Monthly Archives: August 2014

Downward Downward Dog

So as every sensible mother does on a Saturday morning after the first week back at school, I put on the TV for the children first thing. Secondly, I google yoga for crazy busy mothers. So I find this lovely American lady who,  blissfully unaware, is going to transform me from soft looking farmer’s wife to healthy, toned farmer’s wife all the while redefining your stereotypical idea of what a country dairy farmer’s wife looks like(of olde, of olde). This yoga lady, well she has her work cut out, it’s my third baby and I have survived on dairy products and crepes for the summer.

So, while the minors are watching a movie, I get the laughing Buddha out, the candle is lighting and the mat is rolled out. As I come into the first mountain pose, I think this is more like it, heart over sternum over pelvis (wherever it is now). But now I have a companion, Brosnan no.2 has decided to join me. Avalanche into the Cat/Cow with a little kitten joining me under the tummy while kitten number three is starting to make purring noises from the cradle. Hurry it up lady. Can you have a biscuit? Pause. Now Buddha’s laughing.

I knew it was coming. The cat/cow then turns into horsey horsey. I carry the toddler on my back and think this will definatly burn more calories. And inevitably, the cat becomes a dog and my dogged toddler tries to stick with it buckaroo style. Mind your back ladies she says. Buddha’s in hysterics. Oh look at the movie. Pause. Another biscuit, this time for me. Thank goodness, a standing position. Kitten is now wailing. And now for the lotus position and she asks me to ask for something and to be thankful. Would he ever come in from milking and thank inconsolable Buddha that’s over. Nameste yourself.

March on

Here’s the new standard; it’s a good day if the porridge pot is washed before lunch. Today our eldest is back to school and I don’t think Napoleon had as much organization on the morning he had to send his armies to war. So as I packed one lunch, fed one baby and placated one toddler, I took comfort in the fact that many parents were implementing similar plans of action to get their children back to school this morning.

Today, at the school gates, there were mommies on the way to work, a mother who had a two week old baby who really needed a cup of tea made for her, parents sending their first born to school, a mother who is mourning the loss of her own parent. All doing their best for their beautiful children. But they feel guilt. Guilt that they shouted too loudly last Sunday during the match. Guilt that they are going to work. Guilt that they can’t afford that pencil case for their boy because they are not working. And what’s worse, we’re judging each other. She’s working too much. She should be at work. Enough said.

Here’s the thing though. We’re all marching in the same direction. Forward. And we should, in the vein of the Napoleonic army, be marching with pride. We did it. Okay, your toddler broke a cup and you screamed. You were rushed and you flushed your iphone down the toilet but in the grand scheme of things, you know who you are; you’re doing your best. A pat on the back. I’m off for the third attempt at drinking my coffee this morning, watching Mr. Tumble with my toddler. The porridge pot is still in the sink. That’s it, march on.

Chocolate Icecream

I caught you. Just had to mention homemade chocolate icecream. Works every time. Although, this is not a foodie blog, the writer loves food and I should hope the reader does too. By the by, why do I write it? I write it because a). I’ve always loved writing and b). I love talking. And you keep listening. A one way conversation. That said, you’re always welcome to talk back (ah go on).

So our lovely Adelaide is making her way back to France next week and there will be tears. A lot. There may be tantrums, pleading and wailing in Cork airport. She will be missed, not only for her kindness and love but also for her crêpes. So to thank her for putting up with us for the eight heaven sent weeks in which she gently accompanied us through the first two months of Anthony’s life, we’re having a party, funnily enough a crêpe party. Honestly, she keeps putting the crêpe pan down but somehow it manages to hop back into her hand. Magic.

As it’s her leaving do, we, the Hearthill crew, are going to help out. All heart, literally. Our contribution; Hearthill chocolate icecream. The cows are grazing outside the window (see image attached) this morning and we are using their delicious milk and cream. Thank you girls. The mix is ready and about to go into the freezer and later in celebration of the lovely French girl who got the farmer’s wife back on her feet, it will melt onto authentic Briton crêpes alongside strawberries. Adelaide will forever have a place at our table and in our chocolate and crêpe loving hearts. Toujours.

Dear Neighbour

Of the roles I assumed on marrying onto the farm, my role as country neighbour is cherished. Being a city girl and therefore a stranger, I was held at length for a short while until trust was gained and so I etched my way into favour with the local community. It wasn’t easy; I was unknown. I had not only come from the city but from enemy territory, Cork. Notwithstanding the Cork flag that now flies on my threshold on Munster Final day (lest said this year the better), I am honored to count my neighbours as friends.

It was with great sadness, alas, a few weeks ago, that I joined my neighbours to mourn the passing of one of our community. The news of this passing treacled through our village in the usual way; a telephone call, the postman passing, chatting with a morning stroller; each neighbour remembering the impression their friend and neighbour had left on them.
And so, in sadness, we neighbours gathered on a warm Thursday evening to offer some solace. Standing outside the local funeral home, locals chatted in line waiting to offer prayer and condolence to a family in mourning.

