Category Archives: Irish life

Making meadows

At present our two meadows are cluttered with newly shorn rushes and grasses. I’ve got a little more seeding later next week when the rain lets up and there’s a few other jobs like assembling my honey harvesting gear and prepping a few jars for filling.

Now some of you might have picked up on me planting a native flower called Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Here’s a brief video explanation of what it does and what we’re hoping to achieve;

Mrs S has been off to physio, so I’m off the leash from hanging curtains and shifting furniture to get on with what I consider the important tasks of harvesting and development of our greater property. Before we bought it, our little acreage was neglected for several years, so it’s going to be a bit of a long drawn out process to bring it up to a natural hay meadow standard and to clear most of the Dock and Rush, as organic hay will be fetching a premium price over the next two years, as politicians who do not understand agriculture pile yet more rules and dangle subsidies on the most productive sector of the economy.

As previously stated, we do not intend to get involved with these new rules, as they only apply to properties that take subsidies. Refuse to play the game and what can they do? Stop the payments you don’t take? Forcibly take your property unless you get with the programme? No Ministry would survive the adverse publicity.

When it comes to subsidies, I always apply Heinlein’s T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) rule. Specifically that all ‘free gifts’ offered by the political class have toxic strings attached. Because someone, somewhere has to pick up the tab, and if you take the poisoned chalice, as so many have found to their cost when trying to pay off their ‘Education loans’ or any other kind of government promoted loan. That will be you-hoo. Sorry. Bit of an eighties flashback there.

So no subsidies, just my own pocket. At least I can benefit from all of the payback. Same for the house. If we don’t have the ready money, well then it doesn’t get done if cashflow won’t allow, and even then I’ve learned to be a financial pessimist.

Besides, ‘Government money’ should be more correctly referred to as ‘taxpayer dollar’. Whenever an administration offers other people money, they will have to take it off the taxpayer first. Then there is the cost of collection, which means that people will need to be employed to collect the money to pay out to other people, which is a cost. Which means the money collected shrinks as more staff and infrastructure are required to take the tax and process the payments. Then there’s the risk of later, more venal politicians plundering the increased tax revenues or purposes it wasn’t originally intended for, then adding to the amount taken. So. The more ‘redistribution’, using empty buzzwords like ‘fairness’ and ‘equity’ the bigger the tax take, the emptier our pockets, and the richer the politicians get. Simple logic. The money has to come from and go somewhere, and the problems the increased tax take was meant to solve too often remain.

I’m also seeing a lot of “Pensioners thrown under the bus” rhetoric out there, and as I’ve stated before, I have no intention of being held hostage by a state pension alone. Mrs S is getting geared up for her projects, as I have been. Her workshop is coming together slowly, as is mine, although mine has the most holes in it, and will require the most investment. However, we have our first crop in and money to pay our taxes, so it’s not all doom and gloom. We will not be customers of any food bank.

On the topic of food I’m experimenting with soup recipes at the moment and our old fridge freezer is doing sterling work as storage. Current recipes being trialled are: Russian vegetable, Steak and vegetable, Fish stew, Celery and blue cheese. There is a modest crop of tomatoes still ripening in our garden which I hope to transform into a couple of litres of Passata. All of the aforementioned to become nourishing weapons in our battle against declining incomes as we head into official ‘retirement’.

Speaking of declining incomes, I’ve been doing an off the cuff price check with goods at the local Supermarket, and have come up with a rough local inflation rate of 25%. Bread is almost up a Euro per loaf. Cake similarly. Pre-packaged bacon up fifty cents, and this holds true across the board. At a rough back of a fag packet calculation, prices on staple items have risen more than a quarter over what they were last year. That’s a lot. This seems to hold true no matter where you shop.

And you can’t blame the Russians because these price rises began long before the Ukraine business, or the Yanks bombing the Nordstream pipelines. Think that wasn’t the Americans or one of their proxies? The long arm of coincidence would like to give you a good hard prod in the ribs. The Germans certainly seem to think it was the Yanks.

As for four blasts, one explosion might be down to poor maintenance or carelessness in one pipe, but four simultaneously? On both? Following NATO exercise BALTOPS22 and recent statements from both Biden and the CIA that they were going to shut down Nordstream? Then there’s the recently opened Baltic Pipe, from Norway to Poland. Can I sell you this bridge son? Great skyline, Only a billion careful users. The current US administration is no-one’s friend.

It’s almost like someone wants a world wide depression. With the manipulation of energy markets the lights may well be going out all over the world, and if we’re lucky we might not see all of them go out. For my own part I’ll be busy trying to make my meadows bloom. We do what we can do.

Recovery mode

Recovering from a moderate dose of the flu this week. Not COVID, just a bog standard dose of the lurgi which has left me with a morning cough and heavy sense of lethargy. Bloody thing. It’s been hanging around like the last guest at a party who doesn’t know when it’s long past time to go home.

