Thursday 30 October 2014

An Interesting Stock Proof Fence On The West Cork Rural Roads. Snails in me Tunnel.

We came home from Kerry via one of the many meandering rural roads down to Bantry, this afternoon.  We had been buying net curtains up in Tralee.  Gosh don't I have an interesting life?  Somewhere near Ballingeary we stopped to check the load.  No we weren't carrying a load of net curtains.  Although they were incredibly cheap - 36 Euros to be exact for 7 windows.  I ("I, me, Myself and I") found them for sale on ye old T'web and Tinternet..  It was a 'proper' shop, not my usual car boot bargains.   The staff wore uniforms and they even had a  clothing section for extra large folk.  And here's me having a complex that I am over fourteen stone.  The woman behind the counter asked us what pattern of net curtain we wanted?  We both said:

"The cheapest".

So she gave us the 'Toronto' pattern.

Any road.  We stopped to check the cement mixer (eh?) hadn't moved on the back of  the pick up.  When we noticed the concrete fence in front of the rock face.  There must of been a gap of between 6 inches and the fence and the rock face.  What creatures are they trying to keep in?  The Furze bushes on the left and right and old mother nature are busy camouflaging the concrete fence.  Do you think the fence is a good job or was it carried out by over zealous county council workers making a 'proper' job out of it?  Well it made me smile!
A 'proper' job.

When we got home.  I checked the poly-tunnel and a family of snails had taken up refuge on the inside of the plastic cover.  So we spent ten minutes hand picking them into a plant pot and I threw them (and the pot) into an hedge.  No doubt they will be back in the poly-tunnel tomorrow.  Any ideas how to get shut of them?

Monday 27 October 2014

A New Life For A Drawer In The Smallholding "Utility" - "Boot Room".

There was a gap between the dishwasher and the fridge.  The wife decided she wanted a 'thingamajig jig' to keep the washing powder and cleaning stuff and dishwasher tablets on.  We looked in the Argos catalogue and on the T'web and Tinter'net.  But there was nothing the right size or cheap enough.  Call for "number one" son:"Caractus Potts" to come to the rescue.

He went out to the garage and pulled out a drawer from an old 'self assembly' chest of drawers.  You know one of those with more wobble than a jelly and that should have a sticker on it saying "made to break".  He placed some screws in the joints and found some old castors and fixed it to the bottom of the drawer, which was now standing vertical instead of horizontal.

Here's the "washing powder tidy".
Do you like the fridge magnets?

It works brilliant and fits the gap like a glove.  My only suggestion for anybody thinking of making one for themselves.  Don't store cleaning materials or washing powder where children might find them.

The "tidy" cost nothing.  Perhaps he will make us "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, next?  Ian Fleming wrote it you know!  Couldn't imagine Dick Van Dyke playing James Bond.  Could you?

Saturday 25 October 2014

Haircut For The Swedes On Our Smallholding. Mechanical Mini Digger or Luddite Smallholder?

I gave part of  the veg plot a good tidy up the other day.  The remaining Swedes were given an haircut to tidy up their leaves and remove any dead ones.  Apparently you can eat their leaves unlike Rhubarb and Potato stalks.  So you can make yourselves Swede leaf soup if you wish.  I feed them to the cattle.  They love them and there coat always seems to shine after all those vitamins.  Then I dug it over and found hidden treasure - more potatoes and weed roots.

Swedes after their haircut.  I made the paths from old concrete pig slats.  Number one son made the gate and the logs need cutting and splitting.  Yours truly stacked them!
The plot looks a bit bare now.  So I will probably transfer some Leeks there.  Leeks are very good at being moved to a new home.  Just dig an hole and 'heel' them in.  Then I'll start the weeding and digging the muck in for next years early potatoes.  The last couple of years I have been spreading rotten farm yard manure on the surface and letting the worms and Winter rains take it down.  This year I plan to dig it over and dig trenches and fill it with well rotten manure, old straw and home made compost.  I find cow muck to be a 'cold' manure and it's full of weed seeds.  Perhaps I should get some well rotted horse muck?