Later, the rosary rising amongst the neighbours was not unlike a bee’s song on a summer’s evening; a chorus raised up in offering to the heavans whilst bringing comfort to a dear neighbour on his wife’s passing. Afterwards, in slow procession to the church, the bereaved was accompanied closely behind by a group of neighbours, as if in correspondance,  reassuring him that we were there to catch him and his family should they fall as we would be in the lonely days ahead. There is much I have learned from living in Kerry and being married to a lovely and (mostly) wise Kerryman but most treasured is the idea that after death, we must look after the living. It took me a while to understand it but in the slow march after our neighbour, I understood what comfort it must have brought to be surrounded by good intention and kindness. In death, look after the living.

Walnut Wine

Never have I felt more like Ma Larkin in the Darling Buds of May. It might well be the baby belly or the belly aching laugh that I had tonight but as I poured some 2010 Walnut Wine into the glasses of my mother-in-law and her eighty year old cousin, the priest, I thought, how did this day come to this?
Ignoring the hungry farmer holding the baby and the five year old with the cold, I walked out the door to go next door to my mother-in-law’s. Also in my wake were the purveyors of said wine speaking to their daughter via Skype in my sitting room. My dreams of being an international translator in tact, I carried knowledge of how to harvest such wine from our French friends and producers to my thirsty octogenarians. Whether it was the luxurious sherry like digestif (aperitif in Brittany) or the awe at a conversation carried via computer, I left my elderly companions just a little giddy. Back in my sitting room, I greeted my tickled French friends with a resounding thumbs on their vin du pays. While there are days that I long for a dull moment, as it turns out, they never come up.

Hear that…

Shhh, the season is telling you something. It’s sending you a North East wind to remind you to start thinking about ‘back to school’. The cooler evenings are telling the farmer to start cleaning out the stalls for the cows this winter. The darkening evenings whisper to him to fix that light bulb for visitors leaving this October. This fine summer’s day is inviting us to the beach to make the most of the fine weather that is left to us this August. The corn bursting with yellow is sending our neighbour to his shed to oil and check on the combine harvester.

Here, the season is changing and helping a mother with little sleep who is surrounded by young children. The new season is a gentle hand on her shoulder, asking her to be conscience of what needs to be done for the month’s ahead. On it’s arrival, Summer had her imagining contractions on a warm evening, on it’s departure, the same mother is tearful at the hotpress putting aside newborn babygrows. Listen, the season is telling you that this passes quickly, so enjoy it.

Sunday Beach-Combing

Ours was quite a beach-combing courtship. At the beginning, we lived a county apart, I was working in West Cork at the time and he, well he, as you know, was on a busy dairy farm in North Kerry. The following was a typical Sunday before I knew life on the farm.

Sunday mornings were luxurious. Living in Clonakilty in West Cork for a spell, I had my first taste of the countryside and I liked it. Sundays meant a little lie in and on waking, I’d open the curtains onto the lovely Clonakilty bay. There was a cycle to the village for some pastries and the purchase of ingredients for making my new beau some dinner followed by a Sunday morning walk on the beach.

It was during those Sunday morning strolls on Inchedoney beach that the most utopian outcomes were dreamt up; a wedding, a house, children (a mix of us both) who would be perfectly groomed and very well behaved. There were to be weekends away in Dublin and Paris, yearly holidays abroad, a dream job, sweet smelling cows. In my Sunday reverie (or morning after stupor), my wellies were cosmetic, for show as it were, not a trace, of what’s that they call it, cow slurry?

As a keen cook, I would spend the late morning cooking up a feast trying to impress my beloved only to learn that when I was expecting him a mere five minute drive away from the dinner table, he was often just leaving Hearthill (a two and a half hour drive away). So by the time the overcooked dinner was consumed and hardly digested, my farmer was back on the road in time (or not) for evening milking. On his leaving, the reality of life on the farm gradually began to dawn on me and so I dreamt differently. I dreamt that no matter how hard, it would be great to be side by side, not just stealing Sunday afternoons between milking.

Today, on this Sunday afternoon, while the Cork grandparents were doting on our very gorgeous baby, the farmer, myself and our two older boys ran wildly into the sea at our local beach, Kilmore Strand (a five minute drive from Hearthill). Along the water’s edge, we pulled our little boys along on our red boogie board, bought during the days when Dan was trying to persuade me that Kerry beaches trumped Cork ones and so I should move to be near him. Life is a bit rougher around the edges. Our boys are rowdier than I imagined but there was no way of imagining how beautiful they would be. No, the wellies are not clean, nor are the dishes. A holiday might be a few milk cheques away but my farmer is by my side and so are the boys who are just like him with a little bit of me.


Image: Kilmore Strand, Ballyduff, Co. Kerry.