That’s not really important because the meadows are cut, the grass crop is in and I’m out seeding just before dusk. The idea is to create a wildflower meadow with a particular native species called Yellow Rattle, a parasitic plant that cuts down the grass content of a given meadow by binding to the roots of various types of grass, allowing easier germination of other types of native species of meadow plant. Well, that’s what I’m told anyway.

One issue with grassland over here, because of Ireland’s geology, the soil tends toward wet and poor nutrient, which means rushes. Rushes (Juncus Effusus L), are little use for man nor beast and a pain in the bum to get rid of from pastureland. Experiments have been done, trying to turn them into some sort of biofuel, but so far nothing commercial. So I’m trying a parasitic planting to reduce the rushes in our meadows and thus improve the pasture and forage.

We’re doing our land management in partnership with an NGO which promotes the creation and maintenance of native plant species for pollinators and native bee species. My neighbours are all watching with interest, as their land has a similar set of problems.

We could be setting a trend here, if it works. Especially with the new ‘Green’ agenda being forced on us small farmers from above. The politicians can’t force you to stop using artificial fertilisers if you don’t use them anyway, but just you watch the townies start screaming as yields drop and food prices soar. ‘Sustainable’ my left buttock.

Speaking of bees. Last hive inspection before Winter is done, and I may have to wait until Spring before I split my colonies into heavily insulated ‘Nuc’s’. However, instead of feeding, I’ve elected to leave a ‘Super’ on top of the brood box on each hive so that my bees have plenty of winter food already. This means I have a reduced crop, but it still leaves me with a healthy surplus for gifts, mead brewing and personal use this year. So, win-win for both me and the bees.

As for me, I’ll feel a whole lot better in a week or so when I’ve shrugged off this damn flu. Because there’s a whole heap of things to be done before Winter comes, and people owe me favours, which I intend to do a little cashing in on.

Of such small things…

Goes the saying; “Of such small things is happiness constructed” and thus I have found a small slice of happiness in this vale of tears. My wife is happily chattering with her sisters, who flew from the other side of the world to be here. Both our kids are cooking Sunday supper, and I sit triumphant because I have finally won a small battle with our eccentric septic system.

There is a beer on my right hand with the promise of more, my other half got the most wonderful surprise when she was greeted by both her sisters and her children at the airport, believing that only two would arrive. My shrivelled black heart was lightened by the sight of her tears of joy. Even if she did give me grief about my navigation on the way home.

Upon our arrival at home I found that the drains were beginning to back up. We had this once before. One of the septic drains was built with too shallow a slope and a strategic U-trap had become partially blocked with builders waste, leaf compost and moss while no-one was living here, leading to low flows and human waste building up in the downstream drain. So we had to spend cash on getting a septic service in to suck out the worst of it.

Today I finally worked out where the problem lay and flushed it clean. All the stagnating waste has been hosed into the main tank and the offending blockages cleared. All it took was a little thought and a strategically deployed hosepipe. Job done.

Those drains have been the bane of our lives, downspouts leaking across the yard and becoming easily blocked in heavy rainfall. Now they run as they are supposed to. Fast and clear. It’s not a big thing, but it counts as a major tick in the box of our refurbishment, meaning we don’t have to spend money on a new septic system or tank cleaning. Hell, the money will no doubt go on soaring electrickery bills, but everything counts.

Now we have a full house. Albeit of all females with the notable exception of my good self and there is a properly working septic system. For the moment God is in his heaven and I have had two glorious peaceful hours watching a silly movie on TV. For once, Sunday has lived up to it’s promise.

I find myself no longer caring that the US has a senile old paedophile as figurehead. Or that a corrupt Russian regime has been fighting a war against an equally corrupt Ukraine and NATO. Or that energy prices are going to drive the world into a depression of unheard of proportions. But I console myself thus; the WEF’s plan to ‘reset’ the world will fail. The ultra-wealthy will fall because they will find that they need the rest of humanity whether they like it or not. The current Chinese regime will crumble because it is too corrupt to stand. No one will come out of the current crisis unscathed. Not even me.

But for the moment I do not care. Those I love are gracing my household with their presence, and no matter what the future holds, we will have had this moment together. We have these few days before the future arrives, and we will survive, because we are survivors. And for the moment I am happy.

Doesn’t happen often. We occasionally get these moments in the battles of our lives and I am learning to cherish them. They give us hope that the world doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

Dear reader, may I hope that you too will have such moments.

Cheers.

Bill

Irish Stew

It’s like an old joke. What does the Gardai say when he gets his supper “Irish stew – in the name of the law” This is one of my recipe posts, so if you’re not a cook, or interested in cheap food, pass on by.

“Irish stew? That’s a Lamb recipe Bill. Lamb ain’t cheap.” You might say, and you would be right, for a given value of right. Loin chops and crown of Lamb are not cheap. You do not use those cuts. You buy those cheap bags of frozen lamb bits or ask your butcher for ‘Scrag’ or neck end of lamb. Yes they’re full of bone, but this adds to the flavour.

