Farm Shop Closure

I find that the holiday time around Christmas gives everyone a bit of breathing space and there’s time to reflect, more than a little bit, on life. How’s it is going and where it is going. Some of you may remember that Michael and other family members were quite sick over Christmas and this brought everything that we do here on the farm into sharp relief. We deliberated quite a bit, the pro’s and con’s, the in’s and out’s, the ups and downs, and the decision was made to close the Farm Shop.  Waterfall Farm will run as before with our lambing courses, barn hire, farm tours and so on continuing as normal.

The Farm Shop ran very well and was, in essence, a successful business. We won awards; both Georgina Campbell and McKenna’s Guides deemed us good enough for their high standards and we were very honoured to have their plaques in our little Shop. We managed to get our mugs on telly. Twice! Which was an experience in itself and we are very grateful for that opportunity as well. We featured in different national newspapers, a few times, with lovely complimentary articles written about us by top journalists which was really nice.

The support we enjoyed from all sorts of people was humbling and we are hugely grateful for all of it. However the Farm Shop took a huge time commitment and this significantly reduced the amount of time we could devote to other areas of our lives including family, the farm work and other ventures. Essentially we were being stretched too thin and it was beginning to show, hard decisions had to made.

We had great fun running the Farm Shop, we met a lot of new people, we learnt a huge amount in a short space of time and made lots new friends. All of this we will miss, but we are extremely thankful for the opportunity to have had these experiences. Overall we feel it was a very valuable and worthwhile venture. We would like to sincerely thank you, our customers, for all your support. The regulars, both local and from further a field, were wonderful and always so valued. We also had wonderful suppliers and are very grateful to them for all their support. We really felt part of the local community and artisan food producer community and will miss that.

Our very best wishes and sincere thanks to everyone who helped in any small part along the way, it’s onwards and upwards to the next great adventure. No regrets, because you only live once!

Hannah and Michael

Scanning 2015

Once Christmas day is over all eyes on the farm turn towards our scanning day, which is usually early January. Michael would normally take his rams away from the ewes at least 35 days before they are scanned to ensure accurate scanning results. The ewes have to be in lamb around 80 days to read the pregnancy result correctly, so this year the flock were scanned in the first week of January. I find it is usually a time of nervous but good humoured tension among farmers; they want a good result and are nervous of the outcome. But really they have done all they can and can do little about the result, whatever it may be.IMG_1692

The shed is set up in a fairly organised manner which ensures smooth, quick, efficient running of the whole operation. Firstly the ewes are run in batches into a holding pen at the top of the shed and from there they are run through a crush into a scanning crate. Sean Cooney has scanned the Keegan’s sheep for as long as Michael can remember and usually the neighbours and some friends drop by to help, it is a sort of social occasion under the guise of work! The scan literally takes a couple of seconds by running the scanner head under the ewes belly and reading the screen; the ewe is marked according to the result and released into the shed. They then get sorted into their respective batches depending on their result; twin, single or triplet pregnancies. This ensures they receive the correct amount of nutrition according to their pregnancy status.

Triplets

Triplets

After the scanning is over all the helpers, Michael and Sean pack into our little kitchen to gobble up whatever gigantic meal I have prepared for them. Which happened to be a roast chicken stuffed with lemons, with roast veg and mashed potato on the side… But I digress. Michael was reasonably pleased with the results this year, there were very few triplet or single lamb pregnancies and the result was 1.89 which means the majority of the ewes scanned with twins.

We run lambing courses which small flock owners and interested persons part-take in. They are quite popular but this year the lambing will be quite a long drawn out process so I hope everyone will get to see at least one lambing. The ewes are due to start lambing around the 8th of March and could go on for more than six weeks. One ram ran with 160 ewes and stayed with them for a longer period than usual. This was done for a couple of reasons: one; to get as many progeny as possible from one particular ram as he has very good bloodlines and also carries the ‘twin gene’. And two; This is the last year we can use him on a big batch of ewes as he is getting on in years and won’t be able for the workload next year.

IMG_1680I think the twin gene ram knows he’s special, he looks around himself in a lofty manner and sort of puffs out his chest. I guess having that many girlfriends would make a lads head swell!! Around 20 of his ewes will have to be rescanned as he wasn’t taken away from them until about 30 days prior to the scanning. Sean will be doing that shortly, he thought a lot of them were in lamb but couldn’t be certain. I was particularly interested to see how this ram got on seeing as he had so many lady friends, but I guess 140 in-lamb out of 160 is not bad anyway. Every female lamb born to him will carry the twin gene, he’s a very good ram and Michael wants him to sire as many as possible. Michael also has 15 hogget’s who have the twin gene, by a different sire, who ran with another ram and their scan result was 2.06, 14 have twins and 1 has triplets. Of the 2014 ewes lambs 40 carry the twin gene and will join the main flock this year. After the 2015 lambing Michael hopes to keep as many female lambs as possible carrying the twin gene to go into the 2016 flock. It remains to be seen how well the whole ‘twin gene’ story will pan out, but with this year’s scan results Michael’s flock steps positively into the future.

