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Just like the brothers

And then there was one. Just one boy left in the house while his brothers are at school. Anthony is three and so proud to put on his little overalls and wellies (both hand me downs) and follow behind Daddy and at times Mommy to feed the baby calves.

“They’re so cute Mommy.” he tells me with just his lovely face exposed to the frosty February morning. While I try to persuade a new calf to drink some milk, Anthony puts his hand into the calf pen and breaks into giggles at another calf all but swallowing his arm.

“Look Mommy, he’s trying to eat me.”

“He won’t eat you pet. He’s just trying to drink you. He wants his milk. Just like when you’re thirsty.” smiling whilst also trying to get a point across. Patience is a virtue my child, we too, sometimes have to wait for our milk, yoghurt, biscuit, banana etc. Ahem.

Then it’s time to change the bedding. And he toddles on behind me carrying a handful of straw leaving a trail of yellow after him arriving into the calf house with but a strand or two left in hand. “Where’s it gone Mommy?” I can’t imagine.

“Here, have some of mine.”

“Can I throw it in Mommy?”

“Yes, we’ll get in. You stay next to me and we’ll throw the straw around the baby calves.”

And then comes more giggles as the straw-coloured-hair boy swishes the bedding over the calves, while the new born calves with their tummies full of milk enjoy the swirl of  new straw around them for playtime. They bounce, yes bounce around their home with the energy and enthusiasm mostly reserved for calves and three year olds. I pick my boy up and we watch as the young calves puck and jump their way through their morning routine.

“Just like the brothers” my young boy says thinking of his brothers down the road in school. “Just like the brothers,” I repeat, applying big kisses to his rosy cheek.  He then holds my hand as we go on with our task carrying our bucket of milk onto the next calf pen.

Springtime has most certainly reached Hearthill. At last.




He’s checking it twice

Santa Claus is most certainly coming to town; and it’s great.

There’s magic in this here air; an air full of stories and wishes and remember-mommy!

I want to can and save it, sell it, market it, remember it, have it seep into my very bones. The very joy of my little boys waiting for Christmas. And yes, of course it’s commercial. And of course, I’m worn out, he’s looking for such a thing and I can’t get it. And I have only so many days in town. So many hours without these boys trailing after me to fulfil a certainly magical list. But isn’t it great!

It’s the good stuff. It’s like filling their little heads and bodies with as much good will and spirit and kindness as we can before the secret is out and their world becomes a little less magic. It is the essence of their childhood and we want it here in our home as long as it will stay. Because we know that every year, as they get a little older and more in tune with the world, they become more mature and thank God, wiser. They become more self contained and we’ll see them blossom in other directions, to places where we cannot go and we will wave them goodbye and watch in awe as they take flight. That’s what we signed up for right?

But for now, they’re here and they want to hear ‘The night before Christmas ‘again. They want the story of how that angel ornament fell or to remember the morning Santa himself left the fire door open and let in the cold. They want snow. They want it all and we endeavour to deliver so as to have memories to warm our old bones in years to come. Being a parent of children of a certain Santa loving age is like being the footballer in his prime; loving the glory but knowing that the day too will come to hang up the old boots as the roar of the crowd fades out and the world becomes a little less magic.

So we’ll see the man in the red suit this weekend and watch them, our hearts aching at the sparkle and beauty in their eyes as they try to convince this fella that they really are good. And there we’ll be, the gushing, beaming two at their side, bursting at the seams with pride, trying to capture it all so we have something to remember.

Life as a wallflower

I spent the early morning sweeping up flour around the house; it was a good party. The partiers were thrown down around the living room, the worse for wear for the sugar consumed the night before. I placed glasses of water around them suggesting that maybe it would help. The morning after the Halloween night before.

Ah well.

Luckily, halloween coincides with the father of the house coming in earlier from the farm. We’re back to milking once a day and he’s back to us. Back for bedtime, back for story time, back for crabapples and divvying of sweets post trick or treating.  For daddy is the hero of our farming story and his presence always means for us; relaxation. Dad leaves the farm at the front door with his wellingtons and we relax. The boys relax because they have someone else to wrestle with, to tell their stories to, to impress, to argue with.

And I become a bit of a wallflower. Thankfully.

I mean, I was there to put the coined bob apples in the bowl along with the grapes and nuts. But I don’t enjoy watching them (almost drown) going to the bottom of the bowl to catch their treasures. Nor do I really enjoy watching them make a mess. I have no problem contributing to the eating of the sweets and crisps. That is not a problem but I stand back and smile, edging my way to my book and hot beverage in the corner when they contemplate cutting a pile of flour in order to avoid (or delight in) dipping their faces into said flour. I’ll leave ye at it. They are all particularly good at pushing each others heads into bowls of flour I must admit. It must be a boy thing. His side.

Nor do I like when the eventual sugar rush hits and I usher the wrestling mass of little men and man upstairs to continue this particular adventure. I might give the occasional roar up the stairs (my contribution to such a bedtime) when I feel that maternal guilt or the noise is such that it disturbs my radio-washing-the-ware time.  Back to the sink I go. With pleasure. Eventually, I might cave in and walk up the stairs to see the farmer-hero of our story half asleep half reading to three boys as they hang off his every mumble; one  flung over his shoulder, one in his lap, another under his arm as they delight in the Winter time that brings their Daddy home.









There’s a pacing going on tonight. He’s my cool, calm and collected farmer and I’m pacing. I ask him all the possible what if’s, the impossibles, the catastrophes and while I really should be more of a support, he ends up shushing me, reassuring me. We’ll be fine.

