Monthly Archives: June 2015

On Silage

You may read this, and I hope it happens, and feel a wave of nostalgia at the image of the pit. ‘Come down off that, you’ll tear the plastic!’ Personally, as a city girl, I feel robbed of the endless days running over tyres and sliding down plastic. As the country mother, I feel the sheer dread of the forty foot drop over the top of the pit. As the farmer’s wife, I breathe deeply with relief at the mountain of silage ahead of the cows for the winter.

It’s done. The silage is in. The week was spent busily feeding ‘silage’ men and keeping children inside the gate. As you can imagine,  the small boys just wanted to be on the road looking at the huge machinery bringing the grass into the pit. ‘Come in off the road!’ By Thursday, the men were on top of the huge mound rolling down the plastic to cover this year’s pit. Tyres were piled on top on a blustery June week to keep the plastic down and weights were placed around the border to ensure it stayed put. In it’s winter home, the grass sealed in plastic without air will become pickled in it’s own juices.

The tractors on the road are fewer, the slurry needs spreading on the bare root fields after mowing. The farmer is happy with the crop this year, knowing that he’ll peel back the plastic slowly this winter and with the loader of his tractor, chomp into the mound to feed his cows. Phew.

Banana Skin

To make my life more comfortable, he wanted to take the discarded banana skin from my sideplate. I had just fed the baby in the restaurant and it sat where my bread roll should be.

You know, farming is so busy. These days, we joke, we only meet in the back kitchen, over hurried conversations. ‘Did you pay that bill?’ ‘What time will you be cutting Ardoughtar?’, ‘You’re late again.’ ‘Will you ever be home to put the kids to bed.’ ‘So tired of this.’ ‘Will you change his nappy?’ Romantic it is not. Ordinary everyday life it is.

The Spring gets longer every year we sigh, tired.

It gets stale, you start to feel as if you have the same conversation, passing each other, always rushing in June, no time for the sit down and chat. The cows need milking, silage needs drawing in.

Then there’s a funeral. You sit down after the burial and you just stop rushing and chat with each other amongst others and you giggle. At the same things, nudge at the odd funny relative and he takes the banana skin from your sideplate and there we meet again. In the out of the ordinary ordinariness of it all. My gentleman always.

Hands Full

Taking the three sons, aged 6, 3 and 1 to town is an act of martyrdom, and I’m no saint. Sometimes, however it is unavoidable. When called upon to mount such a campaign as a trip to town, I make it into a bit of an adventure, a treat, a slow meander with a list of jobs to do at their pace.

Friday, we had to go to the cobblers, the bank, the fish shop with the trip to the cafe dangling on the end of the stick as a motivation to behave. And while it is not something I want to make of an everyday, a trip to town with these little boys is not altogether unpleasant.

You wouldn’t want to be tired, complaisant or in a hurry. You need your wits about you and a fail safe exit plan should the whole operation fall apart. You have to time it well. Long enough to get your work done, short enough for the little people not to become tired or bored. Not bored, certainly, not bored.

Like the puppeteer about her little puppets, you add a narration, most probably annoying to others but essential to keeping the show on the road or off the road as it were.

‘We’ll just go to the cobblers now. (In mind head, I’m wandering if that is somehow un-PC?)’

You explain the concept, enlist their help paying the shoe-maker (worse?), putting the shoes in the basket, waving goodbye.

They must continue to hold the buggy around the remaining shops and if they’re very good, we’ll pass the toy shop to look in the window. Six months to Christmas means nothing to these boys as they calculate the risks of getting such a toy against the good/naughty boy barometer.

Time on our side, they have the freedom to run around the big town square safely before making it to the cafe for our treat and coffee to keep mother quiet. The cafe is set up for mothers and their children and so I watch as they play with toys and other children before suiting up again for the walk back to the car-park.

All the time narrating, mind the lady, onto the footpath, we’ll cross the road here, you push the button, we’ll wait. Then, waiting, a lovely older lady appeared by my side and with the gentlest touch of my hand and kind eyes told me quietly that I had my ‘hands full.’ I hear it a lot, it’s the Irish way of saying, mothering here doesn’t go unnoticed. You have your hands full. I heard these words from the angel lady at the pedestrian crossing who had the look of someone who really understood and her words meant more.

I thanked her, may have shook my head at her knowing smile and crossed the road with my little boys.