This recipe is a make in bulk all in one meal, either for a family or to be frozen for later consumption. Can be made with frozen ingredients or fresh, doesn’t seem to affect the end result.

So, here we go. Make in a slow cooker if you want to save on leccy. This being a classic casserole dish Irish stew is best cooked long and slow. If you’re lucky enough to have a solid fuel stove, that is ideal because as they have to be kept warm, they’re great for slow cooking.

You will need: A four litre casserole. Cast iron or pottery, Doesn’t matter. A means of cooking long and slow. The longer the better.

The what:

  • Lamb, a kilo or two pounds is good.
  • Two or three medium onions, sliced or chopped
  • Two carrots sliced or chopped
  • Potatoes (Two pounds is fine) sliced about 6mm thick
  • Half a teaspoon of Salt
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • A sprig of Rosemary (Or a pinch of dried will do)
  • Three quarters of a pint of water
  • Optional extra, one parsnip

The how:

Get your butcher to chop the neck end into chunks, or buy a bag of cheap frozen lamb with lots of bone in. Slice potatoes, onions and carrots. put a layer of same on bottom of pot. Put in lamb, salt, pepper and water. Sprinkle rosemary over Lamb. Cover with more layers of potatoes carrot and onions. Put in your heating device of choice. Leave to stew on a low heat (150C) for a few hours. The longer the better. This is not a dish for being fussed over and watched. This is a dish for putting in the oven three or four hours before going out, working up a sweat and coming back with an appetite worth having. Note: leaving the bone in imparts a richer, deeper flavour because of the marrow.

Serve with crusty bread of your choosing. you will need a soup spoon for the liquor, it really is that good. Discard the bones because the meat should fall off them. Enjoy the succulence. On an Autumn evening this really does cut the mustard at the end of a long hard day. Serve with sliced stir fried cabbage (White or savoy) if you like. Contains all the food groups except chocolate and alcohol.

Alternatively, allow to cool and decant into freezer containers for later re-heating and consumption. Do both.

In these times of soaring energy bills and a cold weather, we need all the solid grub we can get. And Irish stew is good old stick-to-yer-ribs solid grub.

Happy eating.

N.B. “Serve with stir fried cabbage. Cabbage! Yuk! I remember school dinners!” I hear people cry. Here’s a little bonus recipe. You will need a wok, a quarter cabbage, a tablespoon of olive oil, one clove crushed and chopped garlic (Garlic granules are fine, a modest pinch will do) with black pepper to taste.

Slice cabbage thinly (4-6mm, under a quarter inch, is fine). Put wok on a medium heat, put in spoonful of olive oil, add cabbage, garlic and black pepper. Stir fry with a wooden spoon until lightly browned at the edges. Serve. It’s a lot more palatable than the boiled to death crap they used to serve us back in my schooldays. Very tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. Win-win.

Here we go

The honey is almost ready to be harvested and I will be getting ready to start brewing in three weeks time. There will be spare honey, but half of that will be going as gifts and for personal use rather than for retail. My crop won’t be big enough for much more.

I’ve ordered my brewing gear and lined up the water, yeast and other materials for the mash. A still is in the mix and I’ve lined up some small barrels for ageing. So we’re almost all good to go.

Money is a bit tight, as we’ve run slightly over budget on the house alterations. Which is easily done on a major refurbishment like ours and we’ve had to keep a careful eye on what the trades are doing. However we’re on top of it and having heaved a shuddering sigh knowing that costs are still on the rise (Especially labour costs) and we got most work done before the worst occurred. Even so we’re having to take a small divot out of our reserves. No matter, we have enough. Better to spend some now before inflation annihilates it’s value.

I’m still watching world events with a wary eye, knowing the financial fallout from the COVID debacle will be with us for some time. However, we’ve done our worst case scenario calculations and heads will be kept above financial water. Unfortunately this is an outcome that many will not share, and Western politicians will be looking to rob Peter to pay Paul as they usually do, because they’re small minded vote-grubbers with no real courage or vision.

As for penalising Nitrogen. 71% of an inert gas? Who gave these people science lessons? Nitrogen Dioxide is no fun but Nitrogen Oxide (Laughing Gas ) can be. The politicians making these rules are a bunch of scientific illiterate morons, as are the people advising them.

Besides, adding Nitrogen compounds to the soil can be done with a Clover crop. It used to be part of the old Norfolk four course rotation system before chemical fertilisers were introduced in what was called the ‘Green revolution’ of the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of my Aunts participated in a few of the early Market Gardening trials during the 50’s and 60’s which she said increased her yields several times over.

The problem is that the politicians and others behind this assault on agriculture see nothing but the money to be made pricing farmers off their land and monopolising food production. Modern agricultural chemicals can feed several times more people than the old farming practices and despite all the unscientific brouhaha of ‘only 70 more crops’ before the soil is reduced to little better than sand, can, with small alterations to soil management, keep feeding people until the cows come home. If the politicians and activists don’t have them all slaughtered and replaced with massive insect farms first.

