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Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

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Well, obviously I abandoned my post last month. My “picture a day” sputtered into a heap of nothing, which is perfectly acceptable—Loran and I were frantic. Keeping ourselves busy and yet procrastinating at the same time…anything to keep our minds off of leaving Ireland and the wonderful people we already miss like crazy. We kept busy with last-minute projects (like basket weaving & mass postcard-writing), but failed to post our two HUGE boxes of old stuff & souvenirs home to Washington State until the day before we left. And then it hit us: day of departure. We made Ireland our home for a full three months!!—a quarter of the entire length of our year-long expedition. And Ireland truly embraced us—leaving felt like saying goodbye to our families all over again, but on a higher level: we know when we’ll be returning for home, but no idea when we’ll be able to visit the Hook Peninsula again.

 

Waiting for the bus~

Waiting for the bus~

 

We boarded the ferry in Rosslare just after eight Friday morning, and proceeded to have the smoothest journey yet towards our current living quarters in Mid-Wales. The ferry was effortless, the busses efficient. Our hostess, Sharon, picked us up and we bumbled along in her four-wheel drive Shogun up to the last stop in the Artist’s Valley. It was pitch-black and so we were entirely unable to see the beauty surrounding us. When we woke the next morning and pulled back the curtains we were ecstatic. That Saturday and Sunday we spent hiking around little bits of the valley, soaking up the colors, the scenery. It’s difficult to decide where on our travels we have found to be the most beautiful…but Mid-Wales has certainly been the most stunning. The color scheme is just different. The deep purples and reds nestled in emerald hills, dotted with fluffy cotton-ball sheep makes me giddy whenever I get a particularly good view.

 

 

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

 

 

I'm smitten with the colors here!

I’m smitten with the colors here!

 

 

sheepies!!

sheepies!!

 

 

Loran and I have been here over a week now, during which we helped to plant over 500 trees of several varieties: goat’s willow, wych elm, ash, aspen and oak. It is hard to imagine all of these tiny trees poking out of their protective plastic tubes as a mature forest, but that thought of someday is really rewarding. I also don’t think I’ve ever slept so well in my life! Our only other task during the week was keeping the geese/hens/ducks alive and well-fed. Actually a more difficult chore than it sounds but entertaining all the same. The ducks, we are told, flew over from a neighboring valley where Sharon guessed they were being semi-domestically raised for hunting. Five geese and three chickens versus ~20 ducks means Loran and I must stand guard over the other birds and fend off the ducks with a big ol’ stick until everyone’s fed.

 

 

tree-planting!!

tree-planting!!

 

 

Yesterday Sharon, Hywel & Heather (another WWOOFing couple, from Australia), Loran and I tackled the ‘hot taping’ of the polytunnel—protecting the plastic from the heat of the metal frame once everything is in place. This was a great opportunity: I have developed a relatively new dream for my future that includes a gigantic garden, complete with polytunnel. Having this opportunity on the farm, then, is really educational for us. It’ll be especially great to witness the more creative side of the tunnel: bed design, irrigation system, rainwater funneling, etc. Tomorrow we’re going to attempt to get the gigantic roll of plastic up and over the frame, tucking it in all snug & taut.

 

 

everyone getting started with the taping

everyone getting started with the taping

 

 

taping~

taping~

 

 

Check back soon! (But not too soon! We’re busy…and we like it.)

~s

 

 

double rainbow~

double rainbow (barely!)~

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Class tonight went really well–we both finally feel that we’re getting the hang of the different tools we’ve had to use the past 4 weeks. Loran loves it; he’s looking to order a chisel & gouge set to start whittling away during the cold winter evenings.

 

Before Picture of my 3 pieces~

 

Loran concentrating SO hard

 

Shaving away on my spatula~

 

Finished spatula (!), nearly finished spoon, and 2nd spoon started. Wheee!!

 

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We had another field trip day today: the Irish National Heritage Park. Loran and I opted for the free 1 1/2 hour tour around the park and (besides frozen toes) it was well worth the time. Our guide escorted us around to the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Neolithic Age, etc. etc. with replicas of thatched houses (nomadic & permanent), burial sites, and even a horizontal water mill.

