Bridget

Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

At year’s end.

In Animals, arigna, sustainable living on December 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

006

Well what a year that was!  So many changes for us. Some of you already know our biggest news of the year which is that we are on the move. Prospect Cottage is sold and we are leaving Arigna. We will however still be in Roscommon but that is all I am revealing for now. We move to our new place at the end of January and I will start a new blog shortly after that.

018

Changes too as regards animals. We have both become intolerant to goats milk so when we sold the house Bella and Enid, our 2 milking goats,  went to our friends Paul and Deborah in Co. Clare. They have an organic smallholding and the girls are happy there. We know they will be well cared for and we can see them when we visit. Apparently they are both smitten with male goat David who also resides there.

008

That left us with Smokie the Goat and Daphne the donkey to accompany us to our new place. They had been companions since we got Daphne 8 years ago. Sadly it was not to be. Smokie passed away rather suddenly in mid November leaving us very sad and poor Daphne alone. Donkeys love company and it really is’nt fair to keep a lone animal. We decided to try and get Daphne into a sanctuary. We were so lucky to find a permanent place for her at Sai Satya Sanctuary for donkeys and ponies in Castlebaldwin. That’s not too far from us so we can visit her there. The sanctuary is run by an amazing woman called Sue Paling. Sue has a genuine love of animals and has devoted her life to them. Daphne is settled in well there. She has made friends with two older ladies, Esmerelda and Bonnie. You can check out the sanctuary at www.donkeys.ie .

016Gardening has always  played a large part in my life. I just love growing flowers and veg and get immense setisfaction from harvesting vegetables and herbs and using them in our meals. Our new place has about an acre of land with an already established fruit, veg and flower garden. At least I won’t be starting from scratch but of course we will make changes and put our own stamp on the place. We are moving at a good time as a full gardening season will be ahead of us in our new abode.

013 All that remains for now is to wish you all a wonderful 2013. May you have love, happiness and abundance in the coming year. Hopefully many of you will continue the journey with us in the new place. Happy New Year! xx

Advertisements

The return of Summer!

In Animals, Gardening, sustainable living on August 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

After what seems like months this week saw the welcome return of Summer to Ireland. Even though we are dependent on rain to maintain the lush greener that typifies Ireland it is nice to have Summer sunshine. July was one of the wettest and dullest since records began. But for this week at least the forecast is good…bright sunshine and dry weather all week.

 The Goats love this weather. They hate rain as their coats are not waterproof. If it’s raining they stay in their shed and look miserable. Many times I have seen Goats tied out in fields and they make for a miserable sight. I wonder how their owners would like it to be tied to a post in the rain and cold??

Today I finished picking the last of the Blackcurrants. The harvest went on for a month this year as the fruit ripened very slowly due to lack of sun. Despite that the harvest was fantastic. Actually all the berries produced a good crop this year. Not so good for Apples and Plums but one can’t have it all. Maybe berries are the way to go in our changing climate.  As I harvest the Blackcurrants I prune off the branches which have fruited. This is a good way of pruning. Two jobs in one!

The Goats are rather partial to the prunings. I wonder if the leaves have Vitamin C like the berries? Some prunings will be used as cuttings. I don’t bother with putting them in a trench over Winter etc like all the gardening books will tell you. I just put them in a bucket with some water and roots form in a month or two. They are then planted in their final positions. Cuttings treated this way last year provided fruit this year. Some Willow in the water helps the rooting as Willow has fantastic rooting properties and helps other plants take root. Amazing!!

The Cherry tree which was planted in this old tractor tyre sadly died, Cherries don’t do well here, so it was finally removed this Spring. In March Potatoes were planted here and mulched with garden compost. They have done well and so has all the stuff which germinated from the compost! I don’t have the heart to remove self-seeded plants which sometimes works to my detriment. The dilemna now is how to dig out the Potatoes without losing all my lovely Borage and Marigolds? I suppose I’ll just have to wait until it all dies down. Even Strawberries which I thought were dead have reemerged and fruited.

Another lot of compost used to mulch around the Damson tree has produced a wonderful crop of Marigolds. No Damsons this year though!

