Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Count down, once again.

I'm counting the days separating me from yet another visit to "The Farm". I'm leaving for a couple of weeks during which I hope we'll be able to look into a few details, get a few quotes and discuss things with Whizzie.
People who know me also know very well that I hate this time of the year. It is always a difficult time for me. I can't really concentrate on things and everything looks dull, blurred and pointless. In fact my latest attempt at cheese last night was a disaster. I forgot the heat on and what was supposed to be a Romano-like will become a Fuck-knows-what. I don't even know if it will become anything, in fact I think I killed all the flora.
So this recipe goes a little bit like this:
  1. Inoculate with thermophilic starter and bring 4 litres of milk to 36°C
  2. Add rennet
  3. Keep to 36°C but then forget about turning off the heat
  4. Suddenly remember about it and run for it
  5. Turn it off, break curd finely, swear a lot.
  6. Put in mould with a cheese cloth and press for a couple of hours, keep swearing
  7. Brine overnight
  8. Hope it will turn into something edible.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


It’s been a busy time, both at work and in my free time. I have finally downloaded from the camera the few pictures I had taken of the stracchino and the result can only be seen but I can assure you that it tasted excellent, definitely better than the stuff you but at the supermarket.
I have to say that at this point I feel pretty confident about fresh cheeses like this one. Problems still arise when I try hard cheeses. But that is another post.
Doing stracchino it’s pretty straight forward.
  1. Inoculate 2 litres milk with starter (4 spoons of yogurt do the trick)
  2. Bring milk to 36°-37°C
  3. Add rennet in the amount suggested by the manufacturer
  4. Keep it at 36°C for at least an hour for the curd to form (clean brake with finger). I find that a good quality stainless steel pot with a thick bottom is perfect because every now and then you can start the fire for 30 seconds or so on a small fire ring. That usually does the trick without damaging the curd or burning it.
  5. Cut the curd in big squares/rectangular, 8x8 cm, 1-2 cm thick. You don’t need to be extra precise.
  6. Let it sit for at least another hour, until you see the squares shrinking and expelling some whey.
  7. Collect them with a large ladle and put them in a container with a shape of your choice lined with cheesecloth
  8. Let it sit overnight at room temperature
  9. The day after, get rid of the cheesecloth, turn it upside down, put it back in the container and sprinkle salt (and in my case spices) over the top surface, put it in the fridge and repeat the day after with the other side.
  10. Wait a few days (3-4 days)
  11. EAT IT! 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cheesing about.

Long time no post! It seems like an eternity but it was just ten days ago. I wanted to post about stracchino and a couple of caciotta experiments that I have performed but I still haven't got around organising myself and I don't have the pictures at hand. Also I had to stop making fucking cheese day and night or I'd have become like the dude in the picture above!
So I thought I'd just post a quick one to point you all cheese-mongers in the direction of a very nice blog run by the people of the New England Cheesemaking supply company.
The blog is here: and focuses on crazy people like us who started to make cheese for fun and developed quite a business with time.
I also want to spend some link-love for the guys at "Small Farm Supplies" who have pretty much all you need for a small holding and making cheese at very interesting prices, they are quick and very helpful. Not very strong on the cheese culture starters but hey, you can't have everything.
For an excellent review and explanation of starter cultures check out the Cheesemaker, excellent website because it gives a very good description of what each culture does and also gives the exact composition of bacteria in each one of them.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Little M. liked it

If it is true that I am usually the most strict judge of my own work, it is also true that self-reference is no good if you want to improve your act. So I brought samples of the lactic cheese I prepared last week to the Brother's place. The Brother is usually very fussy about food and especially about home made stuff and he has gained the nickname of "Son of Capitalism and ready made food". The Brother liked it but even more impressive was the thumbs up given by Little M.
Little M. is Brother's elder son and of course my nephew and "the grandchild of Capitalism and ready made food".
Whizzie keeps insisting that he is in reality my secret child, but Little M. is fussy about pretty much anything edible and was really impressed with the lactic cheese and kept shovelling it down his own throat, trying the three different spice associations (thyme; rosemary + garlic; sage + onion) and repeating the whole process all over again just to make sure he got right the one he liked most.
So, Little M. says the sage and onion one is the best but he liked very much the other two as well and he'll let me know about the bland one + honey for breakfast (but he's waiting for your honey Whizzie!).
Chipmunk, the younger nephew, was just not interested in these cheesy stuff, he's superior to these mortal things.
Then we also tried to make stracchino although the kids lost readily interest in the process and the whole thing was a complete failure.
Once home I tried again and this time I got it right. It's still maturing and I'll be posting about it soon.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Lactic cheese.