Fun fact: maggot farms are big business, or used to be, the output of which is mainly used mostly for feeding chickens. KFC anyone?

Personally, I’d rather have my protein from chicken than the insects.

What can I say…..

I’ve been offline for over a week… Anyone bothered? Nah. Another ranting blogger gone, no great loss eh?

Well I’m back, kind of. But I may disappear again because life is getting in the way. So what have I been up to?

Moving back in to our refurbished home for one. Trying to get our various tradespeople to finish the job we want to pay them for, which has led to the disappearance of our electrician who hasn’t finished and is supposed to have got our new distribution board connected by ESB, the Irish body which controls electricity supply in Ireland. But he’s buggered off. So. No electricity connection. We’re currently powering the entire house off two 13amp sockets via a tangle of extension leads. I have no kitchen, the oven and hob are disconnected. And the dishwasher is sitting in the middle like some odd piece of non-functional installation art.

This has pissed off our builders, who can’t finish because stuff has to be reconnected. Our firm of plumbers are swearing they’ll never work with that errant sparky again. In the meantime, we’re subsisting off four standard lamps for lighting, a jury rigged hot water system (Thank goodness for gas), and in the midst of the latest tranche of ‘Man made climate change’ I’ve had to deploy one of our mobile propane heaters to keep warm. In late July already.

The only reason I’ve got Internet at all is by configuring my phone as a mobile wi-fi hot spot.

Then there has been a series of events, one of which was my better half being injured. An event which entailed over an hours wait for an ambulance while Mrs S passed out from the pain. I couldn’t do anything and was reduced to the level of despairing onlooker. All I could do was ensure the ambulance had the right address and Eircode (Eircode = Post or Zip code for all you non Irish residents) and an accurate recounting of symptoms. Making an hours drive to the hospital, then stooging around for over six hours while she was treated. Then over an hours drive back home with a whimpering Mrs S in the co-pilots seat at around four in the morning. Followed by another early morning to let our builders and plumbers on site.

Then there has been tiling and grouting two bathrooms, building multiple items of IKEA furniture, clearing builders debris and playing bodyservant and caregiver to Mrs S. In the meantime managing to refurbish two antique pieces of furniture.

So. Pardonnez-moi if I haven’t cheered the closing of the UK centre for child abuse Tavistock clinic, remarked upon how racist and divisive the BBC is, pointed out that the USA elected an Alzheimers case to their highest office, or that the heatwave that lasted for a few days is not proof of ‘man made climate change’, or that the Monkeypox thing that certain people want us to get all uptight about is currently restricted to promiscuous gay men. Or even that the Ukraine / Russia fixture was occasioned by bad US foreign policy. As for Justin Trudeau, he’s still Canada’s biggest shithead.

Never mind that all the ‘woke’ garbage we’re supposed to swallow is getting called out as pure grift. According to the ‘woke’ all the calling out is only being done by ‘internet trolls’ as opposed to being a well deserved pile on from across social boundaries. Hint; it’s not the ‘trolls’ guys. Everybody with an operating brain cell thinks all you woke are complete eejits.

Notwithstanding. I’ve been very busy and it’s catching up with me. I’ve got to finish a range of tasks before getting back to my normal routine. So if anyone missed me…

I’ll be back.

I’m not a saviour…

“What do you do?” I was asked today.

“Mostly I move money and keep bees.” I replied.

“You keep bees?” They seemed pleased to hear this. “So you’re helping save the planet?”

I smiled gently and tried to keep a straight face. The planet is fine. It doesn’t need a saviour, and least of all me. I just nodded and smiled while the eejit in front of me waxed lyrical about how vital bees are to agriculture and how important beekeepers are. Eventually I managed to extricate myself without bursting into fits of giggles.

‘Planet saver’ my cute and furry arse. The whole beekeeping thing was a complete fluke. We’d put a bid on our current house and land long before I even thought of keeping bees. I knew I didn’t want to keep livestock and Mrs S wanted a wildflower meadow so the whole bee thing came out of that. We wanted to do something integrated that wouldn’t be too much work and had a nice end product, like honey, mead and distilled mead. So bees and honey fitted the bill nicely. That and I’ve always been a conservationist at heart and have been ‘growing my own’ since I was a toddler. Indeed, one of my most cherished memories is still being in nappies (diapers) and Ma teaching me how to put seeds in a little furrow. I think they were carrot seeds.

The whole ‘saving the planet’ bullshit is just complete nonsense. A complete load of cheap, badly patched flannel. Bees are needed for pollination and that makes more flowers, fruit and vegetables. Which lets me use the knowledge culled from my ‘O’ level biology classes. That and I find growing things calms the spirit and steadies the soul. my motives are purely selfish.

As for the planet, frankly I don’t think it is at risk. At least not anything we mere humans can do anything about. We’re just the tenants, for the moment, and as long as we don’t burn the feckin place down in a stupid war, it’ll keep ticking over nicely until we all go extinct from our own stupidity. Or at least until our planets core solidifies and Earth ends up like Mars. Or a meteorite triggers a massive ice age.