Much to my delight the Water Lily planted in the pond in the gravel garden has produced a flower this year. I must do a post on the gravel garden. Planted just over a year ago it has done really well and things are filling out nicely there. But that’s for another day. Off now to catch some evening rays.

Elephants in Drumshanbo!!

In Animals on July 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Imagine my shock as I drove through Drumshanbo, our nearest town, yesterday, when my eye was caught by some large animals in the Market Yard. As I screeched to a halt…I realised I was’nt wandering in some crazy dream. There were 5 elephants to be seen!

Yes! You’ve guessed it…a Circus had come to town for 2 days. Now I’m not a big fan of Zoos or Circuses but these Elephants were beautiful.

One could’nt help but stop and admire their beauty. Gaze into that little eye within such a huge body and wonder…are they happy…are they well treated?

They drew quite a crowd. People were stopping, looking, rushing home for the children, taking pics or rushing to get their cameras. The Elephants seemed to enjoy the attention and they put a smile on everyone’s face. I did wonder about the safety issues but who am I to spoil the fun.

What big feet they’ve got!

That poo would be great for the garden!

Some people got close enough to feed them. The shops did ok as all the kids were running off to get Apples and Bananas for the Elephants. So there you have it…the day the Elephants came to Drumshanbo. I won’t be attending the Circus but I did enjoy getting so close to these beautiful creatures.

Kale and Rainbows @ Prospect Cottage.

In Animals, sustainable living, Uncategorized on April 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

A rainbow fading out over the hill in front of the house a few evening’s ago. I love rainbow’s…they always make me think about my Granny’s stories of how if you caught a Leprechaun, and could hold onto him,   you could force him to lead you to the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Leprechaun’s were very clever and would always think of some way to frighten you into letting go of them. They  would then run off laughing and leaping with joy at fooling a stupid human again.

 Back to present times and today we pulled the last Kale plants to make way for new plantings. Such a great plant, we were provided with green pickings all Winter, then the seed heads for the last few weeks. Today the Goats got to have a meal from them too. Value indeed! I don’t put the stalks in the compost as they take ages to break down.

Some of the plants were huge, this one was 5ft tall. Kale is a very hungry plant so ground where it has grown needs to be well fertilised before the next crop. It is also a very nutritious plant being high in calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin C, carotenes and chlorophyll. Carotenes have anti-cancer properties helping to guard against  the development of cancer if consumed regularly.

Even Daphne, our lovely donkey girlie, came to have some Kale. Smart girl, she knows what’s good for her.

The last of our Kale harvest went into a soup. Together with Leeks, Potatoes and a few Nettle tops it made a delicious nutritious meal.

 

In a shaded part of the garden is this Wild Garlic. I don’t know the proper name of it. I got a clump of it from a friend last year, she did’nt know the name either. Anyone out there know? It can be used in the same way as Ransoms, all parts edible.

Loss…

In Animals on April 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

It has been a sad few days for us here in Arigna. Earlier in the week our lovely black collie Alice slept his last sleep and said goodbye to us. He (yes, he, a man called Alice) had been with us since January 1997 when we got him as a 4 month old puppy.

Dogs are such great companions, ours are always with us when we are working around the place. As humans it is our nature to become attached so it is so difficult when the shorter life span of dogs and other animals takes them from us. But that is the way of it and so we must cope and carry on.

 I love this pic, the last one taken of the 3 of them, sitting together in the Spring sunshine on April 4 th.  There is a flower bed out the back near the chalet where Alice liked to sit… despite my attempts to get him not to. We buried him there and maybe in another life another place we shall meet again.

Each day it gets a little easier but it is still very fresh and our hearts are heavy and full of sadness…and I wonder how the Sun can shine when our hearts feel so bruised.

But life goes on…and veggies grow…

and flowers bloom.

Dogs and trees and Spring sunshine.

In Animals, Trees on April 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

When we arise in the morning the first job, after putting the kettle on, is to let the dogs out of their shed. They then come in the house for a while. If it’s sunny they like to lie down and catch a few rays in the sitting room where the couch is appropriately situated.

