Saturday, May 31, 2008

I managed to get out fishing again, with Mark and Kevin, and had a bit more luck this time ! The weather was calm and sunny and we caught about thirty Mackerel, so went back and had a barbeque on the beach, with Mark, Laura, Padma and Jago, Kevin, Clodagh, Georgia and Noah, and of course Rachel and Caitlin. The Mackerel were delicious, and Laura even brought some Champagne along so we were really spoilt! It was really a perfect day, and good to see all the kids playing together on the beach.

Another few days of nice weather, and yesterday evening some well needed rain. Rachel and Corinne had a great time horseriding on the beach with O'Connors trekking: as they've been a few times before they can have a good old gallop ! They always come back with a big smile on their faces...I then went out for a quick surf at Dumps, the water was pretty warm, and the sun was shining still, a good day for all. Today was back in the garden building some more raised beds for the vegetables, and admiring all our buttercups growing!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The chickens have been providing some more eggs, and the ducks have been doing their bit as well, which means we've been cooking up pancakes for breakfast! Unfortunately the chickens have been testing my patience, as I found them in the vegetable patch the other day. They have now been banished to the lower field, although they don't really get this, and keep wandering back. The fence is only made of sheep wire so they can squeeze through ( just ) so I've had to buy some chicken wire just to make sure they don't go for the veggies again...

The weather has been dry, with a mixture of sun and cloud, whilst England has had some heavy rain - we have had Claudia and Dirk from Dresden staying for ten nights, and they have only had one showery day out of ten so they are really happy. They have been everywhere from Mizen Head, the Beara Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula to North Kerry - well done!

Just realised we had another nice review on Tripadvisor from John and Celia who stayed with us a few days ago - thanks guys!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Caitlin has been in high spirits as she saw her best friend Padma yesterday. She had been missing her as the Brodies had been in London for a couple of weeks. We ( and many others apparently ) follow their exploits on their blog: The Brodie Bunch. Laura always makes us laugh with her comments and pictures. Caitlin was very excited to give Padma a belated birthday present, and sang Happy Birthday to her! She then came home with a pair of Padmas fluffy high heeled mules, and amused our guests by parading around with them on. Caitlin was also happy to collect some more hens eggs this morning, which are now getting a bit more regular, and larger.

We had a nice walk in Glentenassig forest this morning: the approach to the entrance to the forest is impressive in itself, with huge mountains and screes ( a bit like Lord of the Rings ! ) The forest is well laid out with different walks, including ones around the lakes along wooden pathways. You can fish the loughs with a permit, and as we walked around you could see the fish making ripples on the water. A lovely place for a spot of fishing.

Our guests, Claudia and Dirk have been with us for six nights now, and have been exploring everywhere! Today was over to Glenbeigh, and around Lough Caragh and Glencar, before heading down to the Beara Peninsula and the Healy Pass and Dursey Island. The trip did includes a few close shaves with mad dogs, deer, rabbits and Irish drivers, but they survived to tell the tale...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We've made a start on tidying up the courtyard at the front of the cottage: this was often a bit scruffy, just covered in screenings ( rough gravel ) which always gets full of weeds. Now we have some beds edged with small tree trunks, which have been filled with compost and some topsoil, and then covered with fleece to keep the weeds down. We're then going to cover it with drainage stone, which is mainly small pebbles, and Rachel will plant the beds. There will be a couple with herbs, and then some grasses, and we should see a big improvement. The chickens came across to help on a few occasions, but were starting to get a bit cheeky as they thought that the table and chairs on the patio was a fine place to roost. We're now getting a couple of eggs a day from them so we won't put them in the pot just yet!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We have finally had some much needed rain as everything was pretty dry - it wasn't until about five o'clock today though. It did mean that there was sunshine this morning to help John and Dan with the lambs again, this time just spraying. It was lovely up on the hill opposite the cottage, fine views of the mountains and valley. John was telling me a little more about when his grandfather built the cottage, and he had to go the Scotland to dig potatos, and the Darlington to work on the railway to pay for the slates for the roof! Caroline cooked us a delicious dinner as well....

