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Most of you who follow on Facebook etc. will be aware that these past few months have been challenging on the health front here.

Alfie had a heart attack at the end of September which among many other factors hit us with regard to supplying hams to our usual Christmas customers. When we realised that we were faced with possibly disappointing our regular customers, I contacted them all, explained the situation to try to establish what their needs were.

Everyone was so understanding, and for once luck was on our side… a lot of our regulars were travelling for Christmas and would not need hams. Therefore, what little hams we had we could share among those staying at home.

We chatted with some other producers to see how they were fixed for supplies, because we knew we would have calls all the way up to Christmas.

One producer came up trumps and said he had plenty and would be delighted to supply.

We duly recommended him to many ….. mostly new to us, so we were going to miss out on possibly supplying them beyond Christmas  He was being handed new customers on a plate as such.

Then, we got the call from family (we’d forgotten to ask them if they needed ham!!!). Yes, they wanted a ham….. and ‘NO’ we did not have one.

Rather than disappoint family, we contacted said producer, explained that it was for family and could he help? He’d be delighted to…. no problem…. although delivery would be Christmas week.

Oldfarm Christmas Ham

Sorted.

Money paid …. full price paid.

And, yes, you’ve guessed it….. NO HAM ARRIVED.

Despite endless text messages, phone calls, emails, over several days ….. this chap did not answer a single call.

Now what would you think?

Alfie suggested that maybe he’s been in an awful car crash or something?

I feel…. he’s excuse better be along those lines.

He has disappointed me as a customer.

He has embarrased me to my family.

He has totally embarrassed us to potential customers…… did they get their hams? Do they think we operate our business like this?

What would you think?

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And just for a slight change of perspective…. here’s a winter sunset from the front garden

Winter sunset at Oldfarm

Winter sunset at Oldfarm

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I’ve been making our own ‘Cointreau’ style liqueur for the past couple of years, and was absolutely sure I had already shared the recipe on here…. but I hadn’t.

So here it is…. and full credit for the recipe must go to the late Paolo Tullio.

It is so simple and easy to make…. all it needs is time.

Home-made Cointreau

Home-made Cointreau

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Half litre of vodka
  • 1 orange
  • String
  • Wide necked jar – we use a Kilner jar
  • Water
  • 150 g sugar

Method:

Pour vodka into your jar.  Thread string through the orange.  We use a wooden skewer to pierce the orange, then push a straw through the hole, and then thread the string through the straw…. hope this makes sense, but you will probably device your own method.

You may need the assistance of another pair if hands for this part.

Lower the orange into the jar until it is about a centimetre above the vodka…. holding onto your string at both ends.  Now close the lid of the jar to secure the string in place.

making home-made cointreau

making home-made cointreau

Put your jar somewhere safe for 21 days.

If you watch you will see that the alcohol evaporates, hits the orange and drops down, thus infusing the alcohol with the orange flavour.

After the 21 days, dissolve 150 grams of sugar in as little water as possible, and add it to your flavoured vodka.

That’s it.

I’ve put it in pretty little bottles as Christmas gifts too.

Or save it and enjoy yourself 🙂

 

 

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I’ve finally found a breakfast cereal that I like!

Not that easy when you have to avoid wheat.  On a side note I challenge you to check cereal boxes across all the brands to find one that does not contain wheat. Even cornflakes contain wheat….. seriously.

And yes, I can hear you all saying, but but but what about porridge!

Here’s the thing folks, I HATE PORRIDGE.  It has to be the most disgusting food of all times.  It is a major source of amusement with Alfie, that I actually make really delicious porridge for others, but won’t touch it myself.

Okay, that’s out of the way.

The only way for me to go was to start making my own breakfast cereal… I chose to make granola.

This recipe is as flexible as you want it to be with regard to what ‘dry goods’ you put in, but the coconut oil and honey are a staple in this house anyway.

I haven’t checked the ‘use by date’, it doesn’t really last that long as guests love it too, but I would say it lasts 2 or 3 weeks in an airtight tin.

Oldfarm Granola

Oldfarm Granola

Ingredients:

  • 300 gr Oatflakes
  • 50 gr Linseed
  • 50 gr. Sunflower and/or Pumpkin seeds
  • 20 gr. Sesame seeds
  • 50 gr. dried fruit – current batch has diced mango in it, but I’ve used cranberries, and sultanas too.
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 40 gr. runny honey

Method:

Preheat oven to 150 deg. centigrade.

