Sunday 27 May 2012

Are You Happy People?

My regular readers will know of my regular rants and complaints about living in rural Ireland.  There are very few jobs, not many pubs (not that you could afford to go in one) and virtually no public transport.  Yet its a beautiful and peaceful environment to live in.

Anyway I have a old pal (he's younger than me) who lives in Poland and he and his wife often go to the cinema.      He told me that he went to see a brilliant film about the indigenous people living in the Siberian Taiga.  He said:

"You'll love it Dave."

So I looked it up on You Tube and I saw the following film trailer:

The film ('"filum" if you live in Ireland!) impressed me very much, and I ordered a copy for 13 quid on Ebay.  The film is absolutely mesmerising and awe inspiring.  And (never start a sentence with and) there are none of those subtitles like they used to have in those naughty French films that you never used to watch and not bother to read, did you?

My rural isolation is nothing compared to these men who spend months on their own with no phone, running water or medical supplies or aid.   In one scene one of the hunters journeys through the snow and ice to get to one of his log cabin hunting lodges.  On arrival he finds a tree that's  fell down and blocking his door and its getting dark.  So he gets out the chainsaw (like you do), cuts down the tree and fixes his window, then he lights the fire and makes his supper.  The man didn't bat an eyelid and seemed very 'happy'.  I go mad when the computer is being daft, or I have no Sky television or electricity and the well pump is not working.  These Siberian hunters are made of stronger stuff.

 The soundtrack music is also amazing  and the director Werner Herzog should get an Oscar for his film.  Honestly it's incredible.  Man is such an incredible creature and nature should be revered.  What a film!  What a man's got to do to get away from the wife and kids.  Not everybody wants to watch Siberian East Enders and Siberian Coronation Street, do they?

Monday 21 May 2012

A Few Pictures From My Vegetable Plot in Rural Ireland. (Buttercups, Rush, Nettles, Brambles and a Thistle killer on the loose).

 Here are a few photographs of my vegetable plot in Southern Ireland.  The 'plastic' (slap hands) watering can (I really need that at the moment don't I folks?)  seems to be having a rest on the pile of FYM.  This will be spread by yours truly over some flat cardboard boxes(Lasagna gardening) in the Autumn.  Then the worms and rain and frost will make a wonderful friable soil for next years new potatoes.

 The wooden pallets near the tractor are one of my compost heaps.  I also seem to be collecting baths for growing my vegetables in.  The baths just have a few holes drilled in them, then some stones are carefully placed in them along with lots of soil and FYM.  Not the carrots though, because FYM makes them fork. The raised beds also keeps the carrot fly away.  Apparently old Mr and Mrs carrot fly don't fly above twelve inches or 30 centimetres if you work in Metric?

Everything seem to be growing well at the moment including the weeds.  My only problem at the moment is a bit of rust on my garlic in the bath.  Did you know that the rust that attacks vegetables is the same rust that corrodes metal?    Anyway.  You will notice I am an untidy gardener and I don't believe in using any chemicals on my piece of Eden - my veg plot. This week I am going to have a weeding blitz because the weather forecast is not so bad..

The rushes are growing again in the field and I will either strim them again or perhaps even spray them?  There are also quite a few clumps of buttercups, nettles and brambles.  Blackberry leaves are supposed to be a great tonic for farm animals.  You can get sprays like MCPA that are said to kill all the weeds but don't kill the grasses. I read the other day that there are even organic weed killers for sale  that you can spray on your fields????????????.

Organic farmers use tractors to keep topping the rushes.  Even this method surely must kill insects and news and toads and frogs...?  Also you're polluting the air and surrounding environment with diesel fumes.  What do you think readers?  Should weedkillers be banned, and is there any way of farming without spraying or
topping with tractor machinery?

Yes I have had a go with a scythe and goats don't (won't) eat rushes.  We also had a donkey that ate the thistles and then dispersed the seeds when he did his ablutions.  So now I wait until July then I go down the fields with my Machete type slasher and murder the thistle plants.  Who cares about a mad axeman when there's a thistle killer on the loose?

