red!"

Towards the close of his account of his childhood upbringing in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside.  Laurie Lee says:

"The girls were to marry, the Squire was dead; buses ran and the towns were nearer.  We began to shrug off the valley and look more to the world, where pleasures were more anonymous and tasty.  They were coming fast and we were ready for them."

Enjoy the book or the film.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Smallholding Trash Or Treasure?




"Nothing should be wasted on the self-sufficient holding.  The dustman should never have to call."

JOHN SEYMOUR.

It was a lovely day today, Monday.  Number one son made himself a new bucket for the mini digger and he was itching to try it out.  So we decided to take down a scruffy looking fuchsia and stone hedge or is it a fedge?  We saved the stones for drains and any old roots and branches were thrown away.  He leveled it with the digger and I will rake it out tomorrow and throw some grass seed down for the birds to eat (ever the pragmatist) and for the mower to keep the grass down.

I noticed the green bottle in the picture peeping its neck from out of the ditch.  I carefully scratched back the soil and was delighted to find it was still intact.  I think it would contain about half a pint and it's got the writing: Beamish and Bandon on it.  We had found ourselves a very old stout bottle brewed in West Cork.

One is always wary when destroying anything my ancestors made and I am always finding old horse shoes, ashes and cinders, broken clay smoking pipes and lots of broken crockery and bottles.  It was great to find no plastic.  There were no dustbin men years ago and everything they used and made was organic.  Makes you think doesn't it?  What do you think about plastic and do you believe in recycling?