Wednesday 29 July 2015

My Grandmothers Patchwork Quilt. ("Still keeping us warm.")

Here are a couple of photographs of my grandmothers patchwork quilt.  We have about 7 of them.  My grandmother died in 1971 and the quilts are still keeping us warm in winter.  The quilts were all hand sewed and must of taken months if not years to complete.

The were made back in the days when they didn't have television and the radio ("wireless") was only turned on for the six O'clock news and the weather.  I suppose it was a labour of love and something to occupy herself during the long dark nights.  Here in rural Ireland the nights are already drawing in and it won't be long before it's pitch black can't walk about at night.  We don't have street lights and it's too dangerous to walk along the main road with cars whizzing past at night.

 I often wonder how they occupied themselves during the long nights.  I suppose they would hand milk the cows and have the"supper" and wash up and stock "redden" the range up with logs and turf and settle down in a comfy chair for the evening.  

I can just picture my grandmother sat there ruining her eyesight hand sewing the quilts.  Ours have blankets inside them.  My wife thinks my grandmother covered the blankets to make them look more colourful and attractive rather than bland looking blankets.  

My grandfather would probably be smoking his pipe looking into the fire.  Perhaps reading the Cork Examiner for the twentieth time that week.  I get withdrawal symptoms if I can't look at the Internet.  

I think it's wonderful that my grandmother is still keeping us warm after all these years.  Thanks grandmother!

Monday 27 July 2015

A Song About A Diamond Mountain From Killarney.

Some of you will probably be glad to know this is my last music post about Killarney Folk Fest from last Friday night.  Luka Bloom kicked off the festival in the main hall in the I.N.E.C.  Luka is the brother of internationally acclaimed singer Christy Moore.  Luka got people down to the front straight away and it wasn't long before me and the missus were being entertained by a hippy type lady doing dervish like dances.  She was brilliant.

Luka Bloom sung about his acoustic motorbike (cycling) and he sung a cracker of a song that's been playing in my mental jukebox all weekend.  It's called:  Diamond Mountain.  I believe it's about Connemara in Galway and people emigrating to Australia.   Check Luka Bloom out on You Tube.  Here's Diamond Mountain for you.  I love this song!

Sunday 26 July 2015


Keeping with a music theme for another couple of posts.  We saw 2 more performances on Friday night at the inaugural Killarney Folkfest.  It was a bit like going to Glastonbury because you got a green wrist band placed on your wrist.  This allowed you to go outside and into the main hall.


Any way the first band to kick off the Killarney Folk Fest was Keeva.  They played a little stage just outside the Killarney INEC building.  I think they should get mainstage status next year.  They are made up of Alan Doherty (flautist), Tola Custy (violinist) and Gerry Paul (Guitarist).  They play traditional Irish and contemporary music.  Gerry Paul also writes children's books and sings songs aimed at kids.  They performed one song called:

"I'm a tug boat."

It's a really catchy tune and here's a video of it I found on You Tube:

I think Keeva are great.  Here's a video of them playing more traditional music on the Irish television channel TG4.  It's called: "Hangaw".  The flutist reminded me of Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull.

Think I will go to Killarney for the weekend next year.

Saturday 25 July 2015

The Unthanks Bring Clog Dancing To Killarney.

I have featured the Unthanks wonderful 'King of Rome' video on my blog before.  They really are a breath of of fresh air the girls from Northumberland.

The good wife did drive us over our beloved Cork and Kerry ("there's whiskey in the jar") mountains to the lovely Kerry town that is Killarney.  Queen Victoria once visited the place on her holidays and thousands have flocked there ever since.  One of the Unthanks singers even said:

"Haven't you got such stunning views?"

The audience at the first night of the Killarney Folk Fest also had stunning views of two lovely lasses from the North-East of England.  They sang sad songs and happy songs  accompanied with a brilliant orchestra, pianist, drummer and a spine tingling trumpet and player.  They even danced a few clogs dances for us.

We were only about 10 feet from the pretty two girls dressed in their summer dresses.  I enjoyed, "Starless" (King Crimson), Magpie (just the girls with no music) and of course: The King Of Rome.  Their music goes from folk, to big band, brass band to jazz to folk again.