 

Replicas of early nomadic structures~

 

 

Replica of what is called a “Ring Fort” – Farmers had to protect their livestock from thievery, resorting to a wall and trench!

 

 

Settlement meant bigger houses~

 

 

This wooden statue was standing in the park’s bogland~ He represented the wooden figurines that would be tossed in as sort of an offering, preserving the objects for use in the next world, next life.

 

Next week we have a fieldtrip to Kilkenny!! We’re sooo excited–check back!

 

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Irene has what she calls the “WWOOFer’s Walk”–she has each WWOOFer make a cement tile with an image made from tiles, broken ceramics, rocks, etc. She’ll have these tiles be the stepping stones from her backyard patio to the vegetable garden. We started ours today, smashing plates and a vase and organizing the material into piles by color (:

 

 

Plates!! Gorgeous Colors~

 

 

Having WAY too much fun with this ;)

 

 

Nice lil’ piles!

 

 

Hopefully next week we’ll have a completed tile to show you! We have a really nice design in mind…we’ll see if we can effectively accomplish it.

 

 

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Today Loran and I busted away on clearing Kate & Ray’s strawberry bed. Have you ever seen a strawberry bed at the end of the season? It’s a tangled mass of confusion–every single plant has reeeeeeeally long arms just running away from their parents as fast as they can!– sticking roots down every which way, attempting to multiply as quickly as possible.

It makes a mess. And looks a bit like this:

Craziness

We tackled it anyway. But it took a couple of hours–a couple of thinking hours. And I was thinking about how we are strawberry runners!! Loran and I have been running around Europe (slowly & steadily) for nearly 6 months now. We may not have been multiplying everywhere we go…but every place we’ve set down little roots before shooting off to the next destination and depositing new roots– in the form of a friend we continue to keep in contact with or simply hard work we’ve left behind to nourish and grow into something beautiful and practical.

Our Irish rootbundle will be pretty hefty. And I’m proud of that :)

This is how much I love my job, my life~

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Cozy weather, cozy work.

It was certainly a baking day. That cloudy feeling when the skies are grey (and threaten rain) just screams “bake!”. But our weekend was over, too, so after two successfully risen & baked loaves we braved the gusty misty day to mulch Kate & Ray’s border in the backyard. Bobby followed us, of course, and so we had to alternate between shoveling mulch and throwing toys to the three dogs. It was great fun, really, and mulching is the sort of work that is hugely enjoyable; you actually see the results afterwards.

Secondly, we had our woodworking class tonight. The before and after pictures, I know, don’t look as if there’s much of a difference. Both Loran and I do, however, feel that we’re finally starting to get the techniques down, and as Tommy (our instructor) told us: “Do not see the spoon as the object of the class, just the byproduct. Understanding the techniques and mastering them is really what this class is about”.

Well said.

Before

 

After~ Nearly there!

 

Thirdly–and most importantly–Loran and I confirmed with our next WWOOFing farm!! We are SO excited, we really have a good gut feeling about this place. It’s a tree restoration center with a polytunnel and outbuildings needing some work. The woman who sent us the confirmation email sounded really sweet, very accomodating, and very much like a happy people person.

So our December–& our Christmas–will be spent in beautiful Mid-Wales near the coastline.

~

 

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Today we were stunned with a dazzling sunshiney day. Absolutely beautiful, and especially perfect for our fieldtrip to Ballycross Apple Farm. The farm was about a half hour’s drive away, in Bridgetown.

The farm has currants in addition to their acres beyond acres of apple trees, and really lovely trails that guests pay a minimal fee in order to wander through. After we checked out the “petting zoo”, we spent a decent hour and a half trekking around the forest and fields and finished up in the farm’s craft shop upstairs.

 

*gobble*

 

aww, lovebirds!

 

Beautiful Apple Orchard

 

Bracket Mushrooms

 

Ballycross Apple Farm

 

Staring contest~

 

I can’t honestly say that Ballycross would ever become a regular outing if I happened to live in the area, but it was really lovely to see families getting excited over the ponies, bunnies, & pigs and trying to find the biggest apple in the box. Not a “must see”, but a nice activity for a cozy day out.

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