Eily’s Report – 16th April

Dia is mhuire díobh go léir a cáirde and welcome to my Report.

In spite of the cold weather, mother nature is doing her best to get on with her program for the year. Even the few days with less rain is having an affect. In the distance cattle can be seen grazing where the land is high and well drained bringing a surge of hope and perhaps a hope to do some planting even at this late stage. By this time in former years planters would be scanning the drills to see the first stalks on the potato field, coming through, always a delight to see. But not without it’s concerns, because the fear of frost held them in its grip until the last days of May. People were great in olden times for setting vegetables. Some in large quantities such as turnips and cabbage which they shared with the animals, but also onions and lettuce and radishes and brussels sprouts and peas. A small section was cordoned off at the verge of the potato field and a ridge raised up and manicured in every detail giving it the feeling of a ‘cut above the rest’. Some people saved the seeds from the previous year’s crop where they allowed some plants to grow on and blossom and ‘go into seed’ which they carefully collected and kept in a dry place for the following year.  Some were able to say  that they had the same ‘strain’ of plants for years and years. My Dad was good at this kind of thing. I would be with him as he prepared the ground and with the handle of the shovel he would press the parallel grooves all along the length of the ground. Then we would both inch along dropping in the seeds as we went before carefully covering them up again with the powdery soil. Maybe the sun was always shining back then or maybe he only did this work on a fine day, I can’t recall. Looking back at it now it all sounds so pleasant and wholesome. But God, how I hated that work, I don’t know why but it irked me to the bone and I did it with a puss on me afraid to open my mouth, because I knew what was good for me. Needless to say I’d rather be off playing with the dogs or riding the donkey etc. As well as drills of cabbage which we shared with the animals. My Dad would plant other cabbages, such as Greyhound and Savoy on the ridge. Smaller and tastier heads than what was called cow-cabbage. The Savoy lasted all winter and we often kicked the snow off the head when sent for some for the dinner in winter time. The peas had to be staked. Another fairly boring task. It involved breaking limbs off nearby trees and bushes and sticking them deep into the ground to support the plants. Pigeons were the plague of the kitchen gardener. They loved to wolf down the newly planted cabbage plants  which brought The angry Da out with his shotgun to put them to flight. With a bit of TLC the garden flourished and the moaning at planting time was soon forgotten when you’d sit on the warm ground and devour a belly-full of baby carrots, onion leeks or juicy peas when sent out to bring some in for the dinner.  Gifts from Heaven, all having been blessed with Holy Water on the first of May.

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