Sunday, October 31, 2010

New I come.

So, thats done. Made it through my last night as an RN (if all goes as planned). My final nightshift was exactly like the last M*A*S*H* episode. We were terribly busy, admits coming from all corners of the earth. Helicopters landing on the roof, in the parking lot, on the break room table bringing in hundreds of needy , bleeding patients. There was so much life saving going on there was no time for the sad goodbyes we were all dreading. All I got was a message of love and support carved into a lucious Red Velvet cake baked by some kind soul and oh yeah,  a eerie visit by some crazy tattooed chick with hypnotizing RED lips. Breaking up is hard to do.

Apparently, I am not yet ready to talk about it seriously. maybe tomorrow

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Leaping off the Lap of Luxury

Keith and I are not rich but we are not poor either. We are in fact smack dab in the middle of Middle Class. Very soon this will dramatically change as I leave the stable world of nursing for the unstable world of full time sustainable farming. In a matter of 3 days our joint income will drop by 60 %. WHAT DID YOU SAY ? Yes, it is true 60%. This will include my salary and all the benefits that came with my RN job. ARE YOU INSANE ? you might further inquire. Why yes, yes we are.  You'd have to be to give up the guarantee of good money and great benefits like free teeth cleaning, in exchange for no quarantee of any income what so ever. But thats us, just a couple of wild and crazy kids going for a Blues Brother joyride, seatbelts OFF.

Its been a dream of mine.

The dream of being totally self supporting. The dream of setting all our own hours all the time. (Except for picking up Allana at 2:30 and seeing Aunt Bernie at 4:00 and being at mass at 7:30 , other than THAT...)The dream to make a living the way we choose, by farming  and for me a little writing too. OK a lot of writing. Maybe in between the farming, or about the farming or while farming, not sure how to mash it all together yet. Actually, I have a pretty good idea how I will mash it together...with bangers. One can never go wrong with bangers and mash. Here is a great recipe  But I digress.

It is all very exciting and very worrisome. Its so easy to have faith when your life is good, not so easy when you are faced with the unknown, but how will we ever know if we do not try ? We know we won't starve, we have enough burger alone to keep us going until 2013, but utility companies have never been ones for taking beef patties in exchange for electricity. Thus we will be cutting back WAY WAY back in all areas. Thats OK, neither Keith or I came from Daddy Warbucks. We were both raised by hard working lower class folks who knew how to make a jar of mayo and a pound of bulk bologna go along way.

So here we go. Prayers are appreciated.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNo WriMo Time


Yes, believe it or not it is that time of year again. NaNo WriMo time..(National Novel Writing Month) The group is an informal one comprised of writers and wanna be writers of all ages over 13. Their goal is to chide, encourage, push, and/or threaten you into writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Those 30 days are always in November of each year. Last year I took a week off from farm and nurse work to play NaNo WriMo for the first time. For the first 7 days of November 2009 I did not clean house, or answer phones. I did not cook or do laundry. I did not print invoices or deliver hog heads. I did not babysit or animal tend. Instead my sole activities were to sleep, eat and write.  My husband...good man.

I did not reach the 50,000 words that month but over the next year I did and soon my first novel will be sent out to its first group of hand selected editors.

So here I am on the cusp of another Novemeber and another NaNo WriMo contest. Anyone can play just go to   Now what shall I write about this year ? A burning love story between a weirdly tall show jumper from Ireland and his infatuation with the young American nurse ? Or maybe a murder mystery which takes place late at night on the edge of the sea and invloves a tractor , a man and his dingy ? Or perhaps a comedy about a lonely middle aged woman and her invisible friend ,Bill.

I CANNOT WAIT for Novemeber 1st !

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lets Make a Squeal !!

We have a winner ! Ham roast roll please.....a woman named Shannon who emailed me her guess of 10 piglets born Oct 26. Second place goes to Joy Dassow of rural Chatsworth who guessed 9 on Oct 26 and for good measure added a time of 3:18 pm. Third place was Stacey Scholte of Beecher who also guessed 9 born on Oct. 26 but no time. I will contact all winners to arrange prize distribution.

So here's the story ...of a huge sow lady....

It was a dark , and stormy night , windy too, not as windy as it is right now but still pretty windy. Windy enough that when Keith yelled through the kitchen door last night "We got babies !" I wasn't sure if it was him or just another odd Roe Conn report. (Just google WLS radio and be done with it)

I shut off the stove burners,  ironically I was making my speciality meatloaf covered with bacon, and rushed to my husbands side with my bosom heaving. (I've always wanted to write that, now that I have, I know I will never write that phrase again). "Take her " I demanded.

We navigated our way over electric fences, in the pitch black nonetheless, and out to Miss Debbies private hog hotel. She had just birthed babe number seven but something was wrong. (dada,da,daaaaaa). Red Wattle Wonder was not breathing. Wait, was that a little gasp ?!  "Grab it Keith " I demanded . "Shake it " I demanded. See a trend here ?  He did. It moved a little. He rubbed it some more. It let out a tiny mouse squeak. He tossed it one handed, high into the air,  flipping it like a pancake, head over tail ....naaaaaa, he just rubbed it a little harder. It did then let out a loud squeal and mamma sow gave Keith the evil pig eye. He gently rolled it into the pile of other newborns and it started fighting for a nipple alongside with all its siblings. Peer pressure begins very early in the world of swine.

