Sunday 27 December 2015

More Old Things For The Collection.

I think one day our little smallholding in West Cork will appear on that television series: Hoarders.  You know the one were you have to climb over a speed boat won on Bulls Eye, a Raleigh Chopper bicycle, a Bachelors LP, two boxes of Caramac and a myriad of different household items from way back when.  Yes we have been collecting again.  

We got these framed prints the other week.  They are illustrations taken from long defunct magazines like the: The Queen. The LADY'S NEWSPAPER AND COURT CHRONICLE____March 1st 1873.  

There is an even older one: The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine October 1861.  They remind me of Jane Austen and Bronte novels.  I think women dressed so stylish in those days.   They still do but not in the same volume of  way back then.  I sometimes think my wife and me lived in another age with horses and carts, copper kettles and roaring fires, stone flagged pubs with copper topped tables and frothing pints served in tankards.

If you could go back in time.  When would you have liked to have lived?  I would have like to have been in a Thomas Hardy  novel set in Wessex or a walled kitchen gardener in somewhere like Heligan in Cornwall.


Thursday 24 December 2015

Some Early Christmas Presents.

Merry Christmas to you all.  

Not a lot to report from the smallholding.  The bulls are now bullocks and the fields are saturated.  Another gale last night.  We treated ourselves to some early Christmas presents to cheer us up from this very wet winter.  Locals tell me they have never known it so wet.   

I remember when I was about eight, asking my mother if my pet goldfish was wet?  She laughed.  I didn't.  How would a goldfish know what it was to be wet?

 The wife treated herself to an early Christmas present.  She bought herself (and us) a kettle that whistles and doesn't need electric.   

 I treated myself to a bottle of malt Scottish whisky.  I couldn't wait until Christmas day and we have had two drinks already.  Happy Christmas!

Thursday 17 December 2015

A Smallholding Work Bench Made From The Back Of A Lorry.

 We went for a day out  Christmas shopping in Kerry yesterday.  When we came back number one son showed us his latest project.  He made a work bench from the back end of a lorry.  You can still see the hazard tape on the front under the vice.  

The bench from a different angle.  You can also see the trolley jack he repaired several blogs a go.  

The weather is still very mixed and the poor vegetable plot is a no go area at present.  I am hoping it drys out over Christmas and I can get some weeding and digging done.  

Christmas seems to be so drawn out these days.  We like to celebrate Christmas day and get back to doing something the day after: Boxing/Stephen's Day.  

Saturday 12 December 2015

More Smallholding Treasure.

It's been another week of wet and windy weather and they ("who are they?") are predicting gales right up to Christmas and beyond.  The cattle are going through hay like there is no tomorrow.  

Yesterday Number One son bought a Star root slicer.  To any anoraks or collectors, it's a No9.  It been in the back garden of somebodies and he duly bought it.  We lifted it on to the back of the pick up and brought it home.  It's got 4 carrying handles like the root cutter we bought a few weeks a go.  

Number one and number two (I sound like Charlie Chan) helped me carry it into the cowshed  and then I was sent for spanners and number one son duly loosened a few nuts and the old girl worked again.  We raided the wife's potatoes from the utility room and sliced a bucket of them for the cattle.  They were very impressed. The missus wasn't!

A very blurred picture of the cattle tucking into the potato slices.

Still haven't got any fodder beet yet.  Some farmer told me every rat in Christendom would visit the farm if we bought some.  The old terrier and cat would think Christmas had come early.  I have managed to get a ton of cow potatoes for around Christmas.  Should be happy potato slicing time!

Thursday 3 December 2015

Why Does It Always Rain On Me/Smallholding?

Sorry to paraphrase the Travis song. When we first moved to Ireland nearly fifteen years a go.  We would let the bullocks out into the fields for day grazing.  These days they never get outside due to the constant rain and wet conditions.  We believe that winters are getting wetter.  The fields seem to be getting more rushes every day.  It's not good for man nor or beast or the the human spirit.  Anybody for arthritis?

Things are a lot easier now though for us humans.  The old cow shed was taken apart and a rock breaker on the end of a thirteen ton digger dug us a mighty deep hole.  Then the tank was shuttered and concrete was poured and an articulated lorry from Limerick came with the concrete slats and number one son and me and a neighbour sheet-ed the shed and made feed barriers.  It cost a lot of money but it made life so much easier and comfortable for the cattle.  

