Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

Chirp Chirp

I heard the first little chicks of the year today, nested in the wall of an old stone building. It’s near impossible to get a decent picture of one of the nests because the parents make sure that the nest is buried deep in the wall. There are some 200 starlings resident in the cows barn for the winter. I suppose it’s rather nice for them. They have lots of heat from the cows below, Timber rafters on which to perch, no wind, no rain. what else do they want except food? They do make a mess alright, especially on the cows backs, but hell I’m sure they do us some good! By this evening, I had heard two more nests chirping … so it’s going to get very noisy very soon!

As an after note, Snowwhite died this evening. It has been a long drawn out process and not pleasant for anyone. She used always stand in my way from the parlor to the dairy. A real lazy stubborn girl, but not a mean bone in her body. She had this habit of giving me a small puck with her head when she wanted me to scratch behind her ear. You miss those ones more than others.

Update (1/May): It just clicked when i was sorting out some of Snowwhites records that it was actually her mother that had the twins the day before. It seems an ironic coincidence though.


Grow tall up the wall

I’m going to grow taller than you

This plant grows at the side corner of our house, and is only about 2-3 feet tall at the moment because we keep it well cut back. Its purpose is to prevent (or more precisely hide) any dirt from appearing on the exterior wall of the house. I trying to get a photo of a robin, but he wasn’t cooperating for me, and I just took the picture above wondering how it would turn out. This time of year, it is jumping o ut of the ground and looks like it’s going to grow and grow up to cover the entire wall. Unfortunately, it will never make it. It’s not strong enough, neither will it escape my mothers (over zealous) clippers. But it has a lovely fresh feel of new growth about it.

Hiding Flower

It’s lovely purple flower looks looks to be saying “I’m here, hiding under this leaf, so please leave me alone”

I’m finding it hard to get back into real work today after all the visitors over the weekend. I had another friend call today at lunch time for a few hours, so that used up more valuable time. Still I like to stop and talk to people. I don’t meet many different faces from day to day. Need rain … getting sunshine, that’s just typical of my luck!

Princess for a Day

It’s amazing the way that young children cam make you feel so different about yourself. They have no agenda’s, they’re not trying to sell you anything. They’re plain innocent and it’s great to see them learn as they go. This is especially true of me as I neither have any of my own, nor do I come into regular contact with them (but that is changing as most of my friends round here are biting the bullet these days).

My own niece is pictured above in the princess costume today after she arrived home from “Disney on Ice – Princess Classics” which has rolled into town for the week. Of course, the children loved every moment of it. Most of them were dressed in costume, having a great time. It probably wasn’t a great one for the boys, but not to worry. They all came home with lots of new wands, swords … and anything Disney figured they could get the kids parents to buy.

But mostly for me it’s all about the simple pleasure of seeing my niece and nephew smile.

Tracing our Roots

I don’t have much interest in my ancestors. It’s hard when you can’t relate to them or their time. I only knew three of my grandparents. My other gran died maybe ten years before i was born, so I never knew her. I know most of my first cousins, but I haven’t even met others. They’re spread all over the world across Canada, Italy, Australia, the US. And some are 20 years my senior, so we just never met. I know my second cousins in Ireland, but no farther.

Today, we had a Man and his wife from Boston call unannounced to our front door, claiming that his ancestors emigrated from our house back in the 1870’s. From the property deeds, we know all the owners back to when the house was built back in the 1740’s, and there was no Barretts in there. It initially skipped my mind that the neighbouring farm were Barretts up to 16 years ago, so I rang an elderly neighbour and keen historian to see if he knew anything. He was able to tell me where their old house was and the people that lived there in the distant past back to the early nineteen hundreds, so there was a good chance that was the house our visitors were looking for.

After all the looking and searching, it turns out that he had a birth certificate and that he was on the wrong road. He was only about a mile out.

Still as I mentioned initially, our generation hasn’t any real interest in our distant relations. Were these people that come looking to research their family history once apathetic like us? Will we look for our lost generations in the future? I don’t know. Maybe sometime when I’ve the time and the energy!

Open farm

As I mentioned yesterday, we were having a big crowd for the weekend. Disney on Ice Princess Classics is on down in town so there’s people bringing their kids from long and far to go and see it. Friends are using the occasion to call into us as they’re in the area. So, I’ve lost the whole day of work today because of them. Important stuff too, but it’ll have to wait until Monday at this stage 😦


Sometimes things happen around here at the most inopportune times, but not today! We had a cow calve beside the house about 3pm when the visitors were here and all the children (and parents too) were out to see what had just happened. It’s always a great learning experience. I called back to mother and daughter two hours later and lo and behold, there was a second calf. She was just after having a second twin. I never saw it coming (not sure the cow did either) That’s seven out of ninety so far this spring. Way above what we should expect. It was added excitement for the children who are all living in the city and never get real contact with animals. The novelty soon wears off though, and they just want to run around the free space of the garden. It’s funny how quickly they forget about all their expensive toys when you give them some space and let them explore.

