Working In, Around, And Away From Home


Chives and rocket growing in the tunnel.

A wildly busy week is behind us and it seems that was only a preview of what lies ahead.  I wish more of that busy had been in the outside garden, but the weather has been most uncooperative.  Even when the sun shines, which has been happening sporadically, the wind is blowing strong, making it impossible to sow seeds.  And it’s cold.  Very cold.  Wisely, we have not planted out yet as everything would be stunted, shocked, and ragged around the edges by it all.

As I write, this is the weather outside–


That’s a windsock flying horizontal…and below is freshly fallen hail on the ground.DSCF3655

Potted pumpkins, broccoli, courgettes, and spinach are waiting out the weather in the empty outside mini tunnels–these tunnels being the future home of carrots.  More pots with corn, peas, beans, flowers, etcetera, occupy the ground in our large tunnel that is to be planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Our much needed new tunnel plastic and two additional hoops have arrived, but that job will also have to wait until the weather calms.  Fifty additional pots should arrive today in order to pot up more of what’s in the tunnel, waiting patiently to go outside but too pot-bound to spend the next two weeks in their current containers.

DSCF3650On one fine day I got a couple hundred onion sets sown while Johnny made these two beds running along the fence.  It’s made up of the sod removed from extending the end of the stone path–if you look to the end by the mini tunnels you’ll see the exposed stone foundation now needing to be filled in with loose stone.  Eventually the entire path will need to be topped up with purchased chippings to even it out.  It seems no amount of stone cracking by the boys makes it smooth enough to not be a hazard to some weaker ankles.

We’re thinking to plant kale in the new fence beds this year, but eventually we may plant something that will be there permanently.

If you zoom in, you’ll see three of our ducks playing in their just cleaned pond.

With the foul weather, I’ve been getting some needed time in the kitchen, experimenting with kefir recipes and making fermented vegetables.  Would you believe the fermented eggs I made before Easter are only just now to my liking?  I had a friends husband who was familiar with pickled eggs give them a try a couple weeks back.  Not sour enough for him!  I agreed, but they’ve just now become fermented through the yolk so we’re eating them daily on salads and I’m about to start another batch with ideas to tweek, tweek the recipe– I’ll keep you posted on it.  Salad is part of every dinner now with lettuce, rocket, chives, coriander, and pea shoots all aplenty.

We’re selling much lettuces and herbs to a couple local restaurants and the island hotel.  We got a surprise a few days back when the owner of one told us to go and have a look at their new outside sign.  They said we’d get a mention on their menu, but this was unexpected.  After the surprise wore off, we’re feeling proud and delighted to be in the company of other great local food producers. We appreciate all who are supporting us and helping our dream to come true.  There’s so much more to do, but for today, we choose to focus on how much we’ve accomplished so far instead of feeling overwhelmed by how much there is lying ahead of us yet to be done.

20150515_182659  20150515_182714

I mentioned the local hotel–that is the reason for my absence here…I got a part time job working as a waitress/bartender there, starting three weeks ago.  Two regular evening shifts (I told them I couldn’t do days) are all mine with weddings and other functions being extra.  Neither job have I ever done before, but have taken to it quickly, having some wonderful co-workers teaching me.

This week I covered for someone who was ill and also worked at a wedding, so four shifts in all.  The hours pass seemingly in minutes because of the busyness.  One morning I didn’t get home until four a.m., after the wedding crowd finished and cleaning up was done.  Every muscle in my body aches and I’m sleeping better than ever before.  I’m loving it.  It’s seasonal work, so I’ll make hay while the sun shines– which is doing so quite brightly right now, no more hail, though it’s still very cold.  Johnny says that the day after tomorrow there’s a warm front supposed to arrive.  While that sounds all well and good, I still think we’ll wait until June to plant out.

