Buds are bursting

Buds are bursting and trees are coming into leaf.

This old horse chestnut tree is already in leaf

Easter is here again and we have welcomed our first guests for 2017. The daffodils are past their best but other spring flowers are coming out. The weather has been changeable typical of weather in Ireland. After a sustained period of sunny days and cooler nights we now have cloudy weather with mist but no rain to speak of  The donkeys  had been allowed into the orchard and lawn meadow but now need less grazing ground as we do not want them to develop laminitis. So we need to move the electric fence to give them a reduced area to graze. Noddy is notorious for breaking out of such an area.

 

Frittilaria

Frittilaria

Early tulips

Tulips and drumhead polyanthus are in full flower.

Tubs full of tulips

Tubs full of tulips give colour at the front of the house.

Our tubs and pots are in full flower. Planted in November, they are called May flowering but are in full flower now.

 

Holly

Holly

 

Filling in the potholes!

Adam filling in the potholes left by neighbours cattle.

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Donkeys -April '16 008

 

It is often said that in Ireland we can have four seasons in the one day. So come prepared! Yesterday was a glorious sunny day, though with a cold breeze. A good day for gardening. Today is a rainy April day. It is also the day Adam the gardener comes. So a weatherproof jacket and hat are called for. Inside tasks are scheduled where possible. Completing the clearing of the greenhouse. Putting the fuschias and penstemons into pots. Checking the dahlias have survived the winter and are starting to sprout. It is still too early to plant them out. The potatoes were planted last week.

 

Donkeys -April '16 002

 

Each autumn we plant tulip bulbs in a variety of tubs and pots So that we can have colour in front of the house when guests arrive. Choosing the bulbs is always an interesting task. we use late flowering varieties.  It is always interesting to see the flowers in full bloom. So when attending the Chelsea flower show one year I ordered sufficient for the two main tubs. We were delighted with the recommendations made by one of the staff on the stall. This  past year we ordered from Bloms bulb catalogue again. I will have to check the invoice for the varieties used.

 


Donkeys -April '16 005

 

 

Donkeys -April '16 004

 

The minature daffodils and the hellibores are in full bloom. Many of the daffodils planted years ago had become congested and ‘blind’. ie. They had very few flowers as they were growing in the woods and getting very little light.. Over the past 10 years we have tried to dig up the big clumps and divide them up before replanting.  Most of them are a very old variety which is, I am told, known as  an Easter lily!

 

Donkeys -April '16 007

 

Clocks Spring forward

April 24, 2015

As clocks sprang  forward and after a somewhat stormy end to the month of March spring was finally  in the air.  The clouds lifted the sun has shone brightly.  Birds are busy nesting and evidence is clear from the pile of twigs and other nesting materials which have come down the chimney. Though, in recent weeks , we had left the sweep’s  brushes inside the chimney to discourage such activity. The past three weeks there has been a lift in the temperature. So it the plants which we had overwintered in the greenhouse have been brought outside. This has allowed us space to plant the tomato and pepper plants we grow in the greenhouse beds each summer. We finally planted the tomato plants today and the dahlias  are finally sprouting.

The germination rate was poor this year. Maybe I am losing my touch with planting seeds! “What do you do with all the tomatoes when you get a big crop at the end of the season?”  was one question discussed after breakfast this morning. For the past few years and faced with a ‘glut’ of tomatoes we make them into sauces and relishes or oven dry them for use on pizas As tomatoes do not keep indefinitely we skin the surplus and put into bags in the freezer. That way we can have tomato passata or soup later in the year.  Here is a recipe we have used successfully ourselves.

The final touches have been made to the stable block though the windows, floors and doors need to be cleaned. The cleaning team is due in to dust, buff and polish the inside. Last week the new parking area was created. it is amazing what a digger and loads of gravel can accomplish in a few hours. We still will need to spread a layer gravel in the stable yard itself.

