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About this blog

Farming on Rathlin Island, Ireland

 

I am going to be telling my story of going to Rathlin Island, 15 day seasons.

Entries in this blog

 

That Langer at the shop!!!

So Neil was not at the shop when I purchased the cultivator, I asked Liam three different times if he was sure this would go with the Massy 7700 I was getting, it looked a little big. Liam said aye three times, but I was a little unsure still, but I had work to do and so I did not want to wait till the next day when I could talk to Neil. Sure Neil was only the mechanic there but so far he has steered me right and I was willing to take his advice, now I have taken this cultivator up to the island to start my work at the main farm. I get all the way there and get into the cow field and drop the cultivator and my tractor will hardly pull it, so I run it a bit and realize that Liam steered me wrong and I have to go clear back to the shop and waste more time with that fool. I decide to stop by the house and ask Thomas’ advice and he lets me know that Liam is a bit of a langer and only works there since it is his uncles shop, I got the Kuhn DC 401 due to how it was compact and would fit well around the town and on the ferry, I cant go to long or some turns and the ferry are out of the question. Thomas said that there are too many rocks in the ground to go with a single row like that, and that a tiller style will catch and that a disc style will roll over the rocks and can be filed and hammered into shape later. Thomas called up Neil and asked if he could help even if it was his day off, Neil said he has one he had just made up himself he would sell for cheap, he said just to head over to his place not far from the shop and pick it up and I could bring him cash later for it. So even though I am no dwarf nor do I work in a mine the high ho song was in my head as I drove off, sitting there on a few old pallets was my new cultivator Neil even showed me how to stick the pallets in the frame so I could sit it down anytime I wanted.   Back to the farm with my set up I go hoping to make up lost ground and with it being a slight rain I hope to not get stuck. I got a good change in the weather a little after noon and made good progress on the cultivation of the main farm, with the cow pasture done and ready to seed in grass I went on to the open area to the east of the farm yard just south of the green houses, Rathlin Island town committee also gave me the whole run of the main farm but not the farm house as that was still property of a family who had items in there of old family heritage. That means that those green houses are mine to use as I would like. Now to find some manure and a water tank for a good price, I will contact the animal shop and see if they have any manure I can buy off of them. On a completley different note I bought a pony with a cart to help bring stuff around the farm, when I used the internet to face time my family my children were super excited that we owned a pony, my oldest kept screaming that she wanted a pony all her life, she is four!!! Planting of grass will come soon, as well have the need to get that wood chipper back and find some wood to chip up for money.

Tigerman0424

Tigerman0424

 

Yard work Bejeebus!

Progress has been made, bushes are cleared and the areas are looking so good in fact that they city council asked if I could help with the weeds that had come in under the brush. I started with the main farm as they call it, it has not been used in some years and the pig and cow pastures have been over grown with weeds and big dirt spots. I bought a plough with the money I made from selling wood chips, good money to be made there, I decided if I am going to do this I may as well do it correctly so I got a fertilizer spreader and a cultivator. I spent several days doing all that work, I covered the whole main farm east of the old house just south of the green houses. Thomas got permission for me to do just south of field thirteen where the sheep usually graze, I also bought three fields near the dock from a farmer who was not using the area and was willing to sell for a good price. Does that make me a local since I now own property in Ireland? What it did make me was almost deaf from the scream my wife gave me on the phone, she wanted to know how we would afford the taxes and what we would do with this land, but not so calmly.   Busy several days that is for sure, even after all that I am still up forty-five thousand euros. Mid spring and I will be planting all grass soon, with a thought of getting into the sheep farming side of things though I am told milk cows make good money as well. Pigs take actual crop so those would not do well for me even though Ireland is in need of fresh pork. So many ways to make it, and so many ways to fall to my demise.   I was told fair play, maybe I am not just one of those loud Americans who was not of the full shilling. Another of the fellas around said that was a gas and I was no eejit either. I looked at them and said I was just happy out for the work to do, they stopped with surprise that I had understood them. I have watched a few movies you know.

