Thursday 28 February 2013

Fantastic Weather On The Smallholding.

I know it's the so called British obsession to talk about the weather.  But us farmers (smallholders) are dictated to by the weather.  The last weeks been dry and I have been busy tending to the veg plot, digging a drain and ploughing and rotovating (neighbour) a field.  Here's some pics.
Field ploughed and rotovated. Just needs digger man to arrive and clear drains.  Me to stone pick with my bucket.  Then it will get a run of the harrow and the grass and barley seed will be spread.  Hopefully we will get a big crop and we can round bale it.  Leaving us with fat and happy cattle.
Mixed area for different vegetables.  Carpet is doing a great job smothering grass and weeds.  Must trim that box hedge.  
Orla  'early' seed potatoes and Sturon onions waiting to be planted.  I  always grow Orla because they come from Scotland  and that means they aren't prone to Blight like their Irish cousins.  Great taste too!
Potato plot ready for planting.  Compost area in background.  Two raised beds will  sown with carrots or what  ever we think of.  May be even potatoes?

Monday 25 February 2013


It's been dry and we have finally got round to working the land with 'Anna Ford'  and 'Maggie' our smallholding tractors.   Number one son is teaching number 2 son how to drive 'Anna Ford' .  She's missing her windscreen at the moment.  We are waiting for a tractor mechanic to find us a new one.  I'm in the background ploughing with my Ford 4000 and my 65 Euros plough.  Gosh it's boring ploughing!

Thinking of sowing a ley mix oats, peas and grass seed.    Apparently you sow the seed then you let it grow and harvest the oats and peas and grass into round bales of silage.    Then your left with the grass for permanent pasture.  I wanted to grow Fodder Beet but I have been told I would have to spray off the old grass and it's a nightmare to weed.

Any way we are getting away from monoculture aren't we?  I think that's a posh word for just growing grass.

Friday 22 February 2013

"Anything To Declare Sir?" ("Have you got any lawnmowers?")

I was telling my Internet friend Cumbrian the other day, that you can't send bacon through the post to the UK.  It reminded me of the time we 'Emigrated' to Ireland in 2001.  Picture the scene dear readers.  A car full of people and a stoned border collie spaced out on 'doggie valium' and a Luton van full of our belongings and a driver and two people pull up at Fishguard docks.  It's three o'clock in the morning (this is starting to sound like a country and western song).  A Welsh customs police officer ('Heddlu) asks us the following:

"Do you have any powdered baby milk or a LAWNMOWER?"

The good and bad people of Britain could sleep easily in their beds.  There was no need for her majesty's police force to search for stowaways, illegal immigrants, caches of illegal drugs or explosives.  Apparently it was because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in Britain.  The powers that be thought it could be spread to Ireland by drinking powdered baby milk or somebody had been mowing a lawn and a cow may or might have been eating on it.

I of course told the driver:

"We have no lawnmowers officer or powdered baby milk."

"Right off you go and have a pleasant journey. Good night sir."


Going to spend the weekend digging the veg plot.  Talking to a robin and moaning about my back.  Time to get up or down to the allotment/smallholding me thinks folks?

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Shooting Myself In My Smallholding Wellington Boot (Sentient Beings Or Live Exports?)

Quite a serious post today.  Nearly three thousand live beef cattle left Ireland yesterday (Tuesday) for Libya by boat.  It's supposed to be good news for the farming industry.  I am not so sure.  Yes it's good to have a cattle demand because the prices improve for the farmer.  But what about the live animals?  They are confined for their 8 days ship voyage and then handed over to the Libyans.  What kindness will these animals receive at the hands of the Halal butchers?  Will dear cattle mean dear replacements for the farmer/smallholder?  People like myself who buy small cattle and raise them until they are big?

The EU law recognizes that animals are sentient beings:

"They can suffer and feel pain, and they can also enjoy a sense of well being."

The EEC subsidizes the live transport to none EEC countries to the tune of 9 Million.  All because cattle are too expensive to finish in Europe and export in refrigerated containers.

What do you think folks?  I think that farm animals should be killed in local slaughter works not transported miles and shipped to countries that kill animals by slitting their throats instead of stunning them.

I recently sold 2 of my cattle to a local butcher.  He said he will buy all my cattle when they are ready and kill them locally in his slaughter works and sell their meat in his shop.  Fair play to him.

Have a look at: Compassion In World Farming, I think it's time we showed some kindness to our farm animals, not exporting them just to make money.

