Tag Archives: Aran Islands

March of The Weeds

DSC_0288~2It’s March and the noticeably longer days tease my gardening impulsiveness. I want to get on with the business of growing outside. The erratic weather can’t be ignored, though, and rather than transplant out I’ll have to pot up- that is, move plants to larger containers- and keep them under cover a bit longer. Rather than sow root vegetable seeds, I’ll lay more ground warming cover after spreading compost or leaf mulch.

And I’ll weed.

There’s always weeding to be done, though more so this time of year because it’s spring and that’s when weeds spring up and multiply with great abandon on every patch of bare soil.

I rarely go out with the purpose of just weeding. Instead, it gets done regularly but a bit at a time. I’m usually grabbing weeds from here and there at my discretion as I’m tending to other garden needs in the same area. Spring weeding is a bit more intentional than that- it’s part of the plan for the day, on a mental list of things to be done deliberately, sooner than later.

Fortunately, weeding the garden is a favourite task of mine. I find that the point of view from crouched down on all fours is a great way to get the lay of the land and to gain a true perspective of a garden’s whereabouts.

While growing up in Maine, I was the primary weeder in the family plot and I remember enjoying it lots. Our vegetable garden was behind my Memere’s house. It was a nice open space with tall lilac bushes lining one side and there was a pretty spectacular weeping willow in the front yard. Summers were very hot and I have the most vivid memories of taking off my shirt and pulling weeds wearing only my shorts. At age nine or so, and with no explanation that made sense at the time, my mother told me to put my shirt back on and I shouldn’t be taking it off anymore. I remember feeling like something had gone astray. Now I suppose she was trying to teach me modesty.

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On our smallholding, I’ve taken responsibility for the weeding– Johnny never has to worry about it, just like I never have to worry about the chicken coop being cleaned out and their bedding relined and their feed buckets refilled.

So long as we’re all happy, nothing’s being neglected and everyone’s keeping their shirt on, it’s all good.

Our Children’s Chores

Several years back I read a couple great books by Robert Kiyosaki.   In one there was a quote about not giving children an allowance because it teaches them to work for money rather than learning to create money.  It made a bit of immediate sense and was worthy of more deliberate consideration.  In the end, Johnny and I decided to do both, give allowance earning opportunities as well as instruct in ways to create money for themselves.

We have five children aged six to twelve years, two girls and three boys.  Most of their chore doing is for no other reason than because we’re a family.  There’s no list of what they earn for which job so the lines are blurred between doing for the family and doing for allowance. They know we give them money in order to teach them how to manage and understand it.  It’s nominal, between 1€ and 2€ each per week.  We also give them €5 per week for depositing into their savings accounts and the majority of gifted money goes in there also.

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It’s not that my blog is less important to me…

Screenshot_2016-09-20-11-33-39 (2).jpgIt’s just that the time I have available on social media limits me to using my phone instead of my pc.  Entire blog posts require more time than a quick tweet from the break room at the hotel or a facebook update from one of the back fields does.  So that’s where I’m at these days.  Going with the flow.

This week I’m having fun curating the Twitter account for @smallholderIRL. I’ll be tweeting ten or so times each day as I go through my day.

I’ll have more time sitting here at my pc soon enough as this tourist season is coming to an end.  But for now, let’s catch up on Twitter or Facebook!

Hope everyone is having a fruitful autumn full of good health and happiness!

Melissa Xx

August’s Garden

August is over so it seems time to get my backside in gear and post a few of the many photos I took around the garden throughout the month…

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The L, O, & E beds are in view, but the V bed is cropped out at bottom of photo but the photo above it has an excellent angle of it. Yes, they spell L O V E!

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The Elusive Summer

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Cornelius on lookout for summer.

˜

notions of summer

hang on a kernel of truth

and hopes are raised up

˜

sounds corny, I know

but, aw shucks, the jig is up-

summer hopes are popped

˜

Another non-summer here in Ireland.  Autumn is at the door…  And at the window, and in the garden.

∗Sigh∗

I do love this time of year though and am enjoying harvesting, fermenting, freezing, and already planning for the next growing season.

The summer has flown by…it’s taken me until past midway through the season to cut my work hours at the hotel by half although I felt it was necessary since the end of last year.  It’s been lovely to get back to work outside the home after a decade of not, but it’s only now that I realize how far off track we’ve gone from our plans of self-sufficiency.  Well, more like spinning our wheels than off the track.  No regrets, for myself and family have benefited from my working away from the home.  And what would be the sense of regrets anyway?  No doubt about it, all is as it’s meant to be.

Johnny and I both want to make a living from and raise our family off our land.  We were both so busy working away from the home this summer that we had to say no too many times to requests for lettuce and veg from local restaurants.  That and other happenings made us realize it’s counterproductive to spend time working away from the homefarm and away from our family.  I feel a burst of energy when I think about how we’ll prepare over the winter to meet next year’s demands but also know that I must plow through the rest of this work season.