Won’t need any help from me. Whatever. I won’t live to see the end of the world. The only people who do want to see our little blue green marble die are immature self aggrandising drama queens who like the idea of starring in a horror movie no-one will ever see.

No wonder Aliens ride through our solar system with their windows wound up and the doors securely locked.

Looking forward

Mrs S and I were having a chat about the current geopolitical situation regarding Russia and Ukraine today. Not the rights and wrongs or how many people are getting killed and dispossessed. That we can do nothing about, tragic though it is for the civilians on the ground. We have no resources to spare, the builders and trades are seeing to that.

Resources. It is upon that topic I wish to pontificate. September is going to be the economic crunch time for a lot of reasons. The time when all the chickens come home to roost. It’s even got us talking about putting up solar power for our three sheds. Which might not be such a bad idea for emergency lighting and a grid independent security system.

Much to my chagrin I’m not being allowed AI driven autonomous gun turrets or drones and plasma weapons because of the strain on the budget, so cameras and a twenty four inch crowbar will have to do for security. I did think about getting some cheap carbon shafts with broadheads for my two bows. My fifty inch classic hunter recurve draws about fifty five pounds at full thirty one inch draw and is quite capable of dropping someone at fifty yards plus, but perhaps the local Gardai might frown on that. So I’ll just stick to target practice instead.

Although everyone I know, from my physio to my neighbours, tell me they have firearms available and are quite open about being willing to use them on any hostile intruder. We do live in the Irish countryside after all.

Anyway. Mrs S and I were talking about worst case scenarios. Now I’m fairly confident they won’t happen, but I was a good little boy scout (Until that unfortunate little incident with Arkela and the two girl guides), and ‘Be prepared’ has proven a useful mantra on occasion. My gut is telling me to set up a fallback position, a bolt hole, so that is what I’m doing. Call me paranoid if you like, but my paranoia is based on my life experience and rarely steers me wrong.

What makes us feel this way? Not the many hand waving articles and videos about how nice the Ukrainians are and how bad the Russki’s are. We take a more studied view of the geopolitics. Did you know US warships (for example, no aircraft carriers or submarines) are bound by the Montreux convention of 1936 and aren’t allowed up the Dardanelles into the Black Sea and through the Bosporus? The Bosporus is also a massive trade bottleneck for the resource rich Russians and Nations with seaports on the Black sea coast.

The game changer here is the ‘Kanal Istanbul‘ Erdogan’s project to create a second waterway into the Black Sea to free up the massive congestion that has always throttled trade from the Black Sea nations. What it will do to the ecology of the region is another matter. Or the balance and power.

It may happen, it may not. Like the next Earthquake. The potential is there, but according to local geologists, there is regular slippage in the major fault lines at present, so there is less stress that can lead to a quake.

Mostly the pressure in the region is due to the wait times of shipping needing to pass from the Black sea into the Mediterranean and thus to Suez or out into the Atlantic via Gibraltar.

So we plan to set up food reserves, digging deep into memories of childhood when my parents were still ‘digging for victory’, or just growing stuff to keep the food bills down. Which is never a bad idea. Also very calming in these overstressed times. The many ideas Mrs S is coming up with about chickens are proving very entertaining.

For my part I’m going to be pulling fence posts tomorrow and moving them into the yard to form a border around the raised vegetable beds. I’ve got a post hole digging tool which should lighten the workload, and we’re also looking at ways of re-using the old tyres the last owner left hanging around the property.

It’s going to be hard work all through until September, but by then I’ll have started on the chicken run and put out some Mink traps. The idea being to kill the Mink that come sniffing around the chickens then skin them and let the flies lay eggs on the denuded carcases, chuck in a bucket with holes in the bottom, hang up bucket in chicken run so the maggots fall through the holes into a bowl for the chickens to eat. There’s a kind of poetic symmetry in there don’t you think? That and Mrs S gets free Mink moccasin slippers for those cold Winter evenings. Win-win. Although not for the Mink of course.

In a perverse sort of way I’m quite looking forward to the next couple of years.

Speaking of the last couple of years, even Bill Gates is saying that this whole COVID thing with all the masks and lockdowns might have been a mistake. See Ivor Cummins on Jimmy Dores exposition on Gate’s recent revelatory interview.

Next they’ll be saying that Human CO2 emissions don’t matter, fracking is great and energy self sufficiency is a good thing. Miracles do happen.

Local swarming

I got stung. Completely my fault. I was careless. I dropped a Nuc while taking it out of the car. I thought it was securely taped up, but the whole thing came apart in my hands as I picked it up. Next thing I’m running down the field, slapping off enraged worker bees as they kamikaze dive bombed me until I was over fifty yards away.

Tally was twelve stings overall, only one of which caused any real swelling. An hour later, smoker going, I walked back up the field, fully suited up, smelling like a bonfire, looking like an urban spaceman to clear my abandoned car of bees and see whether or not I’d lost a colony.

