Friday, January 28, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....


Happy Birthday Finnegan!

 When we brought you home you were such a "wee" little guy, so, we called you 'Little Man'

 Even as you grew into your toddler years, you still remained our Little Man.  Maybe it's because you're big brother was 95lbs of loving Golden...

And even though you're not so "wee" any longer, you'll always be our Little Man.

Happy Birthday #6

Now that all our doggie birthdays have passed, I promise I'll move onto other things!  They are such a part of my life that I have to share them and give them something back for they are always giving something to me - even if it is a lot of noise and dog hair!

Instead of a peaceful Friday today, I am embracing a "thankful" Friday.
I am thankful today because.....

Our power has been restored after this wet, heavy snow,
Our heat pump didn't completely die yet and only needed a minor repair to hold us off until Spring before replacing it,
My arms aren't nearly as sore as I thought they'd be after shoveling,
I have a hot tub to soak my old ass in after a day of shoveling,
I have a husband who adores me,
I have three dogs who adore me,
we got an egg yesterday!

Have a thankful weekend, y'all......

Monday, January 24, 2011

Preparing for March.....

I know it's only January, but, now is the time as Irish musicians we start prepping for the month of March and all the madness we bestow upon ourselves.  I'm of firm belief that we do this to ourselves.  I mean, afterall, what good is an Irish musician if they don't have a gig in March?  The peer pressure is awful.  It's like being in high school and you have to have a date for the prom, because afterall, everyone needs to go to the prom - right?

Being a musician you know a lot of other musicians and you may be sitting around having a pint or whatnot and inevitably the conversation of March comes up.  The other musicians start talking about where they are playing and how they sometimes have two to three gigs in a day then go on to complain about all the amateur gobshites they'll be playing music to and that it's nothing but noise and too many Arthur Guinnesses. 

Well, to this I say - fair play to ya' if this is what rocks your boat!  And, I'm glad you're in the pubs and bars playing to all the loud, drunken people and not me.  As a matter of fact, we choose not to play pubs during the month of March other than our regular session.  Now, don't get me wrong-we have played in a pub on St. Patrick's Day once.  And trust me, once was enough!!
 (Sidenote - a session is a gathering of players in an informal setting that sit around and play tunes together.  The session is not a performance, although we have many who come to sit and listen.)

We choose to play unusual places for the celebration of the month of the Irish.  Not so unusual to us, mind you, but, to some of friends and peers they are.  We perform in venues such as the local library and other library systems, retirement homes, and coffee houses.  We play at farmer's markets and other homegrown venues and we like it that way.  Why?  Never thought you'd ask!

Because what we play is Traditional Irish Music.  It's a tradition.  Traditions are to be passed on.  Kinda hard to do in a noisy pub full of drunken gobshites - agree?  We like to play venues where you can interact with the audience.  We like to talk about what we are playing, whether it's a jig or a reel or talk about the history of the song we're about to sing.  It's important to us.  Again, there are venues we perform at such as large festivals and fairs that it is all about playing moreso than passing the tradition.  We still like to interact with the crowd.  That's part of entertaining.  And, let's face it, it strokes the ego a bit when you get positive feedback from those who listen, applaud, and whistle!

So, with that being said, our gigs for March this year comprise a retirement village fundraiser and a coffee house.  That's it.  We're happy with this.  And excited, too.

The reason for the excitement is we are trying something we haven't done in a couple of years.  We are joining up with another band to form joint gigs.  There is a bit more intensity to it this time around and we've started the wheel in the cog turning and it's picking up steam.  New songs, new tunes, new stories to tell.  Four female vocalist doing four part harmonies.  All entailed, the seven of us will be able to bring three fiddles, four guitars, whistle, cittern, two mandolins, two bodhrans, bozouki, octave mandolin, tenor banjo, and three male voices!  A pure powerhouse of traditional music and song, I'd say!

But, it doesn't just happen.  It takes time for seven people to arrange their schedules as such to meet up once a week until the week of the gigs, then we'll get together three times that week to finalize - dot the i's and cross the t's and bring it all together with confidence.  It's fun, challenging, and frustrating at times and then the catharsis.  Great tunes and songs to hopefully give everyone a smile! 