It’s likely I’ll only be writing once or twice a week through the end of summer.  Between working in the kitchen and gardens, preparing for sewing summer camp, and working out of the home now, I only see things getting busier.  Though I have kept up with most, my apologies to those in my reader and whose mail and comments I have not replied to yet.  Mostly I hope you are all well and I will definitely catch up a little each day.  Much love, Melissa Xx


  1. It is understandable, that your days are busy Melissa 😉 You have more than enough to do with a big family and so much wonderful soil to plant. Your garden looks so very nice 😀
    Remember to live and enjoy too. ❤ Irene

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your weather reminds me of the way it was for me gardening in Montana. I had to wait until mid-June for the last snow and frost before I could plant anything. By October, it was cold again. You know what though? My garden in Montana was way better than what I grow here in Florida. The heat is just as destructive as the cold. I am trying cucumbers in a pot growing vertically. We shall see. I love pickled eggs. Cheers, and here is hoping that your weather will start to warm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my, snow in June. No wonder the move to Florida 🙂 Many Mainers migrates south to Florida, including my grandparents, to escape the cold winters but the snow never came as late as June. Ireland actually have some nice weather right up through November but the slow start is a bit frustrating. Perhaps intensified by the restaurants wanting veg earlier than Mother Nature provides the weather for. Can’t be wishing time away, so just got to go with the natural flow.

      Cucumbers do like the heat so fingers crossed they work out for you. They are one of my favourites. Have you tried tomatillos, kind of a cucumber like tomato? Used a good bit in salsas and love the heat. Huge producers and very tasty. I would post you some seeds if you were curious to try.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BellyBytes says:

    Oh your weather sounds scary indeed but I’m sure it’s much better than hot and blazing hot. By the way, can your tunnel technology be used in the tropics? Just as you need to create a warm environment, we need to create a greenhouse that is moist and wet….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right, it’s probably easier to produce a hot house than a cool growing spot that still allows in sunlight. At least without paying for it on a constant basis. I don’t know how the technology could be used in the tropics, probably some electric fans of some sort or other cooling equipment. Mother Nature loves to challenge us doesn’t she?! 🙂


  4. mudpilewood says:

    The one that stood out most for me, on your shot of the poster was the Grannies brown bread. Your pictures of your garden were great. Love reading your posts as I get such a sense of energy from them, you live a busy life, hope you keep strong and well. Take care Maria

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I agree Maria, I do love Irish brown bread. And I don’t know exactly who the maker of this ‘Grannies’ is yet. There are a good number of islanders who make it so wonderfully. I have been experimenting with soaking the flour in kefir. I discovered that kefir used to be used in place of buttermilk here on the island (perhaps on mainland too?) before packaged buttermilk was available. I don’t know if they soaked the flour first or not. If I had more time I’d love to research the history of kefir and brown bread, but for now, I am working on kefir brown bread starter, similar to sourdough bread.


  5. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    How wonderful to have your produce being eaten in the local hotel. Very well done! So glad to hear you have nothing planted out either – I was getting a bit down about it all and was determined to get things in the ground yesterday – but inspecting the beds I wanted to plant I found them knee high in weeds and still haven’t managed to clear them because these awful showers keep everything wet! We will soldier on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My new pots arrived this morning and I am on a lunch break now from potting up. Just part of the soldiering on process I guess! Please God, tomorrow will be the start of calmer days. We did manage to put ground cover down on most beds early enough this year to avoid the weeding, but dang if they don’t pop up as soon as they’re uncovered. We are going to try a more permaculture approach this year and be more selective in our weeding, just see what we can live with (or rather what the plants can live with). I guess that is only really effective thinking when the plants are beyond the seedling stage. Lovely to chat with a fellow western Ireland gardener 🙂 Talk soon. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Greg says:

    Oh, my, what a busy time you have ahead of you! Not entirely a bad thing I know. Your photos and descriptions made me shiver; I’m so glad the cold has left my little nook of the world for a season. And I missed the ducks until you pointed them out. 🙂

    What pride you all must have felt seeing that sign! And it is a well deserved, hard worked
    For recognition it seems to me; congratulations!

