Bridget

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

As November Ends.

In Animals, nature on November 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the month draws to a close the weather has become a little colder…we were spoilt by the mild conditions of October and November. Still no heavy frost…lots of rain though. The sun is low is the sky…less than a month to go now before it starts its upward journey and the days once again start to lenghten.

 

In the garden the plants seem to have been fooled by the Spring like Autumn. I have never seen Borage to be still producing flowers into November…and this plant is outside!

 

 

 

The Fatsia has produces it’s odd little flowers…last year they were destroyed by hard frost. Daffodils and Crocus are budding early…as are so many other things.

 

The grass in the fields continues to grow which keeps the animals happy. Last year we were feeding them hay throughout November. We have hay in store so if the weather suddenly turns we are prepared. Lots of food in our own store too. We were snowed in last year for 2 weeks at end of November into first week of December. Then we had a thaw before being cut off again for 2 more weeks which included Christmas Day.

 

Daphne is looking very cuddly at the moment as she has grown her Winter coat…she’s takin no chances with the weather!

The dogs and I continue to have twice daily walks on the lane regardless of weather. The low sun gives little Lettie the shadow of a Great Dane…and me a giant. Yes…I continue to be amused by the long shadows…I’m easily entertained really!

 

In  the kitchen work continues turning the Summer fruits into jams and chutneys. I have booked a stall at the Christmas Fair in Manorhamilton next Sunday so will sell the preserves there. I will also do some baked goods…Almond Tarts, Melting Moments and Caramel Slices are always good sellers. So…a busy week ahead for me.

Beetroot Mania!

In Gardening, vegetable growing on November 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

 

Since reading up on the benefits of Beetroot we have decided to juice some and have a shot of it every day for the next week. Interesting that it’s so good for the blood and  being the same colour too. I listed all the vitamins and minerals in the previous post if you’re interested. Looks a bit like a bloodbath when you’re juicing it plus my juicer has developed a leak too so twas a bit messy. Luckily I have another juicer so this one is going to the recycling centre.

 

 

Andy mixed his shot with some Grapefruit juice. I mixed mine with a Banana, Strawberries and soya milk to make a smoothie. Delicious…kept me going for the day. I’m working up to drinking it neat!

Being in a beetrooty frame of mind I decided to make the Beetroot and Chocolate Cake I mentioned in my last post.

To make it you need: 8ozs self-raising flour, 1 oz cocoa powder, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 4 ozs caster sugar, 4 ozs raw beetroot, peeled and grated, 3 ozs dark chocolate, melted, 3 ozs butter, melted, 2 eggs, beaten.

Set the oven to Gas 4, 180 c. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Stir in the sugar, beetroot, melted chocolate and melted butter. Turn into tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

After I had started to mix the cake I realised did’nt have any chocolate…I went ahead anyway and used an extra egg and a bit more butter which worked fine.

 

It’s amazing how someone always turns up when you’ve baked a cake. This one was cooling when our neighbours called in. Kettle on…tea and coffee…chat…and a freshly baked cake. It was still slightly warm but it was devoured anyway. No one could guess the secret ingredient…even with knowing it was hard to tell the cake contained beetroot. There’s still lots more Beetroot in the polytunnel  so I’m off to seek out a few more recipes!  

 

Sunday Ramblings from Prospect Cottage.

In arigna, Gardening on November 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm

View from the back door.

 The weather this month has been extraordinary. Fluctuating between wet and dry weather but always so mild…springlike actually. The pic above was taken yesterday…very low cloud on Corry Mountain making the wind turbines invisible. I spent 2 hours in the garden…weeding and tidying up. It was too warm for a coat!

Japenese Anemones.

 Japenese Anemones continue to produce flowers. Be careful where you plant these as they are impossible to remove and spread like crazy. I thought I had dug them all up from this corner of one of the veg beds…but no…they came back with a vengeance again this year. Any little bit of root produces a new plant…a bit like Bindweed.

In the polytunnel the Peach tree has dropped most of it’s leaves…making a bright splash of yellow for a short time. I will enjoy this colour for a little while before collecting the leaves for the compost.

The Grapevine too will soon be bare. In the kitchen above the stove the last of the grapes are bubbling away… hopefully a nice wine will result.

There is still lots of Beetroot to be harvested in the polytunnel. I have made lots of Beetroot Chutney and tried Borscht for the first time earlier this week…delicious. Beetroot is said to have health enhancing properties and contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, K plus calcium, mangenese, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, sodium, zinc and selenium. It does’nt have to be eaten from a bath of cheap vinerar only. It is delicious roasted…can be grated over salads…makes great soup…and can even be used in cakes. I have a recipe for Chocolate and Beetroot Cake which I intend to make this week. I’m also going to juice some…I’ve had Beetroot juice in the past…it’s very sweet. Beetroot is said to provide more oxygen to the blood. So there you go…the humble easy to grow Beetroot is really a superfood.

