Life At Hunters Lodge..

The plan was to record a piece about keeping chickens when the Ear To The Ground crew arrived here in late summer. But this very quickly turned into a feature on living the Good Life when the programme director, Paula Williams took a stroll through the garden. ;Never mind chickens, eggs, pigs and bees, I think the thing that impressed Paula most was the size of our onions! ;I’ve great hopes that she will harvest a crop like this herself next year.After a night of relentless rain I feared that the only filming that would take place would be at the kitchen table. ;I was worrying unnecessarily – by 9am the skies had …

A Cuppa Cake

Ellie celebrated her 15th birthday recently, and let me tell you that Ellie really likes her birthday cake. She’s a great little cake baker herself so no pressure for me then! Last year she was mightily impressed with the Avoca chocolate cake I made for her. It was truly the chocolate cake of all chocolate cakes. ;So how do you top that? I contemplated making Babaduck’s Rainbow Cake but time was against me so I came up with a genius plan..Recently my cousin Orla Henry launched A Cuppa Cake, a home bakery specializing in hand-crafted cupcakes. The timing was perfect – an ideal opportunity …

Thinking about 2013

“You have the life we aspire to”. Nowadays I hear that more and more from people who want to get back to basics, grow their own food and in some small way, get closer to nature. And they can. ;It won’t happen overnight, but taking one step at a time, there’s no reason why they can’t grow some of their own food in 2013.Now is actually a good time to think about growing some food next year. Over the Christmas holidays start thinking about what you might like to grow in 2013. How much space do you have? How much time have you got to spare? And most importantly, what do you like to eat? Herbs on your windowsill, potato bags, soft fruit bushes …

A Spring Photoshoot – In December

The forecast was for cold winds and blustery showers, and that’s exactly what we got for our Irish Country Magazine photoshoot today. It’s December. It really is to be expected isn’t it? And it could have been worse – imagine trying to do a photoshoot for next Spring with four inches of snow on the ground! So we got a little wet, but we have some great shots to show for it.My three girls were up bright and early this morning to help me get my props ready and then we set off for Old McDonalds Farm & Feed Store in Carlow. The proprietor, Leo Connolly, very kindly allowed us …

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and I baked the ham. ;And glazed it with honey produced in the garden..It’s early Christmas morning and the smell of turkey roasting in the oven is beginning to fill the house. ;The sleepy children of Hunters Lodge are beginning to stir, so it’s time to see if Santa visited last night.Food and family – I couldn’t be happier.Happy Christmas xx

Looking Back And Leaping Forward!

“So much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to” ;2012 has been just lovely. We have enjoyed good health and a wealth of homegrown food which we happily shared with family and friends throughout the year. That in itself would have been more than enough for me. But thanks to my humble blog, 2012 also bestowed some great opportunities and accolades upon me. The year started with a visit from RTECountrywide’s Damien O’Reilly and when he aired his piece on Hunters Lodge on his Saturday morning show, I thought my website would dissolve such were the hits it received – and …

Survival Tip: Growing Food to Supplement Your Food Storage Supply

If you have the space for it, you should grow your own food to supplement your food storage in a survival situation.  Growing food is ideal because you will be

Stockpile: How To Store Food In Anticipation Of An Economic Collapse

Food is an obvious need for a WAS scenario.  Meeting your food needs can be broken down into different categories: 1) Food Storage, 2) Agriculture (growing and harvesting your own

Stockpiling: Medical Supplies You Should Have In Abundance

This is the first blog dedicated to a specific stockpile topic.  These stockpile blogs are geared more toward an extended two to three year survival period.  We will call this

A Good Survival Knife: Top Things To Consider

Having a good survival knife is essential in any type of survival scenario. There are many practical uses of a survival knife, including: Hunting, skinning, and preparing food. Self defense

