Monday 29 August, 800 hours.
The udder felt like it looked: fuzzy, kind of leathery, and rather supple (like it should be)… I took one hand, as instructed, and clasped one of them coyly with an index finger and thumb. The milk gathered below my fingers inside the Goat Milk Compartment. With a SQUEEZE of timid Colinness, the Udder Nodule produced a thin, weak stream of milk.
That, folks, was my first farming experience. It couldn’t have happened in a more ideal setting than the bucolic Mill Little Farm in Coomhola, County Cork, owned by the Briton Christine Brewer. The place’s more of a nature reserve than a farm. Guarding the east side of the property, a magnificent river rushes along at medespeed, featuring at least three breathtaking waterfalls. My second-favorite part of the waterway is a 5-meter section of rocks on the eastern edge, completely covered with a deep green moss. Can you imagine it? I’d never before seen moss-covered rocks in a riparian (river) habitat before. They must be one of the grander aspects of “oceanic woodlands” that spatter Irelands slightly- inland coastal areas. My third-favorite part of the river area has to be an electricity-free water pump. It uses only the water pressure from up-river to pump the stuff into the tap here at the farm.
Anyway, Christine’s property has lots of neat oddities. For example, she’s invited us to sleep in her full-sized tee-pee our front, the neighbor of which is a quaint swingset. A number of benches border the river, as does an outdoor sauna. She has umpteen (10) goats, and gets milk fresh from them every morning. I make hot chocolate widdit. Christine even makes cheese from them, both soft and aged, hard types. We’re gonna get to learn how to make it, yo. Cool beans indeed. Other livestock include about 10 chickens, lots of ducks, an extremely fit female Boxer breed dog named Lexi, and even an ancient (17 year-old) gander. (Lexi is BUFF, I tell yous. Every time I see her I admire her muscles, getting a regular reminder of the importance of doing fun strength exercises fer me fitness. She is damn ripped. Serious! I can’t stop raving about it. And at one year of age, her vivacity is infectious. Suffice it to we’re getting’ on well!) Something like half of the property is newly-planted forest, peatland, and ponds. Hell yeah!
Something notable about Ireland, I should mention, is its abundance of peatland. The Irish have for centuries cut up what they call “turf” – compacted organic matter similar to oil – found in these lands, for fuel. It’s slow-burning, but apparently reliable.
The organic farm here would rock your socks off. It has two large polytunnels (greenhouses), lots of outdoor beds, and edible berrybushes around the premises. Today we planted spinach, kohlrabi (a bulby root, kind of turnipy), coriander, lettuce, and broccoli.
I’ve learned a lot already, mainly how STRONG the stinging nettle bites! By the gods of Gouda, this weed is a TERRUH. Its leaves and stalk are coated with an oil whose venom causes intense pain, stinging, and even numbness for up to a few days. Fortunately, another weed around here, dock leaf, remedies the pain if you roll it up to release the oils and apply it to the affected area.
Yesterday I chopped wood for hours. Outside! The birds chirp all the time, this place teeming with life. Life-forms are content here because this place – and its ecosystems – are healthy, conducive to photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic beings alike.
Really, Mill Little Farm is proof that with dedicated hard work, you really can achieve your dreams, and more. Christine has accomplished a huge amount here. Her small-holding, a veritable Beacon in the light for humans interested in self-sufficiency and sustainable agriculture, is truly inspiring.
To learn more, click here to visit the website.
Thanks for reading friends, fam-bam, foreigners, and citizens of the woyld!