Saturday 28 June 2014

Some New Bovine Lasses Arrive At Our Smallholding.

Guess what?  The bullocks and heifers passed their annual TB test.  This means that we can sell some of them.  Pay some bills and hopefully have a few days break from ye oldie smallholding.  So to make matters more complicated.  We stopped at a Dairy farm the other day and decided to buy six new dairy heifers, like you do. 

Regular readers will know that beef prices are very depressing at the moment  ("doom, gloom and doom again") and the Irish milk quotas end in 2015.  This means that no longer  milk herd owners have to keep to a milk quota.  They can keep lots more milkers and produce lots more milk.  So we thought we would 'diversify' and have a go at rearing some milk replacement heifers.  Here's a few pictures of the new girls arriving this morning and in their new paddock in the recently harvested silage field. 

"Let us out.  We want some grass."

Three of the calves having a walk round the recently cut silage field.  We made the green calf hutch out of an old heating oil tank.  

Already they are learning to pick at the grass.  We will give them powdered milk replacer for a couple of weeks and calf nuts.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Picnic Time For Domino The Smallholding Cat. "It's All Too Much."

It's been a busy time on the smallholding this week.  So busy that 'Domino' decided to have a nap/siesta in the picnic basket we brought down from the attic.  Domino looks like he is dead but he's just having a sleep.  
We have been sawing up wood and the vet came to test the cattle.  It's always a worrying time hoping they haven't got TB or Brucellosis.  I am happy to report that we can't see any lumps on their necks so it looks like we can sell a few of them.  The vet returns tomorrow to 'read' them so fingers crossed.  Then it's ringing the livestock transport man to take them to mart and decide whether to accept the bidders bid or to pay to take them back home again. I always hate when it comes to selling the cattle.

Any road.  We are thinking of going on a few picnics this summer.  Not today though because the heavens opened and it's very showery today.  Being a farmer and veg plot grower.  I realize that nothing grows without rain.  The silage is in and we could do with some new grass for the cattle to chew.  

Talking of cattle. Guess who paid a deposit for some new calves the other day?  I ("WE") have decided to rear four or five dairy calves and sell them for milk replacements next year.  The milk quotas (yawn..) end in 2015 and dairy farmers can keep lots more cattle than can now.  Any road again.  I will blog about the new cattle when we get them and I promise to show you some photographs of the new girls dancing round the field.  I'll have to buy some hay for them.  Think it's 4 Euros a small square bale at the moment.

So what what's would you put in a picnic basket?  Food perhaps?  8 cans of Newcastle Brown Ale?  What's your favourite sandwich?  Do you hate white bread?  I do?  I like brown bread with cold roast beef and fresh salad from the poly-tunnel or veg plot. Not forgetting getting a good sauce like Branston.  Anybody ever made their own?

Today I am getting the missus to go town and get us the ingredients for a strawberry cheesecake, my favourite!  I will post a picture of it for you tomorrow or today if it's got that 'Jene sais quoi' feel about it.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Home Made Chainsaw Horse For The Smallholding.

 It's the longest day today.  Number one son made me an homemade saw horse yesterday for cutting up the logs.  Hurricane Darwin provided many people with lots of fallen trees and firewood for the new few years.  I bought the trailer loads of Leylandi trees from a tree surgeon a few months a go really cheap.  We left them to dry out and now we are busy making them into firewood to heat the Stanley range for us.  Even on an hot day like today.  It's lit and providing hot water and heat to cook (beef curry) our supper.
Number one son made (welded) the saw horse for thirty Euros.  You spend longer filling the saw horse than it takes to cut the logs.  I reckon you get 2 wheelbarrows of logs at a time.  

We made the old 'cart house' into a wood store earlier this year.  We bricked up (built a stone wall and put a window in) the gap and fitted a smaller door made form box iron and corrugated iron.  It's great to collect dry logs in winter instead of having to chop them.  Must see if I can source some dry 'Turf' (Peat) for the range.  That sounds like a trip to County Kerry some time.  Are you stocking up your fuel supplies for Winter?  

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Scenes From Our Smallholding.