No longer am I mucking out with a pike and a wheel barrow and my Ford 3000 and box.  It's all dry and clean and so much easier.  I need to see a rock band or plan an holiday next year when we sell the cattle.  Somewhere warm and cheap.    I would imagine it will be Portugal or Spain or even Canada.  Where are you going for your holidays next year?

Talking of rock music.  I discovered a French chapess on You Tube the other week.  I think she's only 16 and she's superb.  Here she is playing 'The Loner' cover made famous by ex Thin Lizzy guitarist  the late and great Gary Moore.  I once saw him  play at  the Milton Keynes Garden Party in about 1986.  Eighteen of us jumped into the back of a Luton removal van and traveled down the cobbled part of the M6 to Milton Keynes.  We could do with some of their concrete cows with all this rain.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Smallholding Treasure And A Early Christmas Present For The Cattle.

We did some more horse trading (bartering) this week.  We have managed to obtain a Philip Pierce Root Cutter.  It's antique and we are using it to chop up any wanted vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beetroot.  

HFW would surely approve of this machine.  If we could get hold of all those mountains of waste/miss shaped vegetables and use them for cattle feed.  The machines been restored and is very sharp and you make a bucket of peelings/shards in a minute.  

I have been looking for Fodder Beet for sale on Done Deal and in the Southern Star newspaper.  The growers only deliver it in 20 ton loads.  Anybody know how many ton we will need to feed 10 weanlings this winter?  A grower up near Cork city says he will sell it in ton loads if we collect it.  Me thinks we will go for some this weekend.  I will use my:

"Do you want a ride out to Aldi and do some shopping"

excuse.  It usually works.

We have grown a field of Fodder Beet in the past.  Might grow another field of it next year.  You just chop it in half with the spade and then throw it in the root chopper, turn the handle and your cattle have a bucket full.  Some farmers feed it with straw.  

I love it when old farm equipment gets a new lease of life.  

Friday 20 November 2015

A Hobbit Woman On The Telly.

We watched Ben Fogle's  New Lives In The Wild on Channel 5 last night.  Ben met Emma Orbach, a Hobbit type lady who lives in a mud hut/roundhouse in Pembrokeshire.  Emma decided she didn't like conventional living with electricity ("it makes feel weird.")  and built her own house for seven hundred quid.  

In the programme Ben goes for a swim/bath in the stream and waits half an hour for the kettle to boil for a :

"nice cup of tea".

Emma keeps goats, grows her own veg and she seemed really happy living in rural isolation.  The series is about people who decide to leave the rat race and live off the land.  It's really worth watching.  Here's a video I found of Emma:

She's an Oxford graduate and she seemed to have great animals skills.  Wish I had her patience.  Don't think I would like to have no electricity.  No Internet, no thanks!  

So blog friends.  What could you give up or would you be prepared to?  I gave up my Sky subscription recently and I am regretting it very much.  Can't imagine life without watching Manchester United on the telly.    

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Smallholding Home/Supper On The Range.

It's storm Barney time here on the Sheeps Head Peninsula in South West Ireland today.    Living on a peninsula can be very windy at times.  The last few days have been horribly wet and windy outside.  

The garden  and the veg plot are far too wet and windy to work at present.  I can't mow the grass and I can't weed.  At least the cattle are in their shed with the slatted tank eating our hay we made back in June.

So it's was a stay inside day for us today.  The terrier (Fido) wasn't daft and she always finds the best seat or (bed) on the house.  Here she is plonked down in front of our Stanley Mourne (number 7) solid fuel range.  We are going through turf and firewood like there is no tomorrow at the moment. 

On top of the stove is our tea cooking away in our Tagine.  Beef Chilli Con Carne to be precise.  It's delicious cooked in a tagine.  

We have decided to have Sirloin steak for Christmas day.  I wouldn't mind a nice pudding or gateaux for afters.  We might make one.  Hmm...?

I believe Iceland is opening some new stores in Ireland.  So we will probably go to Tralee for Christmas shopping.  Wonder if they sell meat and potato pies in those plastic bags?  Hollands or Pukka will suffice!

Think I might treat myself to a nice bottle of Scottish malt too.  Dalwhinnie is superb.  What are you having for Christmas dinner?

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The Sad Old Blacksmiths Forge And Waiting For the Storm In Dunmanus Bay.

We went round the road around the hill to Durrus this morning.  We stopped on the way outside the old blacksmiths forge. This is no longer in use.  Such a shame. 

 I think buildings have human like faces.  This one looks sad and lonely.  If it's walls could speak.  

