Sunday, October 30, 2011

Home is where the heart is.

Although we lived in Spain for nearly eight years it was never home, it was interesting, and we met some lovely people, but Ireland never left our hearts which is why we have returned.The only thing that we miss are some good friends that we made during our extended holiday, which is what Spain rather felt like although we never stopped working, first building a house from scratch and then a major renovation job.
We have now completed everything that we wanted to do to the inside of our new home so we are now free to develop the veg garden and create an orchard. We had already planted some fruit trees, plus soft fruit and now I am waiting for a delivery of more fruit trees, including a peach, yes you can grow peaches in Ireland, I was inspired by another Irish blogger who has had a wonderful crop in her polytunnel, which is where we will plant ours.
All the veg that we had planted back in May before we returned for good has done well, once again we can feed ourselves from the garden, with enough potatoes for the winter months, all the green veg did well for us as well with plenty of cabbage and perpetual spinach to last through the winter months, so once again we are back on the road of self-sufficiency.
We have bought a pair of large breed meat rabbits who will be ready for mating in the next couple of weeks, and our hens are now laying so come the spring I will set some eggs in the incubator and rear the young for the table.
For things that we can't or don't want to produce ourselves we can buy from local organic friends, we have beef on order and our turkey is coming from another friend. Pork for a while gave us a bit of a problem as we knew of no one who was producing pork, we were then told of 'The Real Meat Shop' in Roscommon town where we can by free range pork and pork products. Unlike Spain it is easy to find all we need organically, mostly in our local village.
We have had our first visitors over from Spain but the weather let us down a bit, although we still managed to have a couple of picnics and take them to places of interest, hopefully the next time they come the weather will be a little kinder to us.

Back in Ireland

Settling In

September 8, 2011 · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

Well we at last returned to Ireland, the journey did not go as planned due to the vets in Galicia not doing the pet passports correctly,resulting in an additional two day stop over in France, an brilliant French vet put right everything that was wrong, but we had to travel via the UK instead of directly from Brittany to Cork, all in all we were delayed by three days, not much fun for the poor animals, ten cats and three dogs, they however seemed less stressed by the whole thing than the humans.

We arrived to find the garden was doing well, no sign of blight on the potatoes. Since then we have lifted the first of the potatoes and are trying to find time to lift the rest. We now have our hens, three Jersey Giants, three Buff Orpington and a couple of Goldline who are now laying. The veg garden is doing well, we planted lots of cabbage type plants given to us by friends, the swede and parsnips are doing fine, the only failure has been the carrots. We brought with us in May some raspberry cane and blackcurrant cutting, both are doing well and the raspberries even gave us some fruit. We even had two Victoria plums from the tree that we had planted in May.

The house is lovely, we have now had the loft space insulated and a woodburning range installed, this does all the hot water and central heating plus the cooking, there is very little else that we have to do here, no more renovations thank goodness, just basic stuff, like book shelves, fitted wardrobes and a sun room. Hopefully giving us time to enjoy ourselves.

We now have the polytunnel frame work up and are waiting for a calm day so we can get the cover on, hopefully I can get some stuff planted in there to over winter.

I do wish we could say that we are missing some aspect of Spanish life, but apart from the friends we have left behind we don’t miss it at all. Being back here is rather as though we have had an extended holiday and are now home.

We have immediately become involved with an anti- fracking campaign, which although probable will not affect us in our area certainly will affect a number of our friends, and if allowed to go ahead will destroy some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. Once again it seems as though money is the master of all politicians, they seem unable or unwilling to use their brains

Time goes slowly

Marking Time

June 22, 2011 · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

We are now on our final countdown before our return to Ireland, it is quite strange still living in our old house seeing most of our hard work in the garden being neglected. We had been offered a flat to rent for the last five months of our time in Spain but turned it down as we hadn’t wanted to disrupt the cats and dogs and when the new owners offered to rent us the apartment that we had created we said yes. On reflection we should have left. It gets very upsetting when animals die due to lack of care, so far two goats have met untimely deaths, and soft fruit for the large part remains unpicked.

Many people dream of a self sufficient life style, but any one who thinks it’s easy, is living in a dream world.

So we sit here, planing all the things we need to do when we get back to Ireland. We have already made a start on the veg garden and hope that blight does not strike the potatoes before we return. One of the first jobs will be planting more veg. Onions, french beans and cabbages will still have time to grow before the autumn sets in, then it will be tree planting time. We are planing to grow a small woodland area , just over one acre for coppicing in time, my husband plans to incorporate a maize into this area, which should be fun.

Other immediate jobs are clearing out the old Dutch barn for two years supply of winter fuel, in the form of turf and wood. We are hoping to divided this barn into three areas, one as a garage, one for a work shop and the final one for winter fuel.

We are hoping that within the first couple of weeks of our return to get some stock, this will be hens for eggs and the table and rabbits, again for the table. It is very doubtful if we will go back to keeping either goats of sheep. We hope to be able to make time to explore the wonderful island of Ireland, something we never had time to do properly before. Also to make time for some craft work and archaeology.

A little help from our friends

Starting from scratch

May 31, 2011 · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

A little help from our friends.

We are not due to move back to Ireland permanently until the middle of July, we have however been over for two weeks to get the garden started as we did not want to lose a complete growing season.

Being self sufficient has always been our number one priority and in Spain we achieved this to about 90% with fruit and veg, we also kept goats , rabbits and chicken for meat ,[See our blog from Spain.] we will continue with the rabbits and poultry but have promised ourselves that we will not keep either goats or sheep. We would like to keep our life simple and allow ourselves time to explore Ireland properly, something we never had time to do in the past.

The area we are moving to is quite close to where we had lived before and we have friends in the area, one of these arranged to come over to our new house with her family and helper and made a good start on digging the virgin soil to start the veg garden . At one time, long ago there would have been a garden but we have found no sign of it. So far we have planted some apple trees, a plum, blackcurrants bushes and raspberry canes, I have also made a start on creating a flower garden.

Future garden plans include a pond, more fruit trees/bushes, expand the veg garden, poly-tunnel and of course the hens. Being an impatient soul I hope for all this to be done this year.

Moving on

Searching for a home

May 29, 2011 · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

After seven years in Spain the opportunity to return to Ireland came from an unexpected source. We had planned on returning but not until we had finished the renovation on our farmhouse in N.W Spain. We had a helper staying with us and at dinner one evening we mentioned that we would like to move back to Ireland one day, it so happened that she had friends that were looking for a small holding to buy in our area. Well they came and looked, then came again and stayed with us for a few days, at the end of their stay they decided that they wanted to buy our place. Given the state of the property markets and the worsening world economic situation we would have been stupid not to say yes.

So began the search for the next part of our life.

Most people when they want to move put their house on the market but we had not reached this stage, we had been keeping an eye on the Irish property market for some time, and had a list of saved ads, but that was it. We have a number of pets, who to us are the family, none of the pets had their passports, a process that takes seven months. So this was the first thing that we had to get started even before the people wanting to buy had paid a deposit. We had this feeling that even if this sale did not go ahead the forces were at work for our return to Ireland.

We decided that we would not go to Ireland until the sale was completed here which was not until March, but we knew that we would have no problems in finding what we wanted when we did go looking. It in fact turned out to be even easier than that, the last place to be put on our viewing list happened to be the first one that we looked at, we knew even from the drive way that this was the one.

We had arranged to stay with a friend and use her as our home base for the property hunt, we ended up having a great two week holiday without the hassle of house hunting. We did look at five of the other properties, but none came close to our first one. So the decision was made.