Tuesday 28 April 2015

Seaside Grazing For The Girls.

Here's a blurry picture of my cattle taken this morning from a distance on the old mobile phone.  We live in the countryside next (Bantry Bay) to the sea.  That's the Beara Peninsula across the bay.  I often think if we lived in a tourist area in say England or Portugal.  The land would be full of hotels, villas and campsites.  But it's not, it's rural Ireland.  The land is used for cattle and sheep and growing hay and silage.

 There are houses and farms but very little infrastructure where we live.  There is no public transport or shops or a pub or even a bottle bank on the North side of the Sheep's Head Peninsula.  But it's a beautiful place and I always wanted to live here.  I think most rural places lack infrastructure.
 Bracken the Shetland pony eating the 'Furze' (Gorse) flowers.  He uses the electricity cable straining pole to scratch his back.  The Furze flowers smell like Sun tan lotion at the moment.  The fields are abundant with cuckoo flowers too.  I have not put out 'bag manure' (granulated fertilizer) this year.  Don't think we will need it with only having 6 yearling heifers.  Apart from the odd worming injection.  You could say we are almost organic.

Think we will buy hay this year instead of growing silage.  There won't be the huge expense of paying silage contractors to make it for us.  I will buy small square bales of hay for new calf replacements in the Autumn.  Or if the pasture gets too strong and in front of the cattle we will make some hay ourselves.  It all depends on if they eat the grass and what the weather is like.

John Seymour wrote: "When you buy hay you buy land."  Think he had a point.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Straw Potatoes?

Early potatoes pushing up their shoots.  Notice my homemade concrete path made with recycled pig slats.  
I took drastic steps before we went on our jollies to Portugal and covered my potato patch with old straw.  Here's a picture of them yesterday.  I removed the straw to one side and earthed up the soil over the potatoes and replaced the blanket of straw again.  This was done with my trusty four prong pike and azada.

There were frosts this morning and the air felt very chilly.  Never known an April so dry or so nice.  Talking to a farmer friend who was talking to another farmer, and he said it was like this years ago when he got married one April.  Then it rained all summer.  Hope this isn't summer?  What do you think?  

Friday 24 April 2015

More Pictures From The Algarve & Seville.

 Ice plants growing wild on a cliff top path in the Algarve,
Ants making a nest on the cliff top path.
A dream villa and wonderful garden.  We have Oesteosperrnums growing in our garden in West Cork.

They be pirates!

Oranges growing on the trees in Seville. 

Red roses in flower in Seville in April.

The world famous Seville bull ring.  It holds 14000 spectators.  I wondered if Hemingway had stood where I was?

 Eiffel bridge in Seville.  He also designed a tower in Paris similar to the one in Blackpool and the Meccano set that is the statue of Liberty in New York.
Faro marina.

Yet another cheap flight landing at Faro airport.

Bone chapel in a little village called Alcantarila on the Algarve.  I found it on the internet and we we found the village a few miles off the tourist path in the Algarve.  It was only like the size of a living room and contains the bones of 1,500 parishioners.  It wasn't gruesome at all.  More awesome and incredible than anything!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Day Trip To Seville.

Last Monday morning we got up early and boarded the coach (6.40) to Seville.  It cost us 144 Euros for the four of us to go on our day trip to Spain.  We picked up other day trippers along the way out of the Algarve to Spain.  The tourists seemed to be made up of Brits and Germans.

It was good to visit another European country on our travels.  Last year I went to Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

I couldn't believe what was behind this door.  It looked a grand enough building with it's ornate facade.  It's the Plaza De Espana in Seville.

We walked through the entrance hall and out into the courtyard/canal.  What a vista.

 Air cooling system on one of the roofs.  A necessary piece of equipment.  It was 32 degrees in Seville.

Built in the nineteen thirties.  Probably the most impressive piece of modern architecture I have ever seen.  The building was featured in Lawrence of Arabia and one of the Star Wars films.

We stopped on the way back at a roadside cafe bar and had a small glass of Spanish beer.  I enjoyed our day trip to Spain.  I didn't enjoy flying to Portugal when the steward informed us by phone that the pilot was going to the toilet for a few minutes.  Sure enough the cockpit door opens and the pilot walks up the aisle to the outside toilets on the wings (it was a cheap flights operator), seriously he goes to the toilet at the back of the plane.  Why couldn't he have used the one at the front and wasn't it good that the air steward was now flying the plane?  It was a very tense and quiet five minutes in the plane while the pilot carried out his ablutions.

We got there Ok and back to sunny Ireland last Friday.  It was good to have a change of scenery and it's great to have such wonderful weather in Ireland.  Never known an April like it!

