Category Archives: The Living is Easy

Chocolate Icecream

I caught you. Just had to mention homemade chocolate icecream. Works every time. Although, this is not a foodie blog, the writer loves food and I should hope the reader does too. By the by, why do I write it? I write it because a). I’ve always loved writing and b). I love talking. And you keep listening. A one way conversation. That said, you’re always welcome to talk back (ah go on).

So our lovely Adelaide is making her way back to France next week and there will be tears. A lot. There may be tantrums, pleading and wailing in Cork airport. She will be missed, not only for her kindness and love but also for her crêpes. So to thank her for putting up with us for the eight heaven sent weeks in which she gently accompanied us through the first two months of Anthony’s life, we’re having a party, funnily enough a crêpe party. Honestly, she keeps putting the crêpe pan down but somehow it manages to hop back into her hand. Magic.

As it’s her leaving do, we, the Hearthill crew, are going to help out. All heart, literally. Our contribution; Hearthill chocolate icecream. The cows are grazing outside the window (see image attached) this morning and we are using their delicious milk and cream. Thank you girls. The mix is ready and about to go into the freezer and later in celebration of the lovely French girl who got the farmer’s wife back on her feet, it will melt onto authentic Briton crêpes alongside strawberries. Adelaide will forever have a place at our table and in our chocolate and crêpe loving hearts. Toujours.

6:35

Six minutes and thirty five seconds of wakeful peace brought to us by Elbow. Move along people, nothing original here, sleep depravation has me clutching at every straw. Bring it Elbow.

For six minutes and thirty five seconds, all the household members, new, old and feeling old were suspended in a wakeful bliss. There is a mountain of silage, I don’t say that boastfully but I say it with calm. The hay has been turned (what seems incessantly to this volatile post-partum farmer’s wife) and is now in bales in the field.  On opening the curtains, the sight of these mighty bales prompted the man of the house to start humming Elbow’s ‘Beautiful Day‘. As it’s a household anthem, I reached for my iphone and played it…

Cocooned in our just awakened reverie, the song caught us all in rare harmony.  At 7am in a farmhouse in North Kerry, there was a new family caught in 6 minutes and 35 seconds of peace. You, who has grown up in a busy household or are currently running one, know what comes at the end of the track. It ain’t pretty. In fact, it’s noisy. So, I have the genius of one excellent line to think on and in contemplating it will be carried through to the next feed, war on lego, saga and cheerio spill. Thank you Elbow; Sing it…

“Throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year will see us right.”

On Father’s Day

All things being equal, I can’t let this beautiful sun set without mentioning the father of the house. I will however, knowing my farmer, save his readily available blushes and won’t gush too much about him. Instead, I’ll tell you that we took our newest son on our camino to Sallies today in the blissful sunshine and he was beaming.

Nothing fazes the man, not hormonal wife nor beast, not impending silage cut or cross toddler. He is our constant when the rest of us are melting down at various stages of the post-partum day.  When we’re crying, roaring for milk, cursing at stitches, fighting over toys; he remains calm. He helps us recover, in his calmness, taking a walk (a first for our youngest) and so led us gently into familiar surroundings, walking out around the farm, our home. He carried our young baby who is not overly fond of his pram, cajoled a toddler to keep going on his bike and soothed a wife who is sore and war weary.  That the day might come when he might get some rest! Yes, he is our constant; We are safe with him, he is home.

For my Dad and yours. And then, for our farmer.

 

 

 

 

Teaspach

Only a few more cows left to calve telling me that soon it will be my turn. I feel a lot of empathy with my heavily expectant counterparts; the slow and laboured march to the water trough and the constant grazing. Like their own calves, my two little boys are full of teaspach (a local term used to describe the exuberance and spirit of young calves when new straw is scattered around them or on hearing the familiar splash of creamy milk reaching their bucket, a wholly bucking, jumping, break dancing show).

Teaspach to the heavily expectant mother is the most challenging. While one doesn’t want to break their spirit, a mother has to use up some of the battery life on some exercise that ensures everyone in the farmhouse gets a full-nights sleep. I find living on a farm helps; obviously, there are safety concerns that young cowboys have to adhere to but the farm is a veritable childhood obstacle course designed (in my mind) to help the farming mother harness some of that exuberance.

There is no shortage of adventures. Provided with a knapsack that includes a biscuit, toilet roll binoculars and a fascination for any insect/rodent/small animal or bird that moves; little boys can safely tour the perimeter of an adjacent field in full view of their mother. And every little find provides a relay back to the same mother to show their findings or perhaps a little kiss for a nettle sting. Spirit in tact, they wander back on their expedition.

Bringing the cows in for milking is another luxury in the world of heavily expectant mommying. There are few calls as welcome to a mother who has just prepared the dinner and washed up as ‘Boys, do you want to bring the cows in for milking?’ Oh yes they do! Suitably attired they walk out the door behind their father as I flick on the kettle for my real cup of tea; the ‘cows come home’ cup. An utterly bovine experience that allows me to sit for a moment while my ladies in waiting chew the cud outside the window in harmony.

