Date: March 23rd 2010

Nearly every day reflections about things to say in this newsletter occur to me.  But I find myself busy and so procrastinate another day.  As the days grow longer important changes take place in home and garden - the heating bill goes down, the time children spend outside goes up.  A few days ago we passed the Spring equinox in the northern hemisphere so that was the signal to stop procrastinating and write the journal.

It has been an unusual year so far.  There was the amazing white New Year which kept us out of school for an extra week - hooray!  It was fun to see the land painted white, to slide down the hill on our backs or plastic bags and trays, to throw snow balls. And then there were the other new experiences that were a little less benign.  The skidding on the road and hoping no one is coming the other way.  The frozen or burst pipes.

That was a good training period for me - it seemed as though I was plumbing for three weeks solid.  First there was the frozen pipes, so we had no water.  That lasted two weeks.  We are very lucky to have a stream a hundred metres from the back door so we were able to get a few buckets of water a day for flushing, dish washing, cat-washing and cooking.  It was a good time to clean the pressure switch and re-plumb the main feeder tap at the pump; many thanks to Ivan Stanley who helped me reprime the pump and become the most popular person in the family for the weekend that the water came back on!  And then half way through the no-water drama, a pipe on the "skirting-radiator" in the living room exploded, soaking the floor and furniture.  Luckily we had wood to feed the stove for the next week or so as I fixed the piping.  It was a useful training programme in plumbing and a good chance to clean out pipes which harboured 30 years of sludge.  But by the time I'd finished that project I just wanted to put the plumbing tools away and did not want to continue cleaning the rest of the system - maybe this summer ... ha ha.  And then the next week I was back up at the cottage where another pipe had burst flooding the downstairs.  Luckily Michael noticed the flood and we stopped it after a couple of days.  It took me anther couple of days to re-plumb the system and we still have some cleaning and painting to do, but at least the drama is over.

The garden was severely punished by winter.  A number of unusual trees suffered severe frost damage and might not recover.  We're still waiting to see if the Strawberry tree will rejuvenate - it would be sad if it doesn't leaving a huge space in the border.  Our store room did not withstand the frost and see potatoes were mostly ruined.  On the positive side, the start to the season has been delayed so we are almost on top of chores.  Seeding of tomatoes, broad beans and allium is well underway.  Even Richard and Jaspar are getting in to the game having staked out their own plots, diligently dug them and started planting.  The fruit cage was crushed by snow and I've just mended that - I was hoping to rebuild but find myself short of time so have to put off a rebuild till next year.  The outdoor chicken koop was blown down and I'm reconstructing that - a messy job with dead wood and wire all over the place at the moment, but I think when I get it done it will be a better home for the birds.

The birds!  They've douubled in number as the chicks have grown to young adults.  Nealry half are roosters so with Spring time hormones they are all over each other.  It has a strange similarity to men outside the pub.  A couple of young roosters have even tried it on the ducks - boys!  Egg production is good though.  A great treat has been the goose eggs that have been coming out - they are huge and rich, mostly yolk and tasty, a meal in themself and great for baking.  One weighs about the same as three or four chicken eggs (~150g!). 

After a slow start in december, logging has been going well.  The cold weather was a great motivator.  For a couple of weeks the wood buring stove was our only source of heat as the plumbing collapsed from frost.  The blossoming of spring was also severly delayed.  We usually see camelia out in January, but this year they've only just started blooming.  And everyone has noticed the absence of daffodils from St Patrick's Day.  The're finally beginning to blossom but it seems a month late.  Farmers in particular are feeling the long winter because grass has only started to grow in the past couple of weeks so they have had to provide much more winter feed for livestock.  The shortages are not a harbinger, but certainly an illustration, of the difficulties of not having enough food and the magnitude that an ecological crisis would cause in comparison to an economic crisis.

The opening of the fishing season passed without event.  There will be little fishing on the river again this year.  Good for the riparian habitat, sad for anglers and unfortunately still a long way to go until the river is rejuvenated.  One benefit of the recession has been a slow down in the rate at which we flush toxins in to the water system.  Unfortunately modern lfestyles are so far removed from nature that it is a change in systems - in farming and in personal consumption - that is needed to save nature.  Check out the documentary film Food for a stimulating and realistc look at the modern food chain - it'ss help you understand why a can of coke is cheaper than a head of lettuce!  (Shall we have a screening?  Let me know if you're interested.)

Pam was invited to give a special day's training to teachers in training at a yoga centre in Wicklow.  It was very well received and it is great to see the word spreading about what an ecellent teacher she is.  :-) no, I'm not biaised ...  Pam's yoga classes are on schedule.  We're coming to the  end of the spring term and will break for easter and then resume for another term of seven weeks from 13 April to 25 May.  Contact Pam 086 0891141 to get more info.

Our children have been enjoying the spring too.  Tym has been on a drama camp, which gave a break from forced studying for her junior certs, helping our neighbour with his beatiful horses - her real passion, as well as studying hard for mock exams.   Antonia performed in the Ballet Barn spring show and also got a bit-part in a performance by an international ballet company.  The boys have been enjoying football more and more and the hurling season has started.

Outside BT I've been busy particularly with business turnarounds.  That's what I love though it can be frustrating in a bankrupt economy.  On the other hand it is very rewarding to see positive change and helping people resurrect their businesses.  The boom got in the way of good business practices and sound decision making - so those skills were redundant, whereas today they are simply in short supply.

For those interested in computers or using them for work, I upgraded to Opensuse 11.2 and changed desktop from KDE3.5 to 4.3.  I like the new imporvements and you can see my spiel (including a video download of the spinning desktop) on-line here.

This year will be the 15th anniversary of the starting of PestalozziWorld - a great milestone for an enterprise that really does make a difference to hundreds of people.  The big event this year was the opening of the Pestalozzi Education Centre in Lusaka, Zambia.  PEC is a secondary school providing a rounded, affordable education to local fee-paying children and providing scholarships for PestalozziWorld scholars.  It is an inspired project which we hope will become a model for secondary schools in Zambia and even elsewhere.  Here in Ireland we don't have any big plans yet, though we will be helping to raise money to educate poor children.  Pam has already signed up for the Flora mini-marathon to sponsor PW.  If a little motivation helps to get fit, think about joining her for a fun day out or spend a day out with a daughter/mother/sister/friend. It's a wonderful route around Dublin that starts in Fitzwilliam Square and finishes in St. Stephen's Green.  If you can't make it on the day, please consider sponsoring a runner anyhow - any amount is welcome! Donate on-line here or send a cheque to PestalozziWorld, Ballin Temple, Ardattin, Co. Carlow. Cheques payable to “PestalozziWorld,” thank you.  Registration deadline for the Flora mini-marathon deadline is April 27th, and you must be registered to participate. It's easy to do on www.womensminimarathon.ie, but if you would like us to register for you, email events @ pestalozziworld.com or call 059 9155037. Your registration pack includes goodies from the mini-marathon's sponsors as well as your all-important race number.evolution

And finally, for a bit of a laugh, and an education, check out the Uncyclopaedia here.

Enjoy Spring, the blossoming of Ireland and all the good fortunes that we have ...

Tom

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