 

Archway into stable yard

Archway into stable yard

 

 

Stables-22nd April'15 003

Centre of block was the harness room and coachman’s quarters.

 

Mornington Stable block

Parking for Stable block

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stables-21th April'15 001

Coach House

Harness Room and Coach House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomato Sauce

1clove        Garlic Crushed

1 large        Onion & 2 shallots Chopped

Centre of head of Celery chopped

2 tins     Chopped Tomatoes or 3-4 lbs fresh Tomatoes roughly chopped

Small bunch fresh Basil

Salt & Black Pepper

Olive Oil

2-3tbsp butter

2-3tbsp Sugar

Salt to taste

 

Method

  1. Prepare vegetables.
  2. Melt butter and olive oil together in sauce pan.
  3. Add chopped onions and shallot and garlic.
  4. Add celery.
  5. Sauté all vegetables until soft, but do not allow to brown.
  6. Add tomatoes and ½ can water or vegetable stock.
  7. Simmer until reduced to thickish sauce
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary!!!

 

Spring in full bloom

March 9, 2015

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

Minature daffodils and hellibores.

After a slow start the snowdrops have bloomed and we are waiting for the daffodils to come into flower. We were a little fearful that we might lose some after the ‘big move’ they made last year. We needed to move snowdrops and daffodil bulbs last winter to make room for the three large tanks which needed to be installed as part of our new waste water facility. So we lifted the bulbs to fresh ground and whilst there may need to be a little adjustment after they have flowered this year they have weathered the move well. As a great deal of clearing of undergrowth has also taken place we can now see those snowdrops hidden for recent years now they are in full bloom . We do need to try to remove more of the brambles which have thrived as we have concentrated on the walled garden.

 

 

Renovation of the Stables

The renovation of the stables is moving on as the ground floor has been tiled and the floorboards will be going down  upstairs over the next two weeks. We think this project has been a veritable modern minor miracle.  The  building once the hub of farm life here to virtual dereliction had taken years. When we returned from Canada it was full of old farm equipment, my late mother-in-laws car, old working saddles, travel trunks  and many other ‘items’ which were designated as being ‘might be useful at some time. Needless to say all has been move  or disposed off. The studios will be available for use by guests or for rent by others. Indeed they will be suitable as a destination and use for small boutique weddings or other family gatherings. More news will be posted on our website once the project is complete.

 

Holly and Noddy

Holly and Noddy

Jams and Chutneys

On a cold and chilly February morning there is nothing more rewarding than making a batch of jam or chutney or jam. Once we had cleaned the freezer and counted the bags of fruit still waiting to be used. we set to work to make some strawberry and raspberry jams to restock the store cupboard. The smell of the jams as they cook welcomes neighbours as they drop in for a chat.

Raspberry Jam

1 kg. Raspberries

1 kg. Granulated sugar or preserving sugar

Method

  1. Prepare jam jars by washing if necessary and put into oven at 100°C
  2. Place raspberries into a heavy based saucepan.
  3. Using a potato masher crush the raspberries to release the juice.
  4. Add a small hazel nut sized lump of butter.
  5. Heat the fruit and stir in the sugar. Making sure that all the grains are dissolved before bringing the mix to a rolling boil.
  6. Boil for 4-5 minutes until setting pint is reached.
  7. To check for setting draw pot from heat, put a little jam on a plate and allow to cool. Jam should wrinkle when pushed or form a flake when poured off a wooden spoon rather than steady drops.

 

Frosty morning-4th February'15 011

Bluebells and Apple blossom

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets

Bluebells and Apple blossom, Food Fairs and Farmer’s Markets May is upon us

Coming to Ireland? Plan to include s visit to a Food Fair or Farmer’s Markets.  The season of Food Fairs  May is ‘High Season’ for food fairs in Ireland. From The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine to be held 16th-18th May 2014; to

The Sheridan’s Food Festival http://tinyurl.com/lfx3ram From Ballymaloe to Cavan http://tinyurl.com/n9xwvy2

From Multyfarnham to Mayo  Irish food is celebrated. Our recommendation to any person visiting or living in Ireland is to include at least one Food Fair in your itinerary. Celebrate Irish Food and go to a Food Fair in May where Irish food is being celebrated. It is a great way of meeting some of Ireland’s best known or top chef’s.

Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant is appearing both in Ballymaloe and at Sheridan’s Food Fair in Co. Cavan

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

Ballymaloe Literary and Food Festival

For lists of Food fairs and farmers Markets For links to sites http://goodfoodireland.ie/markets irishvillagemarkets.ie http://www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/farmersmarkets/pages/guidetofoodmarkets.aspx The season began at Easter here in Multyfarnham with their Country Fair.By all accounts it was a great sale.

Multyfarnham Country Fair

The next Multyfarnham Country Fair is to be held on 28th & 29thJune 2014 at the time the National Cycling Championships which are to be held in Tyrellspass and Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

Bumper Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14 

Parish Flower Sale- Apr'14

Parish Flower Sale- Apr’14

Bumper Cake  and Plant Sale is to be held Saturday,  17th May’14, at All Saint’s Church, Mullingar,

A Busy Garden 

Taking a moment to perch on the patio wall and watch the many birds finding food for their young. It is non stop activity. Nests are well hidden, though as you walk around the garden you may hear the calls of fledglings as you pass by. The  blackbird nesting in one of the yew arches is seemngly oblivious to our passing. Whilst we ignore any noises and resist the temptation of taking a peek! Occasionally a break is taken and you are stopped in your tracks by a bird in full song. This morning, I stopped and had difficulty identifying the bird.

Bluebells have survived-May'14 008

Lawns mowed, edges shaggy, need clipping!

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 020

Is this a chaffinch?

 

Bluebells have survived-May'14 018

Asparagus , elephant garlic and artichokes share a bed!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 019

Garlic and shallots were planted last autumn

Bluebells have survived-May'14 016

Apple blossom and Bbubells

Bluebells have survived-May'14 007

Overgrown grass laughing now mower belt needs replacing!

Bluebells have survived-May'14 006

Off to pick flowers

Harvesting is well under way so roads have been busy with tractors, trailers and combine harvesters.  Moving From field to field and farm to farm as farmers and contractors race to bring in crops. So different from late spring when farmers were bringing in straw and hay from England and France to feed their stock. In the walled garden, seeds initially slow to germinate, saw growth ‘take off’ as the hot weather arrived in June. In July and August growth accelerated at a rate not seen for several years.The garden has raced through summer resulting in an early harvest of onions, shallots,  beans and peas. Jam and chutney making has been going on alongside our main priority, welcoming guests.

Runner beans and leeks in the walled garden.

Runner beans, red cabbages and leeks in the walled garden.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

Herbaceous border in full bloom.

41st August'13 021

Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Mushrooms growing under an old oak tree.

Preparing for the Fair

Warwick picking peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick picking tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse.

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Warwick and his tomatoes. From Seed to Fork!

Multyfarnham Country Fair

Multyfarnham Country Fair was held this past weekend.This year it was a two-day event, with Talent and Cake Competitions running alongside the sale. The stall-holders were very grateful for the cover provided by the new marquees, as on Saturday, it was very wet. Musicians and dancers entertained the crowd under cover, and sales were brisk.

Sunday by contrast dawned sunny and warm. We were up before the dawn chorus. It  wakes us later these mornings as we are over the cusp of summer. The crowds came and were certainly prepared to buy our jams, chutneys and beans. The advertising campaign had featured scarecrows at strategic locations beside the roads of Co. Westmeath. Some were on display at the fair itself. The hard-working committee members are certainly to be congratulated for the success of the fair.

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 010

competion

Taking a break at Multyfarnham Country Fair.

Sales force ready for action

Sales force ready for action.