Number one son wants to spread and dig the plot with the mini digger.  It doesn't leave a compacted pan under the soil and it saves my poor back a lot of work.  The other day he cleared a lot of encroaching shrubs, brambles and a big pile of compost that had nettles growing on it.

What would you do?  Use the mini digger or dig it over with a shovel, fork or a four prong pike?

Thursday 23 October 2014

Imagine If You Had To Doff Your Cap And Pull Your Forelock

Did you watch: "You Just Can't Get The Staff," the other night on Channel Four?  It's about landed gentry interviewing staff for different roles on their estates.  You may want to be a butler, gardener, nanny or even somebody who cleans the brasses and ancient medieval armour and weapons.  There was one lad who would have got paid five hundred quid a week for gardening.  But he said he objected to hunting!  FIVE HUNDRED QUID!  I would have fought a lion for so much money!  May be not,

I love watching and reading about the old walled vegetable gardens and even visiting some big houses here in Ireland.  Before the the world wars.  These estates employed numerous members of staff.  No doubt before the welfare state provided social housing and unions fought for proper wages.  I am not saying all staff were exploited and I am sure there would be some very kind, Christian, Matriarchal and Patriarchal landowners who looked after their staff.

Any road.  The world changed and a lot of landowners today are rich on paper (sounds like us smallholders) and poor in pocket and they can't afford to maintain their estates properly, because of death duties and people expecting not to work for a pittance.

Wouldn't it be good to have the boot on the other foot?  What would you do if you won the lottery?  I would like another farm/castle, probably in Herefordshire with a herd of red Hereford cows, a flat in a city with public transport and a holiday home in Portugal and I would collect some more vintage tractors.  I don't want much do I?  What would you like?

Tuesday 21 October 2014

I Taut I Saw A Smallholding Pussy Tat Sleeping With A Teddy Bear. (I am not always serious).

This is a picture taken last night when the hurricane Gonzalo decided to visit Ireland and Blighty.  He just slept through it all.  Domino the smallholding ratting cat is really a big softie and even has his own blanket and teddy bear.

Time for a song.  Here's Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley.  He lived on a smallholding, you know!

Sunday 19 October 2014

Living Like The Smallholding Folk Long A Go.

The landline is still not working since the lightning a couple of weeks a go.  The telephone company texted the wife's mobile phone on Friday saying that "they had fixed the fault".  So we duly plugged in the handset and it was dead.  So the missus rang the telephone company and explained that she couldn't phone her elderly relation in dear old Blighty.  The lady on the other end said:

"Can she not ring your mobile?"

This is like you going in B and  Q and they tell you to buy your paving slabs from Wickes.

Any road.  The land-line woman told us that our phone problem is a private problem.  So we will have to wait three or 4 days for this to be resolved.

I am in a good mind to let them fix it and then tell them to take the line down.

The gale season is here early this year.  Britain and Ireland is supposed to be getting battered by an Hurricane from Bermuda on Monday night.  No doubt this will mean flooding, structural damage and power cuts due to falling trees?

I was sat there the other night after the lighting struck the power lines with candles lit and torches on the table.  No phone to look at blogs, emails and no television and no peace to attempt to read.  I thought:

"This is what it must of been like before electricity".  You would hand milk the cows and then relax watching the fire under the glaze of your candles and paraffin Tilley lamp.  No doubt hoping somebody would call to put the world to rights.  Wouldn't it have been boring?

Could you manage without electricity or television or broadband?  The joys of country living eh?

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Some Of Our Smallholding Pals.

 Fido our terrier and ratter 'chilling out' in front of our Stanley range.  She normally lies on the tiles on top of the pipes leading to the radiators.  She's not daft.  Except for last week when she ran off when it was lightning and a neighbouring farmer found her in his field.

 Domino asleep on the Irish Inependent.  It must have been an exciting and very tiring read?

