Competition – Win Two Farming Books

I have a competition for you – up for grabs is not just one book but two farming books. ?I’m giving away a copy of my brand new book?‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ as it comes hot from the printing press along with a copy of ‘Worse Could Have Happened’ by Andrew Forrest. Details of how you can win it are below but first of all I’m going to tell you all about the latter.

New book - Would You Marry A Farmer?

I first read ‘Worse Could Have Happened’, 11 years ago. It had been reviewed in the Irish Farmers Journal a few weeks after we’d arrived back in Ireland, I thought it sounded a good read and bought it. A few months later, I was visiting a new friend and saw the dust jacket framed on her wall and discovered that Andrew Forrest is her dad. Small world.

worse could have happened' by Andrew Forrest

Andrew’s book records what life was really like in rural Ireland back in the 1920s and 1930s. ?You will wince when you read about the harsh punishments doled out in the schools, how Irish was drummed into them, you wonder how on earth any poor dyslexic child survived it all and yet Andrew tells it all with a great sense of humour and his motto ‘worse could have happened’. ?There are times when you wonder how it could have been worse but yet you know it could – the poverty and hardships then seemed to be general experiences across the rural population.

You will chortle at the description of Andrew having to sleep top to toe with two women either side and three more at the other end of the bed, their experiences with various housekeepers, the gander being used to sweep the chimney, the drunken schoolmaster, the escapade with the donkeys. ?My dad also remembered the hard work associated with the sugar beet, the having to weed and harvest them while wearing short trousers along frost bitten fields. As Andrew points out, the sugar beet was presented as a great ‘cash crop’ to the farmers so money would be coming in at an otherwise quiet time of the year. However, rather than resting during the coldest months of the year, they had to work long days in horrible weather but he tells it in a way that does make you chuckle. ?You will also be glad you didn’t live back then!

I included some details in my book regarding the 1950s farmer and whether he was a good catch or not. When you think that such a huge proportion of the Irish population was involved in farming during the Irish free state, it really brings home what men and women endured and yet enjoyed. ?After all, a wake was considered good entertainment in many ways. Andrew explaining the background to the Economic War and the recounting of how cattle became worthless so quickly, De Valera’s haphazard and misguided methods for dealing with it and the tales of skinning calves will make you appreciate modern farming.

If you want to read an account of Irish farming, this is a great one. It really brings it home how tough it was and how hardened they were to it, yet they had good craic and enjoyed their good times. I was just saying to Brian the other day that it is a huge shame that no one wrote down the memories of a neighbouring farmer who died ten years ago, it is wonderful that some farmers did.

If you would like to buy a copy of ‘Worse Could Have Happened’, Madeleine bought all the remaining copies from Poolbeg and is selling them for ?6 at The Tea Rooms at Ducketts ?Grove. She makes the best hot chocolates you will ever taste too! My book is available for pre-order now too – exciting!

To win a copy of both farming books (will be sent out on 2nd December to any address in the world), do leave a comment telling us about a farmyard memory. If you have never been on a farm in your life, a memory about an animal will do too. ?I’ll be sharing some of my farmyard childhood memories in a blog post next week but I want to hear yours too. I’m going to ask Madeleine to choose the best one and if she can’t choose, we’ll draw it by random number! ? Do comment by 27th November and we’ll announce the winner on 28th.

21 thoughts on “Competition – Win Two Farming Books

  • Lorna

    We really enjoyed reading these, coincidentally it was Andrew’s tenth anniversary last night and we were musing over how he would have enjoyed reading them too. We ended up pulling a name out of a hat as we just couldn’t decide and the winner is Liv – who will receive a copy of each of the books 🙂

  • Jennifer Hogan

    So….there I was…trying to impress my new boyfriend..a tipperary farmer..and me a slick city chick from Dublin.. so out we were on the farm checking on the cattle..he told me to stand in the field and wait for him while he shut a he went..and along came a few cattle to have a closer look at this interesting female intruding their space…and the closer they got…the more frightened I got… resulting in my pretty unimpressed man returning to a sobbing girlfriend. .terrified of the cattle!!! 6 years on.. we’re celebrating our first wedding anniversary.. we’re extremely happy.. and lets just say.. I’ve kinda got a bit more used to the cattle now!!!

  • Mary Gethings

    I have some wonderful farmyard memories as I grew up surrounded by farms. One memory that sticks in my mind is getting the milk from the farm in a ‘Big Brother’ bottle. My mother would wash out the bottle with gravel and water to make sure the milk residue was removed (no fancy bottle brushed then!). The farm was just a field away so off I would head making sure not to touch the electric fence across the middle of the field. Firstly I had to wash out the farmers milk can before heading to the milking parlour. My most vivid memory is getting up on a ladder to take the lid off the top of the huge tank and then reaching inside holding on to the edge with one hand and dangling inside with the can in the other hand trying to swish the cream through the milk and filling the can. It always took 2 or 3 attempts to actually fill the can. How I didn’t fall in I’ll never know. I did try to get the milk out once from the bottom of the tank but it was a disaster. I turned the lever and the milk just gushed out all over the parlour and I ended up having to hose it all down so the farmer wouldn’t know. When I would bring the milk in there was always Marietta biscuits sandwiched together with chunks of butter….rather delicious I might add:) The fridge always smelled of strawberry jelly and there was always a bowl of cold custard for the daily after dinner dessert which I enjoyed on several occasions. On one occasion I decided to take a short cut home with the milk. I climbed up onto the bales in the shed in the haggard, crawled along the top of them and then got out legs first at the other end. The only problem was I didn’t see the long rusty nail. As I lowered myself down the nail stuck in my leg and today I have a scar to remind me of the good old days growing up and helping out on the farms.