This is possibly the easiest cheese recipe ever, you don't even need rennet to do it and it's delicious. It takes a couple of days but the effort involved is minimal.
First thing you need to do is to prepare your mesophilic starter. This is a compound of bacteria that ferment milk at room temp. You can do it by leaving milk at room temp for 24 hrs or by inoculating a little bit of milk with the content of a probiotic drink or a yogurt. It needs to be brought to room temperature well in advance (in the morning) to give a chance to the bacteria to start working. Lactobacillus acidophilus does a great job and you find it in most probiotic drinks and some yogurt but if you want to use professional stuff you can buy a proper starter like this one (it's enough to inoculate 150 liters of milk). If you go for yogurt or some probiotic drink, make sure there is no Bifidobacterium because in my short experience it does not allow the milk to curd. Streptococcus thermophilus and bulgaricus are ok as long as there is lactobacillus acidophilus. So, second thing you need to do is to bring a liter of pasturaised milk to 21°C in the evening and add a couple of spoons of the mesophilic starter you prepared in the morning. Leave everything at room temp and the bacteria will use the lactose in the milk producing lactic acid as a byproduct wich will lower the pH causing the milk to curd (usually between 8 and 12 hrs but could take up to 24). The amazing thing (to me) is that you get a very firm curd without rennet. So it will have probably curded by morning but if you dont have time to do anything, just leave it for when you come back.

On day 2 cut the curd along the two dimensions in cubes of 1 cm or 2. Then cut along the 3rd dimension orizzontally as in the pictures.


Let it rest for an hour.

 Drain it in a colander with a cheesecloth or just a cloth that can let the whey through. Preferably in a kitchen cleaner than mine!

 Hang it preferably in a cool room. The first time I did it I left it at room temp in the kitchen at 17°C and it came just fine. Let it drain for at least 24 hrs.It will be soft, spreadable and juicy.

 Eat it as it is or add herbs!

I have actually prepared 2 litres and got roughly 7-800 grams of it and I prepared some with sage and onion, some with thyme and some with rosemary and garlic. If you do too, it would be good practice to sterilise the herbs in a closed jar by boiling and to let cool, add then the cheese by mixing it with a sterile spoon. It will last longer. I also left half of it as it is, it's super yummy! It will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

PS. If you have dogs, they love whey, it is a good although poor source of protein and you should feed it to them.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The cheese fever.

Oh dear! It is difficult to explain, this cheese fever that suddenly gets you, that makes you get up early in the morning to check on the strater cultures, that makes you look at your first creations aging in the cellar like if they were pets needing your love, that makes you feel like you don't have enough time to try all the recipes you'd like to try ...
I have been compulsively buying on the internet and off the internet, in the real world, I have been buying different thermometers, cheesecloth, starter cultures of all kinds, cheese moulds and alternative pressing methods, dreaming about ways to do things... Oh my! And it is soooo gooood!
First pictures in a few days.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

He's gone.


What a fucking piece of shit. He has wasted so much of our time and money. It was about fucking time he got defeated by his own mistakes, drowned in his own shit, betrayed by his own puppets. It will take us at least 20 years to get back some credibility and to fix all the damage he has done. I'm happy he is gone but I'm also sad that it took so long.
I made cheese tonight, I think it could well be considered the first cheese without him as a prime minister!
Bye bye, Berlusconi.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