On a positive note, sewing summer camp was a great success.  It was loads of hard work, but left all in the family feeling greatly rewarded for it (I’ll share more about it soon). That’s what got Johnny and I sitting down and discussing all that holds promise to support us and all we had lost sight of while being caught up travailing regardless of our plans.  Again, no regrets.

I’m thinking I ought to review my 16 for 2016 list I made at the beginning of this year.  How much of it I’ve actually done will be quite unimpressive.  But, haha, maybe it will be motivating too?!

The haiku and photo are part of a weekly challenge (of which I participate in only sporadically these days).  Ron at Ronovan Writes’ two words for this week’s haiku are ‘up & hope’ and the Four Fab Photo Friends photo word of the week is ‘summer’.

Thanks for taking time from you own busyness to visit me today!  Cheers, Melissa Xx

Christmas in July

 

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Impersonating a Christmas tree, our runner bean tee pee puts on a grand display.

 

eat fish pie as dusk dusts over the days end

Not too long ago we spent a beautiful few days and evenings with the visiting family of some island living friends.

Amazing weather makes amazing memories and on this night the swimming, dining, and fishing all at the Kilronan pier offered some fine photo opportunities.  Click on any picture to start a wee slideshow.

eat fish pie

as dusk dusts over

the days end

I think any of the pictures could represent this week’s photo word ‘strength’ for many different reasons.  Does one say ‘strong’ more than the others to you?

Haiku fun brought to us by Ronovan Writes, thanking him for the two cool words, ‘pie and dust’.

I hope all who read this are well and so are those you love.

Melissa Xx

Children’s Sewing Day Camps on Inis Mor

 

Sewing is very much like engineering: you’re building something. You have to plan ahead, visualize the finished project, and understand how each step creates the foundation for the next one.

It’s also good for children’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but the mental exercises are just as valuable.  Problem-solving, perseverance and patience can all be learned from sewing. Following instructions and organizing abilities are also gained.

Each day camp teaches beginner sewing skills to children and is suitable for ages 6 years and up, boys and girls.

They’ll be taught to operate a basic sewing machine and use sewing tools as they complete a project each day.

Camps are held July 25-28, August 1-4. Each single day camp is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A single day is €30 and any additional days are €25 each.  Children bring a bag lunch and everything else is provided.

There are 7 projects in total with loads of boys & girls fabric choices for each.

20150806_140431July 25– Pillow with two front pockets— Great for first time sewists, the pillow has one clear vinyl photo pocket over a second felt pocket.

July 26– Lunch bag with waterproof, washable, breathable, and mildew proof lining.  Features fold top with velcro closure. Has a clear vinyl window to personalize.

July 27– Waterproof drawstring backpack with inside pocket.  Great for swim lessons.

20150805_145524 (4)July 28– Reversible A5 book cover with pen holder and bookmark.  Book and pen included.

Aug 1– Sew then colour your own tote bag.  Includes a set of ten colourful permanent markers.  Strap colours include pink, orange, yellow, red, blue, and black.

Aug 2– Set of three fabric nesting storage boxes. A great beginner project

Aug 3– Half-fold wallet with zipper closure for coins and bills, three 20150727_140340card pockets, clear vinyl photo holder, and velcro tabs to keep securely closed.

Aug 4– Waterproof drawstring backpack with inside pocket.

To register, check for availability, or to get more information, contact me here, call or text me at 087 315 2279, or send me an email at aranislandgirl@yahoo.com.    Cheers, Melissa

click on any photo to start a slide show…

Three Cheers for Summer!

 

bonfire night,

yippee! yahoo! yay!

summer starts!

Around sunset on June 23rd much of Ireland celebrates St. John’s Eve.   Also known as bonfire night, it’s a midsummer tradition that falls very near to the summer solstice–which celebrates the longest day of the year when the sun appears highest in the sky and when summer begins back in the States.  When summer officially starts may be determined by where you live but something we can all agree on–it doesn’t feel quite like summer until school has ended and summer break has begun.

Here on the island nearly all of the sixteen villages has their own unique fire.  Some bonfires are only attended by a few neighbours and larger villages have dozens of people gather around the fire.  Potluck food and BYOB can be found at most, while others might have storytelling, music, or singing.  Rituals around the fire to conjure up blessings for the weather, homes, land, crops, and individuals would have been the norm a hundred years ago, but not so much now.

School is out, summer schedule has already begun, and everyone is feeling relaxed.  Now for the sunshine and blue skies to return our way…

The picture above is one of the village fires on the island this week and is my ‘heat’ entry for this week’s photo challenge.  The haiku is for Ron’s weekly haiku challenge using the words ‘birth & cheer’.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

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