In the field the animals do the same thing. How clever they are to avail of this solar energy…actually  I think they’re a lot cleverer than most people give them credit for. I’ve also noticed many times that the bulk of their bodies will be facing full on towards the sun to expoit it fully.

On Sunday we bought 30 bare root trees at the local garden centre. It’s the end of the bare root season now so they were selling them off at half price. They worked out at an average of 80 cent each. Bargain! The haul included Birch, Alder, Rowan, Poplar, Larch and Acer. A small forest in the making.

After soaking them overnight we planted them up on Monday morning. Working together the job was done quickly. Compost was emptied into the wheelbarrow… Andy held the tree upright in the pot and I backfilled it with compost. Took about an hour to plant the lot.

The bigger trees we placed near this rain water barrel which will be convenient for watering throughout the Summer. In Autumn we intend incorporating our small field…below the polytunnels…into the garden…these will then be planted there. The smaller trees are at the other side of the house near another rain barrel.

In the shade bed these lovely Primulas have started flowering. I have that to confess that this was one I “slipped” from another garden I visited. Naughty but I will share it on as it bulks up. “Slipping” is a word Irish people…especially older people…use for taking a cutting or an offshoot with roots from a plant. Years ago many people had cottage gardens where all the plants would have been grown from “slips.” Does anyone else know of this phrase?

In the polytunnel Parsley and Rocket give lots of green pickings. This is Wild Rocket which has…for me…a nicer flavour than the ordinary Rocket. Parsley and Rocket together make for a really nice pesto which I will make when the current batch of Wild Garlic pesto has run out. Basil is already planted and germinated for the Summer pesto.

And in the polytunnel the dogs are once again strategically placed to catch the rays of the afternoon sunshine.

Musings from a Smallholding…Spring is here!

In Animals, off grid living, vegetable growing on February 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm

As Spring proceeds the animals sense the change in season, they are full of the joys of it. They are playful with each other and us. Bella loves to head-butt but does’nt realise her own strength so one has to be careful.

Once one goat starts friskin about they all join in. Enid, the hornless one, is usually pretty quiet but even she got caught up in the joy of it all.

The dogs get excited when they see the goats jumping about. They bark and chase after them which adds to the general chaos. Enid has her ears back in this pic. She does this when she’s not sure about something. Lettie just stands there barking away until I shout at her. She just loves barking. Right, that’s enough of that!

Time to do some chores. Vegetables to be harvested for the evening meal. The carrots and parsnips, together with onions, garlic and butternut squash will make a tasty, nourishing soup. The Beetroot will be juiced. There’s still quite a bit of beetroot in the polytunnel. It will have to be pulled soon before it starts to grow again. The parsnips are almost finished. They were all doubles this year, don’t know why. Still a good number of carrots growing in the polytunnel. They too need to be harvested soon. We always grow carrots in the polytunnel as they don’t get the carrot root fly in there.

 Walking past the flowerbeds on the way to the house with the produce I notice the little Sedum (sorry, Saxifrage, thanks Alberto,) is ready to burst into flower soon. This has spread to create quite a big patch  so it will make a good impact. Spring is here! Hurrah!!

Back in the house the stove is ticking over. Freddie fells the cold more than the other dogs, probably because he’s so small and has a short coat. He likes to sit as close as possible to the heat. Aw! poor little poochie!

Musings from a Smallholding.

In Animals, Garden on January 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Serves me right! A few days ago I was going on about the lovely Spring weather we were having. Three days later and we’ve had wind, rain, hail and snow. This was the scene this morning, grey skies and a bunch of birds in the Rowan tree at the bottom of the field. Don’t know what they were…I was’nt close enough to tell.

Half an hour later it is bright and sunny. As you can see the wind turbines are turned north to catch the cold wind. It’s only about 4 c here in the valley today.

The animals run into the shed when it rains. Goats hate getting wet, their coats are not waterproof like Sheep. We do not lock them in at night, the shed is left open and they can come and go as they please. The field is well fenced so there’s no danger of them getting into the garden. Theres a saying that “good fences make for happy goatkeepers”. I certainly believe that to be true! Smokie, on the right, is our oldest Goat, she has been with us for 11 years. We bought her when she was 2 so she’s about 13 years old now. Enid is our milker, actually we’ve just let her go dry, she has been milking for 2 years. The one in the middle is Bella, Enid’s daughter. She will be put in kid next Autumn. I have lots of Goat’s milk frozen so we won’t have to buy milk for a good while.

