Monthly Archives: October 2014

Halloween Etiquette

At each house a new rule is added.

House number one; when someone gives you sweets, don’t fight over the bag.

House number two; you actually have to say trick or treat.

House number three; please don’t groan when someone mentions giving you a fruit.

House number four; don’t go into the house and make yourself at home.

House number five; never go to more than three houses on Halloween with three small boys.

Halleliyah, they’re in bed, in a sugar fuelled, salty kind of sleep. I’ll take it. I can’t actually be sure that they brushed their teeth. Don’t judge me. I am on Day Seven of the Mid Term Break and addled that Halloween came at the end of same Mid Term Breakdown. You name it, I’ve done it, I’ve danced with them at the Jazz Festival in Cork, had family to visit, played with them, had a hot chocolate picnic on the beach, watched movies on a loop and I am pooped. There is no adjective in the recesses that might sum it up better. Pooped.

I drag myself around the farmhouse to finish some chores in preparation for Day Eight of the never-ending midterm and decide to go out and visit the farmer in the parlour to tell him of our travels. And then I discover it. The fresh air, the clear sky, the starry night. In my earlier scurry around bewitching the neighbours, I hadn’t noticed the beautiful night. Maybe it’s the trick of the starry night but I forget that my children are clearly not ready to be out in public and tell the farmer all about our adventures. How our Philip’s eyes lit up when he revealed to his teacher that he really isn’t Frankenstein. Our wild Daniel chasing the neighbour’s terrier around her garden. Their delight at ‘spooking’ everyone. The joy that they bring. The photos that were taken of young Brosnans out scaring.  Maybe this starry night has gone straight to my head, more likely it’s the sugar, but in the end few rules apply. It’s a spooky but groovy kind of love.

Happy Halloween.



I started an overdue post yesterday as follows;

The tax man is licking his lips and wringing his wrinkly old hands. Whatsmore, this October storm is tapping a ‘remember me’ tune on the windows and though it was slow to reach us, there’s no denying that Winter is here. Yes, Winter offers us a respite from much of the hard work that comes with the farm. In the farmhouse, however, there is much to keep the farmer’s wife busy.

If you’re still with me, read on…

On thinking on survival, I remember my early country mentor, my Grandmother, Cait. She was the quintessential country woman. In the reverse of my situation, this fine country woman found herself living in the city. And throughout her life, she offered me glimpses of what being a countrywoman meant. She cared for herself just enough so that she could look after her children and her home. Loved those same children enough to make sure they grew up strong and fed them healthily to chase illness from their threshold.

Today’s much needed amendment;

I caught my Nana once drinking a scalding hot Lemsip down to the gulps of us, her awestruck city grandchildren.  She made sure there was a homemade creamy sponge cake in the fridge every Saturday night when she babysat us. And she loved Dallas. She knew more about hurling than any man I know. But she was deaf and rarely spoke. So how do I know? Despite a very difficult life, the sparkle in her beautiful eyes, said listen girl, ‘just face the music and dance’.

I’m lucky to look just like her, her height, cheek bones and stature (sometimes not so lucky) and so increasingly, I catch her looking at me in the mirror and she’s smiling. Let’s face it, farming in Ireland as a one income family with three small boys requires basic survival strategies. Most days, I’m chanelling my inner country woman just to get through the day. And then comes the point when you stop just surviving and you’re smiling and dancing with little boys (God help them) to Frank Sinatra in a kitchen and you’re living again. Winter is here and only the fittest will survive (!), so put on your dancing shoes, grab your inner Grandmother and dance.



That Cat

Google, ‘Should I tell the children the cat died?’ In the absence of recieved wisdom on well, everything agricultural, I resort as always to my virtual friend, google. The cat has died. What do I do?

Finn was found as a kitten in June in a hedgerow on a sunny afternoon. She was a welcome distraction for the children who were a little bit perplexed at the arrival of their new sibling and their newer, wonky, weepy version of mommy.

From early on, Finn appeared to be a cat on a kamikaze mission having lost eight of nine lives. One in the parlour under the cows during milking, one hanging from the calf house rafters and so on. To me she was ‘That Cat’ as in ‘put out that cat’ ‘drop that cat’ ‘stop eating that cat.’ You have to be a tough cat to survive the gauntlet that is Hearthill.

I thought That Cat had it in her. She might have eventually become Finn to me. And now I have to tell children about the death of That Cat. To that end, the farmer and I discuss who will do the telling. Terms like ‘ah he’s a bit sensitive’ and ‘he’ll take it badly’ are bandied around. As it turns out, these country children of ours are not that sensitive afterall. After just a moment of introspection, our eldest asks if ‘he can get another one’ followed swiftly by ‘Can I do the shovelling?’ What does a feline have to do around here?

And so, in order to appease their softie, townie mommy, there’s a couple of country children saying a Glory Be over our dead cat as he is lowered down into a hole in the haggard in a biscuit tin.