Tigerman0424

Tigerman0424

 

Arrival and First Day!

(So just a forewarning, I have never traveled by air and the only time I have personally left the USA was on my honeymoon cruise down to Mexico. So I will not cover stuff I have never actually done and for the things that may be inaccurate I apologize in advance.)                   I have arrived in Rathlin Island after 3 connecting flights and an hour drive from Belfast, tired and worn having never traveled much before. I ring the old turn style bell on the door at the address I was given by Thomas, he had mentioned that he has a hard time getting around lately so I was prepared to wait at the door for a while. While I stood there at that little stone cottage, red door and green shutters, definitely not modern in the slightest but beautiful as you could imagine. I heard a faint “Be right there.”  A few people walk by up the street looking towards me with curiosity, I figure I may be the first stranger in a long time here, but maybe not. There is a rattle on the inside of the door and it creeks open slowly showing the smiling face of Thomas, “Welcome cousin come in.”                 Hours pass as he and I chat, when its supper time he has a pained expression on his face, he explains that all he has in the house are a few cans of stewed meat soup. Without a second thought I walk over to the little café I passed by and order 2 meals, although taking them to go was not an expected request, after explaining the situation to the owner he takes no time at all to foil up the plates and says I can bring them back tomorrow no worries. Supper passes and an early bedtime for me.                   The dock area of Ballycastle as well as the Island of Rathlin used to be maintained by Thomas before he fell ill some years back and shrubbery and all sorts of weeds have started to overtake the roadsides. I stop and talk to Patrick, whom Thomas told me to talk to, about me resuming those duties while I was here in town. How I was going to do so I was not sure exactly, but there was a need and I was going to try to fill it, I had a chainsaw from Thomas and was told of a shop in Ballycastle who sold and rented out some equipment. I took the Hurliman to the dock and had to wait for the ferry to be ready to launch, luckily it was parked on the island late yesterday, and I was brought over by a nice gentleman in his dingy.                   The shops mechanic had an answer on how to help with all the shrubbery rather than burning it. He seems to be rather a wiz at rigging equipment together to server unusual purposes, Neil showed me the chipping part that came off of a Bruks Hakkuri 605PT that was a bit messed up, he had taken it off of the trailer with the claw arm and had rigged it up to hook to the front of a tractor three point and would be powered by the PTO. He even had it working to grind up stumps with a bit of work of the driver. Neil was real excited to see it work that he let me lease it from him for 5,104 euros, he said the four at the end made it seem official, the shop let me rent an agroliner tipper trailer for 2376 for the initial cost. I would end up leasing this stuff for several days. I started not far from the shop over by the trailer park and the Ballycastle Livestock barn, Neil told me that that road was down to a one lane road because of all the overgrown trees, he did not think the city officials would mind. Hours later I was struggling to even get access to some of it as it was so tangled and tough, I was cutting by hand and throwing small pieces into the grinder which was blown over the tractor into the trailer. I had a full trailer load before I stopped to think I was not sure what to do with the chips I had.  A stranger stopped as he walked by and realized what my problem was, “Over to the Agri-Merchants with it are ye? Or perhaps the bio heating plant over on the Island? Both will take it as a burn material.” I do believe that man was an angel sent from on High at that moment. That first day I came out over a thousand euros in the hole even after selling  a bit of material, and all for a sore back and blistered hands.                   It was well after sundown before I made it back to the cottage of Thomas, “Mrs. Murphy from the café was worried about you, sent us over supper for us. Said this one is on the house as appreciation for the kindness you have brought.” I wolfed it down and hit the bed like a dead man from a three story building, I did not even notice my cell phone blinking its missed messages and calls from my wife.                   She may have killed me there on the spot if she knew I blew through the fifteen thousand the first day here.

Tigerman0424

Tigerman0424

 

To Be or Not To Be... Insane that is!