Finally a look at where I do my blogging from…the front porch looks out onto our front field and beyond that to Sliabh an Iriann (the Iron Mountain)which is shrouded in heavy mist today. A comfy chair…bookshelves to my right…I like to check info before I put it out there. Laptop on desk in front of radiator…cushy. Looking out on our little world whilst communicating with the big wide world out there. Lovin it!

Ireland’s Native Trees.

In Ireland, nature on November 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Ash tree in back field.

 There are differing opinions about the number of native Irish trees. A general consensus seems to be 18. Ash is one of the commonest trees. It grows on all soils and self seeds readily. The national game of hurling is played with hurleys made from Ash. It is also a great tree for burning and can be burned from green.

Scots Pine at Lough Rynn.

 The mighty Scots Pine can grow to a height of 40 metres and live up to 300 years.  The wood is known as “red deal”…it is used fencing, in house building and in telephone poles. It is high in resin which makes it longer lasting.

Young Oak tree at Seed Savers in Co Clare.

 There are 2 native Oaks…sessile and pedunculate. The difference is in the acorns. The acorns from Sessile Oaks have no stalks while the pedunculate have quite long stalks. Ireland’s oldest Oak is at Tuamgraney in Co. Clare…it is 1,000 years old. The Oak pictured above is grown from an acorn from that tree. It is known as Brian Boru’s Oak. Brian Boru was the last High King of Ireland…he was killed at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 reputedly at 88 years old. Oak produces very strong timber…most of Ireland’s Oak forests were felled to be used in the making of ships for Britain’s Royal Navy.

Birch, Scots Pine and Ash to the north-side of our house.

 Now is a good time for planting trees, especially in the mild weather we have been having. It is a good idea to plant native trees as they are accostumed to the climate…more wildlife friendly…birds and insects are fussy and will only inhabit plants they recognise.  Check what grows in your area already. If something is not going to do well in your soil there’s no point planting it.

The complete list in addition to those mentioned:

Birch, will grow in boggy, wet soil. Rowan, also called Mountain Ash. Alder, has nitrogen fixing nodules on it’s roots. Willow, hundreds of species, grows easily from cuttings. Holly, only the female bears the red berries that symbolise Christmas for so many. Hazel, produces edible nuts that are much loved by humans and squirrels. Aspen, a fast growing member of the Poplar family. Bird Cherry, found mainly in the north-west. Crab Apple, produces small sour apples which make an easy to set jelly. Strawberry Tree, found mainly in co . Kerry. It produces fruits which look like Strawberries hence the name. Whitebeam, has a preference for limy soils. Wych Elm, mostly wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease. Wild Cherry, grows best in alkaline soil. Yew, most often associated with graveyards produces berries which are poisonous to livestock.

 If you’re going to plant a tree…do plant a native tree.

 

 

 

Who said Sunday was a lazy day?

In sustainable living on November 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm

This morning we decided to drive down to Lough Allen, which is about 5 miles away, and have a walk on the pebbled foreshore as we often do. However it was not to be as the lake was further in than usual at this time of year. I think the good weather of the last couple of weeks had made us forget all the rain that preceded it. The pathway was not to be seen, completely covered with water.

It’s challenging farming here, this is nearby farmland completely flooded. This land will not be usable again until next Spring. Our old house and land came right down to the lake about quarter of a mile further on from here.

 Our next stop was an old cottage that is for sale. Regular readers will know of my liking for poking around old places, I just love it! This one still has the crane over the fireplace where the kettle or pot used to hang in bygone years. There would be a hook hanging down nearer the flame on which to hang your vessel. I bet many a good meal was cooked here.

It’s been a while since the bed was slept in! Even I have to work hard to see potential in this one. Surrounded by Sitka Spruce forest and up a very long lane with a gate half up which must be kept closed, I don’t thing this one will sell in a hurry!

Back home by 2.45. The wine, made from the last of the grapes is bubbling away.

Soon the stove is fired up and throwing out welcome warmth. Quick coffee and then the house is filled with the scent of Summer…

Strawberry jam cooked and potted up.

Then to the polytunnel to get some salad to go with the rice and dhal we are having for dinner. Yes, we still have Nasturtiums in flower. The frosts so far have been very mild. So that’s it, another lazy Sunday ends!

Spring days in November!

In Gardening on November 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

The weather here at the moment is amazing. Blue sky, sunshine and so mild too. The only clue to the fact that it’s Winter is the lack of leaves on the trees. Hopefully it will continue. I find these type of days quite invigorating.

