Archive for the ‘Family & Friends’ Category

The Heap of Leaves

I remember when I was young and carefree, I loved nothing better in the autumn than destroying neatly piled heaps of leaves that were ready for collecting … much to the annoyance of whoever it was was putting them together. It’s nice to know that even in these days of every sort of imaginable toy, that some of the biggest enjoyment that children can get is from having free open spaces …. and heaps of leaves to go mad with. The best things in life are free.

Sorry again that it’s sidewards. It’s my niece last week on a few days here where she has more space than she could dream about. Sometimes she doesn’t know what to do with it all and is overwhelmed by it. Anyway, and she spotted the camera half way through … and then I threw leaves at her … but ah, it doesn’t matter. She was enjoying herself.


Barking up the wrong tree

Following on yesterdays series of pictures, as I had the camera out, I was able to take some shots and video of Shep and Buttons, as they barked up a tree searching for a cat to scare out of its skin all day long. They have a bad habit of sitting under a tree all day and night, and barking their hearts out. This particular tree is difficult for them, There is fencing on one side, and then there is a wall on the near side. So they stand up on the wall and jump up onto the tree. Shep’s balance is excellent, but buttons isn’t the best to be honest. You should also notice the lack of ivy on one side of the poor tree. Yes, that’s from Shep’s constant pawing. It’s often that he tears off the bark of the tree, which isn’t the best to be honest. Have to take preventative action when that happens. It is more likely to happen on evergreens rather than hardwoods.

This time around, I think they were just giddy from running around in circles playing chase. They seem to just like barking for the sake of it. I pointed up the tree ad off they went barking at nothing. Of course it’s great fun … unless it’s 2am and people are trying to go to sleep. When this happens, we have to lock them into their house for the night and let them out in the morning.

My niece tried to get into the action too, but her balance isn’t the best on top of a wall like that … but all the same, she didn’t fall and had lots of smiles too.

Finally there’s a short video here of some of the ‘action’. just barking and whining. Apologies in advance for the video below which is sidewards at the start but it’s better than nothing.

Learner Driver (age 1.5)

My brother and his family were home for the weekend. So my little nephew was roaming around, and I caught this funny sequence of pictures. We didn’t sit him down anywhere, I think he thought he could do what daddy was up to, so he just went and did it.

Are you going somewhere?

Come on, I’ll drive if you want

Hmmm, you go the other side, I’ll go in here.

Getting in is easy. See, I’ll show you.

So, where do you want to go to. Not too far please, cos I need to go to sleep soon.

Ahhhh, I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Maybe it is time for some sleep right now.

All Smiles

It has been a bank holiday weekend here and with the wedding, I have hardly seen a computer in the last few days (sometimes I should rejoice at this, but I feel a lot of unfinished business).The wedding was great. Lots of friends, lots of old faces and everyone enjoying themselves. There was wind and rain, but once inside in the reception … all was forgotten about. In fact I suppose I forgot about farming and everything else on a normal day until today that is and I’m back to normal this evening.

The picture above is of the happy couple on top of their wedding cake. A thick layered chocolate cake. Lovely, but oh my god it sat in my stomach for ages.

As in the picture, everyone was all smiles on Saturday. It’s a different story today. Everyone is tired and in need of lots of extra sleep. So maybe it’s time to put the figurines into their shoe box and let them rest.

A Big Day Out

My friends M&D are to wed today, three years to the day since they first met. They are a very nice couple and have mellowed a lot since they first met. They are inseparable you might say.

I am glad to say that I had a small hand in getting them together that fateful weekend three years ago. I had gotten an invite from my friend C to her birthday party in Limerick, and she added that there would be lots of single girls there (She had told her friends we were coming … but said we were not their type). That was bait enough for a single man.

I had mentioned the party to the lads a few weeks before it was to take place. They seemed eager to go and chance their luck. The evening of the party, and of course everyone had forgotten it was happening, I suddenly thought of it and made some frantic phone calls around. DMc was willing, two more were doing other things, and D was at the bog and feeling lazy. I pushed him a bit … and he gave in.

So off we headed about 8pm, the three of us expecting a big night. It was about an hour and a half of a drive. Feeling we might be a little too early, and the thought of walking into a house of leering women, we stopped, picked up some alcohol, and went into in a pub for a quick one before heading in.