We met an Italian chap with a lady (chapess) she had an incredible zooming camera.  They looked like professional media people.  She insisted I left my (half empty) pint of Guinness on the stage whilst she took photographs of the Unthanks and the audience.  The Italian chap told us they have come all the way from Italy just to see the Unthanks.  We had come all the way from Bantry over the Cork and Kerry mountains to see them.  Not forgetting the pot holes and grazing sheep on the tunnel road!

I have seen some great bands in my time like of: Kansas, Rush, The Beautiful South, Blue Oyster Cult, Roger Waters, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Marillion, Clannad, Jethro Tull and good old Thin Lizzy to name drop a few (yawn).  I would put The Unthanks right up there with them.  If you get a chance go and see them.  They are going to be massive.  You heard it here first folks.  Check them out on You Tube.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Bacon Cabbage And Potatoes For Sunday Tea.

We had a lovely meal tonight.  Our bacon and cabbage and potatoes grown on the smallholding veg plot.  It was delicious and the cabbage tasted fresher than anything you buy in the shops.  It was still fresh and the sugars hadn't yet changed to starches.  

That's the great thing about growing your own vegetables and raising your own meat.  It's fresh and you know what drugs or man-made chemicals it hasn't had.  Fresh veg is best.  

My grandparents ate bacon, cabbage and potatoes virtually every day.  They would kill a pig and salt the bacon and keep it in a barrel in a kitchen.  My gran-dad grew 'British Queens' potatoes and set his own cabbages.  He even sold cabbage plants from an old sack in Bantry town centre.  

Every farm use to have a field of vegetables growing when I came on holiday to West Cork in the nineteen sixties and early seventies.  There were rows of cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce, beetroot and giant cow cabbages for the cattle and mangles for the horse.  Hay was still king and round bales of silage was unheard of.  I wish we could go back to self reliant and stay at home farmers.  

I have been struggling to blog this week.  I suppose you just tap the computer keys and a blog will appear? 

Saturday 11 July 2015

Six New Pals For The Smallholding.

We bought 6 new bull calves yesterday from two different farms.  Four British Frisian and two Whitehead (Hereford) bull calves.  We sold our heifers the other week.  I wanted to buy more female calves but  prices have gone crazy.  You are talking a kings ransom at the moment.  I have heard of day old calves being sold for 500 Euros each.  Ouch!  

I honestly thought we were going to be priced out and even considered getting sheep  instead.  Luckily number one son rang round and two local farmers found us these bull calves.  

 The new livestock settling in after a good drink.  They love the hay, calf crunch and artificial milk replacer.  Forty six Euros for a bag of milk replacer!  
 Mum the six teat plastic cow.  See the calf crunch in the trough.  A dairy farmer told us to fill the trough and they will eat the crunch instead of sucking each other for milk.  I think it will attract rats.   Domino our smallholding cat and Fido our terrier are always around to scare any vermin away or even catch them.

It's good to see new life on the farm.  Every now and again I say we will pack  in farming and sell up.  But we never do and we are here for another year.  I couldn't live somewhere without a few calves or some pigs and a veg plot.  I could live somewhere warmer though like fantastic Portugal.  Or even Cardiff.  

Well done England on a fantastic first test ashes victory over the Aussies.  I wish we lived near a cricket club.  What could be better than supping a few pints of real ale and watching some cricket?  

At least we have some new bovine pals to feed milk twice a day.  Could you live somewhere without livestock or a veg plot?

Saturday 4 July 2015

How To Be A Smallholding Millionaire. ( Making New Plants In A Wet Summer.)

 I made an hundred new perennial plants this week.  I sold another sixty last week.  I reckon I could be a millionaire if I made a million plants and sold them for a Euro a piece.  If I let them grow for a few months.  I would only need 500000 new plants at 2 Euros a piece.

But seriously folks.  I have been taking advantage of the mixed weather and made lots of new plants and cuttings.  We haven't had the heat wave here in Ireland.  So I thought I would make the best of the sun and rain.  The sixty Euros I got paid off my brother, paid for some beer tokens and the supper.

Dividing perennials and making cuttings is a great way of making yourself a few bob from the garden.  I might sell them on a car boot sale one week.

A raised nursery bed for Dogwood and Pyracantha cuttings I made last winter.  A Cranes bill Geranium seems to have seeded it self with them.

Anybody else make new plants and sell them?  I am always interested in different ways to diversify on the smallholding.

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...