I was late with dinner yesterday, so a delegation arrived to let me know I was late
It suddenly dawned on me this week that I have never written about our courses!
Running the pig rearing courses really came about quite by accident. We were working away raising the pigs, selling the pork and we often had people suddenly arrive on the door-step (literally) and start quizzing us about how we raise the pigs, how we market the pork, how we got started.
So we stopped and had a think. If people were calling on us to get this information there must be a market. Right?
So we ran our first Oldfarm pig rearing course, and over the years they have grown in popularity.
I thought in this post, however, I would share some of the reasons why people come on the course and what they hope to gain from the day? Invariably the answers are much the same….
- cannot buy decent pork or bacon, so we thought we’d grow our own
- I worry about what is being fed to animals
- I’d like to be a summer pig farmer! Not going to be a winter pig farmer – that’s too much hardship
- It is the next step on our aim to be sustainable.
- I’m not sure…. I have a ‘romantic’ idea that I’d like to keep pigs…. so today will make me realise the reality
- My grand-parents always kept pigs
We’ve had chefs who want to do the ‘farm to fork’ element. We’ve had people who currently live in suburbia (and maybe keep a few hens in the back garden), but dream of one day having a small-holding. We’ve had others who are thinking of starting a business of their own. And most recently of all we had a group of allotment owners from Balbriggan who are keeping pigs at one end of the allotment – now how’s that for an idea for other allotment owners.
Before each course we wonder what the people will be like, will the group gel, will there be good repartee with the group and with us.
Without fail, I think I can honestly say we have met some lovely people. The conversation over lunch is always about food and the provenance of food. The course is scheduled to finish at 4 p.m. invariably there’s another pot of tea made and we all sit about talking for another hour or so – exchanging food related stories and recipes.
It always pleases us when people decide yes they are going to go ahead and keep pigs – and we love to hear their adventures into pig farming. And it is also good if people decide that they don’t want to keep pigs – that’s a learning too!
If you’d like to learn about pigs, we still have a couple of places left on our next course on Saturday, 15th June. Or keep an eye on our website for details of upcoming courses.
Gosh, I cannot believe I’d been a bit remiss about posting in recent weeks…. and then this week I’ve posted everyday!
So if you missed all the excitement I was on the SodShow yesterday. My 15 minutes of fame!
I attended the photography workshop with Suzanna of Zwartbles Ireland and I still haven’t managed to sort through the 399 photos I took! Or write the blog post…. it will come soon.
I shared this recipe over on our website…. but thought it was mean not to share it here too as it is totally delicious!
As you will remember we had our Bacon Competition for St. Patrick’s Weekend. I’ve already shared the winning recipe, Bacon & Cabbage Soup, with you, and was full of great plans to try the other recipes in the weeks immediately after, but life as always got in the way.
Finally, today, I got a chance to try Ruth McKenna’s recipe. Ruth’s recipe is absolutely delicious.
It was particularly lovely to make them today using our own bacon, first baby spinach leaves from the garden and our own eggs. Only thing we bought was the goat’s cheese.
We greedily ate 2 each! You must try this.
Ingredients (for 4 eggs):
- 4 streaky rashers
- 4 leaves of spinach
- 35 g goat’s cheese
- 4 fresh eggs
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C
Grease a muffin tray. Line each depression with a slice of bacon. Next add your spinach leaf. Crumble some goat’s cheese (or feta cheese) in next. Break an egg over the whole lot.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes depending on your oven and how you like your eggs.
I was truly honoured recently to be asked to write a post for the Nicholas Mosse Entertainment blog.
Pop on over and read the 2 recipes I shared there…. they are great to serve as a ‘coolant’ with a curry
A couple of weeks ago our courier, who does the pick ups for our meat deliveries, arrived unexpectedly at the front door. He was bearing a gift for me! Doesn’t everyone love gifts that arrive out of the blue?
This gift came from a local company just 20 miles away – Spillane Sand & Gravel. They had sent me a box of fertilizer pellets and a compost activator, asking me would I use the products and do a review.
We did some research into Bacteriosol and decided that while it is not registered as ‘organic’. It is allowable in an organic environment, and is manufactured in France by a leading company in sustainable farming. I guess it could be best described as a ‘free-range’ fertilizer for the garden (or indeed, on a much bigger scale for farming).
Bacteriosol is made using vegetables and natural minerals, green compost, molasses with an addition of 2.8% nitrogen. Some folks might object to using it because it is all mixed with ammonium sulfate (85 g/kg).
Our soil here is horrendous. It is a heavy clay soil that compacts and/or cracks, and in certain parts has really poor drainage. We have such an abundance of that silver fern-like weed with an incredibly long root, which is a true indicator of poor soil! I have forgotten the name of this weed, but aren’t we lucky?
We have worked hard on trying to improve the soil both inside and outside the polytunnel. Each year since erecting the polytunnel, we have added to the soil. Last year it was a major layer of horse-manure, this year it was leaf mould. No idea what we will add to it next year!
As anyone who gardens knows, this year planting of anything is way behind schedule! It is only this weekend that I’ve been able to plant out peas and beans. Even stuff planted in the polytunnel on 17th February is only coming into its own now! We are finally able to harvest some salad leaves and radishes – a small step.
I have used the Bacteriosol in each bed as I’ve planted. As of yet I am unable to say what the results will be. There certainly has been good growth since I started using it, but then again the weather has also improved in the past 2 weeks. So it could be either reason
However, in fairness to Spillane Sand & Gravel, with the growing season finally underway, I thought I should share details of their new product with you. Bacteriosol is available to purchase from Spillane Sand & Gravel and can be shipped nationwide at a cost of €10.60 for a 1.2 kg bag which covers 35 sq. metres.
Spillane Sand & Gravel Limited, Ardcroney, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
I will keep you posted on how we progress throughout the season.
From a farming perspective – as it is available in bulk format – it has to be good that Bacteriosol reduces the need to spread nitrogen by c. 70% and increases productivity by 30%. One of our farming neighbours is seriously considering using it on his land – so again I will let you know the outcome from his perspective.
I received the Bacteriosol and Bacteriolit (still not tested) as a gift from Spillane Sand & Gravel, Ardcroney, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.