Storm clouds gathering over Dunmanus Bay.  The West of Ireland is supposed to be getting another crack of the whip/tailend of Abigail tonight.  You never get use to the Atlantic gales.  It's gale season here from November to March.

Monday 9 November 2015

A Wonderful Blacksmith Tool For Sale At The Car-boot Sale.

Here lies a new find on our front room vinyl.  An old blacksmith vice we found last week at a car boot sale.  We did our usual (top tip) walk 3 times round the stalls to see if we had missed anything.  

Old blacksmiths vice.  
We were getting to the last of the sellers and we hadn't bought or seen much of interest that day.  Then my good wife and I spotted the vice lying on the ground.  The stallholder/carbooter told us some body he knew had just dropped it off and asked it to sell it for him.  Then a elderly gentlemen next to me piped up:

"It's the number four.  Not the number five vice."


Says me.  None the wiser. 

"Yes the number 5 was always the one most blacksmith like to use the most."

I then informed them that we wanted it for our son to use on the smallholding.  "

He can make all sorts of stuff with his hands."

"Mm... But can he shoe hosses?" 

I said most horse shoes are factory made these days.  But he can use it to fix tractors and repair things and when he's welding. 

The vice owner came back and we told him we wanted it for a good home and it would still be worked.  The man was delighted and we even got twenty Euros knocked off the asking price.  

Wouldn't it be great to see the blacksmiths forges open again?    

Sunday 1 November 2015

One Hundred New Gristelinia Plants For The Smallholding And Dreaming Of Living Overseas.

I decided to make one hundred Gristelinia hedging plants the other day.  I dug 3 slit trenches and made some cuttings with my secateurs.    You can root roses and shrubs this way.  It's a good way of using a part of the veg plot that's empty at the moment.  Hopefully they will all root and I will have 200 hedging plants to sell.

 Nasturtiums still flowering in a soil filled bath in the poly-tunnel.

Most of the poly tunnel is full of plants that I made this wet Irish summer.  Will hopefully sell them next Spring and have a lot of money to spend if we go on holiday to Portugal.  We have been there twice and fell head over heels with the place and the sun and cheap cost of living compared to Britain and Ireland.  

We are seriously thinking of moving there and buying an old ruin and living in a caravan while we do it up.  We are both in our fifties and fed up with the Irish and British wet climate and no pub....  

Not sure if we will sell up though.  Considering renting out the farm for a year and seeing if we like it first.  Any advice of living in a warm country would be greatly appreciated.  We would like to be within  walking distance of a village and preferably be near public transport too.  Making a living is another problem.  Like most rural areas always seem to have.  You only have one life.  So why don't we give it a go?  Who else would like to live on a smallholding in Portugal?  

Monday 26 October 2015

New Arrivals On Our Irish Smallholding.

"It's my bed not yours."  
These two bundles of joy arrived on our farm last week.  The wife and number 2 son brought home the Border Collie and Number 1 son brought home the Jack Russell (Parson Terrier) one night.  

We talked about getting another ratter because our terrier is getting old and we didn't want a big void when she goes to doggy Heaven.  Fido will also be to train them up.  We have called them Bell and Scamp.  Don't think the terrier pup will need training up.  She's a right nowty so and so.  

This will mean another two dog licences (twenty Euros each) to buy.  I might do my Monty Python impersonation and go the post office and enquire about a licence for Domino our cat:

"I'd like a licence for my cat please."

Thursday 15 October 2015

Our Smallholding Calves Have Their Horns Removed.

It was de-horning the other night on our smallholding here in West Cork, Ireland.   A friend we know helped us de-horn them in the cattle crush.  I have read that cattle have horns mainly for divining water and not jut for protecting themselves.  Some breeds like Aberdeen Angus are naturally polled and the Irish often refer them as the 'Black Polly'.  

Our friend came with his hand held gas de-horner.  He said it cost him 270 Euros and it runs off a 7 Euros gas cyclinder.  This burns the horn buds and they will (hopefully) no longer grow back.  The cattle marts will not allow them to be sold if they have horns.  Any way the de-horning went succesful and here's the boys a girls a week later.  They don't look any worse for wear.  

The next job for the boys will be the 'clampsing'  or making the bulls into bullocks.  This will be done around Christmas and before the lads are fertile enough to jump on two heifers.  

Saturday 10 October 2015

Our Old Turf Fire.

Most of the blogs I follow seem to be having Autumn themes at the moment so why I don't do the same?