Do you think the EEC will ever make organic farming the only kind of farming?  I don't.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

"Wash Day" For 'Domino' (The life and times of a smallholding cat).

"That's a strange television."

That's Domino our smallholding cat.  He's busy exploring the washing machine and 'Utility' room.  Or the 'Boot' room if you're posh!   He says he doesn't like washing machines and Hoovers.  Can't disagree there.

Monday 18 February 2013

Time To Do Some Painting On The Smallholding? (May be not!)

Continuing on the Cork Park and Ride tale from yesterday.  When we boarded our car to go back to West Cork.  I noticed 'Woodies' DIY store.  So I asked the one who must be obeyed to just nip round the corner and "we'll get some paint."

"What do you want some paint for?"

"To paint our bedroom.  That's if it's cheap enough."

Sure enough we went down the slip road and ended up on the dual carriage way heading towards Ballincollig and West Cork.  So we took another slip road and ended up in the middle of nowhere.  So I said:

"Forget about it we are going home.  I have had enough."

Last night we was watching some TV programme about Hotel Inspectors on Sky, who tell you to make your hotel/B&B into a boutique and spend a fortune on each room, have plastic surgery and charge a hundred quid a night for a bed, shower and a greasy breakfast in the morning.  The reason why I tell you this is because there was lots of talk about PAINT.

So I says last night.

"Think I'll get some paint tomorrow for our bedroom."

The missus tuts.

"What's up?"

Asks me.

"I know your painting.  It's throw everything on the bed and off you go.  There's no emptying the room or painting behind the wardrobe."

After 18 years marriage I think she's got a point.  I have no patience for painting.  Why can't somebody invent a six foot paint brush that paints your room in ten minutes?  I hate painting!

Sunday 17 February 2013

"The Wheels Of The Bus Go Round and Round.." (But not in the Countryside.)

We went to Cork city on Friday.  The missus had an hospital appointment.  Just 60 miles for a ten minutes conversation.  I of course went with her to give her passenger commentary while she drove the windy roads to Cork.  I noticed a lot of the fields still are full of straw stubble and far too wet to plough.

Any road we got to the Cork 'Park and Ride' after negotiating lots of chicanes and one lane dual carriage way designated roads because of the major new road works in the city.  Don't get me wrong it's great to see infrastructure and the lads and the machinery working.  It's just that the 'powers that be' don't seem to spend a penny on the rural roads.  You can't even walk along the country roads at night because there are no pavements, ridiculous high speed limits on roads built for horses and carts.   Public transport is very rare or even doesn't exist.

Any road (again).  We paid five Euros for a parking ticket and boarded a BUS.  I had to go upstairs (naturally) and enjoy my midlife crisis/second childhood and realise that I was actually on a bus.  Is it really too much to ask for to have some public transport in a rural setting?  My next adventure is to go on a train.  It's been so long and I am starting to get dewy eyed when I see television programmes which feature trains.  Hey perhaps I could get a train to go with my 2 tractor collection?

The bus journey was really enjoyable and it dropped us off in the city centre.  We decided to pass some time 'people watching' and doing some 'retail therapy'.  I waited outside one shop listening to a busker playing a saxophone and an elderly lady came up to me and said:

"Isn't it dreadful having to listen to them playing their organs in the middle of the street?"

I have course nodded in agreement (can't you tell I am half English?) and wondered why is it always me who gets asked their opinion by complete strangers.  Perhaps I look wise, mature or just completely daft?

Do you want a laugh and a joke?  Good.  Go to Animation.  There's a self taught genius animator from Cork called Andrew James who's posted his cartoons.  There's lots of swearing and the accent sounds like a certain ex Manchester United midfielder talking.  My favourites are: "I can't do it." Handsome Donkey, "Awful Sad" and "Fat Rabbit".   Enjoy folks.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Isn't It Time we All Had Allotments And Smallholdings?

I have been an allotment grower and smallholder for over twenty years now.  The horse meat scandal in England makes me want to express some of my thoughts.

Did you know that most vegetables in our supermarkets are sprayed with harmful chemicals that kill wildlife and flora?  These chemicals are also strongly linked to some cancers.

Most farm animals end up in the slaughter house unless they are ill and full of drugs or got TB.

Any bovine farm animal in Europe is required by law to have an annual TB test in a cattle crush.  The cattle crush is compulsory and all farmers have to have one.  Horses do not not need to be tested.  So why have them in the food factories?

