#GrazingItalyUK. Farming for different reasons. Two young men.

Nov. 13

It was a wonderful day and a half at Nicharee organic farm, just off the eastern coast of Ireland. Clouds rushed overhead and the wind whipped at ground level. The constant buffeting took me back to my childhood summers on the beaches of Staten Island.
Bill Considine was a wonderful host. He made sure I walked his meadows, heard about his organic philosophy, and experience a bit of the song and heart of his homeland.
Because November gusts are cold and it often rains several times a day, we bundled up against the chill and pulled on high rubber boots to visit with cattle and drive out over wet fields. After a couple of hours outdoors, we’d come in to warm our hands around hot cups of tea.
Thanks, again, Bill.
An unexpected treat was meeting a couple of Woofers now interning on the farm. (Woofers are men and women, usually young, who travel the world to work and learn on established organic farms.) Bill invites several Woofers to the farm every year.

Left: Antoine with his husky/German Shepherd mix Nao, and Edoardo with Bill's dog SoLow

Left: Antoine with his husky/German Shepherd mix Nao, and Edoardo with Bill’s dog SoLow

Edoardo Giorgi is a young architect from Italy, and Antoine Marellaard, from Brittany, has herded and milked sheep in the rugged Pyrenees. Although I speak neither French nor Italian, we were able to push through and exchange a few ideas. I heard that each is struggling to build practical skills, including conversational English.
In fact, acquiring fluency is the reason Edoardo is in Wexford. Although he studied English in school, he’s realized total immersion is the most efficient strategy.
Antoine originally intended to spend just a short time in the area, but Bill convinced him to stay longer. I sensed that Antoine is also searching for something, but I’m not sure of what that might be.
During my short visit, the young men worked to build a cement column to support ancient wooden beams holding up the slate roof of an old stone shed. They mixed cement during a brief break in the clouds and got a good part of the task done.
I wish we had had more time to talk. What more will they do on the farm? Where will they take what they’ve learned? Would they like to visit my Wisconsin farm?
I sure would like our paths would cross again.
Sylvia

#GrazingItalyUK – Dublin, and then Wexford

Day 2 in Ireland – a second day of great travel, friendly people, very poor Internet, and non-existant international phone service (although it had been arranged much in advance)
I lost an hour’s worth of writing earlier today. Let’s try this again.

Dublin
My daughter Maggie and I were wheels down in Ireland 8:30AM Nov. 11 and were treated to a ride to our hotel by two bright musicians, entrepreneurs in the local scene. The ride was unusually long (lots of haulted and rerouted traffic) but conversation was lively, so, no complaints.
We made it to the Grafton Hotel, situated in the heart of a busy downtown shopping district. We spent about an hour checking out small shops and a vertical shopping maul a stone’s throw from the hotel. Any American would be comfortable here.
The narrow, winding streets were crowded. The pace was fast and the look very sharp indeed. Dublin is a big city, make no mistake about it. Black is the color, and tight is the mode. Skinny pants, black hose and leggings paired with leather boots – ankle or knee high – or 3″ heels. Long scarves around necks of both men and women, and light-weight jackets the standard issue.
The population, at least in the city center, is surprisingly young, mid-20s to early-40s.
Our initial needs met, we both crashed for a couple of hours.
After a refreshing shower, we dressed for the evening out. It was a 10-minute walk on rough brick and cobblestones, and across a quaint foot bridge to the Winding Stair restaurant. Mag (who performs as Dessa with the rap crew Doomtree) used smartphone navigation to get us there. Much needed given the twists and turns on streets and alleys that change name every other block.The street fairly throbbed with the energy on the street. Lots of people out on a weekday evening. Felt a bit like NYC, although I felt a bit of New Orleans in the mix – a definite upbeat vibe.
True to it’s name, the Winding Stair features a circuitous staircase from the first to second landing. The spot was suggested by Bill and Sharon Gunter, the conveners of Slow Food Dublin. It proved a good choice – local foods put to their best advantage in creative dishes. I washed mine down with a local hard cider. Yum.
I’ll review lots more of the Slow Food Dublin in an upcoming Deep Roots Radio show. Throughout this trip, I’m hoping to gain some understanding of how different countries feel and demonstrate the good-food-good-agriculture connections.

On to Wexford
This morning, I got to the Dublin Connolly rail station with 30 minutes to spare. Lots of time to grab a yogurt and watch the crowd surging through the turnstyles. Connolly Station is an intersection for commuter trains, rail travelers, bikes and buses.
DublinWexfordI love UK rail service: comfortable sitting, picture window views, smooth and quiet travel, and Internet service. (I’m having an awful time with both Internet and International cellular service so far, so I think I’ll bite my tongue on this for the moment.)
The rails from Dublin to Wexford hug Ireland’s eastern shore and so I was treated to spectacular views of waves crashing just yards from the road bed. And when I looked to the west it was to farm fields gradually sloping up to hills dark against a grey sky.
It’s a wet landscape of puddles, creeks, shallow wetlands (I could almost see the trout), and ponds. Wooded hedgrows marked field boundaries, and houses nested into hillsides.
A good trip.
Now, I’m sitting in a small coffee house in windy, raining Wexford. The forecast is more wet with lots of wind. Raincoats are ubiquitous. I picked one a slicker in Dublin.
I expect a call any second. It’ll be from William Considine, organic farmer/owner of the Nicharee farm in Duncormick, about 20 miles from Wexford.
It’s at this farm that my farming research begins. How are organic/sustainable farms in Ireland the same or different from those I’ve come to know in the U.S.? How are they the same?The adventure continues.
Sylvia