Tuesday 28 August 2012

Making New Friends

We have made some new friends locally; a small-holder couple called Anne and Simon. They live quite close. They are just a few kilometers south of the local village of Lough Glynn as we are a few kms north. Dad first 'found' Anne on an internet poultry discussion forum website and when they got chatting they realised how close they were each to Castlerea. It was Anne who suggested Mum and Dad go to Castlerea Agricultural Show where they had such an enjoyable day. Dad and Anne had swapped mobile phone numbers with a plan to text each other at the Show and maybe meet up for a burger or a coffee. In the event they nearly missed each other and met up for a quick chat and a chance to meet and put faces to names in the car-park as they were all headed home. Mum and Dad and Anne and Simon promised to invite each to look round the two small holdings.

Anne and Simon are a bit older than 'us' and have been at the small holder game far longer. This one is their 4th or 5th; they have 'done' a couple here in Ireland and then one in Galicia and one Catalonia and have now moved back to Co Roscommon, even though they are both, actually, Brits. They are both mad keen 'organic' farmers who were in at the start when the organic movement first kicked off in Ireland and Anne was a lecturer on poultry management in the Organic Centre at Rossinver, Co. Lietrim and they do a lot of the 'permaculture' stuff and sustainability techniques as well as playing with African-Aid style "Keyhole beds". They are pleasantly 'old hippy'-ish. They keep the place going despite not being in the first flush of youth or the pink of health and they have dozens of chickens in 3 main breeds (including Buffs and La Bresse) as well as 2 donkeys (just to keep the grass down!), many ducks and huge meat-rabbits. Successfully burgeoning fruit and veg are everywhere and there is a well stocked poly tunnel. They also have 9 cats and 2 aged dogs all of which they brought back from Spain with them through all the hassles of rabies control and import vetting.

Mum and Dad were invited down for a visit and a look round on Thursday 16th, arrived with a jar of our blackcurrant jam, and came away with a jar of lemon curd and 4 blackcurrant plants. They returned the visit on Thursday 23rd arriving with 6 big duck eggs for Mum and Dad. They fell in love with all we dogs and puppies and, especially, Anne loved the kittens. We were all a tiny bit anxious, as if we were going to be 'inspected' but we needn't have worried. They were delighted with the place and impressed by the amount of work which has been done to get it to where we are now, all be it we are miles 'behind' Anne and Simon in the getting-established stakes. On both visits the chatting was fascinating and Mum and Dad learned so much. We are now all firm friends and the 'cultural exchange' visits are likely to continue into the future. Next stop is for Dad to take our lady rabbits, Ginny and Padfoot down to 'meet' their meat-breed Californian White buck, Peter. (Don't worry, Rogers is still here and his turn will come but for now he is still a bit small to be taking on the chunky girls). We hope that nature will take its course - that will happen on about the 6th September and 28-34 days later we may be in the baby bunny game.

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