Toadstools for sale at the fair.Taste before you purchase is a good motto!

ot sure who this is meant to be. Do you know?

Not sure who this is meant to be.                   Do you know?

Multyfarnham Country Fair '13 014

Our own 'Best customers?'

Our own ‘Best customers’?

Runner beans'13 003                   Red admiral and peacock butterflies taking advantage of late summer sun.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

Noddy and Holly munching on windfall apples.

We use peppers and other vegetables in the a dish of  couscous. It is very tasty and goes down well with guests, friends and family. A useful dish for entertaining.

Cous cous Mornington style

Cous Cous – Mornington style

Cous Cous Allow 250gm / 1 cup for two people

Water 375ml/ 1 ½ Boiling water and other liquid*

1-2                     Shallots-finely chopped

1-2                     Cloves of garlic-crushed

1                         Chilli Peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 Centre of head of celery-Remove outer stalks from head.(retain for stock or other uses)

1-2 Tbsp            Turmeric ground

Olive Oil

Butter

1                         Orange rind and juice*

1                         Lemon rind and juice*

1                         Lime rind and juice*

Small bunch Coriander fresh -snipped

½ Red Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

½ Green Pepper, De-seeded and finely diced

Dried Apricots  ½ cup cut into strips

Dried cranberries ¼ cup

Dried blueberries ¼ cup

Salt & black pepper

Cashew nuts toasted or browned in a little butter and olive oil, then chopped.

Method

  1. In a small sauté pan sauté shallots and garlic in a little olive oil and butter, until golden brown.
  2. Add turmeric and continue to fry for 3-5 min. until raw taste has gone.

.*May need a little more oil.

  1. Add orange juice, lime juice and lemon juice to make a smooth paste.
  2. Add boiling water to couscous a little at a time until ½ the amount has been absorbed.
  3. Add turmeric / juice mix and stir into cous cous until well combined.
  4. Add remaining water.
  5. Add chopped vegetables, dried fruit and herbs.
  6. Adjust seasoning as needed

Spring is springing

January 26, 2012

I saw my first lamb of 2012 this morning! Spring is definitely in the air!

The snowdrops are up and in full bloom. my mother-in-law expected them to be in bloom by

17th January each year.

Snowdrops under the sycamore tree

Snowdrops under the sycamore tree
Snowdrops again

Snowdrops again

Holly standing enjoying the sun

Holly standing enjoying the sun

Noddy

Noddy

Holly

Holly eyeing ivy pulled from a tree.

It may be hard to believe but we are actually coming to the end of winter. In Ireland spring begins officially on the first of February. Remaining winter chores need to be completed. For us this is trimming or ‘brashing’ the boundary hedges along the road. The mature trees are ‘preserved’ by County Council edict; however, the holly, ash, beech and hawthorn bushes have grown too tall to cut as a hedge so we trim the ‘face’ of the bushes. This allows walkers and riders to pull in against the hedge as cars, tractors and riders go by, without getting their faces scratched. This procedure only takes place every two years. Now we need to collect the branches  and cut them into firewood.

During conversation with the tractor driver, I was told that one snowy day, when Warwick was a child, he appeared at Cahill’s* hill pulling a little toboggan. Many hours of fun were had by Warwick and the Orme children tobogganing down the hill and pulling the toboggan back up the hill. The children had never seen a toboggan or sledge with runners before.

*Warwick tells me he thinks it was actually Daley’s hill. The mists of time can blur memories.

Helibores are flowering

Helibores are flowering

Globe artichokes

Globe artichokes appear to have survived the winter well. A discarded piece of root has taken root at far end of row on right hand side.

Autumn planted shallots are growing well in raised bed

Autumn planted shallots are growing well in raised bed

This year's rhubarb sprouting as last year's windfall apples have not yet rotted.

This year's rhubarb sprouting, whilst last year's windfall apples have not yet fully rotted.

It is interesting to note that there are any apples left at all. Birds have obviously been feeding off the apples but haven’t finished them all.