Saturday, March 24, 2012

Almost a drought

The weather is continuing to be very dry, and warm, since the outside was finished, complete with the new guttering we have only managed to collect 500lts of rain water and that is in twenty four days. This time of year we would expect to have that amount in a week or even less.
As the weather is so warm we decided to put our chicks into their outside housing and run, although they are only just over five weeks old, they love their new quarters, and were straight into eating the grass. They have grown exceptionally well, but we are sure that out of the fourteen only six are hens although it is still a bit early to tell. As they are cross bred, both parents from duel purpose birds the cocks will be for Sunday roasts.
The rabbits kittens are growing well and are now a week old, no longer looking like hairless blobs. Mum is very protective and has had a go at Simon, so it's best to leave them well alone. I can just imagine having to go to the Doctor with a ripped hand and trying to convince her that it was rabbit damage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The weather continues to be good, the birds are singing and we have seen hooded crows gathering twigs for their nest building. The leaves on the trees are now just showing the fresh green of spring, and everything seems to be reinvigorated after the winters dormancy. Such a wonderful time of year with the lengthening days, all that we need is a little more energy to get all the planting done.
Our non knobbly Jerusalem Artichokes Fuseau arrived today, another pressing job as they already have shoots on them, they do appear to be different from the normal type , so maybe they will require less preparation. Each tuber is supposed to give a 4lb crop and there is 25 tubers in the box. I hope they do crop well as they are considerably more expensive than the normal type. I have often wondered why this plant should be called an Artichoke as it is no relation , but is a member of the sunflower family.
Our first hatching of chicks are now flying out of their brooder, so subject to the weather continuing as it is they will be moved to their outside quarters in the next day or so. There is a lovely new house waiting for them with a vermin proof run, although they are only five weeks old they are very well feathered and hopefully will be OK outside.
Once again, the subject of planting G.M crops in Ireland has reared it ugly head.
This time, Teagasc has applied to plant G.M blight resistant potatoes, why is anybody's guess as there are already several varieties of blight resistant potatoes available. Funded, again, by the Irish tax payer for something which is neither needed or wanted. Last year we grew Sarpo Mira, and were totally blight free, we are growing them again this year. To make matters worse, Teagase will be saturating the proposed site with Roundup, (god bless Monsanto) despite all the known effects of this chemical, and to make it even worse, as if it needed more, the site is close to Irelands second longest river, the Barrow. Will they never learn? I do wonder what corruption has gone on behind closed doors. Ireland is a G.M free state, it is a unique selling point, it should remain so.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patricks Day.

We had planed to go to a local village today for their first St. Patrick's day parade, however, as it was such a beautiful day the garden took priority.
Half of the main crop potatoes have been planted, Sarpo Mira, a blight free variety which we grew last year, the other half will get planted next week, we also have 2.5 kg of Pink Fir Apple to plant. Also planted today are half of the outside onions, I had planted some in the tunnel late last year but they seem to be very slow, possibly due to lack of watering, we have now set up a hose for the tunnel and everything has had a couple of good drenching's. We grow a lot of onions, it's probably the veg we use most of, so we can never have enough .The Jersey Royal potatoes that I planted in the tunnel are now well up, and we are looking forward to our first feast of them.
The Jerusalem artichokes that I ordered are now on their way, but of course with no mail today or Monday, which is a bank holiday in Ireland, they are stuck somewhere in the post, still it gives us a bit more time to get a bed ready for them. Who knows, maybe the rest of the spuds and onions will be planted before they arrive. We have chosen a variety which is suppose to be non knobbly, time will tell. It's a veg we both like, and so versatile, it's great in stir fries, roasted, or even chipped, but it can be a real pain to prepare.
Today, at last we had our first litter of rabbit kittens born, we were beggining to think that Peter Rabbit was not up to the job, but he has proved us wrong. He is a delightful boy, so friendly and likes to be petted, unlike Flopsie, the female, she is the most bad tempered rabbit we have ever had, she growls when she sees us, and I'm sure I've heard her muttering under her breath. Still, she's a mum now, although seems to be less than impressed with this idea as well, maybe she will become more friendly as the kittens grow.
My project for the day was making a headboard for our bed. When we bought the cottage, included in the sale was a lot of furniture, including two brand new beds, neither of which had headboards. We had looked in furniture shops for one, but just couldn't see any that we liked. What was on offer were very bland, and expensive to boot, being the wrong side of 200 Euro. So I decided to make our own, it took about five hours to do, and cost just eighty Euro, and nobody else has one like it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New chicks