Farm Safety

Farm safety is something that always plays on my mind, the thoughts of any farm accident puts me on edge. God love any family that it has happened to. While Michael does do his best to be safety concious at all times it is still a constant worry. Pat O’Keefe from the Irish Farmer’s Journal was very kind to send us this farm safety leaflet (below) which is well worth a read and certainly something worthy of promotion.

Credit: http://www.farmersjournal.ie/farming/News/53/

Closed For Renovations

Over the Christmas period when all the madness had settled down and we had a minute to think Michael and I decided it would be best not to reopen the Farm Shop after the holidays. As our regular customers are aware we are doing renovations and this is proving difficult to get done in a timely manner with our commitments to the Farm Shop, the farm and other varied areas of our lives. We felt it would be better to close the shop and crack on with things rather than dragging the renovations on and on. We would like to thank all our customers for their fantastic support and sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Making Purchases

There is stock available and you can make purchases by arrangement for products like Kilbeggan porridge, jams, juices, cordial etc. Just contact Hannah on 0872649537 or email hannah@waterfallfarm.ie

Ordering Lamb

You can order lamb for the freezer by emailing hannah@waterfallfarm.ie and completing and returning the order form.

Lambing Courses

Our lambing courses this spring are filling up fast. If you would like more information please see our ‘Good to Know‘ page and don’t delay in reserving your place.

Christmas Market Fun 2014

Woohoo, yippee! It’s that time of year again, my favourite time, Christmas time!! This year our Christmas Market is set to be bigger and better than ever! I am very excited! We have such a super market planned, fabulous crafts stalls, delicious foodie stalls, yummy hot food, magical Santa Claus…. Let me outline it for you!

Santa Claus

We are expecting the main man Mr. Claus himself to be flying in and ready to chat to all the children from 11am to 2pm. Before he arrives there will be storytelling from one of his elves and more storytelling after he leaves.

Sheep Herding & Duck Herding

The wonderful Dublin shepherd Donie Anderson is back again this year and not only will his talented dogs be herding sheep but they will also be herding ducks. Yes, you read right, ducks! What talented collies they are. Demonstrations will be given throughout the day.

The perfect gift?

We have the most fantastic food and craft stalls in attendance such as ingenious metalwork gifts made from horseshoes, hand-made pottery and hand-turned wooden bowls. You can pick up Christmas decorations, delicious home made cakes, skin care gifts, Wicklow honey, handmade jewellery, Irish owned Olive oil, artisan chutneys and relishes. There are educational toys for the kids as well as lovely children’s clothing and beautiful textiles!

For the  kids?

Apart from meeting Santa Claus, watching the sheep & duck herding demonstrations and listening to storytelling children can also visit the farm animals, get their faces painted and enjoy hours of pleasure in the Children’s Art Corner!

There will also be hot food available and tea and coffee.

What to wear?

The Christmas Market is indoors in our cosy Market Barn and our Combine Shed and even in last year’s atrocious weather we had a lovely day but we do advise to dress for the weather and bring the wellies!

What time?

The Christmas Market runs from 10am to 4pm. Entry and Parking are free. Visit Santa Claus from 11am to 2pm.

 

Christmas Market 2014

Harvest Party Fun

IMG_1080[1]The Harvest Party this year was fantastic fun and there was a huge attendance. We were very busy in the lead up to the big day, a lot of advertising was done, helpers were enlisted and organised, the lamb sausage recipe was perfected, several times!

We had great fun decorating the Market Barn, Eleanor helped me making lovely harvest decorations from purple corn which we hung everywhere.

 

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We had a corpse, well he was a dead looking manikin, who greeted everyone at the door. He looked more alive when he was touched up by a mystery face-painter.

 

 

 

 

I, personally, was very pleased and surprised at how well the pony painting went and how much the kids enjoyed meeting the pony! 

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She went from snow white to rainbow spider pony in a few hours, and looked bit a perplexed about the whole situation.

 

 

 

All the children seemed to have great fun in the arts corner and the pumpkin carving did get a little bit competitive! The fancy dress costumes were only brilliant, from both kids and adults and lots of prizes were handed out for that and various different things like art work and winning games. Unfortunately the weather was slightly against us so the welly boot throwing competition was cancelled, but then it turned out to be a lovely day.

