We moved in November so other than a trad fest in Ennis, we didn't do much other than pack, unpack and work at our jobs. We had one last party at the old cottage on Thanksgiving.
The five bearded men of Clare. Beards are not as popular in Ireland as they are where we're from in Ithaca (which I can't figure out with the cool weather) and it's unusual to see so many in one room.
We hosted a Seed Savers staff party at our new house in Fossabeg, Scariff.
Then we unexpectedly got a dog!! One day a skinny, shaking dog scratched on the door at Seed Savers. His ears and nose were all scratched up and boy, was he happy to be indoors! We've been having unusually cold weather again this winter and I was not going to turn him outside for the night, so I took him home while I tried to locate the owner.
We had been thinking of getting a dog again (it's been over a year since Sonya died) but we always seem to be traveling and it's easier without pets. But this little puppy was so sweet and friendly that I was really hoping we wouldn't find the owner so we could keep him. I started calling him Oscar (as in Oscar Wilde, an Irish author).
I was disappointed when we found a photo and description of him on the SPCA website, but we knew we had to do the right thing and contact the owners.
His owners told me that the puppy's name was Badger, he was four and half months old, and he and one of his siblings had been missing for two weeks in very cold weather. Seed Savers is 6 miles from their house. The female puppy had come home the night before by herself. They were very relieved to hear that Badger was alive.
I told his owners, Carol and Graham, that if their dog ever had another litter of puppies we would be interested in adopting one. They said that Badger might be available to adopt, but someone else had expressed interest in him and they had to follow up on that first.
They were lovely people and obviously real animal lovers - they told us that they have 5 dogs (plus the puppies), cats, chickens and horses, all of which are let into the house occasionally, even the horses!
Well, Carol called the other interested party but lucky for us they had changed their minds about getting a dog, and now Oscar is ours. We went on calling him Oscar because we just liked it better and he responds to it anyway, maybe because it ends with the same 'er' sound. We are just so happy to have a dog again!
About the same time Oscar showed up, we got a couple of two-legged wwoofers as well. Lulu and Patrice are Western Canadians traveling around Europe for their 'gap year' before starting university next autumn. They are good workers, fun and easy to have around. They've been a big help digging up new garden beds and helping us set up our new polytunnel, despite the frosty weather almost every day. On the weekends we've been taking them to see some other parts of Clare. Last weekend we drove to the west coast of Clare along the high cliffs and sea stacks.
A winter picnic by the sea. Here we discovered one of the best sandwich combinations in the world: crunchy peanut butter, homemade jam, dried whole apricots, and Nutella.
We walked out to the natural stone arches known as the Bridges of Ross.
A sea stack at Loop Head, the tip of Clare. This is where the River Shannon meets the sea.
Bill, Lulu and Patrice worked hard setting up our new polytunnel. These guys spent days pounding in stakes for the frame and digging the big trench around the exterior to bury the edges of the plastic.
This is the day we put the plastic on, and Patrice (right) and Lulu (left) are filling the trench back in. The sun is setting and it's only 4:30 pm.
Yay! The first plants to go in the polytunnel - a winter sowing of salad greens.
The polytunnel team
Another very cold weekend we drove to North Clare and the Burren. Just outside Gort we stopped at the monastic ruins at Kilmacduagh, with ruins of churches from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, and a crooked round tower that the monks used to hide in from the marauding barbarians.
The tower leans by a difference of two feet off center.
Then we continued into the Burren where we climbed the snow-dusted rocks to the top of Mullagh Mor.
Even in winter the cows graze in the Burren.
Moonlight over Mullagh Mor.