The shed is empty in July. The cattle are dotted in fields around the house. The cows are in the High Field. The heifers in Sallies for a while. The calves to the West of the Sheds.
Each field has it’s history. A name recalling a particular story in the life of the land. Ardoughtar is the King of all fields, reseeded in the past five years it is the driest and most abundant. It was the site of the original farmhouse, on the ‘mountain’ and enjoys majestic status. Cattle rarely graze there and their visitation to Ardoughtar indicate a bad year. Not enough grass, ‘we’ll have to drive them to Ardoughtar.’ It normally serves along with Sallies as fields for silage grass.
Then, there’s Sallies. It was named, from what I can gather, after a lady who used to live there named Sally, funnily enough. In my imagination, I see her as an old woman with a stool out the back garden taking in the most beautiful view on the farm. She might have just been going about her business, but this is my story afterall. Sallies field is the one we walk to most days. It is approximately a quarter of a mile from our gate and I have watched my boys go from buggy to to walking to running on that road and it will always be precious to me.
Next over is the Mash, or marsh to you and me. It’s a good lump of land but wet enough, marshy. Prone to reeds, it has a river (a very small stream but there’s no telling them) running along it’s border. It is most definitely the next for reseeding, she sighs.
There’s the High Field which borders the milking parlour. The field West of Houlihans, our neighbour, the field West of the Sheds (there seems to be only one direction here) and the Pump Field (they definitely ran out of steam in the naming department).
A field I hold dear is the field behind our house, funnily unnamed. When cows graze there, I meet them as I hang out my washing to the calming sound of their chewing. The odd pet cow will come over to suss out the farmer’s wife and for the pat on the nose. Beautiful animals that they are. I love that field. The boys sometimes roam there and I can watch them from my window. We know where the rabbits live in that field and where the blackberries are most plenty come September. Still, it is nameless.
How do I get a name to stick? How does a nickname come about? Slowly, it’s becoming the Field around the House but that’s not romantic enough for the farmer’s wife. She’s high maintenance you know. The name comes to stick organically in the life of a farm, from the mouths of it’s owners rushing around getting work done, planning for it, putting cows grazing in it. And yet, it’s the Field around the House, Hearthill, Home.