Curiosity Killed The Cat
If you are accustomed to farmers or if you have read some of my posts before, you’ll know that farmers love driving along looking into fields whether it is their neighbours’ fields or if they are driving along unknown roads, they like to see the condition of the grass, the crops and the livestock. If you are driving the car, you’ll receive a running commentary and if he is driving, you’ll be in constant danger of hitting the hedge as he swerves to and fro. Yet, their curiosity never fails to amaze me. I’m not sure whether I suffer from an extreme lack of curiosity or if I lived too long in cities where neighbours didn’t get to know each other that much.
I had to laugh – I could have sold tickets at the gate of our outfarm this evening. You wouldn’t think that cutting silage would be that entertaining but sometimes neighbours do go in to compare the size of the swathes of cut grass. I went over to bring the guy mowing the field for silage a flask of tea, one of Kate’s delicious Cornish pasties and a couple of scones to keep him going and I could see half a dozen cars at the top of the field which seemed a lot even though we seem to be the first one around Crettyard to be cutting silage so far. The mower was in the next field working away. As a car was coming down the field, I waited to say hello. Apparently the attraction was on a new mower, the tractor had a mower on the front and now a double mower on the back so I guess he was cutting three rows in one go. As I was chatting to the three farmers in that car, another two vans were coming out with another three farmers in them.
What really amused me was that the field he was mowing in can’t be viewed from the road so it’s not like a lot of farmers happened to see the double mower from the road and popped in – the text messages must have been flying around. I guess it is innocent entertainment! Maybe you need to be into machinery to understand.
I would really recommend going to see the play Charolais for an insight into farming life too. Written and performed by Noni Stapleton (a townie!), she really has captured farming relationships to a T. It tells the story of Siobhan, pregnant girlfriend of Jimmy but not necessarily the number one woman in his life. Siobhan has to compete for his affections with his pedigree pregnant blonde Charolais cow plus his mother Breda is in the house too. The result is a hilarious yet poignant look at farming life – the isolation, the devastation when a herd is wiped out with TB, farm safety, finances, the mother-in-law, the insular nature of a small farming community, the joy of sex, jealousy – all with a black humour that will make you shout with laughter at times and sigh inwardly with recognitition at others. ?The acting is superb, Noni moves from one character to another with seemingly effortless ease and as one person said during the Q&A afterwards ‘I could see the cow on stage’! Yes, it was meant as a compliment! She got a standing ovation from the crowd in Tinahely.
Noni has captured the Irish farming mammy perfectly, the type who regards her son’s girlfriend with suspicion of being a gold-digger until she can prove herself. Unless you have a very good relationship with your MIL, I wouldn’t recommend going with her to see it – particularly if you have ever bought her a scarf as a gift. Otherwise, though, it should be seen by all farmers and all MILs!
Charolais is playing at various theatres around the country. They are currently raising funds to get to the Edinburgh Fringe festival too so if you’re up for supporting them and pre-ordering some tickets or opting for another rewards, do check out the details on their FundIt crowdfunding campaign.
Brian enjoyed it too. It was our first night out since our holiday in January. We were surprised by how busy Tinahely, for a small market town, was, made us feel – gosh, is this the way normal people live. Brian hates having to rush to go anywhere in the evenings and as he worked out how early he would have to milk to be ready to leave at 7:15, he was nearly twitching. The cows were surprised too when I went to the field to bring them in – they were looking at me as if to say ‘what on earth are you doing here, it’s still the middle of the day’!
When delivering a talk in Castleblayney on Wednesday, I was hugely amused when a woman told me that my book Would You Marry A Farmer is pictured in her wedding album, she received it as a wedding prop. When I asked her if she had enjoyed it, she said that she had put it in a box with other wedding stuff! I had to laugh – I hope she went home to dig it out and see what it was like.
Hope you have a good week – mine is going to involve silage, slurry spreading and feeding contractors.