We left Deb alone, checked on her before bed and total newborns were 11 ! One dead and by the looks of it did not look like it has been born alive. So 10 new little fullbred Red Wattle hogs born on a beautiful Fall evening. What a great way to start a week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A watched pig never boils

No babies yet but Deb is "nesting " keep those guesses coming !

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crystal Blue Pigsuasion

Will you look at that ? Its contest time again. This season its Miss Debbie we are watching. Registered full bred RedWattle age 2 and 1/2 she was mated with Mad Max (another registered full bred Red Wattle) four months ago. He was  all of  10 months old at the time. Deb is due any day.

The prize at stake is a beautiful Holiday Ham. Around 6 pounds of tasty meat perfect for your Thanksgiving or Christmas party. It will serve 8-10 depending on what kind of pigs are in YOUR family. Approximate South Pork Ranch value is $25 and it must be picked up on our farm. No, it will not come from Deb or her offspring, its from a pig you people did not even know. Relax already.

To enter just send your guess (date of birth and number of piglets.) If there are any ties the ham will go the the guess that arrives soonest. To help with your guessing, the average Red Wattle litter size is 8, Deb's last litter was 9 and old pigfarmers say sows will have as many piglest as they have teats. Deb has 12 teats, 6 on each side.

You can send your best bet via email  or by making a comment on this blog. Yes. If you want to drive out here and feel her belly or swing a nail back and forth over her tummy you can. You people will do anything for free meat won't you ?!? Freikazoids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Manure relocation program

We have always believed that physical work is good for the body, the brain and the soul. We are those odd kind of parents who required their children to actually help around the farm being as they ate the food we produced. But we never put them to work too early or had them do tasks that were unsafe or beyond their years.( Except of course when mamma was off the farm. seems a few hard and fast rules were waived in my absence.) And then along came  grandson Wesley...

Yeah, his legs were a little short for the pedals but that was easily fixed with a wood block nailed to his shoe. The little tyke worked last evening and several hours this evening as well to spread 20 loads of manure. Some of that excrement had not seen the light of day since it first saw the light of day when it left Mrs O'Malleys cow. But Wesley just dug right through it, loaded it into the manure spreader and then drove the spreader across our fields adding important nutrients to our pastures With some kids you really have to preach and cajole when it comes to working hard and earning their own way. Not Wesley. He just gets it.

In fact he is such an upstanding little dude he admitted his Uncle Kyle may have helped a tiny bit.

Seriously now. Farms are unsafe places. Kids are risktakers. Take the time to explain the dangers of machinery and livestock and supervise young children closely. Here is a great article. After reading it I found a few more things WE could be doing better. How about you ?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting stoned in Ireland

A week ago tonight I was in Greens Pub (or was it O'Laughlins ? Logues ? ) enjoying a Guinness with my traveling buds. The dark broody brew of the West Coast. Well that is what we called ourselves anyway. I have no idea what the nickname for Guinness is. So even though I have physically been home many days, my heart is still in Ballyvaughan. Thus I must do one more blog on the bog and then back to my real life, the farm that is South Pork Ranch.

I love the rocks and stones of Ireland. It is their foundation and literally the only thing that keeps the whole isle from sinking into the icy Atlantic. A place I often revisit is Kilmacduagh Castle just one mile south of the village of Gort and about 40 miles out of Galway. Inside the castle ruins is a most special place, the O'Shaughnessy Chapel, built, I am sure by some talented relative of mine. I mean really, how about that roof job ?! I found the castle many years ago in my geneology searches and when my sister Mary, aka Moire' , and I first saw it and all the dead OShaughnessy's (neatly buried, don't freak) ,we knew we were "home". Here I am just last week in front of the chapel.

I am trying very hard not to stand on the head of any great great ancestors but its difficult not to do in this graveyard. As you can see by the decaying stones, remains have been there for many centuries. Poorer families had to bury their loved ones in stacks , one generation upon another in small areas . Might be the reason I don't have a problem with crowds. Not all graves were marked in the early years thus finding records of burials before 1850 is next to impossible. Surprisingly, this cemetery is still "active" as you can see by the very recent black headstone behind me.

The Irish are expert stone workers, being as the material was so readily available, and in addition to the stone walls and stone churches they also created the world famous Celtic Crosses. I tried to fit this one in my suitcase but once again the Garda snarled at me in customs and made me return it.

The intricate carving on this cross is unique as they all are. Several carvings on the older crosses originate from the Book of Kells , an illuminated manuscript Gospel book written in latin and beautifully drawn by Celtic monks ca 800 or earlier .Thus every cross tells its own biblical story. They are in every sense...awesome. Around the back of the OShaughnessy chapel is a rectangular section fenced off for burials of even more OShaughnessy bods which I assume were the richer of the tribe. The fence is well rusted but still sturdy and highly decorated with the OShaughnessy emblem O-S-H woven into this design...