Fortunately the queen had stayed put and the colony looked mostly intact. I think I perhaps lost about a couple of hundred workers. Phew. So I smoked and carefully put the Nuc back together again and put it next to the hive. I’ll go and give it a visual before moving the Nuc frames into their new hive tomorrow. I may just have gotten away with it.

One observation post stings; I have a touch of arthritis in my left knee. All the discomfort and pain I’ve grown to know and curse has disappeared. Not sure if this was down to me getting stung or last weeks physio session. However, my knee now has no discomfort at all, which is very nice indeed.

In the outside world I see the Davos party is in full swing again with talk of people having a ‘tracking app’ (Which doesn’t and probably never will work) or not enough people having continuous injections for a respiratory virus whose time has come and gone. Neil Oliver has a few words to say with which I wholly concur.

He has a point; who do these m0the#rfuck*rs think they are? If looked at dispassionately the WEF’s meddling can be seen as behind many of the world’s problems. Perhaps they would do us all a favour by looking to their own affairs, and not meddle so blatantly in the lives of others?

As Neil observes, there always has been a social contract between rulers and ruled. Leave the peasants alone or suffer the consequences.

Or maybe they should suffer the fate of those anti-meat activists who got sprayed with slurry at a Co Durham NBA meeting. It would be well deserved. Like the time that sanctimonious b!tch Emma Thompson came close to getting slurried. Why can’t she just stick to acting?

The thing is, most meat eaters don’t really care about what vegetarians do, so maybe if these well-funded activists and meddlers wound their necks in a bit, maybe the world would become a better place. As suggested below.

Wouldn’t that be grand, eh?

Taking a break

Mrs S and I elected to take a break recently, mainly because I’ve been so busy working myself to a frazzle that a whole host of old health problems have been cropping up. You know the kind of thing, all the old injuries deciding that they’d like to get together for an old school reunion and say “Hi, remember us you careless bastard.” to the point I’m having to seek medical assistance. So I’m having to wind back my physical activities and rest these bones a little before launching into hanging gates and moving on with the next phase of workshop upgrades.

So I’ve been hobbling a bit, and had to resort to the use of a walking stick. Not terribly dignified, but there you go. The pain has been that significant, and chewing painkillers has become tiresome. However, a nice spa hotel break has taken the edge off the worst, and I’m now seeing a physical therapist. (but only platonically, Mrs S would have my guts for garters- heaven forfend!)

One thing amused me while I was in a pharmacist purchasing a few necessary items to mitigate my plantar fasciitis was an official sign telling people that in order to avoid suffering the worst of a SARS/COV-2 infection, health advice now recommended a daily dose of 3000UI of vitamin D3 to help boost ones immune system. Something I have been advocating for since 2020. Although to be absolutely accurate, I have written that 2000UI of D3 is a more than adequate prophylactic dose, and further note that the studies from the early 1980’s that highlighted possible kidney problems were associated with high calcium content supplements. Ergo that the 640UI maximum was significantly outdated.

It’s nice to feel vindicated. Now the narrative on masks and lockdowns that could not be questioned is being questioned, although somewhat belatedly. And I am standing by my comments about cancelling all ‘COVID fines’. It’s over. Let’s move on with the next self inflicted crisis, although I’d rather be feeling a bit fitter and getting on with putting my bees in. However, that’s a job for over the weekend.

Regarding my bees, I’m quite looking forward to the spate of UFO sightings that will follow my first public outing in a Bee Suit. Could be fun.

The law of sausage

According to lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe in 1869 (Not Bismarck) that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” This law should be firmly applied to building work.

Our house has been stripped to it’s very bones, exposing many grievous sins. Said domicile now looks more like a 1970’s Dr Who set than a once habitable building. Old wiring and heating stripped out, new wiring dangling like a jungle of ersatz creepers, it is quite depressing. Places where damp has rotted wood, spawning filigrees of fan like fungal growth spreading across long hidden wallpaper. Gaping holes for windows. Frankly me deario’s, it looks awful.

However there is hope; our plumber and sparky are working in concert. The builder and his merry men have sent in their first invoice which will be paid by Friday next. Said payment will cover the first tranche of new windows, lintels, wall and subfloor insulation. Then the pipes and manifold for the ground floor underfloor heating go in, followed by a fine screed and floor tiles.

Despite the possible threat of having our home confiscated to house ‘refugees’ for ‘the common good’ (Whatever the hell that is) we are ploughing ahead, working on the premise that it will take the powers that be a while to work their mendacious way down to our level. By which time we will be so well established and secure that they’ll have a serious legal fight on their hands. Besides, doesn’t it say in the Irish constitution (Article 43) that; “The State guarantees to pass no law to abolish these (property )rights”? Let’s see how that stands up against constant political pressure for ‘social injustice’. Which to me is nothing more than cover for a housing racket at the very highest level. It’s criminal.

Bill Stickers rule one about crime; always make it look like an uphill battle for the potential criminal. Make it quite plain in many subtle and diverse ways that they personally may suffer consequences should they try to make your life full of drama. Good locks and property lawyers are essential.

