Sunday 17 March 2013

The Best Laid Plans

St Patrick's Day, so Beannachtai na Féile Pádraig to all our readers. Round these parts it is traditionally the day by which we should have our spuds planted, at least the Earlies. However our lovely burst of springlike weather is currently parked and we are getting the chilly North Westerlies instead. We have freezing fogs and white rime some mornings alternating with cold wet ones where the forecast carries wintry showers and other miseries not conducive to planting spuds. So the potatoes sit in their trays in the tígín chitting happily out of the frost. When we do get a few nice days I have a raised bed 'ridge' ready for them. They will do OK.

Also on hold because of the broken weather, is poly tunneling. I was out there today in the morning creating the door frame and finishing off the ground boards to which we will attach the plastic. We have decided for now to go with no door at the other end but we will pleat up the plastic sheeting at the end in such away that we can undo it and fit a door-frame if we decide one is necessary.

We are remembering last summer and it's single week of OK but not particularly hot weather in August and thinking that the ventilation from one door will be adequate on a tunnel only 20 feet long.
I don't mind working in light rain so even with the wind a bit raw I worked away till lunchtime but when the rain turned to sleet and snow I decided I was just being silly staying out there. I retreated indoors for a coffee, then the dog walk and then came in for good for homemade soup and to light the range.

 Held up too, but not by the weather, are the plans for the local conservation group's 'Plant a Million Trees in a Day' project. They have the trees, bare rooted and in cold store apparently, but their clearance to distribute them hit the buffers when Ireland suffered an attack of the 'new' fungal disease, Ash Die-Back (a fungus called Chalara fraxinea). This disease is making the Irish forestry industry very nervous as ash is an important crop here, not only because ash wood is used in making the hurley stick (camán) used in the traditional, fast, hair-raising sport, 'hurling'.

The Irish Government has therefore stomped down hard on anyone trying to move ash stocks around the country and as the Million Trees project was going to include the planting of a fair amount of ash saplings, the organisers have had to find suitable substitute species and get all their paperwork cleared again which has knocked them back a month. We are now planting on 27th April instead of 22/23 March. The tree will be OK, apparently as they are in cold store and this is normal in the industry, we are told. This is a bit of a pain as Liz will be out of the country, so I will be planting them all myself.

Never mind. When the sun shines it is still lovely and spring is creeping along. The geese, now very happy, healthy and settled here have started to explore beyond their old secure 'home land' of the orchard and pond garden. They are often now out on the front lawn, frequently come into the yard and have now started looking at the East Field. We have also seen some 'nuptial' activity so we suspect either one or both of the ladies may soon come into lay. The 4 hens are now regularly back up to 3 eggs a day and today we had a very thin-shelled (broken) egg in one of the boxes. This is sometimes a sign that  a hen is coming back into production so, if that is Broody Betty finally coming back on line, maybe we will get a 4-egg (100%) day.

Meanwhile it is St Patrick's Day so I have just been handed a Guinness by Liz, who is sipping on a chilled glass of Prosecco. We are having 'bacon and cabbage' with mashed potatoes and parsley sauce. The 'bacon'  is in the form of a gammon hock which is currently driving the cat(s) mad as they try to rob it from the kitchen, but Liz is more than a match for 2 moggies and the hock is being defended well so far.

Happy St Patrick's Day everyone.


Anne Wilson said...

Unless we have a worse summer than last year and that is hard to imagine, you will need a door the other end of the tunnel, the plants might survive in the heat, but a tunnel does get hot, but you wont!!!

mazylou said...

Matt, you have definitely assimilated. The cats on the rob is so Irish, I can't tell you how proud I am! Happy St Patrick's Day!