Thursday, April 25, 2013

I will not comply, will you?

We don't accept this. Let us keep our seeds EU!

The forbidden seed!
 How many here know that the EU is preparing legislation that will make it illegal to grow crops that are not on a list of approved seeds? A list that currently 60% dominated by big corporations like Monsanto, AstraZeneca, Bayer and others? Today, there are three lists, one for professional growth, one of the endangered species and one for amateur cultivation. The latter two should be removed.
The pros list are basically only hybrids - which means that you can not take next year's seed from his crop.
 Furthermore, it not only be forbidden to sell other seeds than those already mentioned, but also to grow. "File sharing" in the area of seeds will become a criminal act. This means that people be even less able to influence what you eat, when you can not even decide what to grow.
 It also means that the varieties that are historically interesting will disappear, even varieties that can withstand our climate, because the market is too small for the majors to be interesting.
This means that poor people who live off what they grow is referred to in the seedtrades discretion in terms of pricing, which can be costly where there are few players. What do we think about this? Source: Nordgen, Alnarp, association SESAM English translater Monica Ramsten
Today is hatching day, we are not sure how many chicks Matilda has hatched, she started out with twelve eggs but we know she broke four, I have seen three chicks poking their heads out from under her so far so hopefully there are more, we will just have to wait and see when she brings them out in her run. I tried to get a good photo of them but only managed to capture one, tomorrow maybe!

The tunnel is now a mass of white blossom from the strawberries and the bumble bees have arrived at last to do their thing, judging by the amount of bloom there should be plenty of fruit this year to make strawberry jam , we are down to our last few pots.
I spotted one set peach today, hopefully there will be more than just one, the tree was a mass of blossom which we carefully hand pollinated with a feather, we might pop the tree outside if we get a
decent summer at the moment it is in the sunroom which is highly perfumed by the freesias' that I planted into pots, they have done very well and we have a mass of blooms on them, purple whites and yellow, lovely.

Despite the spring being so very late this year we still manage to find food in the garden to eat, it's offerings today are purple spouting kale! and rhubarb.

And finally Tess, she gets bigger every day, she always has to have something in her mouth which she loves to present to us, unfortunately she has now learnt to get up on the dining room chairs to give us her 'offerings'. She is a very bright dog and now knows the signs of us going out, changing our shoes or putting on our coats, she then heads straight to her bed in the utility room, this is not something that we have taught her to do, she just does it. Possible it's her way of saying she does not want to go out in the car, we have only taken her in it once and she was a good as gold but has refused to get in it since.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Propaganda and more bad news.

Vandana Shiva: “…Patents are granted for inventions. Seed is not invented. But the only reason why you take a patent is to collect royalties. Royalites meaning cost for your seed. Royalties meaning seed that is renewable by its very nature is made non-renewable.”
Vandana Shiva has long been a heroine of mine, she has fought long and hard against the corporate take over of her country by Monsanto, in a recent BBC Hardtalk interview with Sarah Montague she put forward the reasons why so many Indian farmers have committed suicide and once again, thousands of people are dying in India and throughout the world through starvation.
 When India gained it's independence from it's masters, Britain, in 1948 , under the land reform act the people were given 2 ha of land so they could grow their own food and support themselves, this is called subsistence farming, farmers grew a variety of crops, no mono culture, so more bio diversity. If one crop failed they had others to fall back on, and it was sustainable, but once again they find themselves enslaved  to the agro chemical giant  Monsanto.
Montague tried to argue that the production of cotton has increased by 100% since the introduction of GM cotton and that the farmers have never had it so good and now can export their product. It was very clear from the interview that she was nothing more than a mouth piece for the propaganda machine which is the BBC. At one time the BBC was looked up to for fair reporting, how things have changed.
It might be true to say that the overall production of cotton is up by 100% but that is very different from saying that yields have increased. If you have 2ha of land growing eight crops, and then change that to 50% of the land growing just one crop you have an immediate increase of  400%, and in the case of cotton you reduce your food crops by 37.5%. This clearly is unsustainable.
One way or another GM crops are being forced onto people, even when they say repeatedly they do no wish to eat them.
As you may have heard, in the past two weeks many UK supermarkets abandoned long-standing policies on GM animal feed. The move, said to be based on the difficulty in sourcing non-GM feed, flies in the face of the UK Government's own data showing consumers want GM out of the food chain entirely, as well as our GfK/NOP poll results showing shoppers are willing to pay more to avoid GM.
GM Freeze is surprised that Marks & Spencer is among the companies making this change, as it has long had a strong and admirable stand on this issue. The Co-op has also changed its policy.
Please see our action here and tell supermarkets you are very unhappy with this move away from non-GM fed products.