The chickens have been keeping us amused, I had my sandals on and they were pecking my toes - thought they were food! We also had our first egg from them yesterday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The weather has been hot and sunny for a few days now, and we've been busy tidying up the garden, and planting lots of vegetables. We now have mange tout, peas, runner beans, onions, potatos, cabbage, lettuce and carrots outside, with tomatos, cucumber, courgette, swiss chard, melon and pumpkins inside ( and probably more I've missed! )
Had a nice mail from Helmie and Henk, who enjoyed walking the rest of the Dingle Way, and they sent another photo of Caitlin with the rucksack - thanks!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I suppose I'd better start with the bad news - the second duckling didn't survive either: we were having to give it food and water by hand, so neither were obviously very strong. We will try again....
On a lighter note, I had a great evening down at John Foleys pub at Inch, where Colin was playing guitar. It had been really quiet up until about 11:00 and he was going to give it a miss, but about two minutes after I said there would be a rush, about a dozen people came in, followed by more a bit later! Colin was joined by Martin on bodhran, and there was a really good atmosphere down there.
Today we went to Ross Castle in Killarney National Park, which is a fine building, and walked out to Governors Rock. At this time of year the woods are full of wild garlic in flower, and bluebells. It looks amazing with huge drifts of white and blue flowers, with fine views over the lake through the trees.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I have to say that raising ducklings is very traumatic as unfortunately the first little one didn't make it. It was hardly drinking or eating anything, even with help from us. The second one is much more lively and went for the food and water immediately: the first one didn't, so something wasn't right there. So, fingers crossed for number two, and we now have some more eggs in the incubator. Rachel has gone to a talk by Dr. Natasha Campbell Mcbride, about nutrition for behavioural and learning disabilities, and digestive and immune system disorders. She has done work on eczema, colic and skin diseases, and is a very good speaker.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Well, we now have two ducklings, the second one hatched earlier today. We couldn't believe the effort it took to get through the egg shell: they are pretty tough, and much thicker than hens eggs. Duckling number one is still just as vocal, and is now having a bit to eat and drink. The whole place seems to be teeming with life at the moment. Apart from the ducks, ducklings and chickens, the ewes and lambs, and donkeys next door, there are now cows and their calves in Hughs field to our left, and Jackie over the road has a pony in her garden ( who thought Caitlins hair looked like a tasty treat. ) The swallows are also checking out an old nest under the eaves by our front door, so we may get them back as well. We were busy in the garden as the weather has been good, sorting out the strawberry bed which was pretty overgrown, so we should have some fruit soon!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It looks like we may just have the two ducklings as one of the other eggs isn't moving around today, but this one is really noisy, and looks quite strong. He/she is now in a cardboard box in the utility room where its nice and warm.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It's been a lovely day here, about 20 degrees, and filled with great excitement. Rachel put three duck eggs in an incubator twenty five days ago, and we were amazed that yesterday the eggs showed signs of life! The eggs were 'pipped' which means the ducklings were starting to break through the shell. It can then take between one and three days for them to hatch, and this lunchtime the eggs were moving and you could even hear squeaking from one of them. We must have sounded strange as we were quacking at this egg, and the little one would reply. This went on for the rest of the afternoon and it took until about eight o'clock for the first duckling to appear. Had to have a glass of wine with dinner to celebrate.
As for the chickens, they are getting slightly more adventurous, and I found them exploring further down the garden this evening. Unfortunately one of them decided to chase the ducks, who are obviously big wimps, as they all ran off...
As the weather has been calm and sunny, Mark phoned to see if I'd like to go fishing, the first boat trip of the year. We were out between Brandon and Fermoyle, perfect weather, with a warm breeze - I even had my shorts on! We only caught five mackerel ( well, actually, Mark caught all five...) but it was beautiful on the water. Then back to Mark and Laura's for some fresh grilled fish, and some of Laura's lovely ratatouille that she seemed to conjure out of next to nothing. Rachel and Caitlin were there of course, playing with Padma and keeping Jago entertained. Our guests had a good day, golfing at Castlegregory Golf and Fishing Club, and then walking Mount Brandon, the chickens had put themselves to bed, so everyone was happy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

We've had another gorgeous day here, and I went to give Ian a hand at Gortbrack Organic Farm as they are doing a show garden at Bloom which is on in Phoenix Park, Dublin from the 29th of May until the 2nd of June. The garden will have an organic theme, with native hedging, vegetables, fruit, a bog garden and pond, a woodland and orchard, plus a display of willow weaving. We were trying to get things laid out as they will be for the show, and it all looks good. With a couple more weeks everything should have filled out more. It's amazing how much you can pack into a 10x10m plot!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another quick note on the birds: just before dusk, the ducks are ready for food, water and bed, and queue up outside the shed in an orderly manner. We thought the chickens would be the same, but at 21:15 it was starting to get darker and we found one trying to dodge past us heading in the opposite direction to the henhouse! The ducks were soon put away, but the chickens were determined to keep foraging until they were good and ready to roost....eventually one decided it was bedtime, and the rest followed.

A busy few days in the B&B with some great visitors from Nova Scotia, England, Romania, and lots from Holland as they have Queens Day, Ascension and Liberation Day holidays, so they can take a break without taking too many days off work. There's an Arts Festival in Dingle ( ) as well, so Dingle B&B's were all pretty much full. Henk and Helmie stayed walking the Dingle Way, and Caitlin thought she would try on Henks rucksack for size, but it was a bit too heavy!

Rachel went down to Dingle mart with Emilie and Laura to buy some chickens, so we now have five to add to the ducks. Emilie and Huw also have more to replace the ones the fox took, and they got some for Kathleen and Niall, so we should all have plenty of eggs. John let me have his old chicken house, which needed a fair bit of repair, but at least they have a roof over their heads. Not sure what the ducks will make of it all, or the cat......