First fridge first: the cheese cave

Ok, as you know I have been organising myself in the recent weeks to start some home cheese making.
Because I need to get some experience on hard and aged Italian cheeses the first issue to be addressed for me was the set up of an aging area with the right conditions for maturation of theses cheeses.
The condition required are 8-12° C temperature and 85-95% humidity. As I've shown in a previous post, most people resort to slightly or heavily modified fridges in order to reach this conditions. Here is another solution for curing meats:
This usually implies an added thermostat and the exclusion from the circuit of the built-in one. It's only a few bucks and real quick work but I have figured out a way to do it even in a cheaper way.
The picture you see at the head of the post is one of classic fridge thermostat. You'll find one of those basically in any European fridge. It is positioned right behind the controller used to regulate the temperature/power of the fridge, and to access it you have to take down that part of the fridge. It's usually pretty straight forward and that's what I've done here: take it down!
If you look at the thermostat from the side which has no cables, this is what you'll see:

That little screw indicated by the red arrow can be used to modify the temperature range of your fridge. In it's natural position it will make the fridge work usually between 8° C (minimum power) and 3-4° C (maximum power position). But if you screw clockwise, that range will change towards higher temperatures. I screw it in almost to the end and then started the fridge, put the power to minimum. After 12 hours it indicated 16°C (thermometer in a filled water bottle). Too much. I put the power level up to 3.5, another 12 hours and was down to 13°. Now it's on 4 and the temperature is a steady 12. Perfect. I put everything back together. The good thing about this method it's that you can always restore the fridge to its original condition and resell it, no holes anywhere.

For the humidity issue, some people like to go for the hygrostat + fogger solution like here: but it involves another expense (50 euro maybe). So many others go for the easy solution of just letting the humidity build up in the fridge and leave water to evaporate from containers. In this case the fridge needs to be properly sealed (including the hole for drainage of condensed water which is usually at the bottom/back of the fridge area). Another solution is to make your cheese mature in a closed container (which will also eliminate cross contamination if you are working on different types of cheese). The easy solution is what I'll use for now.
Last night I carried out my first experiment, there is a lot to be improved, so I won't post pics unless I'll be extremely impressed by the result which is at the moment aging in the cave...

More soon!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

For fuck sake, just resign!

Will this be the end of it? I'm not that sure, he's ruined the country for decades to come and even if he goes Italy will take ages to recover. There is no alternative. We are governed by a bunch of thieves and corrupted pricks.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

All you need to make a bit of cheese

I see! That's how you get the holes!

Making cheese is really not that difficult. Making GOOD cheese is a bit more difficult. Making a living out of selling good cheese is akshully quite difficult.
To start off you don't need that much and you can find all you need online and in small shops.
I myself bought everything online and I spent not more than 60 euro (+ 70 for a fridge).

Shopping list:

  1. Milk (5 liters approx for 1 Kg cheese, NOT ONLINE!!! :))
  2. Rennet (animal, 250 g, 7.5 euro)
  3. Starter culture (Mesophilic and thermophilic for different recipes, 6.5 euro each)
  4. Cheese moulds (ricotta moulds 7.5 euro for 50, pecorino 7.5 euro for 50)
  5. Thermometer (6 euro on ebay)
  6. Cheesecloth (5 meters x 35 cm, 8 euro on ebay).
  7. Old fridge to be converted into a cellar (70 euro second hand in a town nearby)

I bought most of the stuff from these guys:
but I think they deliver only in Italy (Rowena, they're close to you!)
If you are in the UK there is a pretty good ebay shop which I might use in the near future, they are very nice and helpful (thanks Ann!) and the shop is called "Small Farm Supplies".
I got my Cheesecloth here, it was extremely cheap.
Regarding the Cheese cave, most people tend convert old fridges or wine cooling units by substituting the thermostat with one like this, and by adding a fogger and an hygrostat to build up humidity like in this post: the cheese cave, but for the time being I'm going to rely on the inbuilt thermostat (it looks like it could do 12C°) and the built in humidity (I'll dedicate a post next week to the cheese cave).
So far, so good. All the stuff should come in next week. So exciting!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A long Autumn

