Week 3 at Sunny Meadow

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November 1st 2012
Published: November 1st 2012
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I’ve spent 3 weeks at Sunny Meadow so far and how time has flown! I’ve crammed so much into my time here already and learnt a lot about farming and also cooking – how growing food and eating organically is a great way to live healthily, and new ways to cook good, wholesome vegetarian food. At home there are a few meals I usually make, nearly all of them to go with pasta or rice. Here, I almost never eat those staples, sticking instead to meals full of vegetables, eggs, potatoes and bread in different combinations. Every lunchtime we make soup, usually from scratch using veg straight from the garden, or creating something using cooked veg from the previous day. Nearly nothing goes to waste here – mouldy veg is thrown to the chickens or put on the compost and scraps go to the cats and sometimes the dog. All the food is vegetarian, but it’s delicious and no two meals are the same – the variety of vegetables available means we really have full reign to experiment with cooking! At the moment, a lot of meals contain tomatoes (which are in glut), courgettes (though their season has just finished), squash/pumpkin (many of which are sitting under the tomato plants in the polytunnels) and of course onions and garlic. Yesterday I made pumpkin and raisin scones, ready for Halloween!

So last week on the farm I took it easy because of my finger. Which isn’t broken! And has started healing properly. Dermott took me to the doctor last Wednesday because I was worried and the doctor put my mind to rest. By the time I’d been to the doctors and Dermott had picked up bags of carrots, parsnips and potatoes to sell, from a much larger organic farm, it was well into lunch time. Esther and I spent the afternoon cutting mouldy leaves from the tomato plants and watering in the polytunnels. Now the cows are in the sheds, shovelling silage has become a daily task, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It’s not a bad job, unless the bale still has some of its plastic netting, which gets caught in the fork. Esther and I spent most of Thursday and Friday harvesting vegetables – I collected squash from the polytunnels and picked salad (rocket, mahuna, mabuna, lettuce and chard (red, yellow and white)), tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. On Friday we finished work early to catch a bus to a town called Sligo, which is further North. It was the weekend of SligoLive, Sligo’s folk, root and indie festival. Esther’s friend Greta, from her first farm, joined us at Galway. We had an easy night on Friday, eating dinner and drinking to the sound of piano music in a lovely wine bar, Source Sligo. On Saturday we took a bus to Rosses Point where we walked along the beautiful beach, shivering in the wind. Back in Sligo, we had a quick look round the Abbey and The Model art gallery, before I joined Fionuala (who I’d met at my other WWOOFing placement) at a session in McHugh’s pub, where a few very good Irish musicians were playing. Nuala had to go to a gig and Esther and Greta had to go back to their hostel for a bit, so I hung around in town on my own. It turned out really well – one-man-bander Tim Stranlan decided to play in a pub I was in – he sang and played guitar, mouth organ, symbols and drums. A violinist called Jessie from a band that had played beforehand,
Painting by Peter CrammPainting by Peter CrammPainting by Peter Cramm

A guy I met at Heron Gallery painted the window of this pub for Halloween. A different artist paints it each month or so
the Grizzly Dippers, joined him and created a magical session of music in the unsuspecting pub! Everyone moved on to the Model which was hosting a couple of bands that night – Pokey La Farge and Moxy, which were both really great fun!

Esther, Greta and I went to the amazing seaweed baths in Salthill on Sunday morning, to relax and recover from the night before, then we had lunch at a lovely organic café next door. I only had a chance to see one band after that, before I had to get a bus back to Sunny Meadow. I would have stayed until Monday but Dermott was due to go away to Kilkenny on Monday for a two nights and I’d agreed to look after the farm. It was nice that I was able to stick to my own timetable. I had a few things I had to do like letting out and feeding the animals, but it was quite relaxed and I did a bit of weeding, cut back some spinach plants, moved around shelves in the shop and made pumpkin scones, amongst other small jobs. Nice as it was to have time to myself, I was happy to see Dermott again on Wednesday – it was quite lonely here on my own as I only spoke to one other person over the two days, a woman who came to buy some eggs. I’d thought it would only be here me until Sunday, but a French couple turned up that evening – previous WWOOFers who are stopping by on their way back to France. It’s nice to have so much company again! Today was harvesting day and I picked all the usual things (salad, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and squash), plus 50 beetroots, which haven’t done well this year along with most other fruit and veg. This afternoon Maud and I set to work making tomato, squash and apple chutney, as a way of using up some of the excess veg – it’s just started cooking and should eventually fill around 10 jars. I’ll let you know how well it works out – neither of us has ever made chutney before so we’re just having to hope for the best!

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