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Wednesday
Sep212011

21 September 2011

Sometimes, when I contemplate the sheer magnificence of a particular crop, I can scarcely believe that we were clever enough to produce it ourselves. Then I worry, if I can’t believe it, maybe the customers won’t believe it either. I have mentioned in a previous email the crop of onions we had this year, and every time I go in and out of the old tunnel, there they are looking hardly credible. Even when I walk past the display of onions at the shop, I am almost moved to tears. Molly too is visibly awestruck. It is entirely possible that in the not too distant future Ballylagan Tearoom will be serving onion soup for lunch! I can’t wait.

I would like to draw your attention to a problem a small operation such as our own is prone too. Cattle and pigs would be a lot easier to deal with if the the cattle consisted entirely of sirloin and fillet, and the pigs only of bacon. We can sell all the bacon we produce, but unfortunately there are bits of the pig that do not lend themselves to becoming bacon – such as legs. Some of the legs we cure and sell mainly at Christmas as gammons. Some we do not cure and sell as pork legs. At the moment we have a surplus of pork that I am keen to sell and to this end am offering a massive 50% discount on all pork joints weighing more than 1kg. Most of these joints are ideal for a fairly substantial family meal and have skin on ready to produce the most magnificent crackling. And don’t forget, we have home grown Ecklinvale Seedling cooking apples to make traditional apple sauce to go with these magnificent joints.

Regards

Tom

Wednesday
Sep142011

14 September 2011

To give you some idea of scale, these little piggies are about the 1/3rd of the size of Molly. If you are lucky, you should be able to

spot them in the front field. Stacey, their mother, out of shot, is very proud of her ‘love children’, who are the result of a night of passion with a much younger male pig who somehow got into her padddock totally unbeknownst to me. I have to say, though unexpected, these youngsters are a complete delight to me, especially the little chap in the foreground – who I rather hope is a female. (Being female on this farm can prolong active life.)

Regards

Tom

Wednesday
Aug312011

31 August 2011

Here is a list of the birds spotted on our farm during a survey done by the RSPB this spring/summmer. Two intrepid employees of this venerable institution would arrive at the skrake of dawn – three times over a period of weeks, armed with binos and a farm map and meticulously note all that they saw – including LBJs. Until recently I had thought LBJs were ex-presidents of the United States, but are in fact they are ‘little brown jobbies’ caught out of the corner of the eye and gone before identification can be assured. I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable to know if I should be pleased or disappointed by the names on this list – the RSPB will comment in due course. I have to say though it looks quite good to me.

We are particularly pleased to have some red list species i.e. those of highest conservation priority.

Regards

Tom

 

Thursday
Aug182011

18 August 2011

We have been undertaking an archaeological investigation on the farm. When Tom’s parents moved here in the 1970’s the kitchen had a pumped supply of well water. The location of the well itself was unknown, so when we demolished the extensions to the rear of the house we rather hoped that it would turn up. It didn’t. As part of the preparations for the guesthouse we have been tidying up the garden of the old house. Just as you went through the garden gate there was a circular bed with a very overgrown cotoneaster, which we decided had to go. In pulling out the cotoneaster the surrounding wall fell apart. Then we realised that the ground beneath was filled with rubble and when you stuck a crowbar into the material it disappeared. Yes you have guessed, the well was the one obvious feature- we are feeling a bit foolish. This picture shows the capping stones laid out with the pit behind. The stones are a very hard limestone which an angle grinder bounces off, so we have no idea how they were cut in the 19th century. We also came across some small cylinders of lead. You can just see these sitting on the background wall and the largest weighs about 8 kg. We think that these were used to anchor metal rods that formed the superstructure of the well – but we don’t know. If there are any knowlegeable folk out there ready to shed some light, please contact us.

Regards

Tom