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Yes, it is a bit of self-promotion!  Sorry!

We were chatting here last night, and I just realised I’ve never done this.  I have never blatantly promoted any of what we do here as ‘Oldfarm’.  So why not?  Why not break the rules and tell you what we have and do.

You don’t have to read, but I think you will find some of our ideas funky and interesting.

  1. Pork & Bacon   –  this is the main stay of our smallholding.  Some of you will be aware that this year we’ve had to review how we do business.  In olden times we used to just sell the pork/bacon in small lots.  However, due to Alfie’s heart issues we’ve changed the business model and now ‘grow to order’.  Those who booked their half or full pig for 2017 have started to come and collect their meat.  Why not indulge someone with a gift voucher that will last a whole year long!

    Half butchered pig. Photo courtesy of @DayDreamFoodie

  2. Lamb  … well hogget really.  Just like above we will grow a half or full lamb and have it butchered to your instruction, ready to pop in the freezer next October/November.
  3. Pig-rearing Courses … gift certificates for pig rearing are always popular.  Santa has brought lots of day courses to people over the past few years…. and they’ve always been appreciated. (€90.00)
  4. Hand-knit piggies … these are a new addition to the repertoire.  Great stocking fillers for the big or little person. (€12.50)

    A Knitted replica of our first boar, Clarence!

  5. Calendar 2018… this is the fourth year we have produced a calendar.  I have taken all photographs which are of our life here.  We’ve also included a couple of recipes. (€10.00)
  6. Bread making Course … this is a new course we introduced in 2017, and is very popular with our B&B guests.  In 2 hours, you will learn how to make at least 3 different breads.
  7. Overnight Stay …. treat yourself and/or someone else to a weekend in the country.  We can do a package to include bed and breakfast and dinner… come and relax in Tipperary.

So, plenty to think of as ‘alternative’ Christmas gifts.  Comment below or send me an email if you’d like more detail.

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This year I felt unsure about producing our calendar.

Do folks still use calendars?  Has everyone gone totally digital?

I am old-fashioned enough to use a wall calendar in the kitchen, and I also have one in the study, but that’s really only for reference.  The one in the kitchen has every appointment, booking, etc. filled in on it.

Still I debated.

We asked the question over on Facebook, and I was amazed by the number of responses.  All saying yes, despite the convenience of digital, people still love to have a kitchen calendar!

So I got to work…. trawled through all my photographs from 2017…. there are a lot!

With 24 photos of our life here in North Tipperary, the 2018 calendar has become a reality.  I know some of those who follow along here are from this part of Tipp – I think you will like this little montage of our life.

There are photographs of the animals and ‘the birds’.  There are some recipes.  And there are some photographs of places to visit in the area.  All the photos will be new to you… they’ve not been used on social media, or here on the blog.

Even if you’re not from North Tipperary you will enjoy the quirkiness of our life in photos!  They might even make a nice stocking filler!

If you’d like one (there is a limited number), you can book yours right here.

Oldfarm Calendar 2018

 

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In fact a very expensive lesson learned….

I am telling this story in the hope it will save someone out there from making the same mistake I did, and will ultimately save you money.

Back in 2009 for various reasons we downsized to one car.  It just made sense, we were both at home, and with a bit of organisation we could operate with a single vehicle.  I did at the time insist that I be a named driver on Alfie’s car.

This year we decided to change the car.

Like me, you’ve probably all heard and read about how car insurance has gone up in price.  Insurance companies aren’t supposed to discriminate between male and female drivers, but we thought let’s check out if there is a difference between having me as the main driver or Alfie as the main driver.

There was a significant monetary difference.  There was even a significant price difference between companies.

In the end the best quote came from Its4women.ie, so we opted for them.  They are an online company so we completed all the details and sent off the money. (And no we hadn’t gone through the endless “t&c’s on their portal”.)  Stupid of us in retrospect.  There was some paperwork that had to be sent to them ‘hard copy’.  It was sent off.

Now here’s the thing with dealing with an online company.  I sent off documentation.  I check the ‘portal’ the next few days and it still says we are awaiting documentation.  Has it arrived and not been registered?  Has it got lost in the post?

Trying to speak to someone is difficult.  You can call them, but you must leave a message so they can ring you back.

Eventually I get to speak to someone who tells me that being a ‘named’ driver does not count… that only shows I have ‘driving experience’.  It does not say that I have a ‘no claims bonus’.    The price for my insurance policy has now gone from €500 to €1,900.

The fact that since 2009, on a one car policy, there has been no claim at all, that counts for nothing?

Photo courtesy of Confused.com

I subsequently learned from a much more ‘customer friendly’ insurance company that a being a named driver actually doesn’t count for anything… and that your ‘no claims bonus’ expires after 2 years.

All that was bad enough.

However, because we had to cancel the Its4Women policy…. they charge a whopping 25% cancellation fee for a policy that was in effect for just 3 weeks!!!

Rip off or what?

Please learn from our mistake.

 

 

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A couple of weeks back we had Irish guests staying… not often that we have homegrown guests.  However, one of the guests past a comment about the fact that as we grow much of our own food, we don’t really contribute to the local economy!

His comment kind of floored me.  It really stopped me in my tracks.  I suppose without going into a deep analysis of it, I would have considered us to be good at supporting ‘local’.

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Home grown tomatoes

I was prompted to analyse our shopping.

If I’m truthful, no we don’t buy from the nearest local shop.  There are a few reasons – they don’t stock what I’d want to buy food-wise.  I gave up buying newspapers years ago … and they don’t stock my preferred read anyway.  Yes, they do stock nice gift items.  I, however, tend to bake/gift home-made food items.