Buona Domenica

It’s been one of those weeks in Hearthill, everyone from the tetchy toddler, sick older brother, cranky mommy and patient farmer need a dose of tender loving care.  And so, administrating the dose, I refer as always back to the Italians in praise of all things bright and beautiful. They do it all so well; abundance, style, living, delight.  As an Italophile I try to bring a touch of La Dolce Vita into our home as often as I can moreso to remedy any lack of lustre that the Spring might impose. Just for today, Indulge me……

The Italians take the ordinary and translate it into the exquisite on a daily basis but more so on La Domenica, Sunday. It starts on Friday evening, down the little sidestreets, at the clink of the espresso cup on saucer after the obligatory fix of caffeine coming home from work, on collection of pastries for weekend treats, you begin to hear the echo of ‘Buona Domenica’ in big cities and small villages alike throughout Italy. ‘Buona Domenica’, ‘Have a Wonderful Sunday’ and even though it’s Friday, that Sunday moment is brought forward to signal the beginning of something special at the end of a week’s hard work.

Here, in Hearthill, Sunday is the day when the wellies are abandoned, fresh coffee is brewed, hot French toast is placed alongside the Sunday newspapers. There is normally a walk on a local beach, a leisurely chat with neighbours, delayed milking. It is a day for homemade pasta, fresh herbs, bambini covered in tomato ragu, leisurely dinner time. As with all good things alas, the moment when the milk machine is fixed onto the udder arrives and the familiar thrup, thrup, thrup of the milk machine comes echoing from the parlour signaling the end of a lovely Sunday and the beginning of a new week of work on the farm.

Buona Domenica….

Mother’s Day

The first day I realized I could do this mothering bit was on Mother’s day, 2009. Philip was six weeks old. I had him dressed up in his finery, placed him in his red pram and ventured the Listowel Farmer’s Market which has since become a weekly treat for young Brosnan boys.  First it was Philip, now Daniel and I wonder who will be next to join our merry jaunt?

On that Mother’s day, some five years ago, I didn’t want conversation; it was a test. Could I get him out in the world and keep him safe? Trepidation. I was weak. If someone looked in the pram, I held my breathe for their judgment. Was he tiny? Cold? Please, just say handsome. I was missing my own mother acutely having just moved to the countryside and therefore felt very uncertain as I took tiny steps into this unknown world of motherhood practically blindfolded. So after hearing some praise, I bought some daffodils to place on my pram. A picture of peace, daffodils to remember the day.

I decided Philip might like to treat me for Mother’s day so we went to the Listowel Arms Hotel. Looking for reassurance, I asked the lady at reception if I could feed him. As only another mother who spots a nervous first timer can, she leads me to an inviting foyer with black and white chequered tiles and dainty tea setting. I feed my handsome little boy and tuck him under my arm lovingly while I finish my first cup of ‘civilized’ coffee since giving birth.  Philip stares up at me in awe while we share a peaceful moment in the warm foyer.

It was a little step for woman and baby but a giant step for this first time mother. The ladies in the Arms know us now and I have it timed. These days, I waddle to the counter with young Daniel, order a coffee, some scones and half a glass of milk (so as not to spill!). The natives smile at my jam-smeared son’s face and we flick through the pages of his latest ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ comic. I know I need to finish my coffee by the last story.  I do so in order to maintain some semblance of civilization in this busy mothering life.

The boys, as gentlemen in training(!), somehow know that this is a big deal to their quaint mother and oblige more often than not to humour me for the quarter of an hour it takes to have that coffee before running wildly, as is right, back into their world.  Somehow along the way, my young trainees have guided me, though not always gently, along this mothering route and I smile at the memory of the terrified young mother who had just discovered the delight of a stolen moment of calm with a young son.

Happy Mother’s Day to you who are, loves or remembers a beloved mother.

The Walk Back to Sallies

In the villages, towns and cities of Italy, ladies and indeed gentlemen put on their Sunday best of an evening and stroll up their main street or piazza. They are there to be seen, to have an icecream and chat, often dressed in their finest Gucci (a flurry of Italian past-times all in one walk). Our tribute to La Passeggiata in Hearthill is the stroll back to Sallies. The Wellies replace the Gucci alas.

The romantic in me loves that we have a field named ‘Sallies’, named as far as I can gather after a lady who once had a cottage there named Sally (Funnily enough) in the late 1800’s. It is exactly a quarter of a mile from our red gate and it has been a Passeggiata of sorts for us, the newest generation of Brosnan’s, since 2009. 

Generally, our Passegiata starts out as an escape from the house,  a venture out into nature, a ‘wearing them out before bedtime’ or simply a walk out of the madness for Mommy.   Sometimes, it involves actual work when cows have to be accompanied back the road when grazing there. Even then it is relaxing saunder with cows whose tummies are full and whose udders are empty and therefore not in a rush back to pasture. I cherish the memory of Summertime when the living is easier.

This morning’s stroll took myself and and young Master Daniel back the road. For the two year old whose vocabulary is widening by the yard and whose curiosity is awakening in every step, the walk back to Sallies is a wild adventure.  Our entourage also extends to our two farm dogs, Sammy and Pepe, with the occasional cat wandering along too. There are times, like this morning,  when the stroll home is not always as carefree.  One of the strollers had to be cajoled into leaving an interesting corner of a field having found a family of ladybirds and so the the quarter of a mile home seems more like a marathon to a mommy who is getting heavier by the day.

Our stroll is an exercise in manners, learning to wave to a passing neighbour whilst also being lucrative with blackberries on offer and wild flowers for picking at various stages of the year. This Passeggiata is a nod to my favourite Italian pastime, in appreciation of ‘La Dolce Far Niente,’ the sweetness of doing nothing which in itself is so much. Adapting to life as a country girl has meant a slowing down in pace, strolling alongside seasonal changes and understanding the value of the country childhood where children chat with animation about new discoveries with the freedom to run around a much loved field.