Back to serious talking... I have been thinking about a post in which I explained what is our time schedule and what are the things needed to be done but after much thinking I came to the conclusion that it is not such a good idea, because it's way too early for that. We still haven't talked with the competent offices yet and although I have been reading the relative legislation in terms of agricultural building permissions and food business, there is still too much prospecting to be done.
The only sure thing is that whatever we'll need to do, we'll have to do it at a specific time. In fact, sheep are seasonal animals and they do not have oestrus cycles all year round.
Sheep start having regularly spaced oestrus cycles (17 - 19 days long) with the decrease of daily light (short day breeders), which means in August at the earliest (in the northern hemisphere). If they are not mated they stop cycling regularly in spring when days get longer once again. This means that in the northern hemisphere the best time to mate ewes is around October-November (it really depends on the climatic region and market needs) so that they are ready for delivery in early spring after a 5 months long pregnancy.
That's when they start producing milk.
Therefore the only two known deadlines are: i) to get a stable (or a simple shed) ready by late summer and ii) a cheese cave ready by early spring.
Everything goes around this two major deadlines and if you miss them you'll lose a whole year of learning and production.
There are also of course a ton of other things to be done like a new and upgraded electric connection, refrigeration units, a well and so on. So you can understand that P. and I have our hands tied for now, and we can't even practice or help around in nearby sheep farms because they are not producing cheese at the moment.
I have planned a trip around Christmas holidays to try and get quotes for materials so that we can get a better figure of the investment needed and I would also like to try and speak with local vet services, small business authority and food business regulators. But that is it.  This was really a bummer because I feel like I'm wasting my time here, so I decided to keep myself busy and at the same time to get some experience under my belt by engaging in some cheese making at home.
The thorn apart thing you see in the picture at the top of the post is the second hand fridge that, after the due modifications, will serve as a home made cheese cave.
More soon :)

Thursday, 27 October 2011


This is NOT the kind of shop I would want to sell my cheese to :)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Super Sic

I was deeply shocked by the death of Marco Simoncelli yesterday. Today I can barely function. I do feel silly for being in such a commotion for someone I never met but anyone who ever had the chance to hear him speaking knows that with Marco you got what you saw. It was impossible to see him angry or upset. He was a crystal clear, genuine, friendly and extremely positive guy with an exceptional talent for motorbike riding. Everyone following this sport felt like he knew him. He was just emerging as one of the 4 or 5 best riders on the planet. He was 24 years old and died trying to do at best what he loved most.
It is so fucking sad.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pecore e pecorino

It's been a bit difficult recently to post and I might have lost the line of thought I was trying to follow.
I'm trying to get back on track with this post and focus on the issue we left unresolved: sheep.
I explained in a previous post how we ended up to choose dairy sheep as our main project on the farm. An important extra reason is also the fact that I'm already familiar with sheep and small ruminants in general.
We are plenty of dairy sheep in Italy and cheese-making from sheep milk has a long tradition that goes back in time to pre-Roman times.
The two main cheeses made with milk from sheep are the Pecorino in its various forms and the Ricotta (either fresh or aged). It is a typical and abundant production all along the appennini area from north to south but mainly in central Italy and Sardinia.
People producing Pecorino are also usually producing Ricotta which is obtained from boiling the whey after having made pecorino.
Italian breeds are definitely numerous but probably not that well adapted to the lush Irish pastures and the wet conditions.
There are very few dairy breeds in northern Europe and the two that could be more easily sourced would be the ever surprising East friesian and the British milksheep (which is anyway a friesian cross).
These babies are reported to produce up to 600Kg (East friesian) or 900 for the British milksheep during a lactation of up to 300 days. These figures are probably a bit optimistic because they probably refer to sheep housed in excellent conditions and fed shitloads of protein and feed-stuff while we would rely almost solely on the grazing and hay. Also we'll probably go for east friesian crosses and not pure-breed.
If you're trying to understand how much money we can make from cheese I'll tell you right now we won't get rich but P. and me should be able to live a decent life nevertheless.
Even considering a 200 Kg yearly milk production and a yield in cheese around 17% for a price of 20 Euro/Kg, each sheep should produce a minimum of 600 Euro/year. It is an estimate taking into account expenses such as vaccinations and treatments, electricity and such. It is also quite pessimistic, because in fact milk production, cheese yield and selling price should be quite higher. I've seen industrial sheep cheese in supermarkets in the area sold at 35 Euro/Kg!
Then there is the little extra from lambs and wool, although there is little money in there.
It's late, I should go to bed. More soon :) Enjoy the video

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

It's all about passion.