The first time I saw it ten years ago I knew I wanted to have it made it into a ...oven mitt ? Noooo. A bumper sticker ?  Nooooo. A hair barrette ? Nooooooo. A tattoo ? Yeah, that's it. A tattoo. So with the help of friend Deb and her trusty digital camera we took pics, delivered them to a fine tattoo artist named Dave in Galway (Galway Tattoo owned by Sean Rickets ) and watched him turn ancient art into modern art on my fat back. Now a good amount of back fat is highly treasured in the chef industry when dealing with pasture raised hogs but on short irish Midlife Farmwifes ? Well, its stunning for sure. At least that's what Dave the tatoo guy said it looked like when he was done. And since I am not referred to as "stunning" very often I happily filled the guys hands with Euros and went forth to find some Nappy Rash Cream. The cream was to keep the tatoo looking stunning as long as possible.

Sunday, the day before we left, I felt the need to go to mass. Go figure. On the way out I noticed in the church yard...more stones ! And they looked a little like this,

They are the creation of an art student from Ohio , Hattie Hammersmith, studying art (duh) at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan a couple of years ago. The figures represent the human spirit victorious over the earthly barriers represented by the arches . Twelve spirits in an eternal circle , arms raised victorious in praise to God. When I knelt in the thick sod to get a different angle I saw this,

People have in the past have asked me "don't you get tired of always going to Ireland ?" No, no I don't.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No, you are not there yet.

Of course I have not forgotten about my farm, its just that I haven't forgotten enough about Ireland yet. So another blog on EIRE, if you don't mind...

In order to get anywhere in Ireland you have to have been there at least once before if not ten times before. Please refer to the legend of Corkscrew Hill for more data. To explain...signs in Ireland do not give actual, accountable directions. They are merely posted as a suggested route or even better, signage in the isle of confusion offer a way to drive around endlessly rather than productively, as we do in the US of Right Way. They are basically only a source of amusement never to be confused with a source of useful information.

In addition to the function aka dysfunction of I,rish signs, the physical placement of signs is thwice as frustrating. Some will be located innocently enough up an upright pole but they fear abandonment and therefore you will never find just ONE sign on a pole. Some poles will have four signs for the SAME village or B&B on a pole but not a single sign for some wee village like say DUBLIN, that might be nice to visit.

Some signs fall off the pole and then are placed on the ground up against the pole by a kind passerby. They will of course be pointing skyward or towards the footpath (sidewalk) Ha ha so funny, I forgot you were daft. Oh now, don't be so judgemental you might be thinking, BUT YOU WERE NOT THE ONE DRIVING ON THE ROUND ABOUTS WITH NEWBIE TRAVELERS BEING SLAMMED AGAINST WINDOWS AND COMPLAINING OF THE NEED TO HURL WHILE ALL THE GERMAN AUTOBAHN DRIVERS ARE EDGING THEIR VEHICLES UP YOUR HOLE.  I'm not being crude. Just sharing a little modren irish slang wit ya. Instead of saying "I was being tail gaited." They say "I did not appreciate that *&!@ being up my hole"

The Irish. They tell it like it is, except when it comes to proper road sign

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Got an extra fag ?

Only in Ireland can you borrow a fag, buy a fag, smoke a fag, put out a fag, light up a fag, crush a fag with your foot, lend someone a fag, hold a fag in your hand in the middle of Corkscrew hill without going to jail. 
You can even advertise fags in Ireland on a big yellow metal sign. Only back home three days and I miss Ireland already...and their fags as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are ye going to Scarborough Fair ?

          View from the back door of Sycamore House in Ballyvaughan the day of our arrival. 
                      Pot of gold to  the far left

There is funny and then there is hysterical. Last Wed. eve in Ballyvaughan in a pub I will not name because I don't want to embarrass the owner, there was this girl. The  kinda girl who well...thought she could sing but missed the mark by several hundred feet. The men in the session (an imprompto band ) could not keep straight faces. We four out-of-towners could not keep straight faces nor could the owner of the pub. Even though we all tried very hard. So many off key notes done with so many dramatic hand to the throat gestures in so little time. Soon enough we made it outside to stand on the street, smoke a few fags and giggle it up royally. Just one more memory of Eire that will be forever be burned in my memory.

I arrived home late last night after spending a week in Sycamore House in Ballyvaughan County Clare Ireland. (A gorgeous home owned by Seamus and Mary Malborough  see it at ) I am ashamed to say, my 11th trip to the isle. This year I traveled with three RN friends and we stayed 6 nights. To share the joy of Eire in one blog would be a great disservice so I'll tell you a story or two each day for a while. Just another of my Blog Series. So for now just one pic to whet your appetite. This delay will also give me a little time to wash the peat fire smell from my jeans and remove the Cobb Horse giftings from my boots.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gone to Ballyvaughan

Yes, I am gone across the pond for one week. Talk amongst yourselves. Slainte' !