 Domino 'selfie'.  Wide awake and ready to commence his nightly mousing duties around the smallholding.  He is mouse mad at the moment and keeps leaving me dead mice on the slab paths to dispose of.

 Calves in at night and bad days.  Number one son customised the head feeders with metal bars and tractor exhaust clamps to stop them climbing through.  They are eating hay and beef nuts (2 buckets a day) and oats and grass when they can go outside.

Friday 10 October 2014

How Far Is West Cork From Hinkley Point? (Nuclear Bunker Wanted For Irish Smallholding).

My last post was about us needing an Anderson Shelter for when we have a gale on our smallholding.  We got lightning strikes Wednesday afternoon.  The terrier went missing overnight and the landline went kaput for the third time this year.  So going off the last time.  We should have our phone fixed in five weeks time.  Nature can be very frightening, can't it?

I couldn't believe it the other day when I read that they are going to build another nuclear power-station just 150 miles away from the Irish coast.  What happens if there is an accident or a terrorist group attacks one of Britain's nuclear power stations?  Why do most of the UK political parties support nuclear power and weapons?  Why do none nuclear countries have to live next door to nuclear ones?

I read recently that if the Romans had nuclear power stations in Britain.  They would still be radioactive today.  Germany plans to close down all its nuclear plants by 2022.  Don't suppose Britain will?  Do you feel safe with nuclear power and weapons?  Do we need nuclear?

Perhaps I should make my own smalholding nuclear bunker?  Or should I just crawl under the table and paint everything white?

To quote dear old Mrs Merton:

"Lets have an heated debate."

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Wanted Anderson Shelter For Our Smallholding.

I have been thinking ("oh no!") imagine if we had our very own Anderson shelter or a cellar on the smallholding.  Sunday night was the first gale of the gale season.  This usually lasts from November to March, here in Ireland, in the countryside, slap bang next to the sea.

Local people tell me that the gales seem to be getting worse and they don't like the gales either.  All that wind and all that power and we all worrying, praying and crossing our fingers, when ever we get a storm.  I woke up yesterday morning and half expected to go outside and for it to look like a scene from the Wizard of Oz after the Tornado.  There was no Toto to be seen.  Just Fido my faithful Jack Russell terrier/ tripe hound.  She wagged her tail and looked at me with a bemused expression on her face, as if to say:

"What's wrong with you Davy boy?"

"Twas only a breeze to blow away the cobwebs."

She had obviously been sleeping in the hay-barn full of  large round bales of hay and totally oblivious to the gale.  I hate the storms.  Especially when we lose our electricity and we have no water from the well because the electricity runs the well pump and we can't build the fire up in the range because it will start to make the pipes threaten to explode because we can't turn the pump on.  But most of all I hate it when we have no lights or television and especially when we have no broadband to read blogs and email.

Do you think we should build a cellar or an Anderson shelter for the gales?  Or should we not be so soft and just batten down the hatches, stick ear plugs in our ears and try to go to sleep?

Saturday 4 October 2014

Smallholders Leek, Potato And Carrot Soup With A Country Style Wholemeal Bread Mix From Aldi. For Less Than 2 Euro.

 We made some bread and soup yesterday (Friday) afternoon.  It was a mixed day with some overcast showers.  I dug up 3 Leeks and some potatoes and a onion and two carrots.  Then we chopped and sliced up the vegetables and cooked them in a pint and half of vegetable stock.  Then we brought it to the boil and blended it.

The bread was made a bit earlier from a mix from Aldi.  We get two loaves from the bread mix.  The range in the kitchen gets lit late morning and it cooks the supper, heats the radiators and gives us hot water.  We have chopped and split lots of logs (thanks to last winters Darwin gale)and we have loads to burn in the log shed.  So we thought:

"Why not make some soup?"

We thought the bread tasted gorgeous but the soup was a bit average and boring.  It did fill us up though and all for less than 2 Euro.

What's your cheapest home grown meal or soup?

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...