    Have fun with all your “stuff”, just try to not wear yourselves plumb out with it all. I know for me it all starts out fun and exciting then can turn into a drudge if I let it. But you two don’t sound like the types to let that happen. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have missed the ducks too, only for I knew they were there when I snapped the photo 🙂
      Thanks for mentioning not wearing ourselves out. It was food for thought. Although it is only a few months of work, I could easily see the more I am willing to take on, the more they will throw at me. It made Johnny and I think about where our limit is. I don’t want the summer to pass and for me to not have enjoyed my two greatest loves, family and homefarm life.
      Really (always) enjoy chatting with you Greg!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Melissa! I thought the weather would have been better by now for you. I hope you get great gardening weather soon. Congratulations on your new job! I’m glad you’re doing good and you’re enjoying it. Also, congrats on the menu mention. 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for all that Vashti. Tomorrow is the day that the weather is supposed to turn around for us, hopefully putting an end to winter once and for all. I’m sure you are in full summer weather there, though June 21 is still a ways off. May 1 is the start of Celtic summer and I’m wondering if it was ever warm here in May! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. oriana77 says:

    Having spent about a month in developing countries your opening photograph had me salivating. Fresh produce, meats and breads – everything we have missed these past weeks.

    Congratulations on the new job and thanks for pointing out about the ducks. Didn’t see them initially, but did see them once zoomed in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will have to head on over and read about your recent trip. It’s sounding like it maybe wasn’t a cruise? I hope you’ve had a chance to indulge on these simple luxuries/blessings since returning. We really are spoiled in comparison to developing countries aren’t we?
      I couldn’t see the ducks either, just remembered them there splashing around joyfully when I took the picture so I thought it was worth mentioning 🙂


      • oriana77 says:

        The past couple of months we have meandered around the world and have finally arrived in Sydney. We join the world cruise on Friday. Don’t get home until December.


  9. Sounds like busy and exciting times! Congratulations on both your job and your integration into the local economy. It is wonderful to see attention to locally and soundly produced food being given a prominent place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks QM 🙂 I agree, it is really wonderful that the chefs and restaurant owners support us. It’s less cost to purchase monocultured veg and mass produced goods than to support local artisans, so it’s a decision that means much to me and speaks highly of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Melissa Shaw-Smith says:

    Melissa, it sounds like a busy but extremely satisfying life. I wish you well with all your projects–in and out of the house–and a little calm, sunny weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Melissa. It is a busy time of year, but the quiet season follows. I think that’s what makes it all doable is knowing it’s seasonal. It’s not a pace we would want to keep for constant. Growing up in Maine, aka ‘Vacationland’, it’s just how I’ve always known life to be. Fingers crossed the weatherman is right about the weather improving from tomorrow on! Hope you are well. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Eddy Winko says:

    Hectic times, but sounds like fun. Congratulations on your inclusion on the Bayview sign, you have arrived! 🙂 Pickled eggs, love ’em, a firm favourite in my home county of Yorkshire and still available on the bar of old time pubs and fish and chip shops. I have to say though I just put mine in vinegar along with a chili or two and occasionally some turmeric for the colour. Ready to eat after about 6 weeks.
    Good to hear that there wasn’t any fighting at the wedding, a friend of mine from Mullingar says that a battle is inevitable at an Irish wedding 🙂
    Hope the weather cheers up for you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Eddy! I grew up with vinegar pickled eggs also but have really grown fond of fermenting and everything has become fair game. Great nutrition in ferments.
      Irish weddings from the Traveler community are notorious for fights but most others are civil. They do last for a few days and are quite fun really.
      And the weather is improving little by little 🙂


  12. Congratulations!
    Wow, life sounds busy and that weather!!! It is still cold and windy here too, but not quite so dramatic.
    I had a job as a barmaid once and loved it. Hope you can still get enough ‘you’ time.
    Go girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me time is scarce, but I am loving the socializing and the extra money. It’s only for the summer then the winter is very long, plenty of time on my backside on the computer, crocheting, etcetera. I vow not to miss time with the children on weekends, and Johnny and I have our time working the garden and farm together too.
      Fingers crossed that the weather will really become nicer tomorrow as predicted, though as I write sitting here in bed on the second floor of the house, I hear the wind beating off the roof. As I tell the children, one minute something is, the next minute it isn’t (or vice versa, of course)–by now I think you understand where I’m coming from 🙂 .