In the garden many plants are flowering again. This Fuschia did’nt do well flower wise in the wet Summer…it is now covered in cheery blooms. Not a sight I’ve seen in previous November’s. This time last year was 10 degrees colder…we had really heavy snow at the end of November.

Feverfew is flowering again…

as is this Rose which is in a pot by the back door.

Inula is flowering by the garden gate…

and on the laneway the skeletal remains of Summer plants serve as a reminder that yes…it is Winter.

I’m delighted that this Spindle has flowered and produced berries as I grew it from a seed planted about 8 years ago. Soon the skin on these seeds will split open to reveal the vibrant orange coloured seeds inside.

The days of long shadows.

In Gardening, nature on November 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm

The last few days have been lovely here. Frosty mornings followed by bright sunny days. The sun is low in the sky making for long shadows. Driving into the sun at this time is a pain as the low lying sun does’nt get blocked out by the sun visor…a small price to pay for these lovely days. The nights are long now…darkness falling by 5.30. Waking this morning I was expecting another sunny morning but alas there was no frost so the day was cloudy and dull.

Hopefully the frost will return and we will once again have diamonds glistening in the grass…

and gossamer cobwebs to be admired.

The neighbours Cows still have lots of grass to eat in the fields. The mild wet weather we had through September and October ensured continuous growth.

In the garden plants like Lamium…

and Pulmonaria ensure there is still some colour. If the weather stays mild it will be an opportunity to make more plants by dividing these stalwarts of the garden.

Rheum palmatum gives a last splash of colour before retreating underground until next Spring. Here’s hoping for more frosty nights and long shadow days.

The Old Coal Mine.

In arigna, Off the beaten track. on November 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

After leaving the Famine Grave (previous post) one passes through the old abandoned coal mine works on the way back to the road. The statue of Our Lady is above the now blocked up mine entrance. The men would always stop to say a prayer on their way into the mine. Coal mining finished in Arigna in 1990. There is a Miner’s Museum about a mile from the village where many of the ex-miners found employment as tour guides.

I love exploring these old abandoned places. One can imagine the activity that was carried on here in the not too distant past. How rapidly things can change and deriliction sets in.

Nuts and bolts still sit on the workbench. I wonder if the people that handled these are still living?

Coal from these hills was used to power the power station on the shores of Lough Allen about 7 miles away. That too is now gone.

Strong steel doors built to protect whatever valuables lay within…

now thrown open to the elements…rusted into their open position.

Illegible writing on the concrete roof of the old shed.

A place of work and activity where people once made good livings lies abandoned and derelict. Just a place of interest now to walkers and explorers like ourselves. How quickly things can change.There’s a lesson there I think!

Greaghnageeragh Forest.

In arigna, Ireland, Off the beaten track., Uncategorized on November 1, 2011 at 10:05 am

On Sunday last Andy and I together with our 3 dogs went to Greaghnageeragh Forest which is about a mile and a half from our house. It is an eerie, sad and poignant place. On a small hillock within the forest is a communal grave where people who died during the Famine of 1845-46 are buried.

There were small homesteads here at that time. Poor people trying to eek out a living on this harsh mountain side. Being heavily dependent on the Potato crop it was a disaster when blight struck.

The survivors were too weak to bring the corpses to the local graveyard for burial so they buried them here on this remote hillside. One can only imagine the feelings of despair that this brought…all on a hungry belly…and all the while food was being exported from Ireland by the rich and powerful landlords.

November in Ireland is the month when we remember our dead relatives. Remember…remember lest we forget. We…one day will   be the dead relative. It is a time to realise our own mortality. Visiting places like this reminds us of the fragility of our lives. At least these people were trying to grow their own food…it just was’nt diverse enough…they were too dependent on the easily grown Potato. Nowadays we are dependent too…dependent on the supermarket to provide our daily nutrition. What happens in the event of some disaster when the stocks cannot reach the gleaming shelves. Something to think about perhaps?

 The local people here tend this area…all the while remembering. Mass is celebrated here every September…the locals come to pay their respects…and remember the ancestors. Others come here too. One can see the pathways worn by visitors. As we walked away from this forest we were struck by the silence…but… we were heading home to a nice warm house…a cup of coffee and a little snack. A flick of the switch turns on the TV with news of terrible famine in Africa. How awful and so sad that this should be happening still on planet Earth. Ireland now has so much food that one-third of food purchased ends up in the bin. Every country has the same waste…while others starve. So much is spent by the rich and powerful on war…while people die from starvation.

Forgive my solemn ramblings but these sites send my mind into these realms…but it is reality…it happened…is still happening.

Let us not forget.