True to her word there were lots of women there, with the odd fella thrown in for good measure. We walked in and noticed the odd glance, desperately trying to avoid eye contact as they scanned us from head to toe. A few familiar faces smiled and welcomed us, and we were in and part of the schemozzle. I found a spot for myself beside the fridge (beer fridge to be more precice) and within arms reach of the finger food that was going around. I was introduced to the bowl of fruit cocktail (laced with many bad alcoholic things) … and took it from there. We had a quick conference between the three of us: DMc hadn’t seen anything spectacular, D had spotted something he liked from a distance, and I had my eye on a girl in the corner. We went our separate ways to join up later.

Some hours later, DMc wasn’t feeling too good. Too much fruit coctail, and other beverages were weighing heavily on him. I took him out the back door into the garden to see if fresh air would do him any good. It wasn’t doing any good, but the prospect of heading back into a cauldron of heat and air thick with various fumes did not appeal to him either. I looked in the kitchen window and low and behold, I saw my long lost comrade D in deep conversation with the girl he had spotted earlier. Then suddenly the conversation started getting deeper …… [use your imagination]. Then they disappeared.

All this time I was still helping DMc. By this time. most of the mix causing him problems had freed itself from his renching stomach. So I returned to the fray, but luck was not on my side, as the party had begun to dwindle, and take it’s eventual course. Those of us resting the night found a place to put our weary heads, until the morning when lots of water, and orange juice and a small fry were consumed in the hope of easing the pain.

We gathered our stuff, prised D&M apart, and headed for the hills. That was the start D&M. “Not their type”, how wrong C was. Just look at them now!

So that’s my very very small part in putting them together (I placed them in the same house as 40 other people). It’s a funny story all the same.

It promises to be a great day out for everybody. I wish them all the best today, followed by a life of joy and happiness.


My friends D&M are getting married this Saturday. But they are lucky that is is all still going according to plan. Last Tuesday at 7:15am, M headed off on the normal 40 minute drive to work, her second last day with not much on her mind but the wedding. As she drove along, she noticed a slight smell in the car, she didn’t really identify what it was. It got stronger and realised that it was the smell of petrol. This worried her, but she drove on, mindful that it was still fairly dark and cold outside, besides having only countryside all around her and nobody else on the road. It got worse still, so she opened the window and carried on. She made work, and went inside. Rang a local garage who came out to see what the problem was.

Their conclusion was that she was lucky to be alive. One of her beloved cats had bitten a small hole in the fuel line, and under pressure, the petrol was leaking. They said that if she had stopped the car, and reignited the engine, that the car would have gone up in fire. She shivered, and could not work with the thought for the rest of the day.
She’s a lucky girl, and we hope everything goes swimmingly from now until Saturday. Swimmingly to us is golf this afternoon, followed by a game of ball and last drinks tonight *sob* (another good man down). Oh, leisurely life of a farmer :).
Note: There will be more on the wedding tomorrow morning, well not the wedding really, just my small part in getting them together.

The Midnight Raider

My aunt was woken in the middle of the night last weekend by a banging at the back of the house. Only visiting for the weekend, she was frightened by the noise, but she has a strong will, and opened the shudders and peered out to see who was there and what their business was. She waited and waited, looking out on that piece of ground that was well lit by the moonlight. The wind was blowing strongly, making a racket too, but she kept hearing the noises, but saw nothing moving. Then she realised what it was. The horse chestnuts were falling from the tree beside the house and landing on the lean-to roof (galvanize) at the back of the house. She returned to bed and slept soundly after that. In the morning, we all had a good laugh at her adventure.

But, what a crop of horse chestnuts there are this year, and example of which can be seen below. Of course they’re no good to anyone because they’re very poisonous which is unlike the sweet chestnut you can eat. They probably won’t kill you, unless you eat a lot of them, but they will make you very very sick … and i’m sure you’d never want to eat one after that.

I can’t say that I like the Horse Chestnut too much. It’s so good at spreading it’s leaves that everything underneath just dies from getting no sunlight. It is mean … so I will be mean to it in the future.

A bountiful supply of horse chestnuts and big leaves.