Life is short. We shouldn’t live it in a rush but we shouldn’t sit on our arses either. It’s all about trying to do with your life something we enjoy. I’m not talking of mere self fulfilment or the pointless search for one’s own happiness. I’m talking about doing something useful for others, leaving something for the next generation, doing something that will make your qualities shine, something you are passionate about.
The ethics and passion involved in such a project to me are essential. I believe a more sustainable approach to life is possible for everyone and passion should be the driving motor of your life. After all, change usually comes from the bottom and, if you want to make a difference, a critical ingredient is passion. If you are not passionate about what you do you won’t get anywhere. 
Not everyone is lucky enough to fulfil his desires and I have to admit that I find myself in this position for the first time in my life. I never thought I would have the chance to give it a shot and I am extremely glad about it.
Here's a video that says "PASSIONATE" all over it.

It's a clip from "Victorian Farm" which you can watch on youtube.

Friday, 30 September 2011

What to do?

Picture from Sheep 101

I have been away for a few days and I sort of lost my posting schedule, I'm one of those people still refusing to get a smartphone. I was in Sarajevo for a weekend to visit a dear friend. I was so excited when I left that I forgot my camera and I couldn't find a disposable one in Sarajevo. Therefore, No pictures but lots of good memories.
It's time to talk about P.'s and my plans and about the way we want to use this land's potential.
Whizzie has of course her own plans and I'll probably write about those too, if she wants, but for now let's talk sheep.
In fact this is what we want to breed: sheep! I love sheep! they are so cute! Ok I'm joking, that's not why we went in that direction :)
Sheep were almost an obligate choice. As you might know, if you want to sustain your animals with the land you have at your disposal throughout the whole year, you have to consider animal density as a crucial factor. Animal density is calculated using the so called Livestock Units (LUs). One hectar of pasture is sufficient to sustain 1.0 LU through the whole year and this corresponds to an adult dairy cow. Now, here's a good page with some comparisons: Grazing Livestock Units equivalents, and another one with pigs too: Eurostat.
So, for an 8 hectare farm, dairy cows, horses or beef would not be a good choice because you'd be able to keep at most 10 of them and even using intelligent market strategies it would be difficult to get a decent amount of money out of such a small number of animals. Plus, these are big animals, need big housing solutions and big milking facilities.
Another possible solution I explored at the beginning was breeding sows/pigs for the production of cured meats. Unfortunately the land at our disposal is not suitable for extensive/outdoor pig rearing and it's actually a bit of a waste. Pigs thrive in woods in marginal steep areas and it is a kind of production that is coming back in Italy where we have lots of those woods with oaks, holm oaks, chestnuts and so on, but putting them on green, lush pasture? No thanks. They do that in the UK but the only difference with pigs reared intensively is that they live in a field, but you still have to provide 95% of the diet. A bit of a waste of space if you ask me.
So we were left really with two options: chickens and sheep. There isn't a rabbit culture in Ireland and like in the UK they are considered either a pest or a pet :)
Regarding the chickens, hens, eggs and so on, there is a lot of competition already, it seems like it has become the new sector of enterprise for every single hippie in West Cork. So we might get a reasonable number of hens but only to optimise pasture gains (more later on this).
Sheep sound good because 1 adult sheep is considered to be between 0.1 and 0.2 LUs. This means that Whizzie's land could sustain at least 40 adult sheep. Now, if we were talking just meat/wool breeds the figure would have been closer to 80 animals but money in meat and wool is very little and we want to go dairy. A better figure for dairy sheep in terms of density is probably closer to 0.2 LUs.
Dairy sheep sound a lot better because although the wool is of lower quality, the meat is pretty much still there and the added value you can get from transforming milk into cheese is among the biggest around (it's up there with cured meats).
So, I'll leave you with that. Start imagining beautiful dairy sheep and lots of cheese, I can tell you, this image has been haunting us in our sleep for quite a while.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Environmentally and economically sustainable

Picture from PapekPhotography - Click it for large version.