To me, one of the wonders of nature is eggs hatching. That an egg can develop into a chick, and that chick can break it's way out of a shell, on time just seems to me, well magic.
Our last hatching was very successful with six out of the seven eggs hatching, one Light Sussex and five Buff Orpington, the seventh egg was infertile.
The hatch before that was far less successful, six Buff eggs, bought from Ebay from apparently champion stock brought forth just two chicks, two of the eggs were infertile and two had died early on in the shell. Altogether we had set ten eggs, four from another chicken fancier in Ireland, all her eggs hatched, as have all of our own eggs. I guess transporting eggs from the UK by air does the eggs no good. Anyway, I now have seven Buff chicks and a trio, all unrelated , hopefully we will have some good birds.
I am hoping to also increase our Light Sussex stock, however, the cockerel prefers the Jersey Giant hens and keeps flying over the fencing into their run, it's not that his wife's don't like him, they are quite happy to be mated by him, but for some reason he wants to be in the other run, this despite the J.G cock giving him a hard time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Despise the warning that Earth was going to be hit by solar flares, we are still all safe and sound. Don't you just love all these doomsday fear-mongers? Warnings that electricity and computer networks could be affected failed to materialise, still a good way to control people is by fear .
We have a friend who owns a restaurant and he would like to produce his own eggs and rabbits to use in his restaurant, however it would seem that he will not be able to do so. Eggs have to be Bord Bia certified and as for the rabbits it appears that they can only come through a registered game butcher. When did rabbits become game? The powers that be are quite happy that something destined for a restaurant table has been produced by a faceless entity, has then been transported many miles to a packing station or a slaughter facility, handled many, many times, before arriving at either a retail outlet or the customer. this is apparently 'safe' food, as all the right boxes have been ticked. The world has gone crazy. I know that I would prefer to eat something that the restaurateur has raised his self. He can tell me what it was feed on and how it was cared for.
Well, all the trees are now planted, until the next lot, Simon has decided that he would also like to plant some silver birch, this again is a tree that responds well to coppicing, we still have not had time to pick up the ash trees that a friend has offered us.
The seedlings have rather got ahead of us, but all broad beans have now been planted. We have some in the tunnel just coming into bloom, some seeds planted directly into the garden and ones that I had done in root trainers. These modules are great, they open up and clip together, when the seedling is ready to be transplanted you just flip it open and the root stays undisturbed. Made from durable plastic they should last some time. We always plant a lot of broad beans as we like to eat them when they are very young, pod and all.
The sweet peas that I had planted into modules could wait no longer, so today I planted them out into the containers where they are to bloom, I just hope the lovely mild weather continues with no sudden frosts, it is rather early to plant out sweet-peas. I just love this plant, with the wonderful colours and perfume, both bees and butterflies love them, and for me I cant have enough of them, along with lavender, again, a plant that bees and butterflies love.
The spring bulbs are looking lovely, tiny little jonquils, so beautifully perfumed and the vivid colours of the crocus, the early insects love them and they are full of pollen.
The first flower bed that we made when we moved here also has a fine crop of mushrooms. This bed was created mainly from mushroom compost as the previous owners of the cottage had had many tons of large stones spread all around the cottage, it keeps mud at bay, but is not very helpful if you want to plant around, so false beds had to be created. It has worked very well, and we have had free mushrooms all winter long, a sign of just how mild it has been.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Today should have been tree planting day, yesterday we received another delivery of trees, this time twenty six mainly for coppicing varieties, we managed to plant four of them and holes were dug for fourteen Hazels, however today is so windy it's hard to stand up in it. Is this a result of the solar flare which might hit earth today, probably not, but anyway, the trees will have to wait another day. With such a strong wind it enabled one of our Buff cocks to get airborne, no mean feat for a bird weighing over eight pounds, he enjoyed his taste of freedom, and seemed to take pleasure in showing off to the other birds who remained in their runs.
We had thought we were well ahead with our veg plantings, however we now have lots of things in seed trays waiting to be planted out but seem to be lacking either time or energy , we then realise that in only nine days time we should be planting the main crop potatoes.
With the economic down turn and so many people unemployed we find it strange that there are so few people growing their own. Things have improved over the last eight years on this front, but still so many gardens just seem to be growing grass. With so much help and advice on the internet, and various gardening clubs it does seem strange that so few people seem to take on the challenge, I guess they are just so used to going to a supermarket and having everything prepared for them in plastic boxes, they don't seem to count the cost of travelling to the shops, the time involved, and not least, the cost of disposing of all this plastic waste.
In Ireland you have to pay directly to get rid of your waste, a good system, if only people would count the cost to themselves of doing this, and again the time.
Growing veg is not rocket science, all it requires is the time and some garden, you can then quickly enjoy the taste of real food again, food that has not travelled miles, and is really fresh.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beautiful West of Ireland

There is so much to see in the West of Ireland, many lakes, castles and ancient ruins. Today's trip found us a castle ruin. Ballylahan is 13th century, not much remains but the two towers, these flanked the gateway which led to the central courtyard.