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.


  1. Aw look at them. Any shaft of warm sunlight and my mums cat is in it. My friend's cat got so close to the wood stove he burnt his whiskers off and had blisters on his nose. When he came back from the vet he went straight to the stove again. it now has a huge child proof metal mesh cover and he sits so his fat oozes through the wire mesh lol I think that cat was born in Hades.

  2. Hi Sol. They are characters aren't they? Domino the cat seems to have a really devilish expression on his face, doesn't he? He spends his time catching field mice, letting them go and catching therm again. Then he either eats them or leaves them for me to dispose of. At least he hasn't left me any rats yet! Thanks.

  3. I adore the blue domino selfie..that's a big smile

  4. They're both looking well fed, either the hunting's going very well or you're feeding them too well?

  5. Loved having a look at your gang, especially Fido. Lester has also got to some 'magic' with the welder for our cow pens, but just to make big hay mangers. Glad we only have two cows though, not sure we could mange a bigger herd!

  6. Hi John. It's the electric light reflecting on the blue kitchen walls that make Domino appear blue. He is actually white with a black tail and black ears. Cumbrian gave him the clever name: Domino.

  7. They appear first thing every morning at the kitchen door. Fido usually eats her and most of Domino's breakfast. She is an ever open dustbin. Crisps, dog food, cat food, leftovers (even curry) and cadges biscuits from me. Domino isn't so fat. He likes a long sleep though after his night shift. They both earn their keep. Thanks Cumbrian!

  8. Hi Vera. I know the story of the Italian dog (it was an he) who waited everyday for 13 years for his master to come home on the bus. Not knowing he had been killed. I think Fido is latin and means: "I obey"? Any way. I had never known a real dog called Fido. So that's how she got her name.

    My son made the head feeders in the cowshed. He is self taught and very practical. He's currently making another hydraulic log splitter for my brother. I wish Lester much luck with his welding. I wasn't born with the gift of welding. Two cows must eat a lot of hay and meal. They (who are they?) say it costs 750 Euro to over winter a cow. My calves are costing over 20 Euro a week for nuts and oats and a round bale of hay costs me 28 Euros. This lasts about a fortnight. Thanks!

    1. One of our main outlays is the animal feed, so thank goodness that our winters are relatively short. You must bless your handy son. Lester's welding is improving with each gate he is making although it does take him a long time. Next on the list is the plumbing and carpentry jobs in the kitchen! Bless him, but he is a man under pressure at the moment!

  9. Hi Vera. I think it's not a good idea to work out how much it costs to run a smallholding. There is animal feed, insurance, diesel, tractor repairs and maintenance, vegetable seeds, fence posts, sheep wire, contractors to cut the silage, silage wrap, vet bills, new livestock...? Then there are the winter's. 2010 was said to be the worst in fifty years.

    Number one son is self taught with his welding. He says it's hours and hours of practice and a couple of professional welders have give him tips. It also helps (like most jobs) if you have good equipment and not cheap welding rods. It is difficult getting help in the countryside. You will have to ask around if there are anybody who will help you with your plumbing and carpentry jobs. You will get there, no worries!

  10. I think it's very much swings and roundabouts with running a smallholding, we just about break even on the poultry with eggs that we sell for eating, eggs for hatching and some live birds for breeding, eggs for the house and poultry meat for the house, cost 50 euro a week, return about the same. Pigs are well worth doing, they worked out to just under 2.10 euro per kg, rabbits cost far less to produce than poultry. If we had to buy meat and veg we would be looking at around 80 euro a week, allowing for unexpected events we are probably saving about 60 euros a week, but most of our food has come from our land, veg straight from the garden fruit the same except what we have foraged for. The down side is the work involved, on average four hours a day seven days a week, just over two euros an hour!

  11. Hi Anne. Thanks for telling us about running your smallholding. Somebody once said to me if a farmer made 25p an hour. They would be doing well. You sound like know what you're doing if your breaking even.

    Rural Ireland seems so different to the Ireland I use to visit, when I stayed on my grandparents farm in the nineteen sixties and seventies. Farmers would stay at home and everybody seemed to grow some vegetables. Nowadays the countryside is empty in the day time and people seem to go to work and have mortgages, if they are lucky enough to have a job.

    We buy a few calves or weanlings and keep them until they are adults then we hope to make 300 Euro a head after feeding them, fertilizer and paying the vet for their annual test. Sometimes we get near our target and sometimes we fail miserably due to the down turn in cattle prices. We farm mainly for sentiment and because its a beautiful place. I think a lot also depends on if you have a mortgage, job, a decent single farm payment and maybe a local pub or community centre for your mental health. Rural Isolation is not good for the spirit and public transport doesn't seem to exist in rural Ireland.

    Saying all that. I always want to get back to the countryside when I go away or visit the city for an occasional rock concert. You can't beat growing your own fruit, meat and vegetables. Smallholding is not for the faint hearted, but I can see the merits for living in a suburb or a village.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Anne.

  12. When I opted out of the rat race I left a very busy city centre pub ( in Bristol) for the isolation of Anglesea, truth be told there were a few things I missed about the city, theatre's, a wide range of good restaurants and a good transport system, I felt very isolated as the other half was working so had company at work. After three years we then moved to Ireland, and threw ourselves into setting up a business on our 12 acre holding, it was hard work but we made it, we found the people friendly and helpful and only too willing to buy what we were producing. However we have always been dismayed at how few people produces any of their own food here although they have the land, they would rather put a garden down to grass than use it for food. As you say public transport is almost non existent in rural Ireland, if we want to go to Dublin for a show we either have to drive up or stay overnight, no transport back here after nine at night. Our nearest pub is 6k away, not a problem they don't sell real ale so we are happy enough to go without. Nearest good restaurant about 45k away, so we limit our visits to high days and holidays. Internet speeds leave a lot to be desired, and nearest emergency hospital over an hours drive away.
    On the plus side, no pollution , no light pollution, peace and quiet, no traffic noise, plenty of land to do what we want and cheap price property. Would not swap what we have now for a life near a town, even with all the disadvantages.
    Question Dave, when did you have to start paying for the cattle's annual test? it used to be free!

  13. Thanks for that, Anne. We live sixty miles from our nearest city, Cork. I think the last bus from Cork to Bantry is about 8 O'clock? So if we want to see a show or concert it means booking an hotel for the night. So it's at least 200 Euros for a night out.

    I miss real ale too. You should set up your own micro-brewery with all your experience in the pub trade.

    I don't understand why there is so little public transport in rural Ireland. Every weekday private hackney firms provide school transport. So the infrastructure fleet of buses are there. Why can't the government pay these companies to provide a skeleton bus service for everybody during the day and night?

    I some times wish we could pick up our smallholding and move it nearer a city or large town with pavements, street lighting, public transport and music theatres. Especially when it's Winter and the gales arrive along with the dark nights. We had lightning last night. There's more tonight and a Hurricane forecast to hit us on Tuesday.

    We have been farming nearly 14 years and we have always paid for our annual herd test. You also have to pay again for a private blood test if they are over a certain age. This year we have paid to test them twice because of this. Yet pigs and sheep only get tested when they are slaughtered.


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C Is For Clannad.

 Clannad apparently means 'Family 'in Irish.  They go under the music genre Prog Folk.  I have seen them 5 times.  Twice this year. ...