Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Difference a Year Makes

My how time passes! I have thought of this blog frequently in the past year, and have often wanted to record a moment or capture an image of our life here in the little cottage on the green hill. Unfortunately I have allowed those moments to pass, and, as they are wont to do, the minutes have turned to days, then to months, and now more than a year is gone. And so much has happened in that time!

For one things, many creatures have come to live with us on the farm. In addition to Chewy the not-very-farm dog, we now have eight laying hens. Four joined us in March 2015, and we rescued another four from a battery farm about a month ago. We love them much more than we thought we would, and have been endlessly amused by their distinctive personalities and the vagaries of their feeble chicken-logic. Two naughty male pigs (Yorkshire/Old Spot mix) joined us in early July 2015, and enjoyed the fresh air and mud under their trotters until mid-November, when they moved from their makeshift (I just mis-typed that as "makeshit" - which is strangely apt since that was their main job!) enclosure into our chest freezer. The pig run went from an overgrown patch of brambles and gorse where wise men feared to tread to a delightfully manured quarter-acre garden plot. It's seriously amazing what those two pigs were able to do in less than six months - the ground is down to bare earth, wonderfully turned over, copiously manured, and ready for planting. This past autumn Sam and my dad put up a polytunnel for me in part of the pig yard, and Sam's been up to his knees in muck this spring diligently forming up lazy beds to create the outdoor garden. Some girls' husbands give them flowers on special occasions - mine gives me the raw essentials to grow my own! Although why would I waste such prime real estate on flowers when I could grow the most fabulous garden produce the West of Ireland has to offer? I've been dreaming vegetable dreams for weeks now, and have already had a few chances to get my hands dirty. The first seedlings have already germinated, and the earliest of the baby pea plants and lettuces are in the soil.

In addition to all of the above, I managed to grow a small kitchen garden this past year where our front lawn used to be. The garlic was superb, the parsnips were show-quality, and the kale is STILL going strong nearly a year later! Sam managed to beat back some of the gorse and cleared a path around the perimeter of our property (which was no mean feat I can assure you). We took down trees and overgrowth to give us a clear view of the ocean, and did some other home projects, including giving the house a much needed paint job. It's now a sweet little whitewashed Irish cottage with green trim, completely befitting of the pastoral surroundings.

Oh, and minor detail, we had a baby! Our lovely daughter L made her appearance last July and has been a very welcome (though time-intensive) addition to the family. She's not much help around the place yet, and creates more messes than she cleans up, but I'm on the look out for baby gardening gloves and have high hopes for her as the resident egg collector... just as soon as she's big enough to reach the nesting boxes.

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