I was recently delighted to discover that there there are, in fact, some tasks that can be entrusted to those who might not yet know their colostrum from their milk replacer…
Indeed, quality time together these days is an afternoon spent in the sheep shed. Which is where we were last weekend when I learned just how true the saying is, that where there’s livestock, there’s deadstock.
Which is why, it was with disappointment and frustration that I read Jackson’s recent comments that she will “never eat meat ever again,” in part because the idea of slaughtering a lamb for its meat is “so f*****g cruel.”
“How old were you when you started helping out around the farm?” I asked Jack. He couldn’t remember, exactly, though he was quick to recall one instance when, while playing at a friend’s house one summer’s day, he was summoned home to help stack the bales. He must have been 8 or 9, he reckoned.
I’m not long back from RTE Radio Centre where, I’m excited to say, I recorded my first column for CountryWide! All being well, the segment will air on the show this Saturday coming, and hopefully will become a somewhat regular thing 🙂
Indeed, an expression of thanks from farmer-to-farmer, and a soon-to-be-savoured gift for my family, this cross-border bird embodied so much more than just good eatin’.
So perhaps there’s some irony in the fact that now, two and a half years later, I find myself unpacking once again and settling into life in another new location —this time, in the land of the Lily whites, and Jack’s home county of Kildare.
If my two years in the field of farmer-dating have taught me anything, it’s that it’s a naive and foolish woman who would ask her farmer to choose between his lady and his land.
It was that following Monday then, that I headed off, looking forward to discovering what I reckoned could well be a hidden talent of mine. After all, given that the current Guinness world record for fastest time to shear a single sheep is held by a Donegal man, as a fellow Ulster native, I had to fancy my chances.
In the midst of our excitement at booking, we had failed to realise that our long weekend in April would fall smack bang in the middle of the busiest time on the farm. And, as we soon found out, cattle don’t subscribe to company calendars or “out of office” email reminders.
I didn’t know what exactly I was looking at when we arrived around the backside of the creature, but I knew enough to know that the calf’s arrival was imminent.
“A dog got at the lambs today,” he’d said. I pictured the friendly little creatures I’d been introduced to not two weeks before: all bright-eyes, and spindly legs, bouncing about the place with more curiosity than sense. Easy pickings for a dog of any kind.