That's why we start in January to be ready for March.  To make the folks who come to hear us happy.  Happy listeners make happy players.  And to be proud of "the wearing of the green" and give it substance.

So, if you're not doing anything on March 13th, come out to Beans in the Belfry in Brunswick, MD and hear some trad tunes.  Make sure you say "hi" if you do.

Oh, and by the way, it's Céol Anam Cara and the Craggy Island Band forming as "Céol Agus Craic" which is Irish for "fun and music". 

Sounds tempting, doesn't it?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Irish philosophy....

Peaceful Fridays.....

You're as young as your dixie cups let you be.

Do something this weekend that makes you smile - even if it's a little devilish...

Have a peaceful weekend, y'all.........

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Shane.....

 You came to us as a senior, but, with plenty of spunk and energy.
You also came with lots of love handles!
You were 10 years young when you allowed us to rescue you!

 You showed us the true meaning of patience and understanding.
You taught us the true meaning of "faithful".
Your fear disappeared and your true personality shone.

Being the gentleman that you are, you tolerated us bringing this youngster into the pack and showed her how to respect her pack leaders and to give lots of love...

 Finn is still your best buddy and even though you don't play with him like you did at first, you always make sure he's around and behaving.

You've aged with the grace you deserve even though you have lost most of your hearing and eyesight.
You're still always up for a bum rub and an ear scratch.

Thanks for being part of our pack.

Happy Birthday #15

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Fionnghuala.....

 From our first day home,

 to the toddler phase (I miss those ears!),

 to the gangly teenager,

to the lovely, sweet lady you've become!

Happy Birthday #3

*Fionnghuala wanted me to let you all know her birthday was Thursday but Mom's been real busy with those other distractions that help buy all my yummy food..*

Friday, January 14, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

 Sometimes it takes courage to face an unknown...

 But, sometimes you just need to take a deep breath...

And press on.
You may find the experience quite delightful!!

Have a peaceful, courage filled weekend, y'all........

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blizzard insurance.....

 This was my road during the February 26, 2010 blizzard.

 This was the path to the chicken coop.

This is the insurance that we would never have back to back blizzards ever again.

After reading about how so many of you are dealing with snow, I thankfully look back to our expensive  wise decision to take the plunge and create a worth-while debt.  
I'm happy to report we've used it for other uses a lot more than for removing snow.   It's aces when it comes to cutting the grass and a pleasure to drive.  It has power steering, man o' man, and I have less callouses because it does.  It's knocked about an hour and a a half off of mowing time, too! 
We have a post hole attachment which came in handy for fencing the new raised bed garden and will be even more handy when we start fencing the rest of the property.  And let me tell you, I am REALLY grateful for that.  You see, I learned a valuable lesson with a rented two-man gas post hole digger.  I learned that you can fly , but, your internal organs stay where you where before the rest of you went on the trip.  Long story short - we hit a rock, the post hole digger jammed, and a 5'2" woman went flying through the yard!
We've also used it to grade for the greenhouse, re-arrange the compost bin, move mulch and soil, and let our city friends take a ride and feel like they are a part of a Green Acres skit... 

So, if'n you'd like some blizzard insurance, run on out and git yerself one. 

We haven't had a blizzard since we did.

Oops, it's only January, right???
Maybe I should have kept my jowls from flappin' too soon...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Romance - the homesteading way....

Who says romance is dead?

These were my birthday present from the hubsters.  I've always wanted a really nice, warm pair of muck boots and being the sensitive guy he is and really knowing who I am, he indulged and got me a pair.
I am as happy as a hen who fears not that the sky is falling.

Chores are more pleasant with warm toes!

Nothing really new here at the homestead for the moment.  Getting ready to place a few seed orders and still researching meat breed chickens.  We're leaning toward the cornish cross for our first meat birds.  They seem the best for us first timers and with a little extra attention we can get them to a good weight without over stressing their frames. 

