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Posts Tagged ‘Oldfarm’

How have you all been?  Has your summer been good?

We’ve had a crazy busy time here in Redwood. In May, and even into June, I was convinced that we would have a very quiet bed and breakfast season.  BUT suddenly it all kicked off, bookings came rushing in.  And while it was all a bit manic for a time, we are extremely grateful to all who came and stayed.

It was fun to meet so many wonderful people.

Our guests came from all corners of the world.  This year we had our first guests from Norway, Romania and Finland.  We love hearing about the home lives of folks, and why they make the decision to come to Ireland.

Earlier in the year we had been contemplating renovating an old farmhand cottage, but in the end decided that that there was too much red tape and expenditure.  Instead we’ve converted what used to be my ‘study’ and is now what we refer to as the Library Room.  This has been the most popular room of this season.  It also means that we can now accommodate six people at once.

The Library Room

We’ve had some ‘hairy’ and some funny moments over the past few months.

  • Lots of guests had to be roped into sheepherding duties. We’ve the two greatest escape artists ever this year, no matter which field we put them in they find a way out.  We do our best to provide an ‘authentic’ experience!
  • There were the guests who requested an early book in… then never showed up at all ….. not a happy camper that day.
  • Then guests who arrived with their cocker spaniel … without warning us! Thankfully, I was outside on their arrival and was able to (almost) roar at them to put dog on lead before he spotted the hens!
  • The guests who did so much shopping on their trip, they needed an extra suitcase… we were able to donate a suitcase to the cause!  Did you know charity shops won’t take suitcases???
  • Lots of guests have given us unexpected gifts…. homegrown chillies from their garden in Canada, a beautiful plate from Cincinnati, wine, maple syrup… I reckon they know us well even before they arrive!
  • I got quite a few opportunities to practice my French.
  • We had our first ‘kosher’ guests… we like challenges.
  • We had many boys and girls who were willing to throw sticks endlessly and tire Ross out… can they come back soon, please, he needs more running about??
  • We had the guest who asked if there were sheets on the bed???
  • And the one who brought his own toilet paper???

As the season slows down, we still have bookings between now and Christmas, and even have had a booking for next year (from a guest that stayed this year)!

Fingers and toes crossed for a good 2020.

Maybe you might decide to come stay in 2020?

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The B&B season that is.  For us here at Oldfarm, it officially kicked off for 2019 a couple of weeks back, and we’ve just been through a couple of busy weekends.  And, of course, are looking forward to many more busy days and nights.

In the period between Christmas and the beginning of March we took time to re-evaluate at various levels.

We tried out new recipes.  As we had dinner ourselves, or shared with others, if a new dish received approval, it was always followed with ‘could we serve this to guests’?   Lots of new dishes have been added to the repertoire.  We’ve added Keto-friendly recipes, vegetarian and even mastered a few new vegan options. There have even been a few dairy, nut and gluten free desserts added to the mix.  I may even share a few recipes on here.

We have worked hard on your behalf!

Another task that was undertaken during the ‘quiet’ months, was a bit of a revamp. We’ve added a ‘new’ room to the mix.  What used to be my study, is now available as the Library Room, and I must admit I love the look of it.  It has received a major thumbs up from those who’ve already stayed there.

Libraryroom

The Library Room

The twin room (should we think of a more special name for this room?) has also had a bit of a make over.  We hope you like the look.

Twinroom

Twin room

All this revamping means that we can now accommodate 6 people.

In other behind the scenes news…. planting season has also arrived, so we are feverishly working in the tunnel and outside in the garden, to guarantee fresh produce for your visit.

So, I guess, the question is…. when are you coming to visit?  Just in case you want to come… you can book directly (with no hidden fees) right here.

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It’s on the bucket list.  In fact it has been on the bucket list for way too long.

I want to go up in a hot air balloon.  That is all.

I stood in awe for hours a couple of weeks ago as the Irish Hot Air Balloon Championships were held in Birr.  I was fascinated watching the weather along with them, waiting to hear if it was going to be a ‘Fly’ or ‘No Fly’ decision.  It was all quite technical but fascinating at the same time.

