Rebecca the lamb and her friend Bailey

Rebecca was an orphan twin lamb that we were given to bottle feed in 2011. She provided much entertainment and frolics around the garden and was great to see growing and getting strong. Cathal and Oisin fed her faithfully, from four bottles a day down to one over a couple of months until she was fully weaned onto meal and eventually onto grass.

It did turn out, however that Rebecca (named after a special first cousin of the boys) didn’t see herself as a lamb at all. She resented having to stay in the field on her own. We had heard that she would probably want to be with the family, but it was her attachment to Bailey (our golden retriever) that surprised us really. She broke out of the field regularly – her coat was immune to the electric fence, and was outside the back door waiting for Bailey most mornings. On occasion she made her way into the house, but generally got overexcited and peed on the floor.

In the end she returned to her original flock to graze on the hillside as a young sheep should – it didn’t seem fair to keep such a social animal on her on her own. And it is said that sheep don’t have personality? No way!

Spring meadow

A blast of Spring colour from miniature daffodils and mascari bulbs in early Spring up in the meadow.

And for the GAA minded – in the Clare colours, you will note.

The geese in action…

Well, most of the animals we have had here have been very cute/productive/appealing, but I must note one quite cantankerous exception.

We handreared a small number of alyesbury ducks and two geese over summer 2010, who we thought we had a pretty good relationship with. The geese grew into two lovely looking birds – we didn’t know if male or female… until just after Christmas, when it turned out that one was a gander – and he developed the worst case of bad attitude ever!

From then on we generally saw him coming with his head stretched out, ready to bite whoever he could sink his (surprisingly sharp) teeth into. We tried to see it as protecting his lady, but he gave her a rough time too, and even the ducks suffered a couple of unspeakable attacks.

I still don’t know if all ganders are like that or what we did wrong. I do know, however that he tasted great and that his lady is now a very peaceful and elegant leader of the ducks around the garden and noone seemed to miss him much!

Spring colour

The tulips in 2011 gave a lovely mix of vibrant colours by Eastertime. They are coming up now – hopefully it won’t be long before we will have a similar show. Roll on Spring!

With alot of help from wwoofers, family & friends

As we have gone through a few seasons in the garden as small scale commercial growers the one thing that has struck me most is how labour intensive market gardening is on our scale. We are too small for a mechanised system and yet one person in the garden feels like a David and Goliath battle when you are trying to keep up with hoeing, planting and harvesting by early summer.

It is with this in mind that I would like to sincerely thank all of the helpers that have come through our garden and spent time helping us to develop our garden and to share in the food that we have produced. We have been amazed at the number of people who willingly give their time and effort to grow and it has always been a positive experience to work alongside others in the garden. It lends itself to team effort and two people working together undoubtedly do the work of three on their own.

Many of our helpers have said that they feel better just for working in a garden – and there definitely seems to be a therapeutic effect, aside of the obvious benefit of eating fresh produce. I know that the simplicity of hoeing in the tunnel on a rainy day or planting a new bed of lettuce relaxes me away from other worries. It is always a positive thing to grow, and to grow food feels like an all round winning way to spend the day.

So, to all the wwoofers, friends, volunteers, trainees and of course family members who have given us their time and shared the effort to make our garden grow – thank you so much for your help. You all are a big part of the engine of Good & Green!

Good & Green and tasty too

A selection of our garden harvest for Friday orders in 2011.

In early summer there is an array of colour and shades of green in the garden – roll on summer 2012!

Pumpkin harvest 2011

With great help from Ryan & Fionn to locate all of our pumpkins we harvested over 60 of various shapes and sizes in October 2011.

Working the lathe

Working the lathe

This little piggie…

Well, this is the pig who made us work – hard!

On the day we collected them we decided to keep them indoors for a few days to get settled. As we had used the shed for this job before we thought we had a good system for them and didn’t fuss too much once they had their water, food & bedding….

It was as we were putting our youngest boys to bed that Fionn (one of them) looked out the window to say that ‘there are the piggies in the garden…’ – uh oh… It turned out that the black & white pig had dug her way out under the shed door (earth floor) and led the others out into the garden and around the field. Now that wouldn’t be too bad when they got to know us and would follow the bucket of food pretty much anywhere. But as it was their first night and they had no attachment to any of us it was pretty much a case of pick your pig and pick your moment to grab.

Well – all in all it took about three hours that night (9pm to midnight) to round them up. Pigs are pretty nifty movers, cleverer than they are usually given credit for and have a natural aversion to being picked up – so once it got dark we had a job on our hands to get them in. They also have a great talent for playing statues in long grass… who knew that?

But with time, patience and the help of Cathal and Oisin we eventually succeeded. Lesson number one – check your exit is escapeproof!

Three (not so little) piggies in their garden

In July 2011 our three latest weaners arrived – two red duroc & a gloucester old spot mix. It was our first time to keep them out in the garden and it was a great experience to see them rooting, playing, chasing each other around and even sunbathing when the weather allowed.

We placed them in a part of the garden that we are now planning to cultivate for green manure & crops next year. They did a fantastic job on rooting up the scraw and starting the process of breaking the turf and manuring the ground in preparation for working the ground for the next crops.

They enjoyed a great variety in their diet – corn stalks, herbs, old salad, spinach, brassica plants, soft pumpkins, acorns gathered in autumn – anything out of the garden, organic pig nuts for balanced nutrients, and anything they rooted up from the ground. All in all they had a good – if short life with us.

As great as it was to have them they were ultimately heading for the freezer, and with the cost of their feed there was no option to keep them as pets. Although I had misgivings, all the boys here were looking forward to sausages and pork crackling with no regrets. I guess if you are going to eat meat, it’s good to know that it’s the best quality possible, and that the animals enjoyed the time that they had here.

The meat turned out to be fantastic quality – enough fat for flavour, but lean from their outdoor lifestyle and full of flavour. We are selling some of the meat, as we had alot of requests from customers – if you are interested the list is on ‘available produce listing’.