Saturday 18 April 2015


Sorry I haven't blogged or left any comments on the blogs I follow for a week.  We have been away in the Algarve for a few days.  It's been wonderful weather and finally got to visit Spain for the day.  It was 32 degrees in Seville last Monday.  Will post a few blogs of our holiday over the next week.

Seville weather last Monday.

We last went to the Algarve 2 years a go and it was good to return.  Especially Albufeira with all the Brits soaking up the rays and tucking into their "Full English Breakfasts".  I prefer the Algarve to Spain.  It's so much much subtle.  All the menus are in German, English, French and Portuguese and it's full of Brits and Irish folk.  We paid 4.75 Euros each for a 'Full English' breakfast.

The prices of food and drink seem similar to two years a go.  If you go self catering and just shopped in the supermarkets you would save a lot of money.  A litre bottle of 'Super Bock' is only 2 Euro.  While you can buy a cheap bottle of wine for 1.49.  Pub prices are around 2.50/3.00 Euros for a pint of local 'Super Bock'/'Sagres'.  We did notice on bar that sold lager for 2 Euros a pint.  I missed my Newcastle Brown ale though.

The Duty Free at Faro airport only allowed us THIRTY bottles if we wanted to bring it home.  I boought 2 litre bottles of Smirnoff vodka for 29 Euros.

We did notice there is lots of property for sale.  So Portugal must be still in recession like Britain and Ireland.  I don't think we ever recovered from the recession in the nineteen eighties.

  We noticed this sign in an Algarve cafe window on Friday morning, the last day of our holiday:

Perhaps Mr Crabtree the police man in 'Allo Allo' had  retired to Portugal and opened a cafe?

"Good moaning."

Thursday 9 April 2015

Another One Of My Walks Along The Dragons Back.

We went on another one of our walks on Monday.   We travelled by car along the narrow and precarious road up the Goats Path.  It's one of the most spectactular scenic roads on the Sheepshead Peninsula.  Plus it's on the North side (Northsider blog name) of the peninsula.  You can see the Beara Peninsula, our peninsula and the Mizen peninsula.  Three peninsulas sticking their fingers out into the Atlantic.  You can even see the Fastnet lighthouse from up here  They use to call it the the 'Teardrop of Ireland'.  It was the last part of Ireland the emigrant ships would see.

 We parked the car next to this pieta.  It's featured in Mike Harding's book: Footloose In The West of Ireland.  Apparently the Calvary was put there by a local man who made good in America.
 We just went for a saunter up the Peakeen Ridge to the ancient X-Passage tomb.
 I christened it the :'Dragon's Back'.  Because the mountain is all scaly and undulated like a stone dragon's back.  No I haven't been on the Poteen ("white lemonade") again.  I have just got a vivid imagination and lots of time to go for walks.
Sign to the Megalithic Tomb.
 The wedge tomb of some ancient chieftain.  I believe it was found when they made the route for the Sheep's Head Way.  You just follow the yellow oak finger posts.
 The chieftains ashes would have been buried in the wedge tomb and a stone cairn placed on the top.
Deserted famine village looking down  above the cliffs overlooking Bantry Bay.

We walked 4 miles and people much younger than us spoke and passed us on the descent back to the car park.  Yet another sign we are slowing down and getting older.  Time waits for no one, does it?

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Signs Of Summer On Our Smallholding.

It's been beautiful here in West Cork for the last week or so.  We have managed to get the veg plot neat and tidy.  It's a lot easier now that we have reduced the size of it by thirty percent.  Here's the latest pictures.

 Pig slats for paths.  Gristelina hedge cuttings growing nicely.
 Japanese onions planted last Autumn.  They seem to be liking the sun.
 Our Summer onions starting to sprout.
Dogwood cuttings sprouting in a raised bed.  They are asking 6 Euros a piece for these in the garden centres.
First early potatoes sticking out their shoots.  I quickly raked soil over them.
 Homemade compost heap.  Not very neat but it makes great compost.
 Strawberries growing in old tyres.  Hope the Cadmium doesn't poison us.
 Shallots sprouting in baths.
 Fido walking on my newly seeded wildflower/apple and pear orchard.  She's stood next to peas growing in an old stainless steel sink.
 Nettles and Docks growing up the sides of my early potatoes.
 Potatoes in an old 'ride on' mower grass box growing in the poly-tunnel.  You can see a piece of last years Parsnips sgrowing with them.  Only a few weeks and we will have our first new potatoes.
 The garlic loves growing inside the poly-tunnel in the old tractor wheel rims.
 Lots of veg plants and bedding plants growing in the poly-tunnel.  We get our seeds from Lidl and Aldi for 79 Cents.  No longer do we buy veg plants.

 Domino posing in the sun.  He spends his time catching mice in the compost heap.

Some of my perennial plants that we made.  

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...