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The traditional Halloween games that I would have grown up with went down a storm although I’m not too sure if anybody was successful, without cheating that is!!

 

We received great compliments for our lamb sausages and the barbequed sweetcorn was really delicious and a nice way to round off the harvest season.

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Probably the hit of the afternoon was the seven Jack Russell puppies that arrived to play with the kids and look for the forever homes! Nobody could resist their sweet faces!!

A very sincere thanks to everyone that helped and to everyone that turned up to enjoy the day. I hope we have just as much fun next year, next stop is the Christmas Market on Saturday 13th of December, see you there!!

Harvest Party 2014

Come to the

Waterfall Farm Shop

Harvest Party!

On Saturday 18th Oct 11am – 3.30pm

Fancy dress is strongly encouraged for all ages!!!

Nearly all the games are indoors in the cosy atmosphere of our Market Barn where there is seating for you to relax and enjoy your harvest food. There is lots of FREE parking and entry is FREE too. It is €2 per child 3 years old and over to take part in all the activities including: the games, arts corner, pumpkin carving, welly boot throwing and pony painting.

Schedule:

  • Ø Loads of fun Halloween games – all day
  • Ø Fancy Dress – all day (spot prizes)
  • Ø Pony Painting – 11.30am and 1.30pm, requires parental permission.
  • Ø Face Painting – all day
  • Ø Harvest Food – all day
  • Ø Spooky Farm Fun – all day
  • Ø Pumpkin Carving – from 11am, pumpkin stocks are limited. Requires parental supervision.

So come on! Help us celebrate the end of the harvest!!!

Saturday 18th Oct 11am to 3.30pm

FREE ENTRY AND PARKING

Please note; we will do our best to follow the schedule, weather and other events outside of our control may alter conditions and planned events on the day. Don’t forgot your wellies!

 

The Final Destination!

The last of the ‘Thank You’ letters have been posted, the tractor is home and what a journey it has been, ending of course with celebrating the 50 year anniversary of Charlie’s World Championship Ploughing win at the National Ploughing Championships. Getting there, I can tell you was no small feat! With all the excitement and razzmatazz of the ‘Ploughing’, all the stalls,all the people, all the animals, it was only about one thing for us. A very special little green tractor.

Right from the start, even before a spanner was lifted, all eyes were focused on the completion date of September 20th. Would the tractor be ready on time? Being a complete optimist I bobbed along the river of blind faith that everything would work out right.  ‘If God be on our side, who be against us’… Or words to that affect. Our nerves were at all of us and we kept expecting small little issues to become major disasters. In fact the tractor was restored by early September and we were able to display it at two local events. IMG_0948

Philip Bromwell from RTE came to visit the tractor when it finally returned home and complete the story he started telling so many months before. The final piece on the RTE One o’clock and Six One News showing the transformation from the total rust bucket to gleaming factory floor new was something else. I think Charlie would have been proud, particularly because of the special relationship he had with Michael.

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The last job to do was to fit the all important stickers for total authenticity. There was a special sticker made for all Deutz tractors sold in Ireland for a period of time after Charlie won the World Ploughing in recognition of his victory using a Deutz tractor. Michael spent a great deal of time putting on all the stickers in the correct position and they really completed the picture. Once was everything was in place and the final polish was done the tractor was ready to display.

 

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First port of call was the annual Powerscourt Plough Match, held this year in Charlie’s memory, where it received lots of attention and even featured in the local paper, The Bray People, later in the week. The very next day the tractor was in pride of place on a raised platform at the Enniskerry Victorian Field Day. Having the opportunity to display the tractor at these two local events was wonderful and I had not fully realised how significant the whole restoration project was to many local people. Fond memories were recalled and I did spot a few glistening eyes on tough farming men.

 

The next stop was the National ploughing nine days later. There was a super article in the Irish Times newspaper about the Ploughing and Charlie’s tractor with some lovely old and new photographs of the tractor too.

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Michael left early Monday morning to display the tractor at the epi-centre of Irish ploughing, outside the NPA tent at the National Ploughing! From the moment it was in place the tractor was the centre of attention with all sorts of people stopping by to view it and recount their memories of Charlie, his big win and farming 50 years ago.

 

There was a lovely display of old photographs taken at the time and also a long ‘Thank You’ list. The tractor featured on the RTE Six One News on Tuesday and Michael met all sorts of people throughout the three days including a brief and unexpected photo op with Minister Simon Coveney.

Joe Jones, Tony Killarney, Peter Jones, Michael Keegan

Joe Jones, Tony Killarney, Peter Jones, Michael Keegan

 

 

All in all it has been quite a rollercoaster of an experience with plenty of ups and downs. Now that the dust has settled and the thank you letter are done it is full steam ahead for our Harvest Party Harvest Party on Saturday October the 18th.