Please also remember that if you use FaceBook or Twitter it is extremely helpful for you to use these to direct people to this action to help build our strength. The url to use for this is

We are fortunate in being able to grow most of what we eat, and what we can't grow we are fortunate enough to be able to afford Organic, but many people are not, but they should have a choice of what they wish to eat.
 With the Supermarkets saying it's too hard to source GM free feed for their meats and eggs they are giving in to the GM companies, if this happens they will have won.
People must fight back, this is the road to total disaster , and world domination by the agro chemical companies.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Slowly catching up.

At last things are happening in the garden, the parsnips and carrots have all germinated, the carrots were only planted last week end so we are very please with them. The first cauliflowers and calabrese are planted out and also the leeks and Brussel sprouts, the  onions are looking quite good, Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes planted. All the raised beds are prepared ready for the next lot of seedlings, and runner bean trenches prepared ready for planting out the bean plants next month. The garlic however is a failure, it survived the winter fine, it was cloched most of the time but as soon as the cover was removed the wild birds moved in and have destroyed them, next year we will try them under netting.
The wind has abated a little,  it is still windy but southerly winds now instead of the cold east wind that we had been having.
Buds are beginning to swell on the fruit trees but no sign of any bees, we might have to hand pollinate the fruit trees unless the bees appear soon.
Spring certainly has been very slow in coming this year, we still have daffodils just making an appearance, they will probably  be in bloom well into May.
A visit to a friends house this week  enabled us to exchange a doz eggs for a tray of celery seedlings and a bag full of mushrooms, the barter system is still alive and well here. It's always nice to be able to give as well as receive and eggs are something we have no shortage of.
The first of our chick's are doing well they are now three weeks old, I think there are four cockerels and just two pullets, the next eggs are due to hatch at the end of next week, these are under a broody hen who has been a bit careless and managed to break three of the eggs.
We have a Muscovy duck who is sitting well on twelve eggs although  she still has Jersey Giant hens trying to share her nest despite us having bought a new house for them they have so far ignored it, tonight they will have to be forced into their new accommodation.
At last we have got our strimmer back , the chap that repaired it has returned it as good as new although it took him some time to find the right parts, it is over twenty years old, but a good one. this has enabled Simon to get some of the lower field strimmed ready to plant the new trees which are due to arrive later this week. While he was working there he found a clump of frogspawn,  laid in the middle of the field, he carefully scooped it onto a plastic bag and brought it round to the small stream at the back of the house. Why a frog would lay her eggs in a field is anyone's guess, maybe it was the heavy rain that we had and she could not hold back any longer.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bit of a breeze.

It was a tad windy last night, the wind howled around the cottage and we could hear all manner of things crashing around, it continued for most of the night but brought with it sunshine  and only light showers today.
 We were not sure what damage we would wake up to, but in fact apart from one of the hen houses being blown over, and the polythene being blown off of the cloches there was no damage as such.
I'm sure it must have been quite alarming for the poor hens in this house to suddenly finding their house shifting on it's side and their perch collapsing  but they are fine and none the worst for their disturbed night. This is not a particularly small house, 8X4 and houses about 40lb weight of chickens plus the nest boxes and perches, so the wind must have been very strong indeed. 

The rain and warmer weather has brought all manner of things into bloom, it really is beginning to feel and look a little more spring like.

All the strawberries are in bloom now in the tunnel and hopefully it wont be too long before we have our first feast of them. 
French beans and peas are now planted in the tunnel which is where I have been working today, and boy was it hot in there even with both doors open. Hopefully I can get the rest of the weeds cleared during the next week and then I will have room to transplant the tomato plants which are raring to go.

Tess loves to 'help' with anything that we do, weeds put into a bucket make a wonderful toy for a dog, or so she thinks, I would prefer her not to scatter them around though , maybe I could train her to put them on the compost heap. Where ever she is she always has to have something in her mouth, even when she's asleep.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Be careful what you wish for.

The last couple of days have brought us showers, much needed and it kick started things, today however it has been raining most of the time, I just hope it does not continue for too long, we don't need a summer like last year.
Thanks to the rain the parsnips have now germinated, I think they were sown the third week in February but the warmer temperatures and a little rain worked wonders. The leeks have now been planted out and carrots sown, the outside onions are doing well but the garlic looks as though it's struggling,  the early potatoes in the tunnel are showing very little growth, we were digging them this time last year, we will not last out with our supply so will have to buy potatoes soon, this will mean a trip to Galway's Tesco, some 50 miles away, we do have two nearer Tesco's but unfortunately the supply of Organic anything in these two stores is very poor,  although we have a Lidl in the town unfortunately the Organic potatoes that they have are not nice.
 We estimate that everything is at least a month behind last year. The strawberry's are blooming now without frost damage,  but we were eating them last year at this time.