So my wife thinks I am certifiably crazy, who really can blame her, I come to her with “What would you say about moving to Ireland to farm!”  She literally looked at me to see if I had grown a tumor or a second head, and then she burst into laughter like you have not seen before, holding her sides and slapping her knee. By the time she was done laughing she was on the floor out of air and wheezing, asking if I was pulling some long term April fools joke.                 After I get her to stop laughing some thirty minutes later and sit her down and tell her about Thomas and Rathlin Island and the whole story she is actually looking up skrinks and facilities for mental health. She says ok, so you found info on your ancestry that leads you to Ireland. Why would we go there just because that is where the info lead you to? We have jobs here and family here and a house with a car loan, church and friends. All valid points I will admit to, this is a really crazy notion, but something in my gut says this is important, and it’s not just last nights tacos either. This feels really important, like God sized important to me, and who am I to question His plans for me? After all am I not a faithful servant to Him? Do I not put my life in the hands of Jesus Christ my Savior, the guy who died on a cross for me even though I am a wrectched undeserving soul?                   I get a resounding absolutely no way in this world would make my wife want to go along with this weird plan, even after explaining that it may not be something in this world leading me to do this. So like a wise man I let it go and I do not press this matter anymore on this day, after all Rome not built in a day and all that. I continue on with my week as normal, work and little ones in the house to feed, bath and chase like a wild buffoon trying to tickle them if they are too slow. While looking further into this myself, cost of a plane ticket there and a bed and breakfast to stay at in Ballycastle, what am I going to do when I get there? Thomas only has the one tractor left a little Hurliman that is only eighty-eight horsepower, I am not even sure what can be done with that.                   I told my wife that I have fifteen days of vacation at work and I can borrow up to fifteen thousand against my 401K, I would like to take that and go make a try in Ireland. My wife being the loving caring woman that she is looked deep into my eyes and had the softest look on her face and told me to explain how it would even work. So I elaborate on the plan that I had prepared and with my gifted Irish mouth explained away every question she could throw at me, but still not fully convinced but with no further argument tells me if I want to waste away our retirement money for some **BadWord** and bull plan that it would be me working in old age not herself.   So off to Ireland with fifteen thousand and a dream, maybe I am insane after all!

Tigerman0424

Tigerman0424

 

And HERE WE GO!

So, funny story of how my farming career started, it all started with looking into my ancestry. I got on an ancestry site knowing that my mother's father's family came from Ireland, probably-ish based on the last name of McKee. After several months I have still only reached 1859 with the birth of my grandfather's grandfather's father, confusing I know, that if 5 generations before me and still only in Illinois, USA. For all I know I could be Scottish and would not even know the difference.     Back to farming though, with the first part being truth and little of it I have decided to make up a story to go along with my game, I love the Rathlin Island map and have started playing it recently and have not made it more than three days into spring.  So here we go!!!!      I finally received an email back after months of searching and this one guy had all sorts of information on my five generations ago. Long story short he lived on Rathlin Island and had a big book of family history, I called him up and talked with him for several hours about this and that and all such matters. He was an old farmer there on the island and through extremely bad events had lost both of his sons some twenty years prior and would have no one to continue the work. Most of the work he did for the island government itself, mowing road edged and keeping of grounds, a bit of forestry was done in there as well and then just helping locals maintain their crops and fields.  In his older age has had a few health problems and has been unable to do some of the upkeep, and because of such has lost much of the equipment he had to be able to live.  Talking to Thomas about this whole situation got me wondering what it would be like to be in Ireland, it may not be the land of my father to son traced back to the motherland origins, but my Grandpa was a very good man and I loved him while my dad’s father was a cruel man who died when my dad was still just a teenager. This side of my family tree meant more to me that the last name I had now.    Ok, I have some crazy ideas I need to go have a talk with my wife and see how bad she is going to scream when I mention maybe going to Ireland to work.

Tigerman0424

Tigerman0424

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