For my part, I always try to deal with prodnosing officialdom by being like McCavity the mystery cat; never there when they want something. Nod, smile, deflect and divert all the while, before making the object of their desire disappear right under their noses. Well it’s worked for me so far. Stuff their ‘refugees’, many of whom aren’t even Ukrainian, or even proper refugees.

Offshoring the processing of these ‘refugees’ to Rwanda sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It cuts the flight risk to a minimum and puts badly needed capital into the third world. And if that observation makes me a Xenophobic right winger, so be it.

Speaking of which, I see the French haven’t learned their lesson and have apparently voted Macron back in again. The majority appear to have been sufficiently frightened that Le Pen might boulverser le panier de pommes. Like with most electorates, they will always, in the words of Hillaire Bellocalways keep-a hold of nurse – for fear of finding something worse!

All of the above makes me think that making real change for the better in your life takes a gnats nadgers of personal vision, a soupçon of courage and a sound dose of unswerving commitment. Without these, you’re just counting down the days to your coffin.

Oh, what is it now?

In my workshop yesterday after a day planting Heather, Willow, Wildflowers and Clover in the top meadow. Jaysus but it was cold. The wind didn’t bother going around me, it just moseyed on through like I wasn’t in the way. And it was a damp, bitter wind. The kind that strips the warmth from your bones worse than twenty below. However, the planting got done and I clambered back into the car and slithered back to the house.

Ah yes, the house. Not so much a house as a husk at the moment. No power, no life. A mere gummy shell of a building. Now I find the builders in their enthusiasm, have trashed my Internet connection, leaving me with a stripped fibre connection hanging forlornly over freshly poured concrete. I specifically told them not to play with the connectors, but something got lost in translation and they ripped the box off the wire. Words have been had.

It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little blackmail, but I was careful to instruct them to protect it, and Mrs S has been on the phone to them because I was likely to throw a major wobbler at them. And when I wobble, the object of my ire knows that they have been wobbled at. However, apologies have been made, along with offers of restitution, but it’s still extra money that I will end up paying to get reconnected. Never mind the downtime and delay of getting a Technician to come and do the honours. Our Electrician does a lot of stuff, but I don’t think he’s got the kit for RJ45 Cat 6 cabling or making off the ends of Fibre optics.

What I am going to do is treat this misfortune as an opportunity to get my router relocated properly to a more central location in the house so that the Wi-fi signal can reach everywhere within the building at a reasonable signal strength. Then I’ll connect up a wireless bridge to the sheds so I can enjoy high speed Interwebs without having to traipse across the yard every time I need to check my email.

Might even be fast enough for watching instructional videos and Zoom calls without too much buffering. How cool would that be? I have a spare laptop and MIMO router, so maybe I can configure that with my range extender to give me a reasonable bandwidth out there without too much effort. See if I can remember enough from my old Cisco router training. Although modern software interfaces are a lot less user fiendish than back in ’05 when I passed my course. As for full bandwidth Interwebs out in the garden? I like it. I can do a lot with that.

So maybe it is a blessing in disguise that the builders trashed my Interwebbery. It also means that they owe me a big favour. Now that to me is a harder currency than any other.

Beer and pizza

To celebrate the removal of a large tree in the yard and successful demolition of a problematic wall ready for the builders next week, I took a short trip out to get some beer and pizza.

The place was full of high school kids and families coming for a Friday night treat. I just kicked back and waited for my order to be processed. To be in this mini-flood of humanity after all the artificial isolation of the last two years was a curiously pleasant experience. Everyone was polite and there was no drama.

Normally I’m not someone who likes crowds all that much. I get defensive and grouchy really quickly if I’m bumping elbows for two long, but after two long years of pointless and damaging lockdowns and mandates, for some reason I just felt really comfortable.

It helps of course that I now have my own house and land to sit out on a sunny evening, glass of beer in hand after a feed of double pepperoni. Enjoying the smell of freshly turned Earth and evening birdsong.

Being in a crowd is fine, but it is also oh so nice just to sit out and watch the bees and birds forage.

Blood, tears, toil and sweat.

Well only a minor scrape, demolition dust bringing tears to my eyes, the creaking sensation from under utilised muscle being given the treatment and a significant trickle of moisture down my back in a surprisingly warm Springtime Mayo sun.

Wall one is proving a tough nut to crack because someone used a 1:1 mix of sand and cement for the mortar instead of the more traditional 4 sand and 1 cement mix for block work. This has cured into a substance tougher than the breezeblocks it was used to bind together. And when you’re trying to take a wall down block by block, it makes for hard work, even with a Bosch SDS hammer drill, lump hammer and brickies chisel. Even with drilling holes in the joint and dumping White Vinegar or Muriatic acid down the holes to weaken the mortar. See story so far in pictures below.

It just makes for slow going, that’s all. If I had a 5 kilo sledgehammer and a Hilti breaker I dare say I’d be moving much faster, but I don’t have either of those so I’m not. Although I do have a 115mm stone cutter disc in my box of tricks. Will try that out this afternoon. Cut, not drill or chisel.