Hawthorn just showing buds.
There is little sign of buds bursting on the  trees, everything is struggling. At least there are leaves on the blackcurrants, and the daffodils have been revitalised , they were suffering from lack of rain.
 We have cauliflower and broccoli waiting to be planted out on the next dryish day.
 The tomato plants are looking good, but it's still a little early to plant them into the tunnel.
We are still waiting to hear the cuckoo, but the snipe are now calling, doing their imitations of a goat, so nice to hear although a little eerie.
We are hoping that one of the ducks will go broody shortly so she can sit a clutch for us rather than having to incubate them ourselves, two of the ducks do appear to be looking for a suitable place, climbing out of their run daily. At the moment we have twenty hens eggs in the incubator which are not due to hatch until the end of the month so the ducks have two weeks to go broody, if they don't we will have to incubate the eggs ourselves.
We needed rain.

Thanks to the rain the grass is now beginning to recover and is greening up nicely, it was strange to see everything so parched and dry, not what you expect in Ireland where everything is normally so green.

Monday, April 8, 2013


It is always nice when you have something that some one else can use,  in this case feathers.  I have got to know someone quite well who works in one of the little shops in our small town and we always have a chat, mainly about gardening and being self sufficient, he also goes fishing, fly fishing, and makes his own flies but has a problem in getting the feathers to make them.
Two brown and one rainbow trout.
 Well feathers is something that we have a good supply of so I had promised him some the next time we had birds to slaughter, these were the last batch of quail which we slaughtered last week, I saved the longer feathers for  him and he was delighted, so delighted that when I popped into the shop today he came out with a heavy carrier bag, two large brown trout and a beautiful rainbow trout, this fish weighed 2.2oz cleaned so it was a good size fish, enough to well feed four people.
2.2oz cleaned weight.
 I can't help but think that we have had the best of this deal, but he seemed very happy with the feathers and we will continue to supply him when we have them.
We are still waiting for rain, everything is so dry, although the temperatures are now rising we have the easterly wind back which is making things even drier. The wind has done more damage to plants than the frosts and until we have some rain there is no point in planting seeds or plants outside. Maybe we will have to do a rain dance.
The one thing that is surviving well is the rhubarb, we have kept it well covered with straw because of the frosts, this has had the additional benefit of keeping what little moisture there is around the plants.
Monkey doing a Meerkat impersonation.

We love our cats, they all have such different personalities, Monkey is a little black and white half Siamese cat, she and her brother Tommy are now eleven years old, but still think they are kittens, they were both hand reared by us as their mum had no milk for them. Monkey has never accepted that she is a cat, she's not quite sure what she is, but she has always been different, she does are very good imitation of a Meerkat, sitting up on her back legs and begging.  As a kitten she insisted in holding her bottle between her front legs, using them like hands, just like a little  Monkey, hence the name.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A touch of spring.

 The bitterly cold east wind has dropped making garden work pleasant again. At last the potatoes have been planted, both the earlies and the main crop, the Jerusalem Artichokes are also in, now, dare I say this, all we need is a drop of rain! But please, only a drop. It has been well over a month since the last rain, everything is tinder dry, with many heath fires being fought, some of them are dangerously close to forestry. I though we had left the danger of fires behind in Spain.
Spring Daffs.

Although it's late in coming there is now real signs of spring, the Elder trees are the only trees showing their new leaves though, but all the daffodils and crocus are out, the tulips have their buds, and the hedgerows are now filling with primroses.   Even the leaves of the bluebells in the woods  are now showing , it wont be long before the woods are carpeted in blue.
Bonus Crop.
The chicks that hatched last week are all doing well, today they got moved into the big brooder which was a little bit of a shock to them but they soon settled down. We were due to set more eggs in the incubator this weekend but thanks to an accommodating hen who decided to go broody,  we are using her instead. We have set her on a dozen La Bresse eggs, we can now collect the next weeks supply of  table bird eggs for the incubator which might be the last that we need to incubate for this years supply of chicken if all goes well. At least with the incubator empty we can make some yoghurt.
Whilst clearing the last of the brassica's from the garden we had a bonus, some of the kale had set flower heads which looked and tasted just like Purple  Sprouting broccoli, this kale was not the curly kale type which I love, but a rather course flat leaved variety, not one that we would grow again, but great when it flowers.
One week old.
                      Reminder to self, must plant purple sprouting this year.