Once the football playoffs and Superbowl are over, the hubsters can change his focus to building a suitable chicken tractor for them.  :0)

So, until then, we will spend our time together with the roar of the crowd on t.v. as our background music while scouring seed catalogs, planning the gardens and seed starting times, drawing layouts of the property, and researching the critters we want to add to our little homestead.  There will be a fire in the woodstove and a pint or two of stout along the way.

Romance - the homesteading way. 
I'll take it anyday over French restaurants and red roses.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peaceful Fridays.....

Summer dreaming on a cold winter day.

Flowers and vines, trees and bushes,
Meadow grasses blowing in the breeze,
Growing corn and picking beans,
Pulling weeds down on your knees...
Cool, dark stout and a sweaty brow,
Tired muscles and achy bits,
Hot, humid air and parched grass,
Long summer nights gazing at the stars.

This is what I'm dreaming of on a cold winters day.

What are you dreaming of today???

Have a peaceful, dreamy weekend, y'all.....

Monday, January 3, 2011

Homesteading with a crystal ball.......

Planning for our little homestead for the forth coming year is akin to trying to predict the future by looking into a crystal ball....

So, with that being said, I thought I would share some goals for the 2011 season here at the ol' homestead.

Laying chickens

Expand the current run of confined, safe outside space to double its current size.  Right now the run is 8' x 20'.   Until we can get proper fencing on the property lines, the girls are confined to the run or the free range time I give them in the area we've fenced in for the dogs.  They were good about staying in the back yard except for one girl who just had a mind of her own and wanted to see the rest of the "world".

Get new chicks in early Spring.  Our little flock is down to three and they will be two years old at the time we pick up the new chicks.  This should work timing wise as for the new chicks should start laying in the fall just as the older hens pass their peak laying production.  I know this may sound a little calloused, but, they are not pets.  I'm not saying I'm not fond of my girls, but, I'm striving for self sustainability. Anyway, I know this great guy over in Wales who has a kind heart and will take aged chickens.  I'll fly them first class :-)

Meat birds

We've decided that we will try to raise some of our own meat birds in 2011. 
We're still researching which breed to raise, but, will have this figured out hopefully by early Spring. 

Since we will keep the meat birds separated from the layers we will be building a chicken tractor the appropriate size for the number of birds we settle on.   Again, we haven't settled on the specifics, but, we'll keep you posted as we start this new adventure here at the homestead.   I'm sure the hubsters will come up with something absolutely splendid!

the back forty....

Go to the county's licensing and permit department to find out exactly what we can raise on our little plot of land. 

We are zoned R40 which in a nutshell is residential zoning.  We can have animals, but, there are limitations to what and how many.  We also need to find out about setbacks for housing for animals, etc.

Get a property line survey.
Start fencing the back property.  We'll start this at the property lines and then work on dividing the area into grazing areas for rotation.  But, and this is a big but, it depends on the outcome of the conversation with the county if this project goes forward.  You see, after almost 5 years of debate, the hubsters and I have finally decided to raise lamb. 

If we can only have three ewes for our acreage that's fine as long as we can keep the lambs until slaughter age.  It's not un-typical for twins or even triplets to be born.  So, we could be housing anywhere from three to twelve hooves here at lambing time. 
If we find out it's a go, it will still take time to fence and shelter the sheep.  The final goal on raising lamb may not come to full fruition until sometime in 2012 because we pay as we go to build.  Another words, the amount of progress we make depends on the cash in hand. 

Personal yard space

Make a small fire pit.  Right now we have fire "bowl" which is fine and dandy, but, a nice stone pit around it would just make it a tad safer and less fear of melting shoes.


Since we added the new raised beds last year, we're pretty happy with the garden sizes we have now.  The goal for 2011 is healthier soil and stay practical with what we plant.  Like not planting cantaloupe,watermelon, honeydew, etc.  For two people it's just impractical.  Use the space for things that can be frozen, canned, or dehydrated.

Utilize the greenhouse!!!

So, this is a brief outline of some of the goals here at the homestead.  Just some small steps to be more self sustainable.   What we can't or don't want to do here, we are very fortunate to have a host of small, local farms where we can get the rest.  I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to be surrounded by such wonderful small farms with the same growing/raising ethics as the hubsters and I both have.

So, what do you see in your crystal ball for 2011?
Do tell...........