We did travel once again last week over the Cork and Kerry mountains for some retail therapy and to pick up fifteen bags of machine dug turf (peat).  My wife remembers many years ago (sixties) getting off the boat with her Irish family at Dun Laoghaire and smelling the turf fires.  She said they knew they that were back in Ireland.  

Just 3 Euros a bag.  That's about two pounds twenty two pence per bag.  We go through a bag of turf a day/night at the moment.
Our Stanley Mourne number 7 range burning logs and turf.  We cook on it, get our hot water from it and it heats seven radiators.  

We were talking to an elderly farmer the other day.  He said you should only light a fire once in Autumn and you should never let it go out until Spring.  My grandparents used to stoke their range with turf at night, close the door and it would be lovely and warm in the kitchen in the morning.  

Here's an appropriate song for you:

Sunday 4 October 2015

"A Chimney For Every Month, A Door For Every Week, A Window For Every Day Of The Year."

I thought I would show you a really impressive ruin in West Cork.  It's called Coppingers Court.  It was built in the early 17th century by Sir Walter Coppinger.  He was said to be a money lender and he gained considerable estates by mortgage.  He is remembered as someone who lorded over the district and he hanged anybody who disagreed with him from a gallows on the gable end of the court.  

Coppingers Court had two silver gates.  They were thrown into a small lake in Glandore.  In the same year that it was ransacked in 1641 and partly burned down.  It's been derelict since.  This is near Roscarberry and Glandore.  Not far from Drombeg stone circle.  Carol Vorderman used to have an holiday home near here..

It was so impressive a building.  That it had a chinmney for every month, a door for every week and a window for every dasy.  We took the photographs from the lane next to the field.  We were told the landowners didn't really like people trespassing on their property.  So we took these pictures from a distance.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Do You Have A Local Pub?

One thing I really miss living in the countryside is being near a pub.  My ideal pub would be an old stone pub with rough plaster walls, oak beams, flagged floors, real ales, and serving regional food from all over the British Isles.   

One thing about a local pub is the camaraderie and people are more their true selves when they have a drink or more.  You also get to know what people can do and what they have for sale.  Dare I say it?  You may even feel like you are part of a community.  Or is that just a myth?  

When was the last time you went in your local pub?  Is it modern or old fashioned?  Do you stay in and buy your beer from the supermarket and watch the telly sat in your scruffs?  Well I do, sadly!  It's a lot cheaper to drink at home but you don't have a social life do you?  

When was the last time you went in a pub?  Do you have a local?


Sunday 27 September 2015

Scenes From The South Kerry Ploughing In Killarney.

We went over to Killarney today (Sunday) to the South Kerry Ploughing in Kerry.  It was a lovely day and hundreds if not thousands attended the really well organized event.  The only disappointment was that I couln't find the beer tent.  I don't think there was one.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

The Smallholding Tools Restorer.

There was an English shovel and a Irish shovel.  No this is not the start of a joke.  There was also a sledgehammer with no handle and 2 more hammer heads (not the shark variety) with no heads.  So what did number one son do?  He welded and cut new metal handles for three of them.  They were lying around and he decided to make them good again.

I brought the English shovel over with me nearly fifteen years a go.  Ireland and most of the world seem to like the long handled shovel.  This is often called the Celtic shovel and there are similar one's in England called the Devon shovel.  I have always been used to the bend your back t shaped English shovel.  I seem to use the long handled shovel more these days.  No jokes about council workers nipple rash from leaning on their shovels.

Two sledge hammer heads waiting their turn to be fitted with new handles.  I have since painted the tools and they look like new again.  

Sunday 20 September 2015

More Knitting Tales! A Aran Cardigan Made On The Smallholding.

Here is some more of the wife's knitting to look at.  Apparently it's an Aran cardigan.  These originate from the Aran Isles off Galway.  A lot of patterns were distinctive family patterns.  Not just for decoration.  It was surmised that they were used to identify missing fishermen when their boats had been lost at sea and drowned.  Some folk do not agree with this theory.  I think the Clancy Brothers, Grace Kelly, Steve McQueen and Val Doonican made the Aran jumpers so famous.

Here are the back and front of a cardigan my wife knitted 2 years ago.  Sadly it won't fit number 2 son any more.  I wonder if it will fit the terrier?

Can't think of any knitting jokes.  Apart from the old one about the horse that swallowed a ball of wool.  It turned into a fine jumper.

Two Charity Shop Vases Full Of Feverfew.

"The 18th Century Aspirin Plant." I have this plant growing in my veg garden at the moment.  It is supposed to be brilliant for al...