Line 2 x swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Melt coconut oil and honey together, and pour over dry ingredients

Spread mix out on baking parchment.

Bake for 23 minutes.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight tin or jar.

This is how I had mine this morning 🙂

Oldfarm Granola with yoghurt and homegrown strawberries

Oldfarm Granola with yoghurt and homegrown strawberries

Enjoy!

 

 

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Friday Photo

Well they are as busy ……. as bees 🙂

Oldfarm bees

Oldfarm bees

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Friday Photo

As the storms continue to batter us, and the rain has turned the landscape a very dull brown colour, I thought a photo of the house in summer with the sun blazing down and all windows and doors opened should brighten our hearts!

Happy New Year!

IMG_9573

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If you live in Ireland you would have had to be living in a bubble this past week not to be aware of all the controversy regarding AirBnB and Irish Revenue.

Let me explain for those not living here…. AirBnB have set up their European headquarters in Dublin as of May 2014, so they now have to abide by Irish Revenue rules.  All fine and dandy.

However, most of the people who are ‘hosting’ via the AirBnB website were under the impression that they could earn up to €12k without having to pay tax on it. This was under what Irish Revenue call the ‘rent a room’ scheme.  This past week it has emerged that this was an erroneous believe, and that AirBnB hosting cannot be classified under this tax scheme.

The radio, the newspaper, social media sites have been full of the story.  Labels such as tax evaders have been levelled at AirBnB hosts.  Rants have been had about data protection etc. etc. as AirBnB are now obliged to reveal details of all their Irish hosts to the Irish Revenue.

Oldfarm, Redwood

Oldfarm, Redwood

I thought I’d share our thoughts on the whole thing.

Yes, we too thought that the hosting would come in under this ‘rent a room’ scheme.

The ‘rent a room’ scheme allows a homeowner to rent out a room, or many rooms, in their home to students, interns or professionals, TAX FREE, as long as they do not earn over the magical €12,000 per annum.  Revenue’s argument is that in the above scenario the person renting the room is a ‘resident’ whereas under the AirBnB scenario they are a ‘guest’.  The argument further continues that because they are a ‘guest’ it is now a ‘trade’.

To be honest, it is all very stilted towards city dwellers.  We’d gladly be surrogate parents to a student or intern, if there was the opportunity.

Living in prime agricultural/rural Ireland, there are no hospitals or industry within a 40 mile radius.  There is a massive exodus of students from here to the cities every Sunday during term time…. heading off to line the pockets of the ‘non-trading’ ‘rent a room’ folks.

Parts of rural Ireland are dead during the week… waiting patiently for the young people to come home again at the weekend.

Can anyone explain to me what’s not a ‘trade’ about renting a room to a student, intern or professional?

We fail to see the difference.

The running costs for what we do are probably more than the ‘resident’ costs…. changing sheets and towels more often!

Here in our little pocket of North Tipperary there are no jobs.  There is no local factory that provides employment.  Everything is based on farming – and there are only so many jobs in that sector too.

We feel that what guests we do entice into the area are at least contributing somewhat to the local economy.  We are buying more to accommodate them.  They are buying/spending in the community.  The visits to the local pub, and the major Friday night attraction of the old time dancing at the GAA hall, all give a little boost to the economy.

We have a couple of guests coming next week to research their family who emigrated from our village, Lorrha.  The local Historical Society have already provided them with so much information.  The guests are overwhelmed with the generosity of people… and they haven’t even arrived yet.

We are rather proud that one guest who came and stayed last summer, liked the area so much they bought a property and have moved here, have set up a business, and again are boosting the local economy by another little bit.

Our little B&B venture has become a community venture.

Don’t get us wrong.  We have no objection to paying taxes.  Oh, and by the way, we’ve earned nothing close to €12k.  Way way below it in fact.  It is just the total and utter confusion that has been caused by this.

In fact, now that I’ve written all this down… maybe there should be a tax break for bringing people into an otherwise neglected part of the country?

Are you listening Mr. Noonan (our Minister for Finance)?

 

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