 A photograph of a rose on our patio overlooking the field that's just just been cut for silage this morning.  The blue in the background is Bantry Bay,  West Cork, Ireland.  I live on the South side of Bantry Bay and the 'North' side of the Sheeps Head Peninsula..  That's why my blog is entitled' Northsider'.  That plant pot could do with topping up with compost, couldn't it?
It's 28 degrees today.  That's a picture of our home made patio.  It was originally an old pig sty and it took us 2 days to remove all the farm detritus.  We paved the patio with second hand slabs that I had in the vegetable garden.  The patio cost absolutely nothing to make.  I let the Foxgloves and succulents (Solidago) self seed and grow in the dry stone walls.
The parasol, table  and chairs cost 62 Euro.  I spent an hour the other day hand weeding between the paving stones.  Must get round to pointing them up some time.
 Close up of the Solidago plant.  Anybody familiar with it?
 Foxgloves growing next to the Fuchsia hedge.  You can see Hungry Hill mountain in the background.  Daphne Du Maurier wrote a book about the copper mines.  Margaret Rutherford starred in the film.
 Native 'Dog' Roses.  They grow in the hedgerows and we have one growing in the front garden.  I have planted cutting of them in the veg plot and they look - amazing what?

 'Olearia' hedge flowering.  I planted this about 10 years ago.  It's a seaside plant with salt resistant, leathery foliage.
 Senecio growing on the rock outside the farmhouse.  It's a native of Mexico and my grandparents planted it many years a go.
 A 'Star' horse plough made in Wexford resting on the grass next to the rock.  A fitting retirement for such an hard working piece of smallholding equipment.
Lyschimachia Punctata (Yellow Loosestrife) among st Cranes-bill Geraniums and variegated 'Zebra' grass.  I brought my perennials from England in a dustbin and I am always dividing them in Spring and Autumn to make new plants.
 Elder flower in the field boundaries/garden.  We try to keep a wild/country feel to the garden and not to make it too cultivated.
 An hardy Geranium that self seeded into a gap between the paving that we let grow.
"Rugosa" rose.  This is another seaside plant and makes a great hedge.  The sheep in the picture is made of plastic.  Well we do live on the Sheepshead Peninsula.

Thursday 12 June 2014

A Dinner From The Smallholding.

Is it hot or is it me?  The last couple of days have been fantastic weather.  Its so good that our rows of Pentland Javelin potatoes decided to come into flower.  We bought the seed potatoes from Aldi because they were cheap.   They normally take about an hundred days to grow.  Any road.  We (me) decided to investigate to see if they were ready to harvest?

 We were delighted to fill the metal bowl (from a Kenwood Chef mixer bought for a a pound on a car boot sale fourteen years a go) with potatoes and we picked some carrots and strawberries from the poly tunnel and a young cabbage from the veg plot.  Number one son pulled some beef out of the freezer last night (one of our heifers) and we now have a hearty meal grown on the smallholding.

Just wish I could brew my own ale.  I have attempted it many times with kits but I  (we) have never liked the end result.  So we are going to sit down at the table in 'front room' tonight and eat our meal and have a few glasses of Sangria.  It's dead easy to make.  Just look it up on the Internet.

Monday 9 June 2014

Help A Smallholding Fund The Construction Of An Eco Classroom

Just a short post today.

Please will you Google Lackan Cottage Farm and have a look at their fundraising campaign to build an Eco classroom?  I have followed their blog for a few years and they an inspiration for anybody who wants to live a more ecological and sustainable life style.  Like myself they live on a smallholding and they grow their own vegetables and they even make their own electricity.  Like I said they are an inspiration.

They are trying to raise 3000 pounds to build an Eco classroom.    Up to now they are just over half way.  They are using the Crowd funder charity and you could join it to raise money for your project.  You have got to join Crowdfunder to make your pledge.

I wish I could have attached a link but being the neanderthal that I am.  This is not possible. What's a URL?

Are you looking forward to the world cup?  Who is going to win it?  I want Brazil, England, Portugal (Ronaldo) or Spain to win it.  I am also having premiership withdrawal symptoms at the moment.  Especially on Sunday afternoons.  At least there is the 20 - 20 cricket.  

