Monthly Archives: October 2015

Feeding Time

On the farm. Cooking was never a huge priority for me before becoming a farmer’s wife. I loved to cook and it was often fancy but I could get away with the odd take away or frozen meal. Not for this farmhouse I’m afraid. To start with, the farmer is spoiled rotten and he’ll tell you that himself. The priorities for cooking are as follows; it has to be wholesome, feeding men who are working intensively for hours outdoors.

Then it has to be in great quantity, you have no idea how much farmers can eat and as for the small little boys coming up behind them, a gallon of milk a day goes nowhere. There has to be enough in the fridge/freezer/pantry at any time to feed an extra if one should one arrive for feeding at the door. The meal has to be of good quality, for the health benefits, farming families who milk twice a day, 365 days a year cannot afford to be sick, so it’s meat, vegetables, carbs and dairy to fill the bellies. We buy our meats, fish, vegetables and other as locally as we can. We bring in milk from our own dairy. Lastly, it has to be varied and tasty, varied because we sit together everyday at the table and it’s good not to be able to predict the day’s dinner and tasty because, life my friends, is short.

Breakfast is porridge, wholesome brown bread, tea and fruit. Lunch this time of year is most likely homemade soup and is eaten after first milking at 12pm when our four year old comes in from playschool. Dinner that we’ve now moved to 4.30pm to accommodate our school goer is a hotpot, meat-and-two-veg, curry or whatever takes the farmer’s wife’s fancy. It’s one pot for all generally in the farmhouse, the children eat a smaller portion from the pot. There’s no time for special orders. The eldest lays the cutlery, the second ‘does the cups’ and the baby decorates the floor. We eat together everyday. After dinner, there is tea with biscuits, icecream or if you’re very good, a cake. Fresh cake does every occasion make. Sponge cake for a birthday, chocolate gateau for a visitor, carrot cake to carry out visiting.

Somedays, I feel like I spend my days cooking and then I remember I do. Feeding five, six people a day is no easy task. I am like every mother and some fathers who do the same every day for their families there is no doubt. But, somehow, it seems different in a farmhouse, you’re fueling a hard days work on the farm and I am the train driver throwing coal into the engine fire from my very own stove. Eating out is a real treat that we really delight in (if it’s good) and I relish any cup of coffee that I don’t have to make myself. Feeding time on the farm; an all consuming, sometimes funny, delicious, family affair.

After Dinner

You’re on the final sprint by after dinner. Homework done, dinner eaten, you can taste the freedom. The boys kick about, watch television, chase each other outside on fine evenings. To wash up now or later. Later, later. The house has the appearance of a day’s living as dinner smells settle and activity levels wind down. The farmer kisses all goodnight and heads out the door to milk the cows. It’s a solitary half an hour drinking coffee, reading, surfing the internet, procrastinating, making a phone call while all the household goes about their own business for a little while.

What comes after is work. Cajoling into pajamas, co-ercing into tidy up, washing faces, teaching how to brush teeth, listening as the milk machine goes across the road. Lights are on in the farmhouse earlier now, we cosy into bed and settle into stories. We visit castles, old Ireland, swim underwater, sail pirate ships and say a little prayer. How much do you love me? Oh, that’s a very long way. Sleep now. Sleep.

Mostly they oblige, three little heads peeking above the blankets as they drift into dreams after a hard days work. I resist the urge to sleep myself and drag myself down the stairs to nighttime radio, washing up, baking bread if needed and organizing. I boil the kettle for the farmer’s supper, switch on the outside light waiting for him to come home. There is much living in a day around here. Rightly so.


Ah, October’s dying light begins early on a Sunday night. Everywhere, the fields are tinged with orange as the mist descends on County Kerry. It is the habit this time of year for farmers to stop milking Sunday evening to have a full on family day. A farming holiday, unofficially.

This evening, as I drive from the local town home to the man and boys in my life, the country holds its breathe. When Ireland plays we’re like a country of first cousins. Can we do it? Surely. Our country plays rugby against France and later soccer against Poland. We’ve one game down, the collective ‘we’ have beaten the French. We did it. As the cousins gather in front of the television sets in awe of the crowds singing the ‘fields of Athenry’ thar lar; the countryside is almost abandoned.

I run in the door just in time to celebrate the final try by Ireland, we beat the French. It’s a great country you know. The light is all but gone now and the country is reawakening as the farmer walks out the door farming the green fields that inspire our song.

He waves as he runs out the door and I call him back and say it quietly. Imagine. I know he says, don’t say it he says holding his hand up. Imagine if we did it? Shhhh, imagine if we won the World cup? And for tonight in this Irish orange mist and twilight, anything is possible.


Andante, andante

If September is the composer’s marking ‘allegro ma non troppo’, in October, he instructs ‘andante, andante’. What’s the rush? The cows aren’t in a rush. Walking them in from the field these days, we’re not to proud to plead with them to come into the parlour. If you’d be so kind girls to leave the field and produce some milk. We’re the kind of household that are very in tune with our cows. They’re slowing down, go on so, put on the kettle.

During the busy period of the year, with young children climbing out of every crevice, or so it seems, and paperwork mounting up, it was a sink or swim sort of situation. Dinner prepared the night before scenario, busy planning Sunday night for the week to come, sorting cow’s cards, filing the incomings and outgoings. It was the first time in almost nine years of marriage, the accountant saw us before the deadline with accounts in order. Who are these people?

I mean, we’re not home free, work will still be done, in fact if you’re a visitor watching the poor farmer come and go while you sip your tea with the farmer’s wife, you mightn’t see the behind the scenes slowing down. The worries don’t subside, you still have to keep an eye on the food ahead of cows for the winter, there are still evenings of planning for the year to come. He’s still milking twice a day, but he’s not spreading fertilizer or feeding calves or making silage or or or. No, have a biscuit, he’ll be on soon.

The light is creeping away on us, a chill is most definitely in the Kerry air. It will carry us through the high and low notes of this Winter’s sonata. And in he walks, as if he can smell a hot cup from down the high field. And he does like cake. Andante, andante does it.