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Posts Tagged ‘Oldfarm’

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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Friday Photo

Look what we got today…… they are the cutest!!!!

New additions to Oldfarm

New Zwartbles lambs the latest addition to Oldfarm

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A couple of things have shocked us in recent months.

First shock was way back in February when we had snow here and decided to take a walk through the fields surrounding the house.  It was certainly at least 2 years since I had last gone climbing gates and fences up the back of the house.  I know some might say it is trespassing going for a walk along the neighbours hedgerows…. but boy, oh boy, do they have a healthy growth of sloes up there!

What struck us as we walked along in the snow though was that hedge, after hedgerow, was gone.  Two years ago we would have had to wend our way backwards and forwards across fields to find the gaps in the hedges where we knew we could get through.

Those hedgerows are now all gone.  Gone.  Disappeared.

you can just make out the remnants of a hedgerow

you can just make out the remnants of a hedgerow

 

Literally miles of hedgerows gone.

No Hedges in either direction

No Hedges in either direction

 

I was under the impression that hedgerows were protected.  I’ve done some research in the past few weeks and from what I can find out they are.

The Department of Agriculture :

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine advise that, under Section 37 of the Forestry Act, 1946, it is illegal to uproot any tree over ten years old or to cut down any tree of any age (including trees which form part of a hedgerow), unless a Felling Notice has been lodged at the Garda Station nearest to the trees at least 21 days before felling commences.

I can honestly say I know very very little about the ‘REPS’ schemes, but I understood that if you removed hedges you would not get this payment?

Another Department of Agriculture document states:

While hedgerows are an important visual feature in the landscape and form part of the historical and archaeological heritage of the country, they also serve a number of very important functions at farm level such as:

 ̧ Stock proof boundaries particularly important for animal disease control;

 ̧ Shelter and shade for farm animals and shelter for crops from possible winddamage;

 ̧ Physical barrier to restrict soil and water movement thus reducing soil erosionand protecting water quality.

 ̧ Providing habitats for wild life in circumstances where the proportion ofnatural woodland in the country is low;

 ̧ Nature corridors to allow the free movement of wildlife.

These landscape features are now protected under the requirements of Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC). This means that in general they cannot be removed. Hedgerows must also be maintained and not allowed to become invasive thereby reducing the utilisable area of the field and consequently impacting on the area eligible for the single payment.

You would think it was all very clear.  The sentence in this that would bother me is “this means that in general they cannot be removed“.  Does this give the farmer ‘wriggle’ room?  Allow him to destroy the hedges?

On a side note, has anyone else noticed poor animals in fields without a single bit of protection?  Not a tree or hedge for them to shelter under.

The second shock we had in the past month has been that all this land about us is now for sale.  Oh, how we wish we could afford 85 acres of prime agricultural land in North Tipperary.

In a conversation with a neighbour, who is an organic farmer, we were talking about how this entire 85 acres has just one hedgerow left in it, no other hedges, no fencing, no water, no electricity…. his reply….. that is the way farmers (including himself) want the land now.  It is easier to move the big machines around!!!

Screen Shot taken from Google Earth view

Screen Shot taken from Google Earth view

 

Unfortunately the cloud completely blocks out the area around our house…. but you can see the central hedgerow that has been left… and the lines where the old hedges used to be.  Very sad!

It is simple so folks….. farmers are thinking about how to move big machines around their land.

They are not thinking about biodiversity, hedgerows, wild food – we will miss the haws, sloes and blackberries – and what about the bees, birds and other wildlife that live in the hedgerows?  These hedgerows have taken decades to develop and get established.  These particular hedgerows were over 1,000 years old.  They are now gone forever.

And as I press ‘publish’  I can see another neighbouring farmer destroying more hedgerows down the hill.

How can this be stopped? Can it be stopped?

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Friday Photo

We had snow this week…. well a sprinkling really.  None of it ‘stuck’.  This was taken yesterday morning…. I love the way the light makes the world look black and white.

Snow sky over Oldfarm

Snow sky over Oldfarm

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Friday Photo

We’ve had the most amazing sunrises this week 🙂

Sunrise at Oldfarm

Sunrise at Oldfarm

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We’ve had a busy July of AirBnB visitors here at Oldfarm which has been wonderful and fun.  Some have asked me to share some of our recipes with them.

So here’s the first sharing – this one is for Lauren.

When Lauren and Josh stayed with us the hens were on a bit of a ‘go slow’ so I had to think up a dessert that did not involve eggs.  I hadn’t made this posset in years…. I think the original recipe came from an old book of my Mum’s.

Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset

Ingredients:

  • 450 ml cream
  • 125 gr. caster sugar
  • 1.5 lemons juiced.

Method:

Bring the cream and caster sugar slowly to the boil, stirring gently until sugar dissolves.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice.

Allow to cool slightly before pouring into glasses.  Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.

A great ‘make ahead’ dessert, and really refreshing.  This quantity made 5 portions in the glasses I was using.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

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Any of you who have received a delivery of Oldfarm Pork will be familiar with our insulated delivery boxes.  While the boxes work extremely well for delivery, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve deliberated over the fact that they aren’t very ‘environmentally’ friendly.

delivery boxes ready to go

delivery boxes ready to go

 

We’ve tried to work out a system where they could be returned…. but have always drawn a blank on that.

We’ve done research into biodegradable boxes, and, yes, they are available, but folks the cost!!!  Not just the cost of each individual box but the cost to us as you have to buy hundreds of boxes at a time and where would we store them???

It was fun then last week to get the following email from a customer:

 I’ve always wanted to try ‘sous-vide’ cooking, but not enough to pay five hundred euros to buy a proper sous-vide cooker. So I experimented. 

Using the insulated box you sent me my pork in, and a meat thermometer with a sharp probe, and a fillet steak already vacuum packed from Lidl. I heated water in a pan to 60 degrees C, poured it into your insulated box, popped in the steak still sealed in the pack from the shop, and poked the thermometer in through the  side of the box so that it reached into the water. Temperature was fifty seven or so and stayed at that temperature for an hour or so, long enough to cook my steak. Then I seasoned it and flash fried it to get a nice brown outside. Perfect, perhaps the best steak I ever ate.

Mike, I love your ingenuity.

Then I remembered another customer telling me they had used one of their boxes as a flower pot.  Look at this photo Maja sent me – she has a cape goose berry and flowers growing in hers.

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

So have any of our other customers found interesting ways of recycling/upcycling our delivery boxes?

We’d love to hear …. and it would certainly to partially salve our conscious about the environmental impact.

Thank you!

 

 

 

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