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Smallholding Pictures Of Our Cattle Grazing The Fields Next To The Bay

"Dal Boy" the bullock (He looks like a Dalmation), "Archie" the British Frisian bullock and "Rosie" the Simmental X Holstein heifer happily grazing on the fields above Bantry Bay, Ireland.

 The rest of the lads and lasses, heads down chomping away at the grass.  Half of them were bought in when then they were little calf's and the other five (that's 11 eh?)  we bought in.
"Copper".  She's an Hereford, Limousin cross.  All out cattle have names and the vet always smiles when he takes their blue card away at testing times to say they have passed their test for TB or Brucellosis.  

 We are trying to tight graze at the moment.  We are trying to save 3 fields for silage this year. It probably needs a few more weeks.  I never understand how they don't allow farmers to cut hedges during the bird nesting season.  Yet they allow them to cut silage.  Surely there must be birds and hares nesting in the field?.

Apparently since British and Irish farmers have started making silage instead of letting the grass grow for hay.  The bees and insects are decreasing in numbers because traditional hay meadows had flowers to pollinate.  The silage cuts the wild flowers before they are in flower.  So the bees don't get to pollinate.  I understand why we have to make silage because you just don't get good summers for hay any more and you can store silage in a pit or round bales outside, wrapped in plastic. Also some farmers get 3 cuts of silage instead of just one crop of hay.

You can see where the electric fence was placed and the darker green new grass.  The bottom of the picture shows a bit of 'poaching' in the 'hollow field' which is always a bit wet and the rushes love it.  My grandfather use to cut the rushes and take them back to the farm and use them for bedding for the cattle.  We top them with the tractor and sometimes try to spray the rushes.  But they always come back.  Apparently a rush seed can live in the soil, dormant for 60 years.  How do other smallholders cope with soft rushes?

Sunday 1 June 2014

Day Trip To A Kerry Seaside Resort That Reminded Me Of Scarborough.

It's June (Whitsun) Bank holiday weekend here in Ireland.  So we decided to leave the sea side (Bantry Bay) where we have our smallholding and go to 'The Kingdom"  (Kerry) to Ballybunnion.  It's a lovely little seaside resort pointing outwards to the Atlantic Ocean.  It's got a scattering of pubs, gift shops, takeaways and buckets and spades shops.  The sun had got his hat on and about 200 people or so soaked up the rays on the beach and played football.  It was like being in one of those great John Betjeman BBC television documentaries  and I was speaking the narration.

 Ballybunnion Castle.  This was once a sixteen century Fitzmaurice stronghold.  The walls of the gable are 6 feet thick and thirty foot high.
 The cliffs reminded me of Carvoeiro in Portugal that we visited last year.
 People playing football and looking at caves carved by the sea.
 A view at one of the beaches.  It could be nineteen fifties Cornwall or even Scarborough.  Except its in County Kerry, Ireland on the western edge of Europe.  There is no more land until America.
Me feeding the last of my ice cream to our Jack Russell with the long tail.  She preferred to pose for the camera.

All that remains of the castle now is a gable wall.  Nature (Atlantic gales) and battles have left their mark.  The wife and two kids sat eating ice creams and  I  walked a few hundred yards and stood looking at the sea and the castle and the beach and suddenly I was back playing football on the beach in the North bay in Scarborough.  I was only about ten and my mum and dad and my brother were there smiling and laughing and I thought of those times I watched Yorkshire playing cricket and Sir Geoffrey Boycott smiling at me and saying:

"Hello son."

There was I a young lad born in Lancashire adopting Yorkshire cricket team for the day, nay week.

Then my wife and kids and the terrier came up to me and my day dream had gone.  Isn't it strange how the sea can take you back forty years?  Oh what I would give to see my parents again.  Does the seaside bring back memories of your favourite holidays with loved ones who are no longer with you? 

A Bus man's Holiday To See Some Pigs At Balmoral Show.

You know what a bus man's holiday is don't you?  It means going on holiday and doing the same thing that you do at work.  Or on the ...