100% Food Self-sufficiency, part III – Using polycultures

I am planning 7 patches for experimental polycultures for next summer. It is heavily focused in cereals and pulses, because it is aimed towards plant self-sufficiency.Each patch has around 30m2 (about 320 square feet, 18 feet per 18 feet), to provide what I calculated to be the enough of my yearly seeds. Even if it is not enough, this is just a first trial.This is also aimed at a great diversity of annuals. So these are 7 patches, during summer season: Patch 1: the 3 sisters: corn, runner beans, pumpkin (perhaps amaranth and sunflowers) Patch 2: modified 3 sisters (requires less water): sorghum, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, chia Patch 3: similar to last but different species: millet, peanuts, mung beans, sesame Patch 4: the rice patch …

100% Food Self-sufficiency, part II – how much area is required?

This thread was the result of a long work. Of course it is my personal perspective and estimate. Depending on what you eat, you might end up with different numbers. REQUIRED KG OF FOOD FOR 100% SELF-SUFFICIENCY I calculated myself to eat (these kg of food per year): 45 kg of cereal GRAINS: 15 kg of pasta (wheat flour), 15 kg of bread (made with wheat/rye), 15 kg of breakfast cereals (oats or rye porridge); based in eating one portion of 50g pasta per day, one portion of 40g breakfast cereals, and one piece of bread (35g), per day 20 kg POTATOES (two portions of week, each with 4 tubers) – but if you eat them daily, then…

Cold hardy edible palms – part II

Another cold hardy palm (down to -15ºC) is Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm), that produces edible fruits (Coquito nuts). The tree is also an endangered species. Jubaea chilensis fruits Butia capitata (Jelly Palm) is another cold hardy palm (down to -10ºC), which has strong tasting edible fruits. This one has been cultivated in Virginia, US. Butia capitata fruits Ensete (Ensete ventricosum) is a highly cultivated edible in Africa (from Ethiopia to Congo). Its a banana relative. A few plants produce enough starch for a family (from its trunk). It can probably stand a few minor frosts, but it is better to dig it up and overwinter ensete inside a greenhouse. It probably grows permanently …

Cold hardy palms and coconuts

I was just fascinated by this astonishing cold hardy palm. Trachycarpus fortunei, native to the high mountains of India, Burma and China, near the Himalaians, is not only cold hardy to -20ºC (zone 6 or 7), but also grows well in climates with cold and rainy summers, such as the UK. It has even been experimented in the Faroe Islands and Alaska, and with success! Therefore, I very much want to try to grow it also here in Iceland, which is only slightly more north. The freezes here are more dramatic and very long, but the idea of having a palm growing in this polar island is very appealing and exotic! This palm is very …

Wild edible plants of the Arctic – So far north, so many options: lyme grass, silverweed, rumex, spruce…

In the Arctic climate, it is very difficult to grow grain, due to the short and cool summer. Grains often fail to become rippen, and this was the sort of thing that happened in the Middle Ages, during famines, when the summer would fail, in northern Europe. However, there are a few possibilities to grow some starch, at Arctic locations. One wild native plant to Iceland, Silverweed (Potentila anserina) is a strawberry-like creeping plant, that produces swollen roots, that can be cooked as if it would be pasta. However, it was mostly used as a famine food, since the roots are not …

Permaculture in Iceland – Update from January: Growing many perennial species indoors!

Hi everyone! Its January in Iceland, and it has been four months since I have been ordering items for my seed collection and attempting to germinate them. Then, with artificial lights, the challenge is to keep them alive and well, over the dark Icelandic winter. Since the day is only around 3 hours now, I keep the seedlings indoors, with four conventional energy saving fluorescent bulbs. I switch them on 14 hours during the day, and switch off when I go sleep. I also have cheap geothermal hot water (a blessing of Iceland) for radiators above which I try to germinate the tropical species (such as dates, palms, pigeon peas, jícama), in mixtures of peat and gravel, in a plastic kitchen box, sealed with saran wrap plastic, with…