Hi readers! Tough times around here but I'll make an effort and drop the usual weekly post.
As you could gather from the last post, the farm is a gorgeous place with lots of potential. Will we make it? Fuck knows! but we'll definitely try.
As many of you might know, there is not much money in conventional farming nowadays for farms of this size. Unless you have huge capitals, you go super intensive and you have at your disposal hundreds of acres, it's better you forget about conventional agriculture, whatever you want to produce, let it be grains, milk, meat or veggies, you won't get rich.
Therefore, for such small farms, with limited capitals and volumes, you necessarily need to find other ways.
The only hope for such enterprises is to concentrate on a produce that has some sort of added value, something the consumer is willing to pay extra for. Needless to say there is a wide array of possible ways to create added value in a product. A classic example is the organic certification, or any sort of labelling, at least it was years ago, now that it has become a worldwide business it has become more expensive for small farmers and the added value has decreased a lot.
Other ways involve targeting local typical productions, niche markets, artisanal produce, rustic local breeds, honey from non-sugar-fed bees and so on. Here the added value is due to the fact that you are offering a product for which it is required a rare set of skills, or that is linked to a specific trerritory, or it is simply produced in a more sustainable way and therefore is less abundant. Hence the higher price.
Examples in this area are possibly infinite.
Another way to get even more money from small farms like this is to adopt what we call in Italy a "Filiera Corta" (short processing chain).
Cutting a long story short, if you are rearing fibre producing animals such as merino sheep, you won't be selling row fibre but instead jumpers, hats, gloves and scarves. This way your product won't go around the market increasing in price at every step of the textile and retail industry, you'll be very competitive in terms of prices you can offer to the consumer (because you bypass several steps of the processing chain) and you have complete control over the quality of the final product. This allows you to add even more extra value through the ways we explored earlier, by customising your products.
There are also downsides in such an approach. You have to work a lot more to get to your final product and therefore acquire several specific skills and extra facilities to transform and process your raw matter into your final product.
If in the case of wool it is easy to imagine that such facilities would be quite expensive and that the knowledge required would be vast, for raw matters such as milk and meat, veggies and other product of the land the task at hand is definitely not impossible.
In conclusion, instead of selling milk you sell cheese, instead of meat you sell salami and prosciutto, smoked and cured meats, instead of fresh vegetables you sell conserved Mediterranean style grilled aubergines and pickled onions, instead of soy beans you sell tofu, instead of wheat you sell bread and cookies and why not, instead of barley you can specialise in malts and drink lots and lots of beer :)
The last thing you need to keep in mind for small size farms, especially if there are several people trying to live off the land, is that diversification is a MUST.
Diversifying production is a must because none of your possible productions is big enough to allow you to overcome difficult moments in the trade.
So, keep all this in mind and wait for the next post :) we have quite a precise plan but, in the meantime, suggestions are welcome!

Monday, 5 September 2011

"The" Land

Now that you know where and who, why and more or less when, it's time to give you some information about the property that Whizzie and Sir Lynex bought, without giving too much info on its location (otherwise you'll just flood to the place). It's important to speak first about the land characteristics because the agricultural-farming potential is clearly related to the layout. As we say in Italy, apple trees do not make pears. At the top of the post is a map of the property. The red line is the outer border of the land, the blue line is the main road to nowhere, the green line is the access road to the farm that brings to the old farm buildings and the turquoise line is a narrow path that cuts the property between the pastures and the bog, leading to the neighbour's property up the hill. The property is approx 21 acres (8.5 hectares), the highest part is the northern bit (200 meters a.s.l.) and the lowest is the southern part, down the main road (160 meters). This means that it is beautifully exposed south, which in Ireland is definitely a plus :). As you can see, approximately 5 hectares of the property are good grazing pastures. They look like this:

