Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kirsten and I left our hostel around half past nine with our belongings and headed towards the bus station across the Liffey in Dublin. It was raining and my heavy bag was weighing down on my shoulders, but we could not stop in fear that we might miss our bus leaving at ten. We luckily got to the station and got on the bus as it was ready to pull out and settled in for the five hour journey ahead of us. I realized after three hours we were not going to get to Galway in time for our next bus. Regardless we got there and made a few stops for supplies and got on the next bus headed to Gort where Flor, our new host was waiting. We met him and rode with him out to the farm which was about five or six miles outside of the town. There were several green open feilds full of horses, sheep, old irish houses, gardens and windmills along the road. Finally we came to an oragnd and red windmill at the entrance of a small gravel drive with a carved wooden Cran-Og sign by the gate. As we pulled in I got my first impression of the land I had been looking at on thier websight since last November. There we small gardens and shelters all around the red cabin house and a long side cabin nearby. They had a group of chickens, three horses, three dogs, two cats and a few pond animals within thier frog sancuary. We first went inside with Flor and another wwoofer that had been working here for the previous month for tea and introductions. Flor is an interesting Irish guy from Kerry whom has worked in England and Galway in his youth before opening a wood shop and starting the Cran-Og farm with Marion fourteen years ago. We chatted for about an hour until after Marion came in from working with the horses. I could tell within the first meeting that this was a very positive, welcoming, peacfull atmosphere with some great people. Kirsten and I were shown around by the other wwoofer and then unpacked out belongings before going back to the main house to join the rest for dinner. The first meal was organic shortgrain rice with spiced and cooked summer vegetables which had been frozen after harvest. We continued to chat and get to know each other for the next few hours with a bottle of wine that I had picked up to share with everyone for the first night and a few pots of tea. FLor's daughter Kate came by for a short while we chatted and introduced herself to us. Flor and Marion told us more about the land and the nature around the farm including a deep bog that had been grown over with vegetation which people who did not know the area would often fall into. Flor gave us a samll riddle about a structure in the garden which had been made from the dirt dug to make the crescent shaped pond within the frog sancuary. We were challanged to figure out what it was and what it did before we ate with them in the morning, claiming that a young boy had once figured it out in the same amount of time. We headed off around half past ten to get some sleep for the next day. The cabin we are staying in has two seperate bedrooms for us with several beds in each and a shared living space with sink, fire place, small couch and tabel. THe beds had very comfortable sheets wool blankets and nice comfortable pillows. The was a building next door which had showers which were heated by solar panneling and compost toilests. The small cabin was heated by plastic roofing which brought in more light during the day. We had tea and talked about how much we like the new host for a short while before saying goodnight and preparing for bed.
In the morning Lirsten and I joined Marion Flor and the third wwoofer who was set to leave at quarter to nine for her next host down in cork for the next month. We all had some porriage with honey and jam from nearby farms and some tea before discussing plans for the day. First we got out thier small shredder and started mulching some willow for the gardens. Kirsten took over with that job as Flor showed me the compost boxes that had been built out of pallets and explained how the different compartments should be divied for best breaking down of the materials. But before I started working we went in for a pot of coffee and prepared for me and Marion to take the three horses down to Flor'd daughters place where they could eat down her grass lawns for a day or so. They used English saddles which I haven't used in many years and bitless bridals for the two horses Marion and I would be riding and a rope halter for the third. We trotted down the road to Kate's place and set the horses loos into her side yard. We set up an electric fence across any areas the could possibly excape over and held the gate sturdy with large stones. We got a lift back to Cran-Og from Flor when he came down to help clear the area anything the horses could harm or be harmed by. When we got back, I set off to start on the compost for a short while before lunch. After a good meal we headed back out and I worked for about an hour on turning the compost between four wooden bins. Kirsten and I finished up the day weeding a small bed near the parking area for another thirty minutes or so. There were a few dandilions, thistles, and groups of nettles which had to be dug by their roots. I got stung by the nettles as I often do and rubbed some burdock on the spots to help ease the stinging feeling. We were told to drop our tools and join a group of neighbors and friends that had come by to celebrate the birthday of another girl, Beshley who lived in another cabin at Cran-Og and had just returned from a trip to a suprise gathering. A few Irish guys that lived nearby and a friend of Beshleys stopped in with drinks and food. We had a few drinks and set up a barbeque for some fresh trout that had been caught in a local stream by one of the guys earlier that afternoon along with some home made organic potatoe cakes with salad and fruity wine. We ate out by the yurts and hogan on a beautiful picnic tabel with benches that had been made from the trunk of a tree that had fallen near by earlier this year. We all chatted more about our different interests and exoeriences with wwoofing until the coals were hot and the fresh fish wall grilled. The food was ofcourse amazing and very filling. We each went back for more until there wasn't a scrap of anything left around the tabel. We cleaned up and the crowd headed in for some cake and tea while Kirsten and I went for a walk around the back boarder of the property which looked out into the local woodlands and the western sky with a beautiful Irish sunset. We joined the rest for tea for a short while before visitors left and we cleaned up and headed to bed. I planned to get some good sleep again to be prepared for a harder day. The first day was simple and really more fun than work.Tomorrow we will be getting into planting new seeds and transplanting sprouts from the large glass house of thiers to the poly tunnels and plots where thier vegetabes were grown. They get most of thier food out of the garden through out the year and store many preserves, herbs, and vegetables from season to season. I am very excited to be at a truely sustainable place with more aspects of a working small farm than anything I have seen in my trip to Ireland so far. On top of that, Its peaceful, welcoming and full of positive energy with a wealth of information and eagerness to teach and share knowledge. I can hardly wait to start the next day and find out what other good things are in store.

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