Wednesday 16 May 2012

There's Oil Next To Our Smallholding. (I wonder if it's'Texas Tea'or even a 'nice cuppa of tea?')

Taken on a dull morning from our kitchen door..    The tankers sail all the way from the middle east (Asia, not Hull or Scunthorpe) to drop off and pick up it's oil.  Then other tankers come along and pick it up or drop some more off.  Some of it is taken in a smaller tanker to refine it into car fuel and heating oil.  Then road tankers go fifty odd miles to pick it up to bring to the petrol stations and fill our oil tanks so 'we' (not us we have a solid fuel range) are warm in winter.  I often wonder how much oil the tanker ships use to bring oil to the oil terminals? 

Imagine if I found oil on our smallholding?  Apparently a landowner owns the land but the government owns the rights to any mineral deposits.  So I don't think I will ever become a Beverly Hillbilly.   There will be no Texas tea for us.  So we'll have to settle for a 'nice cuppa tea' instead. 

 Here's another picture of Bantry Bay taken from our 'new' (recycled) patio.  My late grandmother used to say:

"The view won't feed you."

It is gobsmacking beautiful but I wish I could get an helicopter to pick it up and carefully place it down in Cornwall or Herefordshire.  Might have a problem with the sea though. 

Friday 11 May 2012

A Nearly New Patio For Next To Nowt. (I Wish I Still Smoked)

Howdy Folks.  We have been busy making a new patio - seating area this week.  It took a day and and a half and cost absolutely nothing.  Well maybe a few cans, sandwiches and a few blisters.  We used mattocks, shovels, hand brush and trowel (too many episodes of Time Team) and lots of elbow grease and sweat .    

The picture above us is the old dry stone milk house where the milk was kept.  It's now minus the ivy and you can see holes where a lean to roof used to be.  The stones are held together with packed earth or clay.  The farmhouse itself was made this way and not one bit of mortar was used.  The people long ago used to build houses for next to nothing.  Talk about sustainability.  Just clear a piece of land, get some stone and build yourself a dwelling.

Here's the finished product or even patio.  I  hadn't got the heart to remove the old dry-stone walls which my ancestors built over a hundred years ago.  All we need now is lots of sunshine and we can look out over the bay and drink lots of ale and put the world to right.  I was sat there the other evening thinking I wish I still smoked.  Perhaps I should get one of those 'Church Warden' pipes and smoke  cherry brandy tobacco?   What do you think?

Sunday 6 May 2012

Yoghurt For A Bull Calf.

It's been a  week full of worry down on the ranch (West Cork Smallholding) here in Southern Ireland.  Lightning one of our new bull calves decided to imitate me and grow a beer belly.  I went in to the cow stall and noticed both his sides seemed very swelled.  Lightning is a very greedy calf and he's always the first to the calf crunch in the trough and always last to leave it.

Any road folks.  Lightning's stomach seemed to get bigger and bigger.  So I decided to Google cattle complaints ("Why's it always raining?") like bloat and poisoning....  We put some liquid paraffin down his throat and worried ourselves silly thinking he might have ate some wild Parsnip or deadly dangerous plant. We rang the vet and he asked if Lightning was passing water and making country pancakes (think about it) and chewing his cud?  We told him that Lightning had not lost his appetite and he'd just done a delightful plop.  The vet told us not to be alarmed and to go to the supermarket and purchase him (Lightning not the vet) some tubs of Yoghurt (they pronounce it "Yo -girt" here, rather similar to how you say Yogi Bear.

Anyway I got out my dosing gun and diluted the Yo girt with some milk and attempted to give Lightning some down his throat.  Lightning started to lick the Yoghurt and freely (nay devoured) ate it  of his own accord.  Apparently it's like giving him a pro-biotic for good bacteria to break down any yeast fermentation in his stomach?

 I am pleased to report that Lightning seems to be fine but he's still got a big belly like me.

Two Charity Shop Vases Full Of Feverfew.

"The 18th Century Aspirin Plant." I have this plant growing in my veg garden at the moment.  It is supposed to be brilliant for al...