 

I have really enjoyed sharing our Tractor Story and hope you have enjoyed reading about it too!Charlie's Tractor at the Ploughing 2014

The Tractor Comes Home

There was great excitement here at 1.30am on Wednesday morning when Charlie Keegan’s fully restored 1964 World Championship winning Deutz D40L tractor finally arrived back home! Michael was like a child in a sweet shop, an exhausted one though!

Charlie's fully restored D40L tractor

Charlie’s fully restored D40L tractor

The last big piece of work that was done to the tractor was to transport it to Co. Loais to get a fantastic stainless steel exhaust fitted. This was expertly done by Pipe Fab in Clonaslee and the final result is excellent. Although the purists would not be happy, the fancy exhaust adds a bit of fun to the tractor and Michael felt Charlie would like it.

Charlie's D40L

Charlie’s D40L

 

Then it was transported home to the farm and by golly, it’s magnificent. The complete transformation from total rust bucket to shining glory is truly something to behold! It has been 9 months since the old rusty tractor arrived back in the yard and physical restoration only got under way in March.

 

These past three weeks have been the most fraught and the work rate has been immense by everyone involved. I suppose everyone was on tenterhooks just hoping for everything to work out right and the tractor to be ready on time with no last minute disasters. I still have my fingers crossed. Just in case. There was an unexplained oil leak and talk of having to take the WHOLE engine apart to find it. Could you imagine?? It would never be ready on time, a total disaster and after all that work! Thankfully it righted itself after the tractor was taken out for a ‘good, hard drive’. I never saw Michael from dawn to dusk, both of us were flat out working and trying fit normal life in around all the extra bits going on. He was either in the workshop working on the plough or over with Peter in north Co. Dublin delivering parts or helping sort out problems. And I was in the kitchen cooking up a storm in preparation for the Shop taking a stall at the Enniskerry Victorian Festival 2014 taking place this weekend.

 

The Steel Exhaust

The Steel Exhaust

They got an ‘after market’ exhaust – that’s a technical term folks, essentially meaning a ‘pre-loved’ exhaust – which didn’t fit and was blowing out heaps of smoke and damaging the paint work. So then the idea of getting a cool chrome exhaust came to mind, but it ended up being a cool mirror polished stainless steel one instead. Still pretty cool I reckon!

 

The Plough

The wonderful EcoBlast Ireland in Kilcoole sandblasted the larger parts of plough and on its return to the farm all the different bits were primed, which took a few days as there are so many parts. Then everything had to be painted once the primer was dry. IMG_0860 The different pieces of the plough were painted either red or green depending on where they belonged to. IMG_0878The next job was to assemble them, this was like fitting together a jigsaw. Our neighbour Sean Hogan helped out here and it was a tough task getting all the pieces to fit and bolts them all in. A bit of muscle was needed!! There was constant references to old photographs and leaflets to make sure all the little details, like bolts facing the correct way, were accurate. But it really looks great now and the red of the plough contrasts lovely with the shiny green of the tractor.

 

Now it’s just the touching up the paint and setting it (putting the disks and boards at the correct angles) and then greasing the plough and its ready to rock.

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The tractor and plough will be exhibited at the Enniskerry Victorian Festival this weekend of the 13th and 14th of September, something which lots of Charlie’s friends and neighbours are looking forward to. It will also be exhibited at the National Ploughing Championships on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of September at the NPA stand to mark the occasion of the 50th Anniversary. Can I please extend our most heartfelt thanks and gratitude to everyone involved in any small or large way, this has been an emotional roller coaster and means so much to Michael and the Keegan family.

Enniskerry Victorian Festival 2014

The Enniskerry Victorian Field Day is a really fab day out for all the family. Being held again this year on the Heatley family’s Knocklinn Farm at the Bray end of Ballyman road, on Sunday the 14th of September. Doors to the public open at 11am but we’ll be there setting up our stall from 8am.

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If you are coming please drop by, we’ll have a small selection from the Shop including juices, delicious sweetcorn and cooking our own pedigree Lleyn lamb sausages, yum yum! Loads of events are happening throughout the day such as pony rides, dog shows, storytelling, puppetry, kids games and a whole variety of competitions. The dress code is Victorian and almost everyone gets involved in the fun and has a stab at getting dressed up. There are even prizes for the best costumes! Unfortunately Old Connaught road is closed so all traffic will have to come down Ballyman road from Enniskerry. We hope you’ll come along and support this fun annual event. It is all organised by volunteers and in aid of charity, this year’s charities are the Lakers and the joint local parishes.