Tuesday 28 May 2013

A Contradictory Smallholder? (Have we got another Caractacus Potts?)

I find the older I get the more, I seem to contradict myself.  Rather like Tom in yesterdays featured film: 'Another Year'.  Tom goes on about carbon footprints and being organic and recycling.  Yet he goes on holidays abroad and drives a big gas guzzling Volvo estate.  A lot of organic farms use tractors to harvest and maintain their crops and they drive around in vans and cars.  We have a car and two tractors and we have a chain saw and petrol driven garden tools like my strimmer and hedge cutter.  One way or another, we pollute the environment.

So what are you saying Dave?  I am going all around the houses to say.  I have contradicted myself big time this last week.  Every farm around here seems to be getting destroyed with rushes.  We have attempted to strim them and top them with the tractor topper, but they still come back.  A lot of organic farms use toppers and probably destroy a lot of natural insect and bird and animal habitats during the process.

I would never use weedkiller on my vegetable plot or artificial fertilizers on my fruit and vegetables.  But we (very reluctantly) have decided to use some glyphosate on the pasture and silage (hay making is a distant dream)  fields.

Number one son (Caractacus Potts :"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" farm inventor) only decided to make a weed licker/wiper.  This consists of a pump (connected to the back light of the tractor) trickling weedkiller on a carpet covered roller, suspended on a frame, over rushes, buttercups and other weeds.

Manufactured 'Weed Lickers' cost over a thousand to buy.  Number one son made it for less than 350 Euros. We gave it a go last week and it seems to have done the trick.  Here's a few pics.

We took it for 'field' trials and the wheels gave up on us.  A kind farming neighbour gave us two rubber wheels off an old silage harvester for free.  They are just the ticket and look like the land wheels on an a aeroplane.  

So please may I ask for your thoughts about using glyphosate weedkillers.  Should there be organic weedkillers and organic granulated fertilizer?  Are you a contradictory smallholder?

Monday 27 May 2013

At Last: A Film That Features Allotments ("Oh what a lonely girl".)

I am starting to miss the premiership on television already.  So yesterday I spent most of the afternoon and night watching the test cricket (why didn't England declare?) 'Britain's Got Talent' and I finally watched Mike Leigh's incredibly complex and moving film:  'Another Year'.

I thought there would be lots of allotment clips but at least we saw a few.  I think there should be much more films about allotments and smallholdings, don't you?  The film also reminded me that allotments are great places to meet other like minded people.  I think smallholding life is good in terms of being able to do what you want on your own land, but it's far too lonely and isolated.  Perhaps Eco villages instead of one off rural housing, is the answer?

Any road.  It was like being a fly on the middleclass allotment tenants ceiling.  Observing the different characters engage in this wonderful British social drama.  Mary (Lesley Mandville) was the sad and often drunken character that couldn't accept middle age and being single.  She was such a mixed up and yet loveable character.

Mike Leigh seemed to poise the question:

"Is anybody actually happy?"

Mary reminded me of the Sandy Thom song:  "Oh what a lonely girl."

Great film and a great song.  Thanks to You Tube and the people who put these videos together for us.

Friday 24 May 2013

Views From Our Smallholding Overlooking Bantry Bay.

 The Sun sets on Bantry Bay.

Potatoes, Onions and 'Maggie' and 'Anna Ford' our two tractors.
Two oil tankers passing each other on Bantry Bay.  Still showing wrong date.
 It's been fabulous weather here this week and the cattle and vegetables are loving it.  I sound like that McDonalds advert, don't I?

What a difference a week makes.  The weather means everything when you live in the countryside.  I was thinking the other day ("oh no!") when I was walking along the road.  Why are there no pavements and the cars allowed to drive at 80 KM per hour?  What do you think readers?  Should country dwellers have the same infrastructure that town and country dwellers have?  I do!

Any thoughts please?

Saturday 18 May 2013

Sad Times On The Smallholding.

It's been an awful week on our little smallholding in Southern Ireland.  So I have not been in the mood to write the blog posts. The weather's been atrocious and we lost some of the calves with the cold and pneumonia.

I hate death.  It always disturbs me so profoundly.  It's such awful unfinished business.  The livestock transport contractor said he had filled 3 lorry  loads on Thursday with cows, bulls and calves.  The saddest thing is when one of your animals is taking its last breath and you can't do nothing for it.  You pray to God and ask for a miracle, but it never happens does it?

That's a photograph of a cheeky sparrow taken recently when we went to Portugal.  Jesus said: 

"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?"

Apparently the Romans (who never visited Ireland) called the Emerald Isle:  'Hibernia'.  This means: 

"The land of eternal Winter."

I couldn't put it better myself.  

Any road.  The forecast is supposed to be good for next week.  Perhaps we'll start growing Oranges like these we saw recently in Portugal?  

Sorry the digital camera (the one I asked in Argos "What film does it take?") still thinks it's 2008.

Monday 6 May 2013

Hand Made Smallholding Azada And A Brilliant Film To Watch On The Television Tonight.

Here's a photograph of a new home made Azada hoe next to my professionally made and bought Azada.   I bought mine online and 'number one' son (I sound like Charlie Chan) made his version of on in about ten minutes flat.  Apart from the leccy and a welding road.  His hoe cost nothing.  Mine cost me about 30 Euros.   It's been worth every penny though.  If you have an allotment or a smallholding, you have got to get yourself an Azada.  They are brilliant!

I took it to "plot" (the vegetable gardens name) and gave it some serious field trials weeding.  Guess what folks?  It works perfect.  I wish there was a blacksmith apprentice course for him, because he's wasting his time staying on at school.  The sad fact is the poor kids know that there will be no jobs when they leave school when they are eighteen.  Not everybody is academic.  Some folk are entirely practical and have photographic memories of pieces of equipment that they can make at the drop of a hat.  I say bring back the Arts and Crafts movement and the local Blacksmith and other trades people.    The country dweller shouldn't have to go to the big towns and cities for employment.  Lets create rural jobs for everybody who lives there.

Right sermon over.  We will now sing hymn 52.  Talking of music.  There's a superb film on BBC 1 tonight at 12.30 am.  (I know).  If you staying up watching the snooker don't forget to record this film: "Once".  It's a musical about a Dublin busker who meets a wonderful Czech immigrant played by Glen Hansard and Marketa  Irglova.  She's a classical pianist in real life and the sound track won an Oscar.  The film is funny, sad, very moving and full of excellent songs.  I was that impressed that I bought the DVD.  Don't miss it folks!

Here's:  "Falling Slowly" for you.  Enjoy!

Thursday 2 May 2013

Smallholding Ratting Contractors Dinner Break.

That's a picture of Domino (the cat) and Fido (Jack Russell terrier) sharing their tea the other day.  They never snarled or scratched or even cursed at each other.   The cat and the dog help keep the rats and mice away.

That's a photo taken last night of our newly sown field of Barley and grass.  The old currant bun (Sun) seems to be shining on us for a change.  It's been gorgeous for the last few days here in Southern Ireland.

Any road.  We stone picked the field yet again and harrowed it and spread the seed and fertilizer (man made chemicals, slap hands) and finally rolled it all.  Now all we have to do is wait for it to grow.  It should take about twelve weeks.  Then we will get a silage contractor to mow it and bale it for us and hopefully get some very happy and fat cattle this winter.  Hope we don't get no fat rats.

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...