Monthly Archives: June 2017

All summer long

I came in from town laden with bags and shouted to the boys to help and realised this is it; all summer long. “Daniel, clear away the lunch cups, Philip stow away the shopping with me. Anthony, put the toilet roll in the back kitchen.” Orders as my little army go about their chores.”But I’m hungry mom (as last years’ mommy has matured to mom by one of them)”, “I mean I’m literally so hungry I think my head might explode.” Gruesome.

At the sink while they work away undoubtedly putting the goods away in the wrong place, (last week I found salad in the freezer, chilly), I pull the beards from some mussels. I explain to them as they go about their chores in the kitchen that you have to throw away any opened mussels before cooking and any closed mussels after. OHHHhhhhh. “Can I help?” Can you help, I think, by making the whole job longer? “Why yes.” There are no deadlines, no lunch boxes to fill, no rush to bedtime. “You can of course.”

So we stand pulling little beards out of salty mussels and he talks about the smell of them, about the sea they might have come out of, about how they might miss their mommy mussels and I know that these three boys, though growing quickly, are mine; their fights, their questions, their ladybirds in jars, all mine, all summer long.

Enjoy Summer 2017, all summer long.


“Who left the kittens back in?, they’re not allowed in. Their mammy needs a break.” On my way to hang out the washing, also known as a break from the incessant fighting that Saturday morning brings, I step over one, two, three little kittens, then over their mother who is looking for food. At the back door, I step over a very furry, lazy collie dog. I know, it sounds mean but I’m carrying a large basket of washing and have a kitten hanging off my trousers and the lout will not get off the warm step so that I can get out. I’m almost out of the treacherous situation when I hear the echo of ‘hungry, hungry, hungry’ from cats and children and spy a farmer working in the field who’s giving me the would-murder-a-cup-of-tea look. I place my kitten back into the madness, move the collie, wave hello to the farmer and place my basket down.

Into the wind, I shake each trouser, underpants, tee-shirt, mismatched sock and take my time, methodically, placing each item on the washing line. There is peace at the washing line. The Atlantic breeze promises to dry this load while the menacing cloud overhead thinks about raining on my washing parade. I feel grass tickle my toes, as I reach from washing to peg to line. I could hang out washing all day. Often, I have to. A rotation of young boy dirty clothes, farming overalls or duds as they re known here, towels, sheets, loads.

But all good things, alas, must come to an end as I pick up my empty basket and breathe in deeply before my next foray into all too well known territory. Back into kittens, roaring, fighting, forgiving, shouting and kettle boiling. That’s Saturday, I think as I pour myself a coffee, open my computer and let them all play on.




Business and Pleasure

Never mix them they say. Business and pleasure.

But on farm we mix business with everything. Sorrow, joy, mundane domesticity, parenthood, family, community, you see, everything. The business is the farm. The house in on the farm. The farmer, husband, father is on the farm. The farm is at the dinner table. The wellies are at the threshold. The business is everywhere.

So how to separate them? Oh you want an answer? You thought that was where I was going with this? I’m sorry, I have no answers yet.  It is, I must say, the work of a lifetime for this farmer’s wife, not to be answered in one blog post, alas.

I remember in what seems a lifetime ago, the ctrl+alt+del moment before leaving the office. Upon one three-finger move, I’d pick up my bag and leave my desk and work behind. Finito Benito. Clock out.

No such buttons exist on the farmstead. Or if they do, I haven’t figured out which buttons to press yet. So, in other words, I have at times pressed the wrong buttons. Sigh.

It doesn’t come with a manual this farm. I took it on without any training. Sure, I had seen the work of a mother and her family but I hadn’t seen them on a farm. I had never seen a cow. I didn’t know where farmers put their dirty clothes or how to get their farming stains out. Administration asked me if the cow had difficulty calving? I hadn’t a clue, she didn’t say! Just put number two down, he’d say, assuring me that I’d pick it up as I was going along.

I was a chatty girl but was lost for words when trying to put food on the table for several men whilst making idle chat with them about the weather. It took me a couple of years to figure out that we talk about the weather so much because the weather here is everything.

I did not have experience with throwing a family event in a farmhouse. Again, several other blogposts. I didn’t have a cake that I always brought to stations.

I had a house without boundaries, a farm that I knew nothing about, but a husband who was delighted with his gregarious city girl. Material to work with you might say.

So as to the separation of business and pleasure, farm and family, milking parlour and love; you got me. It might even be a business idea for some wise farmer’s wife out there, to provide consultancy for the women who decide to take it all on. Lessons for the woman who decides to marry a farmer, his farm, his family, his community, his business.

Well I was looking for an idea for a book.

The what not to do when mixing farm business and pleasure.

Chapter one…