In the garden Carvello de Nero is going to seed. Also known as Tuscan Kale or black cabbage it has given lots of leaves since Autumn. They are delicious steamed, in soups or even shredded and stir-fried. We also eat them raw in salads, shredded finely. They are going to seed earlier than usual but it’s that sort of year. The seed heads are delicious, treat them like Purple Sprouting Broccoli. The more you pick them the more they produce.

Chives are surprisingly advanced for this time of year. I won’t pick any until the promised frost of the next few nights have passed and mild weather has returned. According to the Met Office this has been the mildest Irish Winter for 53 years. Interesting year so far, unpredictable weather, an earthquake in Donegal (2.2 on the Richter scale), Aurora Borealis visible from as far down as Claremorris and a white Blackbird seen in Dublin. It’s going to be an interesting year!

A Spring Day in Winter!

In Animals, Gardening on January 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Officially it is still Winter but the weather has it’s own mind. Today was Springlike in the valley. Just beautiful! I spent late morning pruning last years growth, now dead and brown, from the perennials on the bed by the Birch tree. I leave it over Winter so the birds can feast on any seeds. The birds kept me entertained as I worked,  lots of them singing and chirping in the Birch tree. So many Tits and Chaffinches, and a few Goldfinches too. Can you spot the little Blue Tit in the Birch Tree?

It’s amazing how much early growth there’s been this year, 23rd January today and Sweet Cicely is already flowering.

Arum Lily has put on a lot of growth and

Escallonia is looking lush and healthy. Last year it came through the Winter but looked battered and bruised.

In the afternoon Lisa the Equine Dentist came to look at Daphne’s teeth. Donkeys teeth need to be checked anually especially as they get older. Daphne is about 22 now. Far back in the Donkey’s jaw are the molars, these often give trouble because the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw, the grinding movement is from side to side, so the teeth on the outer edges of the upper jaw and the inner edges of the lower do not get any wear. This in time leads to sharp points developing which will cause discomfort for the animal. The dentist uses a rasp, which is like a giant file, to rectify the problem.

Daphne did’nt need her teeth rasped today but she did have a loose tooth which Lisa extracted very quickly. Loose teeth can be sore and impede grazing so they do need to be checked by an expert.

And there it is, the troublesome tooth, gone! Daphne did’nt seem a bit bothered and returned to grazing as soon as she was back in the field.

Rural Rambles from Arigna.

In Animals, arigna on December 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

.

The Sun when it appears in these dark December days has a watery wintry feel…in tune with the weather I suppose. The air is damp and the earth is permanently wet. When out and about one is aware of the particles of moisture in the air. The dogs have to be dried off before they come into the house in the evening. They spend the days outdoors and come into the house as darkness falls. They enjoy their house time relax before going to their shed for the night.

The sunsets have not been very dramatic in the recent cloudy grey weather. This one a few evenings ago is as good as it’s got.

 

The animals are all being fed hay now…they really appreciate this on rainy days as they don’t like getting wet. A lot of people think Donkeys coats are waterproof but that is not the case. In the mornings they get a little treat. Daphne really likes carrots as do the goats. Enid the milking goat gets an extra treat of some organic concentrate while she is being milked. Other favourite treats are Ginger Nut biscuits, Polo Mints and bread of any type.

In the garden the Fuschias continue to flower. I have never seen flowering to continue so far into the year. They are not of course as plentiful as earlier in the year but they are a welcome splash of unexpected colour at this time.

Spindle  has now lost it’s leaves but the berries are still giving a good show.

On the lane the sloes still hang from the leafless Blackthorn. Usually these would have been consumed by birds by now. Tradition dictates that these and indeed any berries are not picked after Halloween as it is said that the Pooka would have breathed on them at that time.

Lower in the valley the Arigna river slowly meanders on its journey to Lough Allen.