Goodby UK, hello France

On the train to Dublin, having just wrapped up my stay at Tullywood farm. I would that I could stay longer but I am getting pulled to France as if by instinct.

Well, more that I want to maximize my time there before I head to Thailand at the end of October.

Tullywood was a good experience overall. Joe is a hard working brick of a man who has built the farm almost singlehandedly from the ground up, at the same time running a business and raising a family.

There is a ton of work to be done on any farm at any time and Tullywood is no exception. I had to ask Joe, when describing a project: “Is this in the next 5 days or the next 5 years?”, because he’s got lots he wants to do.

The work we did was productive I think.

First we poured a concrete slab that will run along the farm house. Many of the projects are in anticipation of  hosting parties and other gaggles of children and also corraling the various animals on the farm, so gates and railings are of prime importance.

Then we started the outdoor bathroom/shower complex (‘brick shithouse’ would be apt here). That entailed moving a deceptively big pile of  firewood. “Deceptively” meaning it didn’t look very big but we were both amazed at how long it took and how big the resultant stack of wood was.

Then level a foundation and ran a couple courses of cinder brick. Then fill the hole with all kinds of trash (“fill”) as to reduce the amount of concrete we had to mix and shovel.

Next build in the piping and drainage for said toilets and shower.

Then concrete in the slab, ensuring proper slope to making draining and cleaning easy.

And that’s where it stands before we had to let it dry, then got sucked into other projects and then had 3 days of rain.

We also poured the first of three slabs in for the deck on the house.

They were quite pleased to get this stuff done as they had been talked about for years and were finally coming to fruition!

Other projects: Restoring a rusty old weathervane.

Disposing of a couple of dead goats.

Painting the doors of the farm shop. (Lesson 2: Always take before pics!!) A couple of the doors has old varnish on them and the front door was bright red. They also inheirited a couple of nice benches that needed a quick fix and some paint. I spent a few days priming and painting said items, and they were happy to take my recommendation of black trim, which looks great, might I say!

You can’t run a farm without a bit of shit and I shoveled out an old stable that can only be described as Herculean. This was an old stone stable building that has been around for probably 150 years or more. It was used as a trash depot+ pig sty at some point in the past and I shoveled out a thick layer of dried crap. And if there is joy in such work, it stems from the fact that when dried for a period of years, it comes off in nice big slabs, and it doesn’t weigh much. Thank the lord I didn’t go with my first plan of wetting it down first.

Then, being a fan of power spraying, I cleaned the walls and floors with a kick-ass power sprayer, creating a toxic sauna of pig shit and mist. Of course, I had a gas mask, gloves and goggles on for sure, but it was a relief to get out of the shower than evening. Such is life on the farm, and it’s all for Tara’s soon-to-arrive hackney pony, regaly named Noddyvice Gladiator. (For sure that is spelled incorrectly.)

And to bring it all together, I got to make the new farm sign. A fun task, it brought together math, woodworking, painting, Adobe Illustrator and carbon paper! It came out quite nicely I think and we managed to get a few sunny hours to install it. My only hope it that it passed the Signs by Goff muster…

I got to restore a couple smaller pieces, did some strimming and other menial tasks. Baked some bread, lasagna and cookies. Introduced little Tara to backgammon and chinese checkers. I was also happy to pass on my iPod Touch to her, as it was here prime want and it was only making my bag heavier. She is very happy to have it (as is her father!) and has loaded it up with anmial games and sounds. I wish her well in her new boarding school life.

Some nerdy things as well: got the wireless working smoothly, including getting the wireless printer to work correctly. Adobe will be happy to know that I started weaning Julie off FrontPage and into DW.

All in all, a good experience on the farm. My hosts were kind and gracious and the bacon withdrawls have already started. I was well fed and housed but pleased that my new pants that were too tight when I left are now quite loose! They took me on a couple nice drives around the area, seeing the lakes and old abbeys and castles. It is quite green as we all know, and near Sligo, some lovely glacial valleys and escarpments. I got to meet some good characters and to see some other ways of living.

Again I was reminded that I seem to be a good fit for this helpx lifestyle. I got a raft of horror stories about others they have had in the past and they were pleased to have compentcy on the farm. So much so, that after figuring out the foci for the ellipse for the sign, and drawing it out nicely with the classic loop and pencil trick, Joe had to restrain himself from taking the jig saw out of my hand, not being used to his helpers being tool savvy. I took it as a compliment.

I will be in Paris this afternoon where I loook forward to visiting my chocolate guy again (some of you will sigh as you recall the Parisian mints…). After a weekend in that fair city, I am off to Normandy, to an estate between Caen and Le Mans, where I willl spend the next month or so, building an aviary and other things. I look forward to the change in scenery, language, food and lifestyle. It doesn’t really feel like traveling when everyone speaks English.

So goodbye to the Celtic states and onto France! (more pics on Flickr)


  1. Wonderful, oh, wonderful! I am living vicariously through your stories…how are you finding these assignments? They are taking you thither and yon and I LOVE reading about it!! The photos and the work and the people are an inspiration–I am so happy to follow you about the Earth, into the various hamlets and slabs. Many good wishes and I cannot wait for the next update! I have a question for the tech geek in you: I am considering getting rid of cable, phone, and internet…what would you recommend wireless phone-wise? I just need to make/receive the odd call and check my bank site occasionally. Please let me know, your camera recommendation was right on…I trust your knowledge. Till your next update! I remain one of your most faithful fans. Sante mon ami! clg P.S. your sign passes the signs by goff mustard…uh, muster. <3

  2. Don, this is great. I am completely enchanted reading about your trip in real time. I love your approach and attitude to travel and to the people you encounter, and I am impressed by all the hard work you’re doing…not to mention your amazing competency at so many things. :) Can’t say I’m surprised, though, after knowing a little of you at Adobe. Hope you’re having a great weekend in Paris. — Gretchen