But, but on a fine day, the Atlantic makes herself known to us and now they’ve said Hurricane. Were there hurricanes before or is this a new thing now? What about the cows? Do we keep them in or put them out? Oh God.

They’ll be fine.

I’ll make bread. Will I make bread?

Do so.

And torches? Do we have batteries?

We do.

What about the sheds? We’ve lost shelter with the build?

Be grand.

I’d better bring in more supplies.


What about the vets? Should I run to the vets?

No need.

It might just be a big storm. I hope so. The last one was hard. It shook us a bit. There was a bit of damage. But. But.

Somehow, you just can’t worry being married to this man. You can’t have yourself one big auld worry.

It’ll just be grand.

Stay safe. x








And once again, she writes about coffee

They say the cup of tea you have in the labour ward after giving birth is the best you’ll ever have. Agreed. I’ve have three of the best cups of tea in my life with toast in labour wards on various occasions, my children’s birthdays.

But there is no doubt, that the cup of coffee you put to your lips when the children have all left for school, might just be the best you’ll ever have.

It’s taken me eight and a half years but I’m home alone.

Surrounded by dirty dishes in an almost eery silence not dissimilar to a war zone after the battle, I sit with my silent, powerful cup of coffee, in peace.

And the shoulds are out in the washing basket for that crazy hour that is 10am to 11am that has all radio broadcasters scrambling for housewive’s attention. Ah, we’re important now aren’t we? But the shoulds don’t weigh as heavily as when the children are at home. You should for example, at 10am and not before, get up and empty the dishwasher. Uh really? Think again. Little did I think that emptying the dishwasher would be a thing of joy. For it will be emptied without the children.

I will pull open the top drawer and take the cups out and place them into the cupboard without number two telling me he is hungry. I can if I want, rearrange said cups, without the children. I can find a place for that awkward bowl without number three telling me that number two just hit him. I can daydream whilst pulling the cutlery out of the thing (for what do you call it?) without having to make appropriate impressed sounds about number one’s latest building in Minecraft.

I can and will empty the dishwasher in peace. It only took eight and a half years (who’s counting) but I can now empty the dishwasher in peace after a solitary coffee.

And friends, there are many shoulds; I won’t list them. But for now, I’m enjoying this well earned moment’s peace.

It is a type rebirth in it’s self.

Over to you.  x


To milk or not to milk

This month our farmer is a man on a mission. To install a more efficient, labour saving, dreamy, cow and wife friendly new milking parlour. He goes to town to consider his options.

He brings a cake in from town. He always does.

“Well, how did you get on?”

“Good” says he.

“What did you think?”

“Well, he asked me if the wife milked?” says he.

“And what did you say?” says I.

“She can be persuaded to on occasion.” says he. “If the price is right.”

A nod.

“So I tried the two clusters for size. The man size one and the more lets say, lightweight, wife friendly one.”

“And?” says I.

“I can see the logic. It’s lighter. Nice.” says he.

“Right.’ says I.

“What are you thinking?” says he.

“We’ll have another slice of that cake.” says I.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

With summer holidays comes more boys, with boys come more appetites. And what to do when their friends call over? Feed them.  Ah, but I love it. Boys are great fun when you know how to channel their energy; they spend the summer outdoors playing football, soldiers, swinging, fighting, jumping on hay bales and thus running up a ferocious appetite. So the challenge is to feed them and entertain them or do both at the same time.

One day this week, I put six boys out the door and up the field in search of blackberries.

‘Take your time.’ I said. ‘Make sure and get good ones’ I said knowing full well that blackberries had only started ripening on the ditches this past week and they might be a while. A good cuppa of coffee worth of time. Give a group of boys a mission and it becomes competitive. They’ll do their best they say and walk up the field armed with a little bowl each with the eldest carrying the metal pot to put the full collection into. They look determined, hungry, rearing for blackberries. With the little pot they’ll be able to score their ability to collect as many while the metal pot allows them to hear the plop plop plop as each blackberry hits the bottom of the saucepan.

After some fifteen minutes my army of blackberry pickers arrive back into the back kitchen to me with a miserable collection of berries; their faces smeared with a familiar purple syrup.

‘And did you leave any for the crumble?’ I ask them. A few little shrugs.

‘I have the pastry ready!’ (that familiar Cork lilt raising at the end of the statement to assure my sons that their mother means business thus prompting them to lead their friends back up the field). Cruelty!

Going out the door, rallying his troops, my eldest assures the rest that his mom does make a very good crumble. ‘It will be worth it.’ he says dividing up the blackberry army again, urging them to keep the loot for the tin and not the tummies this time.

I return to the kitchen and in the time it takes to rub butter to flour, sugar, oats and a pinch of mixed spice, my boys are back to me with a more substantial offering.

‘It will do’, I tell them smiling, washing the blackberries and pouring them in over the pastry.

‘Off with ye, I’ll call when it’s ready.’

I hardly need to call them as they pace the back garden with the smell of the baking pastry and blackberries calling them.

‘Is it ready yet mom?’

“No, I said I’d call ye.’

There’s hardly time for the poor crumble to cool when there is a row of hungry boys before me salivating.

I ask Philip to call the men off the farm for the tea, I set a table for nine (!) and we sit down together and eat our blackberry and apple crumble with icecream and tea. There is little talk. There is oohing and ahhing while all these men and boys contemplate the just melting blackberries over buttery pastry, topped with crumble and vanilla ice-cream. There is hot tea. We’ve all worked hard today and the ditches did us proud providing us with a feast fit for a king or a table of hungry men, boys and yours truly.

A memorable blackberry and apple crumble; the stuff of summer holidays.