So here’s how our shopping breaks down:

Meat : we grow pigs and sheep too – so we never, ever buy pork, bacon or lamb. We also raise our own duck meat.  Chicken : we have a certain supply, but do buy free-range on occasion.  Beef which is considered a luxury in this house is bought from a local butcher, who now rings me when he kills and saves the cuts I like  – now, that’s customer service!  We plan to get a few turkeys this year too, just to add to the mix of meat choices.

Fruit and vegetables : again we grow a lot.  We try to eat seasonally, but sometimes you get a glut of vegetables coming at you so fast that you cannot eat another carrot or pea – so we freeze them to have later in the year.  Right now I’m busy preserving all sorts.  When we moved here there was a local vegetable shop, that’s now gone.  Our local country market which was another great resource closed down earlier this year, so we are left with the ‘multiples’ as our only choice.  However, even then I do aim for Irish and /or organic/fairtrade (thinking bananas and exotics).

Eggs : we have our own and if I do need more, I buy from our neighbour.

Fish : there are no local fish shops, so we shop in Barna (Co. Galway) for our fish when we can.  Not quite local to us, but it is a small independent fish shop that does great fresh fish.  We’ve also been known to swap pork for line caught tuna. Nice!

Flour:  we buy organic in 25kg bags from a local bakery.

Cleaning products : we do refills from our local independent Organic Store.  They are also a great spot for nice cheese, chocolate and seasonal vegetables.  (I just don’t get there every week.)

Animal Feed : We buy Tipperary grown grain from our local mill, and organic pig feed from “Robins Glen“.

Butchery : We are lucky to have a neighbour who does the necessary dispatching on hens and ducks.  And, we have two local butchers who take care of our pigs and sheep for us.

Yes, unfortunately, we do buy the staples from the ‘multinationals’…. tea, butter, etc.

So are we contributing to the local economy?  I think so.  We are bringing guests into this part of the country that would not otherwise visit.  We recommend local attractions.  Friday night guests are often encouraged to attend the dance at our local GAA Club.

So, yes, I do believe we are contributing in our own small way to our local community.

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I’m still here

If you’ve moved on from following the blog…. I wouldn’t blame you.  Life really has got in the way of blogging the past few months.

However, I am still here.  Still doing things and rushing about trying to keep head above water.

We’ve had a busy summer again.

Alfie was in and out of hospital quite a bit.  The last stint was 2 weeks from 16th August, which, of course, clashed with one of our busiest times with AirBnB.  Alfie is feeling a lot better now, so fingers and toes crossed that we have reached the end of that journey.

View from the Cliffs of Moher

We did manage a couple of days off at the beginning of August to spend time with friends and to do the ‘tourist’ thing for ourselves.

I shall write about some of those experiences as well as the many topics spinning around in my head that I want to share with you.  So over the coming weeks, I may be having a rant or two!!!  And I guess, it is a good sign when guests want me to share recipes with them, so you can look forward to some recipes too!

How have you all been?

How has your summer gone?

Did you get to have holidays?

 

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It is often hard to fathom that I lived in Dublin… and loved the city life while there.

Now a trip to Dublin is greeted with a groan!  Maybe I’ve become an old curmudgeon?

We had reason to go to Dublin last week, and here are my observations of the day trip.

  1. The traffic!  Guys how do you cope?  Such aggression.  No-one waits, no-one lets you in.  You really have to get into aggressive mode to survive!
  2. The new incinerator!  OMG it is huge.  I was so dumbfounded by the size I forgot to take a picture.  I used to sneak down to a lovely little beach down by the Pigeon House when I worked in Ringsend… don’t think you’d be doing that now?
  3. We saw the biggest cruise ship EVER!  The Caribbean Princess…. take a look at the size of this thing.  I do not want to go there.  If the city is crowded, I can only imagine how confining a ship this size would be.  Yep… that’s the cruise ship in the background, dwarfing the freight ships.
  4. Customer Service!!!!  We stopped in Malahide to pick up a couple of take away sandwiches.  Went into the posh/gourmet deli…. the staff could not tell if any of the bread was organic or gluten free?  “The girl who looks after that is on lunch and can’t be disturbed” …. seriously????  Thank you @SuperValuMalahide for coming to the rescue.
  5. Black and grey.  Why is everyone confined to wearing black and grey?  Men and women.  All looking hot and sticky on a sunny summer’s day (except for no. 6).
  6. Worst sight of all?  Warm, balmy day driving through the city and spotted a middle-aged gentleman striding along looking very ‘cool’ in his shorts, ear-phones in, back-pack…. and NO T-SHIRT!!!!  AND there was a belly overhang!!!!  Way too much!

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Some of you will know that the past 6 months have been to say the least traumatic here.  Alfie had a major heart attack back at the beginning of October.  The recovery process has not been totally smooth, with many set backs along the way.  He had his most recent heart surgery just 2 weeks ago, and so far this seems to have worked, but we won’t know for certain until mid-May.

As you can imagine all of this has played havoc with pig farming and pork sales.

We ran out of pork supplies around Christmas.

Thankfully we had been in the process of re-stocking and introducing new stock when the first heart attack struck, so had reduced stock to just 2 sows.

All of this has led us to re-evaluate our lives and examine how we can best continue doing something we enjoy, but with a lower stress level!

We are sharing our thoughts here, and hoping you will give us your input, please!

Our plan is to restructure how we sell the pork, rather than selling pork boxes in 4 kg. boxes.

Our questions to you…

Would you pre-order a full or half of a pig?  A full pig would be approx. 60 kgs.

Would you commit to doing so in advance?  You would be given a date – in October/November – when your meat would be ready.

We would grow the pig ethically, organically and free-range for you.  You would receive your meat butchered and freezer ready.

We would love to hear your opinion and thoughts as to whether this is something you would consider.

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