  13. Even here on the South Coast of the UK we’ve had to put the heating back on, Melissa. Mind you I quite like seeing rain as it means there will be no threat of droughts and a water shortage which we have had on a few occasions in the UK.

    You sound like a very busy woman and I don’t know how you get everything into your day. No wonder you are sleeping so well. I expect you are exhausted.

    Keep up the good work and I hope you’ll be able to plant out some more of that salad stuff soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hugh, I’ve heard you have had the chill too in the UK. So blah. There needs to be a new fabric invented that isn’t wool, corduroy, or leather (too wintry), something warm but spring (and not polar fleece!). I don’t mind the rain so much, it’s the sideways rain driven by fierce wind that becomes unbearable after a day and a half. Really I’m just annoyed that I can’t be in the garden. And that polar fleece is all that is practical to wear, keeping me warm. I even broke down and wore a turtle neck last week! 😉
      All this week, and tonight driving home from work, as I thought about how I was too busy to write and read, one thought kept popping in and out of my mind…’I wonder if Hugh published the last installment of his short story series’. No joking. And as it is officially the start of Wednesday, I must get some sleep and resist the temptation to pop over as I would not enjoy it nearly as much as with a decent nights sleep. Am exhausted. But tomorrow, it’s the first thing I’m checking. Nighty night. Melissa Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, I’m still wearing a scarf when taking Toby out for a walk in the evening, and the longest day is only a month away! We should have some warm evenings by now, but not too warm, and certainly not humid because I want to be able to sleep at night.!!!

        I stil haven’t had chance to wear shorts yet. They are waiting for me but it’s been too chilly for me to expose my legs yet.

        You don’t know how that made me feel so happy when you said that you’d been thinking about whether I’d published the final part of my short story. What an honour that is to hear, Melissa. That’s like me not being able to wait for the release of the New Star Wars movie, so I know the feeling.

        I know you’ve had a chance to read the story now and I was so glad to read your wonderful comments. Thank you so much. Hope you slept well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well Hugh, we didn’t get the warmth expected today and it is still windy, but a bit higher temps. I did sit outside and drink a hard cider last week with earwarmers on, in defiance of course 😉 and definitely not in shorts!
          Yes, I loved the story very much and meant every word I said about it ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Melissa, so much great energy happening around your place. Just when it seemed like you couldn’t squeeze any more in….you got a job. Congrats!
    You and Johnny must have felt great seeing your names on the restaurant’s menu, that is fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Stan, The entire house is quiet now as all are tucked snuggly in bed and I am just home from work. I honestly feel completely exhausted, but content. It’s really great, not the kind of busy I could handle 365, but that’s the way of living and working in a tourist driven area. It was the same when I lived in Maine. Perhaps why summer, though I love it, has always been my least favourite season of them all. It was a great feeling seeing our names alright, and a super surprise!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, and that is all I’ve been doing is five to ten minutes, which has felt just right in the morning. It helps in so many ways, leveling my mind and my mood. And helps me to stay in the moment as my mind is so full right now. Without it I would normally be irritable and impatient with so much on my plate.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Melissa, I can’t believe how you could find time to work outside your place, you were already busy enough! I hope the weather improves and you can go ahead with your plantations. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Roz Hill says:

    Hi, iam not posting as much either! We have a frost forecast for the weekend, I think it is much colder start this year. Most things are outside now so will need to cover. Great to see your photos! 👒🍅👒

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far today we have not received the predicted weather. The wind is howling off the roof top. We are potting up. I have lost so many things in the past years, that I am sticking to my guns and not planting out yet, though now my spinach has bolted being too warm in the tunnel and too windy to have the door open. Not too late to resow it. There’s always some new challenge isn’t there?! One of the reasons we all do it I suppose 🙂


  17. Melissa, thank you for the kind offer of the tomatillo seeds. I decided that I am not going to plant any more vegetables this year. Those I do have planted are not doing well either. Last summer, it was cooler early in May and June and I got huge crops of cucumbers, squash. This year it is already too hot. Thank you for thinking of me though. Next year, we will try again. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person


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