To the car, they hold the buggy, by my side, while I get the ticket. ‘You press the button for the elevator. Do you remember where we left the car? I know you’re all getting tired, but we’ll be home soon, you were such great boys today.’


I sat in the same place almost a year ago to the day, celebrating my birthday at forty one weeks pregnant, unable to fit any clothes, unable to sit still in a restaurant or a cinema or able to enjoy the usual birthday treats. I sat there with the farmer on a scorching Sunday eating a bag of salty chips watching people come and go like the waves behind me, to-ing and fro-ing in their usual manner. Forty one weeks pregnant and utterly miserable. Have you tried walking the hills people asked in their are-you-sure-you’re-not-just-holding-the-baby-in way! Yes, I walked hills, why on that very hill, the hill to Ballybunion’s Ladies beach, I thought I was going into labour on more than one occasion that very week I’ll have you know. A year ago. Almost to the day. 

What a year it’s been. Everyone takes to motherhood differently you know. I’ve taken to it each time like the only undignified swan of the flock in shallow mucky waters. What an analogy. You see, I start out wanting to be graceful, gliding, swanlike but end up stuck and I’m sure in what is a very tiring situation, covered in mud and squawking as that swan would in the messy post storm pond. Where am I going with this? Beats me, I don’t particularly like swans.  And there you have early motherhood for me. Messy, confused, undignified. And the little signets do well enough but it’s taken me on three different occasions almost a year after the birth to pull the mind, body and soul back into some proportion. And yet, it always does in the end you know.
So, there we sat earlier today in the same spot, me and this darling boy as he smiled at me in all his perfection, my gentle, sweet baby. Sitting there on that same hill, under the same brilliant blue sky, a tad cloudier mind you and I saw that steep hill, the year that had past, tides that have come and gone and left me this beauty in their stead and me an utterly transformed woman, yet again. Anthony a year old, me a year older sharing a moment on our hill overlooking the Atlantic under a dramatic blue sky and might I add, gliding.

A Rainy Bank Holiday

The June Bank Holiday weekend is a trial for the summer holidays. At this stage, we’d be hoping for good weather but already in the style of a good-auld-Irish-can’t-complain-about-the-misery-sur-tis-green episode of non-stop rain, I contemplate a farmhouse in Kerry for the summer with three young boys. I can do it. I’ll make the best of this by God.

I awake at 7am after a lie-in. Normally, these boys wake earlier. I sneak downstairs, fuel up on coffee and get the breakfast ready. Some minutes later the house arises with ‘That’s mine’, ‘no, mine’ and ‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
Up the stairs I go and have the perfect parenting conversation, I think.
Right boys, says I, we can have a good day or a bad day. A good day includes, fun, kindness to one another, giggles, hugs, imagination and anything else my just awakened mind can dream up. A bad day, on the other hand, involves cross boys, a grumpy mommy, a boring day, tears, hoarse voices and have I mentioned a grumpy mommy?
We decide on the good day.
After eating breakfast, cleaning up and dressing, we decide to start as we mean the summer to go on and not switch on the television right away.
We did lego yesterday. We baked yesterday and I ate all the substandard dinosaurs. I am full to the brim with one-legged stegosaurus.
Puzzles it is. Yes, I can work with you and you. At the same time. Find the pieces around the edges first. You want your bottle? Ok, pet. Great work. Well done. I am helping you. And you. Drink up. Oh, you have a poo, let’s change that. I do help you. All the time. Let’s play tidy up the puzzles. Come on. You too. You have to. Because I said so. Great stuff.
Toy hospital? I’d love to. Girls can be doctors too you know. Yes, I’ll be nurse once you know I could be a Doctor too. You two be Doctors because you’re the boys, no, no, because you insist, no. no, because you make great, caring Doctors. Yes, your doctor outfit is here. Yes, I’ll make the beds. Yes that toy Dog can be a sick cat. Yes, and her too, she can be an elephant with a broken toe.
Oh now, you’re Dogs and I’m the vet and you’re hungry dogs, ok, Mommy Vet will get something nice for you to eat. Let’s sit down and have a nice snack together, oh you still want to be dogs, who are chasing each other, and me.
Followed by Superheros, Hide and Go Seek and crawling races.
It’s 9:15am.
A good day. Where’s the remote?