The pasture composition in terms of types of plants is good and diverse, there are some weeds and reeds, especially in the two grazing areas north of the green lane, but nothing that can't be improved by sorting out the drainage. The boggy bit on the northern part of the property is beautifully diverse from a biological point of view and, although it has gone a bit wild like the rest of the property and could do with some light grazing, it is fairly stable and has great potential for one or two wind turbines. In fact there are rocks which are high, very exposed to strong, constant winds. Fencing and gates are in place and some of the gates need replacing but the fencing is fairly new. The property lies in a relatively undeveloped area between two small towns of the west Cork area, but has good potential. It is in fact close to popular tourism areas, the sea and the internationally famous food scene of Cork. As you can see from the image, Whizzie has already started some work and apart from setting herself up nice and cosy for the winter, she has been putting down trees for coppicing and an orchard, a polytunnel and a veggie garden. She is now working on setting up raised beds for next year and there are plans to get a swimming pond for Sir Linex, who could get there by driving the 350 cc brake-less quad bike that Whizzie bought in an attempt to murder him :) Get those brakes fixed guys! Ah! and she got hens only a few days ago! What are their names Whizzie?

That's all folks! What should I do with all this goodness? I'll tell you next week.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A little more background: the actors

As promised, more info on the whys and the whens of all this. In fact, even for some of you who already know me, this whole ordeal does come as a big surprise.
I waited to write about it for several reasons. First of all, it looks to me like such a huge project and life changing experience that it still seems very unreal.
But last week I actually went to visit Whizzie in Ireland and all the words, plans and dreams suddenly took shape. It was real, it was there. Grass, pastures, bogs, cabin and all that. It was fucking paradise and it became a lot more real. And scary.
There were also a lot of other reasons why I kept silent about my intentions. The first one is that until a few weeks ago I didn't really know if what I considered to be my life partner for the past 6 years or so would like to go for it. As it turned out, she doesn't considered herself be my life partner any longer. So yes, sure it will be harder but at least I won't have to worry about the weight of responsibility towards her. I'll actually have to worry about getting my mental health back after this major blow. But that is another story altogether and has no place in this blog.
Another important reason to wait and be cautious was that there are other people involved and I really wanted to make sure we were all happy about the plan and liked each other. The first one is Sir Lynex who bought the farm with Whizzie and I never met before. Whizzie's friends are usually awesome but you never know, there is always the odd weirdo in there :). Sir Lynex is from the awesome category of friends and although is not a permanent resident of the farm yet, we will definitely enjoy each other's company. The second is P. (see first post), who I have known for quite some time now. She is supposed to get very involved and until a couple of weeks ago we only discussed options through skype and without having seen the land. It was all up in the air. The visit to the farm has had a big booster effect for her. And last but not least, Tom J., Whizzie's boyfriend, who clearly will be part of the picture and will be a huge asset for the farm with his skills and knowledge. Tom won't need a nickname :)
We all clicked. At least that was the feeling. Still, we have a long way in front of us and we'll have to come up with a detailed business plan to fit necessities and time frames.
So, these are the actors. Next week you'll get to know a lot more about the actual farm, its layout and the land characteristics.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

First post

Ok, here we go. First post and all that. Where should I start from? I guess I should explain what are you reading and why.
I am a 38 year old researcher and I always had a great desire to breed and work with farming animals but I never really had the opportunity.
That's also why I graduated as a veterinarian but I soon realised there wasn't much work if you wanted to work with farming animals in Italy.
So, I never had the money I needed to buy land and I never managed to find the right people to team up with. I almost gave up and thought that the most I could achieve was to get a house in the countryside and be happy with a veggie garden and a few chickens.
But never say never.
One of my best friends (Whizzie) has recently bought a 21 acre property in West Cork and because her heart is as big as a Bull's, she wants me and someone else to join her in this crazy adventure.
No one of us comes from farming families apart from her boyfriend and all of us have or will have to renounce to secure and safe (but booooring!) careers elsewhere.
That's it. This blog will be a diary of this whole experience. Slowly slowly you'll get to know more details about what we want to do and how we plan to get there.
I am getting ready and saving money and I won't be able to move up there for good until next summer. Whizzie is already there in her second hand eco-cabin and the other partner which will work closely with me will move up only in summer-autumn 2013 and for now she'll be simply referred to as "The partner" or P.
She is a girl from Luxembourgh and without her I might not be able to dream of my project. Her help is much, much, much appreciated.
Stay tuned.