Shooting the Dog

This is my dog Shep. He’s getting old (18) and is a bit of a grump, and only wants to be left alone. He’s really no good to us on the farm any more, and he’s chased enough cows in his time, so my dad has decided that his day is up and we need to bring the rifle to him and put him out of his misery…

Hah, only joking! I could never do such a thing to a pet and a friend. Yes, he’s 18 years old, a loyal dog, a good worker, an alert guard (day and night), nimble (though feigns a sore knee every now and again and forgets all about it if there is a bird to chase), still good to kill the odd rabbit, but going a tad insane at the same time.

But my problem is that I can not shoot a good photo of him. I think that he thinks the camera is some strange new kind of gun that I have. When do we pull the gun out every now and again, he scampers for cover … most normally inside in the house where he never goes … and is not allowed, and will not come out for hours. A lifetime of this has thought him to be wary of the gun. I suppose that he may have been blinded by the odd flash from the camera in the past, and he thought that it was not worth sticking around for more. Maybe he has cataracts or something and it affects his eyes badly … hmmm I had not thought about that before.

Now all I get when I pull out my camera is a side eye, or a picture of him as he turns away and heads for cover. Not the lad that comes up to me with a big smile on his face looking for a rub, a kiss … and a cut of bread!

Rising Feed Costs

“The problem of rising livestock feed costs will get worse unless new American genetically modified maizes are authorised quickly for use in the EU, said Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Mary Coughlan in the Dáil last week.” The Irish Examiner – Farming Section

This is just one of the thing that bothers me about world trade at the moment. We are not all on an even keel to be honest. The price of maize on this side of the Atlantic is more than double that in the US because of interfering politics like mentioned the in article.

So it is going to affect us in other ways too. Huge increases in costs mean that profits can be wiped out all too quickly, but what is happening now too is that with increases in milk price, people are feeding more inputs to their cows, thus diminishing world stocks … pushing the price ever higher. It’s a vicious circle.

If you don’t already know, world grain stocks are nearly empty at this stage. For the last five or six years, the world has been consuming more that it has been producing in term of grain … thus any buffer supplies around the world have all but disappeared. Reasons for this are drought, disease, climate change, poor prices to producers in the bread baskets of the world… and also an ever increasing world population.

Personally, as I think I have mentioned before, I do not want to see GM product coming into this country, because we need to raise value in what we sell, and GM products have not been tested over the long term how they affect people. All may be very well for years, until some day scientists discover that a link between it and an increased risk of bowel cancer … or something like that. But that is being a little sensational to be honest. Really, I just prefer things to be as natural as possible. GM has benefits, but it also has it’s own problems with stronger weeds, reduced insect populations etc etc. hmmm, I will write something more on GM in the future, when I get my thoughts together on the subject

Au Revoir, Slán go Fóil, Pa Pa, Goodbye


Waving goodbye to the loved one departing for faraway shores

My aunt from Los Angeles has been visiting us for the last three weeks, so it was with a degree of sadness that we said our farewells this morning as she headed off on the long trip up to Dublin first, and flying out first thing tomorrow morning.

My dad comes from a big family of eleven children and they all come back here to the home place from time to time, but this aunt hasn’t been home in eighteen years. A quiet woman in her own way, not really bothering anyone, always smiling, always helpful and always willing to give anything a go. Not married, and recently retired, her love in life have been her pets which she keeps in the apartment. Last count before she left were two dogs, six cats and a dozen birds … and to make matters worse, she lives with her sister 🙂

I had just gotten used to the extra soul in the house when now she has gone again. Somehow you seem to refuse to think that the day is coming and that she will be gone. It’s an ever changing environment that we live in here, but her company was nice, it refreshed me because she talked about things and did not cast judgment on me (well openly anyway). A staunch Republican too, but was able to see the faults with her own leaders, and was not blinded by her convictions. She says that she misses the seasons in LA, but here she was freezing at 18C … and us in t-shirts complaining of the heat 🙂 You can’t please everyone.

My mum passed the nicest comment about her though … that she’d prefer her big toe over some others that happen to call here.

So parting came this morning, there were no tears on the outside, but on the inside there were some. The obvious regrets that I didn’t do more to enhance her stay, but what is done now is done. She is gone, but hopefully not for good. She may return again sometime, because she enjoyed her stay and the change from routine. We would love to have her back again. Or maybe I will stay a few days while going to the other side of the world like I did 4 years ago.
Go n-eiri an bothar leat …… which is the Irish for: May the road rise up before you, OR … have a safe trip