Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Call

It’s the call I hate to recieve. When on an unfortunate evening I get the ‘heifers-out-call’, that’s unpleasant but manageable, ‘cow-outs’, not so bad, I could nearly do that myself. But a calf on the road; Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

At this time of year, the cows that have yet to calf are few enough and go out to the fields with the milking cows while grass and weather are good. It’s akin to the expectant mommy in her dressing gown pacing the maternity floor to bring on labour. I digress. So, one fine evening this week, one of our lovely ladies (cows) calved down the field and normally we’d move her into a shed with her calf but there was no getting the lady up. She’s since been treated by a vet, bit weak after calving. And tis no wonder. For she had a calf that had the look of a fine man who had eaten his bacon and cabbage. And everyone elses!

So children asleep, I was pottering. That lovely summer’s evening pottering that has me walking from garden to kitchen at various chores in a lazy sunny way. There may have been music. Most likely. There was definately a pot of tea brewing. Going about my evening. You get the picture. What’s that? Who’s that now? Who could be ringing? And instinctively, I look out the window to see that the cows are where they should be, and the heifers; you can see them from the house. All looks good to me. Or so I thought.

It was himself with the dreaded call of ‘a calf on the road.’ I repeat. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Now a calf that has been with his mother in a field for a couple of days is a wild one. Think Tarzan. On speed. Luckily, a passing neighbour had come upon the calf at the cross. It appears that our ‘wee’ calf had it in mind to make himself known to the village. My farmer came on and directed the rascal (the calf that is not the neighbour) back down our road whereupon he came running towards me. At full speed.  I think I might not be the only body to get a bit giddy when a calf the size of two labradors is running towards me a la buckaroo.

‘Stop him’, the farmer roars, and this my friends is where the farmer and I may have exchanged some unpleasantries. But there was no stopping Shergar. One swift u-turn and he then ran straight past the farmer. Ha. ‘Right’ my dear husband says then, ‘I’ll go behind him and you hop over that ditch and run in front of him’. ‘You hop over that ditch and run in front of him.’ You, wife, hop over that six foot ditch, you know the thorny, nettled one and run in front of the very fast bucking calf. Is this guy serious? Yes he is.

Did I jump the ditch? Did she jump the ditch when the Kerryman told her to do so?

Did I? No.

In a dramatic turn of events, my Kerry cowboy leapt and jumped onto the runaway calf. Yee-haw. They struggled. I laughed. I pushed. He pulled or at least tried to pull the calf who had gone from bucking bronco to stubborn mule in seconds. And you have never felt pain until a whitehead calf stands with his force on your foot or indeed pucks you with his head. And yet, we laughed. Luckily no car passed to see our comedy as we begged, cajoled and pushed-pulled our errant wild calf back home. So be careful before you pick up a farmhouse phone of an evening and be ever more cautious when a Kerryman tells you to jump a ditch. You heard it here first.

(Note. The calf in the image is another calf not the errant ‘baby’ calf in question).

To rest

I can’t quite remember at this moment what the city sounds like in the evening. I know it had the ring of neighbours sweeping their front paths, men passing the evening discussing the price of petrol and children being called into bed. The years fly past since I’ve lived in the city and know that they are a delicious and somewhat romantic memory. The countryside isn’t much different you know, we have our own ritual of putting the world to rest for the evening. Of late, our farmer is milking late dreaming of a time when he’ll have a new milking parlour. That will happen too.

You hear the swagger of a cow’s tail, a hello from a neighbour out walking ;‘fine evening.’ There is, of course, in May, the hum of distant mowers cutting the first silage of the year. The swallows chat in a quietening chorus that is settling down for the night. They call to mind chiacchiando Italian housewives comparing ragu reciepes out their apartment windows. The flowers are curling up for the night. The last of the cars roll back the road from the sportsfield to the clack of the ash hurls as they hit the wall in the mother’s hallway. The sound of that squeaky parlour gate closing.

Yes, just like you, we’re all ready to settle down to rest.

Sweet dreams


Here I am with my white flag waving over my head. I surrender. Well, at least I do so on a daily basis. It’s mid May and we’ve almost hit a wall. The weather at last is good and we’re grateful for that at least. But we are most tired. And the children sensing their parent’s sleeply state like the snipers outside the castle watching the overtired guard nodding off, are ready to….


They’re giddier than normal. They’re outdoors morning, noon and night and are drunk on life. Daily they discover new avenues through the haybales as Daddy removes a bale for feeding and they rename a new part of the shed. They speak a new language of sunshiny outdoor play and have become fluent in our ‘absence’ to work and weariness. The dinner table is rife with this chat and while we try to contain this exuberance (at times when all we want is a quiet meal), we surrender daily to their lust for life. Three boys. Last summer, it was, I realize now, two boys and a baby boy but the latter has taken his place in the wilds of their domaine.

And sometimes, or indeed mostly, all you can do is laugh. Laugh when they have a name calling competition that ends in giggles, surrender to the dirty faces and the muck on their legs (you could, I tell them, grow potatoes on them), laugh when they make the most ridiculously unfunny jokes. They are, it appears, relentless, but their tired parents understand that these giggling wrestlers rolling around a field outside are laying the foundations for their long lives together as brothers. And who are we to interfere. Alas.

Growthy, Growth, Growth

This my friends is a good day to be a farmer. During the winter and long Spring, on a bad day, we spread fertilizer and watched as it washed away. On another such a bad day, or many of them, we watched as the slurry tower filled up and up with rainwater upon rainwater upon slurry. The cows, have only in the last few weeks, made it out by day and night. The silage field had to be opened (the fields kept aside for providing the grass for winter silage) to let the cows graze on. We had to walk the cows back to graze on the furthest fields from the house (our thanks to very very patient neighbours) but the good news if only for today is that there is warmth, a little mist, and growth at last. You can even see the grass wave in the warm May breeze. Phew.

We’re not drowning the grass says, just waving. At long last. And long, long, long may it last and grow and grow and grow.