Bulls (old or young) are killed and sold as beef.  Old sows are killed and sold as bacon.  Then we wonder some times why our meat is tough.

It's pleasing to hear that people are moving away from processed food.  Lets support our local farmers and butchers and green grocers and allotment growers.  But ask for traditional breeds of beef like Aberdeen Angus or Hereford.  Ask them to mince the steak in front of you.  Ask the green grocer for a certain brand of carrot:

"Have you got any "Nantes" carrots, please?"

It's your money after all, so don't settle for anything but the best.

Better still grow some traditional veg with no nasty chemicals.  Get an allotment or even buy or rent a smallholding.   I often see cheap smallholdings for sale here in Ireland, Scotland and Portugal.   Lets make the countryside alive again.  The only way you will know if your food is chemical free and what breed or variety you want is to grow it and raise it yourself.

Monday 11 February 2013

No Fleetwood Mac Concert For Me! Another day on the ranch (Smallholding) shucks!

I had a look on Ticketmaster on Wednesday for any upcoming concerts in Ireland.  I was amazed, and you could have knocked me down with a proverbial feather.  None other than FLEETWOOD flipping MAC are touring Europe (not West Cork though)  and are going to play Dublin in September.  So I dilled and dallied and guess what?  They've only gone and sold out!

I didn't want to go anyway.  I can't stand the big arenas, bouncers, plastic beer and 12000 screaming fans ("Yeah right!")  Fans who scream before you have seen them.  I mean you wouldn't scream if Britney Spears dropped her...hmm.., handkerchief, would you?  Well I probably would if she ever came to play some little pub here in West Cork.  Did I tell you about the price of the tickets?

"Cor blimey and all that.  "When I was a lad you could go to see Fleetwood Mac, ride home on a bus (we don't have any) get some fish and chips, have four pints of pond water (arena lager) and you still had 20 cents left out of 500 Euros."

Any road I am not putting the Fleetwood Mac date in my diary.  Not that I have one of course.

Oh yeah.  10CC are also touring the UK but not Ireland.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Country File Says We Are Having An 18 Month Winter. (Rain Stopped Play.)

I seem to spend my Sunday afternoons and evenings, watching the Premiership ("Glory, glory, Man United") on Sky, having a few scoops of Newcastle Brown, watching Time Team (how can you find anything in 3 days?) and watching Country File.  I like watching it because I love the British Countryside and especially Julia Bradbury (born in Dublin and lived in Peak District) is a lass who loves walking - proper lass.  I bet she sups pints (bitter) and supports Manchester United and you can talk to her about cricket, allotments, smallholdings and heavy rock music?  I also like your railway walks programmes Julia - thanks!

Any road (proper northern English talk, what's wrong with some proper slang?)  according to Country File the residents of the British Isles have been having an 18 month winter.  I think that's a bit optimistic, don't you?  I can't remember a proper summer since 2003.  One of those years when you look like you've been to Spain and you have only been sitting outside or weeding the veg plot.  The seasons are up the spout and I think it's time the weather booked up.  

We (me and number one son) had a go at ploughing with Anna Ford and my sixty five Euros plough this week.  Here's a few pictures.  

"Ann a Ford"  My Ford 3000.
"Number 2" son and Jack Russell terrier sitting on "Maggie".

Half ploughed field.  Then it rained for a change.
Parts of the field now have some nice ruts that are full of water.  Can I say that these are natural habitats for wading birds and smallholders in wellington boots?   All this trouble for some Fodder Beet.  Anybody want to help me pike (by hand) fym over the furrows?  Oh the joys of smallholding farming .  It's raining again today.  This is not cricket is it?  Rain stopped play.  

Sunday 3 February 2013

A 2 Tractor Smallholding

"Maggie" our new Ford 4000 with a new coat of paint.

"Maggie and "Anna Ford".  My two Ford tractor pals.

A lot of people who live in towns have 2 cars.  We have 2 tractors.  "Maggie" is getting her new roof on her cab this week.  More pictures soon.   I want a grey Fergie next or some other project.  Perhaps I could start my own tractor museum or at least a private collection.  Anybody else collect tractors?

Joke:  What do you call a man who used to like tractors but he doesn't any more?

Answer:  An extractor fan!

Joke:  Did you hear about the magic tractor?

It drove down the road and turned in a field.

Got any tractor jokes?

Carboot Sale Plants Selling.

We drove over to nearby West Cork  town to a carboot sale on Sunday morning. The online info said we could set up from nine.  I am one of th...