Cead Mile Failte !

A 'hundred thousand welcomes' to friends of all things Irish, organic, and environmentally friendly. I hope you enjoy my anecdotes and little vignettes. I appreciate comments. If you like it, why not become a follower? Click on Archive and then scroll down to the very bottom for the beginning of our story. Or see: http://Ioncehadafarminireland.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 21, 2011

There is a stretch in the evenings

Spring has definitely sprung --at least here. Planting my zucchinis, chives and onions as well as sowing radishes and hollyhocks in the warm Florida sun takes me back to our sowing and planting in Irish "spring" conditions. In the same way we had to learn about the right season for every vegetable and fruit in Ireland, I have to get used to the right timing here.I couldn't get broccoli plants last week. Apparently it's a winter vegetable here.
The Irish weather changes rapidly, not just in spring which officially starts on 1 February. Sometimes you have four seasons in one day...well, at least three, maybe not the snow. In all those years I spent in Hibernia, it never really felt like spring on that day. There may have been a bit of sunshine quickly wiped out by dark clouds and ensuing hail. Most St. Patrick Days (March 17) more smacked of winter and prohibited us watching parades standing in one spot for too long. Every year by the end of January, my housekeeper would declare: "There is a stretch in the evenings...Still freezing cold but thank God for little mercies."
Early potatoes could be put in the ground already although in the following years we preferred to have these in our greenhouse too--just to be sure, to be sure! A greenhouse is very useful, even the poly-tunnels that most professional growers and some of our friends used. We were planning to get a green house up later that year which we had brought over in our gigantic move (16 x 8 meters). For now we sowed most vegetables like carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, zucchinis etc. on little 1-2 inch deep trays which we kept in part of the house that was coolish but warmer than the outside world. We had built this extension or "lean-to" on the north side of the house facing the yard. It served multiple functions: here we took off our dirty boots and jackets; it housed the washer and dryer as well as two huge tub sized basins useful for cleaning vegetables (and sometimes very dirty kids)as well as plucking chickens and geese. Since the extension ran the full length of the house, there was ample of space for the kids to play on a rainy day and also to store the plant trays. And later an apple press for making cider.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The AGA saga continues

New friends of ours had a different cooker, a Stanley, that ran on timber.Our AGA could be converted, they said. The idea intrigued Mac as we had a lot of wood on the farm and more so in the future when the 1000 trees we had planted would mature. I had my reservations, however,since I had seen our friends stuff the oven several times a day with timber. Twice a day like with our anthracite seemed work enough. It wouldn't solve the problem of soot, dust and asthma either.Then Mac learned that antique AGAs were quite valuable and decided to sell it. He advertised and one night an elderly couple came to view it. I had gone upstairs to put the children to bed. Feeling tired myself, I lay down. Our bedroom was right above the kitchen. I heard voices below and laughter, but couldn't make out what was said. I wondered what was going on.
Two hours later Mac came upstairs and reported. Over several whiskeys and jovial banter, the prospective buyers had finally convinced Mac to hold on to this beauty of an AGA. That the new ones were nothing like them, that it was a real gem. Mac was in a good mood. He had made friends and gotten sound advice: The AGA could also be converted to kerosene reducing the soot emissions.
"That can only happen in Ireland", he said." These guys could have easily taken advantage of me and made a cheap bargain. But they gave advice and left as friends. Only in Ireland...." Shortly afterwards we had the AGA converted.It worked like a dream. No more early morning coal carrying. We could even stay away for a night if needs be, and I had less cleaning to do.