You know the year is drawing in when …..

The Ploughing is over and the Pumpkins are harvestedImage

Every year on the land is different and no year goes by without its challenges. Last year, it was the seemingly never-ending rain, this year it was the drought, in Spring, again in Summer and, amazingly, once more now in the middle of Autumn. We have had a blast of Indian summer over the past couple of weeks, strawberries and roses are back in flower …. As to where this means we are going and where it will end is another matter entirely, lets just enjoy it for now.

Ballacolla has always tried to claim that the Ploughing came of age on its first visit here in 1995 … and it did … but Ratheniska now has the honour of hosting its biggest ever attendance, of over 100,000, on the Wednesday. What a testament to the NPA but more so to the people of Ireland, to their resilience and enthusiasm and zest for life.

Business was done, friendships were renewed and new ones made as the harsh national economic realities were parked for a few (“short” is the word which sounds like it should be used here but they were far from it) days.

For our own part, the Farming Independent allowed us to set up camp on their stand to sell our book A Year on our Farm. Loads of people had heard us interviewed on RTE1 radio’s Countrywide programme with Damien O’Reilly or seen the fantastic review on the Farming Independent. While we were delighted with the sales what was even more heartening was the goodwill shown to us; Irish people do not give praise lightly but, when they do, they mean it. One woman had kept a daily diary for over 30 years, another couple had been taking in students for just as long; these and other stories were a joy to hear.

Sarah (pictured) took a day off school to join us on the stand while six-year-old Ruth did likewise … though she was far more interested in spending money and the array of goods was never ending. I just wish I could go back when it was all a bit quieter; still I did manage to get a couple of gorgeous scarves for myself and some early Christmas presents.

The nights are now starting to draw in and everyone has returned from whence they came, with pockets depleted but spirits enriched.

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From the Known to the Unknown

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Last night, Killermogh Church had its annual harvest service and, afterwards, some of the congregation (everybody was invited!) came back to our house for a cup of tea and a chat.

I was raised a Catholic where we don’t have such a service but I think it has to be one of the nicest in the Protestant calendar. The church was decorated with the fruits of the congregation’s gardens and orchards and the theme is two-fold, giving thanks for what we have and remembering those with much less, good lessons for every day of the week.

We had a busy weekend, heading to Dublin for our RTE Radio 1 Countrywide interview on Saturday morning and then back home to finish the very-rare dusting of the house and doing some backing, including the pictured mini-apple pies. When I started doing the harvest service teas three years ago we used to offer people a slice of tart but came to the conclusion that its just too awkward trying to juggle a mug of tea, a plate and a fork. But these little guys go down a treat; I make 9 dozen in total but did stash a few away for the girls’ lunch today as they just love them.

Today was spent gathering up the final few bits for The Ploughing – posters, press release, as we prepare to head to Ratheniska and the Farm Indo stand (S300) where we will be trying to sell our new book A Year on our Farm. We have absolutely no idea how its going to go … which is exciting and scary in equal measure.

Time to close now as it will be an early start. Oh, the giddiness of the unknown.