Anyway, in parting I’d like to share an old bit of ‘nonsense’ poetry from the late great Spike Milligan. It nails a certain mindset perfectly.

Dr David Mantle

Dr David Mantle went to Bintle Bontle Boo,

To see the tonsils of a man he hardly even knew,

Dr David Mantle got to Bintle Bontle Boo,

And the man with tonsils said, “How do you do you do?

Say “Ah!” said Dr Mantle then “I can’t believe it’s true!”

“You have three tonsils hanging where there should be only two!”

“Only three!” The patient cried, “Oh my, what shall I do?”

“There should be fifty hanging there! Oh dear, tut-tut boo hoo!”

Doctor David Mantle fled from Bintle Bontle Boo

“I think that man was mad.” He said.

And I agree. Do you?

Guesses in the comments as to whom I am referring, or what.

Purposefully repurposing

One of the things I like doing is saving money. Specifically not spending it on stuff I already have that just needs a bit of tidying up or using for a different purpose than intended.

On a property such as ours this is not difficult as we have a small plague of worn out tractor tyres and all sorts of other stuff currently covered in muck that needs to be got rid of or creatively re-used.

Disposing of the tractor tyres alone are a nightmare of recycling fees. However, for all their bulk they can be re-purposed as tree planters or circular raised flower beds with seating. It’s just a question of when and how they get shifted from their current dumping ground.

For this I have an answer; we need some ground clearing once we’ve had a few trees felled and the stumps removed, so down along the westerly side of our most northerly shed is an area that, once opened up, will form an enlarged outdoor patio space should be pleasant and sheltered to spend time outdoors in.

So no matter which side the wind blows from, one can sit outdoors and read without having one’s remaining hair blown all over the place.

The plan is to hire an excavator to clear and landscape about 200 square metres of rough ground, and while the driver is here, he can shift the big tyres into place and drop in a couple of land drains for us. After that I’ll order in a couple of truckloads of shale and gravel to form the basis of a sort of sheltered Zen garden, then we can plant the trees and while the builders are busy with the house, rewire the sheds properly. An old mate who was a chargehand sparky back in the day would have a nervous breakdown if he saw our current setup. It makes me wonder why the whole place hasn’t suffered multiple electrical fires. All to save some pennies on junction boxes and properly laid out cable runs.

Then we’re saving even more cash cleaning off some old (and once probably very expensive) folding teak garden chairs the previous owners left behind. To make said seating fit for use in the dining room, all we’ll need for that is my belt sander, finishing sandpaper, teak oil, beeswax polish and some elbow grease.

We’re also ripping out the current oil fired heating system and going for gas. This whole fad over the great ‘green’ nightmare are the pipe dreams of people who don’t understand that the current grid (or even an updated version) won’t be able to sustain all those fancy electric cars and heat pumps various governments want us all to have by 2030. The issues over electric cars are well known and when it’s chilly there’s not really enough energy in the air to make an air source heat pump economical. Ground source heat pumps are the only ones really worth having.

Don’t know who is ‘advising’ these governments, but I think it’s a crack smoking meth-head who failed physics and arithmetic at school. The decision making behind the ‘green’ agenda has all the hallmarks of a harassed husband flinging up his hands and saying “All right. We’ll stop using stuff that actually works at some arbitrary date with no real idea if it’s even feasible!” The entire green agenda is an idea thought up by ignorant people with nothing constructive to do working off bad data. Our politicians, faced with a non-existent ‘climate crisis’ have elected to placate a bunch of nagging pantywaist activists who carry complete apiaries in their capacious, but largely empty, bonnets. All the time, the elderly poor freeze and people need a second mortgage to drive to work when the energy they need is right under their feet.

My chief beef over the whole ‘green’ thing is that no-one seems to be doing any proper joined up thinking. Making sweeping grandiose statements for unworkable boondoggles which will be laid at the future taxpayers door when the politicians in question have buggered off to some tax haven, or died. Or maybe, my more cynical self chimes in, that this is part of a ‘leech off the taxpayers’ scheme to make some very rich people even more pointlessly wealthy than they were before. In the financial sector this would be called fraud. But in politics, it’s business as usual.

With regard to being environmentally responsible, all I’m saying is that all we need to be doing is to make better use of what we have. Simply off-shoring manufacturing and energy production isn’t a viable answer. As the current economic mess is clearly demonstrating. Globalisation is currently failing and the global supply chains are strained to breaking point.

Back in reality, the final items in our catalogue of re-purposing are the demolition of three garden walls which will form part of the bases for a new propane tank and some other raised garden beds. And if there’s a hundred or so litres of kerosene left in our old oil tank when it comes to strip out time, I’ll trade it to one of my neighbours for some hedge management and meadow cutting. Win-win.

What the hell, we’re going our own way, flying under the radar of officialdom, making do and mend, and we’re far enough from the maddened crowd for it not to matter.