We were lucky that Monday evening was a beautiful evening, the winds were right, so it was a ‘FLY’ decision. We dropped everything and raced into Birr.

Aren’t they just magical?

There was a very enthusiastic chap who jumped out and parachuted back down!

And then I was lucky enough to be able to capture them on an early morning flight rom our kitchen.

Early morning flight over Tipperary countryside.

 

Early morning flight in the mist.

Someday that bucket list ‘tick’ will be marked.

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Growing pigs outdoors in Ireland, ain’t easy.  However, having said that we have been growing pigs outdoors for almost 15 years, so I guess we know a thing or two about it.

Our land is not ideally suited to it – heavy, clay soil – but you do the best you can.

In reality nowhere in Ireland is perfect for growing pigs outdoors.  There are areas of southern England where they have chalk soil that is good.

We have managed to keep our pigs outdoors all year round ever since we started to keep them.  You’ve heard it before – pigs are smart.  If it is too wet, too cold, snowing – they will stay indoors in a bed of straw.

Outdoor raised pigs produce a completely different meat to that of those raised in ‘factory’, or indoors.  Outdoor raised pigs obviously will have greater muscle tone.  While outdoors they are rooting about picking up various trace elements that occur naturally in the ground.

 

We’ve heard many say that there is no ‘standard’ for free-range pork.  Well there is.  Alfie is on the Bord Bia Technical Committee for Pig Meat, and it was Alfie that devised the standard.

Freerange Farmed:  a type of animal husbandry where pigs have free access to fields/woodland with defined boundaries for all or most of their natural life.  They receive their nutritional needs from prepared natural feed or from pasture or forage depending on the season.

We were the first pork producers to achieve ‘free-range status’.  However, and here is the rub…..it means nothing!  Yes, that is true.

The reason it means nothing is that most small producers use small abattoirs and small butchers, and none of these are registered with Bord Bia.  Only the big abattoirs and butchers are registered.  It is not cost effective for the small guys to pay the annual fees to be on the list of registered slaughter houses with Bord Bia.  Similarly, it is not feasible for small producers to take a couple of animals to one of the large processors.

As a consumer you have to ask yourself “what is important to you”?

Do you want to eat meat that has led a natural and healthy life outdoors, being fed organic feed?

Do you want to eat meat that has lead a natural and healthy life outdoors, being fed commercial pig meal which contains GMO soy and maize?

Do you want to eat meat that has been confined to a concrete building all its life, being fed commercial pig meal with  again GMO soy and maize, and I won’t mention antibiotic use?

The decision is yours.

You have the power to change how meat is reared in this country.

Will you vote with your fork?

 

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Home-made Yoghurt

I first posted this recipe up here way back in 2011.  I’ve simplified the system since… thus reducing the amount of wash-up!

There have been quite a few discussions lately with various bloggers about making yoghurt and whether it works with raw milk v pasteurised milk.  I’ve made it, using this method, with both raw and pasteurised, and it works!

To start with you will need to buy some yoghurt, but after that just remember to save a teaspoon to carry on your ‘culture’.

Oldfarm Yoghurt

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pt. Milk
  • 1 teasp. of natural yoghurt as a starter.

Equipment needed:

  • Wide saucepan
  • Milk Saver – I used upturned saucer!  See explanation following.
  • Thermometer
  • Wide necked flask.
  • Wide bowl/basin.

Method:

Put your milk in a wide saucepan with a ‘milk saver’. I use an upturned saucer!  Seemingly the ‘milk saver’ is to prevent the milk boiling over!

Bring your milk to the boil.  Then let it simmer for about 30 minutes until it has reduced to about two-thirds of the original amount.

Place saucepan in basin of cold water.  Wait for temperature to drop to 49 deg. F.   This takes about 5 minutes.

Add a teaspoon of natural yoghurt to your flask.  Pour in a little of the now cool milk and stir well.  Add the rest of the milk, stirring continually.

Seal flask and leave for a least 6 hours!

And then enjoy it for breakfast with some banana pancakes!

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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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