Of course i went for my damned camera, only to find it the battery as dead as a doornail as usual. I might be able to get pics off my brother, but his USB port is different to mine. He might send them on when he gets home … if he remembers!

Way to Go

The father of a friend of mine died yesterday. A farmer too like me…. and all the way up to the end. He was spreading fertilized on the tractor, and took a break to see a race in the TV from Punchestown (like any self-respecting farmer would do in the middle of the day), and he dropped dead of a heart attack as he sat down. He was eighty one years. I’d like to live my years well to a good age, and go quick like him.

My generation don’t think much about death. I guess most of us think we’re somewhat invincible, but us farmers face it from time to time. This time of the year (March / April) is always the time I dread, because things do go wrong and animals get sick. Thus it is at the moment. An elderly girl calved three weeks ago, and immediately was just not well. Some kind of pneumonia or foreign object in her lungs. The vet was unable to diagnose her properly, so we opted for "Therapeutic Medicine" (Have a good shot at what it is and hope for the best). She has just never come around right, and now has another bout of pneumonia. I don’t think she’s going to make it this time because her energy reserves are just too low. Still, there’s always hope, and we can only do what we think is best for her and make her as comfortable as possible. Her name is Snowwhite.

Music when the Lights go out

I was never a big fan of Pete Dohertys lifestyle, and since he’s hooked up with Kate Moss, I guess that took him down another notch or two in my view. But some of the music that he has played is just great. So here’s a video of him playing the superbly simple song “When the Lights go Out” in a BBC interview 2004:

Damn … they’ve removed the video on youtube 😦

Blossoming in the Spring Sunshine

It’s always a wonderful sight when the apple trees in our orchard come into blossom, and the weather is just right. Hardly a hint of a breeze and the sun beating down on us. There’s lots of flies, wasps, butterflies zooming around the place, pollinating as they go. Hopefully this weather will keep up for a few more days and we’ll have a nice big crop of organic apples in the autumn. It’s an old old orchard. It was old when my father was a boy. So we reckon the trees are over a hundred years old. Some have knocked by storms in the last few years, but not many.

We use the orchard to start off the calves when they’re coming out from the houses inside. They go stone crazy when they’re left out, and they’re very hard to control, but the ten foot high walls around the orchard sort keep them inside until they’re ready to move onto a new patch of ground. The lads in the picture above were just left out yesterday. They’re all just over a month old, and doing well for themselves.

Last year one of the calves jumped one of the walls that had partly fallen (it was still five foot high!!) and made a run for it down to the town. I caught him tired and breathless after a few minutes, just as he was getting into the town. so I ended up walking him the whole way home. I was tired and breathless after that!

It’s a great ease to them out. They’re generally healthier, and take up a lot less of my time.

30-40 years ago, my grandfather used to keep about 50 greyhounds in there. He was big into racing them and has lots of trophies to show for his efforts. It is too much work for us now. Seeing as I’m trying to lighten the work load a little around here, they just don’t fit in any more.

Fuel on the fire

It’s rained a lot in the last few days, after a long warm dry spell where the grass was starting to burn up … in APRIL. that is unheard of around here. anyway with ground temperatures of about 14C at the moment, grass is jumping out of the ground. yippeeeee. lots of cheap food for the cows. unfortunately it brings with it lots of management problems,trying to control the quality of the grass in front of the cows. Still it’s better than not having enough grass!

I’m also trying to get some slurry out. I’ve been unable to spread for the last month cos it’s been too dry (poor uptake of nitrogen due to evaporation), then too wet for a few days (leeching into the ground) and now that it’s dry again, we’re back to the evaporation problem. Ideally the evening would be a good time because it would stop the sun beating down on it, but i’ve a match at 6:45pm … so i’ll have to start the cows at 4:30 to be out the door in time 😦 No rain forecast for this evening either, a little tonight. tomorrow looks like it will be a good day, but warm at 18C. i’d like a nice drizzle now!

On top of all that, my mum wants me to get it out sooner than later, because we’ve a houseful of visitors for the weekend. No pressure needed thanks. I think nine extra souls in the house on Saturday night. God help us!!

Wanted: Small Cheap Camera

I was just thinking that to try to describe what life is like here I think I will need a small digital camera that is willing to be roughed around, but which I can take with me where-ever I go. My current camera is a Samsung NV7 OPS which is serving me well, but there’s no way I could take it with me out on the farm. Too much rough and tumble. I need something small that will fit in my pocket and will be virtually indestructible. You only get one chance at taking a photo. I don’t have time to be running in home for the camera. I need to have something that i can just take out, shoot … and carry on with what I was doing. I’ve thought about one of those camera phones … good chance of that being a runner.

Espion Mini : Picture size is too small at 352 x 288 pixels (CIF) price is right though!!!

There’s Pen camera’s, but the resolution is still too small. hmmmm, maybe the best thing to do is to go to an electronics store and see what they have on the cheap!

I’m too tired for now and have to go check cows calving before I go to bed. eek, it’s 12:30am