  • Liv

    Combining has always been my favourite time of year on our farm. I used to love going for a picnic in the field, despite the prickley bottom from the stubble. My brothers and I raced eachother over the trails of swath and ran on top of the rolling bales. I still love it now, but from the luggers perspective! What was even better was when the harvest was finished and all the bales were gathered in, we built endless dens with the small square bales with rope swings and tunnels galore. The round bale stacks would become our ship when friends or cousins came round, having two teams, the pirates and the sailors. We would have hours of fun ducking and diving, scrambling over the bales and using any nook and cranny to hide from the pirates!

  • Clare

    My best farming memory has to be at our Uncle and Aunts farm with our cousins as a child!
    We didn?t own a farm and it was a big exciting day out getting to visit. This particular day we got to help with the sheep dipping! I remember having great fun getting to Dunk a Sheep!
    Really enjoyed this Blog page?Keep up the good work writing!

  • Gerry Sinnott

    My dad god be good to him was from Carlow but born in Holles St when my grandmother was expecting him this was before scans they thought she was having twins so they brought her to Dublin. My dad was born all on his lonesome weighing in at over 13 lbs a record at the time and one he held for many years.
    At fourteen years of age he came to Dublin to work as an apprentice barman and he never want back to the country. But when we were growing up we were sent to the country for the summer.
    You could not wait to go as you would have heard all the stories about the
    Fun that was to be had . So when you were the tender young age of 12 you were sent down on the bus from Dublin
    They failed to tell you about no toilets and how you had to go out into the field when the need arose and use doc leaves as Andrex
    But for me the best thing was they had shot guns and a rifle something we thought only soldiers had things like this
    After about a week you would be brought up into the field and your cousins would show you how to load and shoot
    They would set up empty cans and let you have a couple of shots
    The sheer thrill of doing such a thing could not be measured John Wayne had a rival
    Night time and the mug of hot coco made from the fresh milk that you had managed to get from the cow when before you thought it had come out of a factory and to curl up in bed with the glow of the oil lamp throwing shadows across the white washed walls is something that will always remain with me.
    You would be dreading the end of summer when you had to make your way back to the big smoke knowing that your mates would not believe what you got up to with you country cousins . My dad loved his country connections but grew to love his adapted city well he was born a Dub

    • Lorna

      Hi Gerry, I remember when I lived in Bristol and there was a guy there, his mum was Irish and he used to go to rural Cavan to visit his grandparents for holidays and about having to use the field and leaves as his toilet. I think that was his over-riding memory. Lots around here had outside toilets alright when I was growing up – as in they built a brick outhouse with a flush toilet.
      I remember buying a house in Salisbury in the UK in 2001 and an old couple had rented it for 50 years and yep, the only toilet was outside and the bath was in the kitchen (covered with a lid) so it wasn’t just the Irish countryside 😉
      Great memories – love the one of the hot chocolates 🙂

  • Maura

    In 1973 as a child, my family and I moved from city living in Manchester to a farm in Leitrim, we were not blow-ins though, as I had first thought, as my fathers mothers family had been farmers in Leitrim and my mother was also from a farm in Donegal. My parents were happy to be back on the land but it was a different story for us kiddie city slickers!

    Never mind getting a shock to realise that meat did not come from a packet but from living animals – the seeds of my vegetarianism was borne from this shock! I was not the most skilled budding farmer! My mother was though and she tried to teach me to milk a cow ( by hand) but I ran a mile, literally when I was just about to give it a go. She was brilliant though and I would watch her from the safety of behind the Byre door! There was definitely a rhythm and skill to this milking, luckily they got milking machines not long after. After many disastrous attempts to grow a budding farmer by my parents, the last straw came when I was nearly attacked by twelve roosters ( who were supposed to be twelve pullets, we had been conned by the chicken seller!) I went out to the yard to collect washing from the line for my mother on the way back to the house, I noticed the 12 roosters were a bit too menacing looking for my liking, so I ran, of course I slipped on some ice and fell, only to be surrounded very quickly by 12 angry and for some strange reason, hungry looking roosters and it looked like I was going to be their main course. Screaming, slipping and scrambling I thought horror of horrors I am going to be eaten by 12 roosters. Mum saved me and got me some strong sweet tea (too young for the Brandy) and food for the roosters! It was then it was declared, maura you are not an outside farmer but you can be an inside one. My chores from then on were of the inside type, helping with cooking, baking, cleaning and child minding, and reading Enid blyton books, bliss!

    • Lorna

      Lovely memories if albeit terrifying Maura – I can imagine how those 12 roosters haunted you. Surely you enjoy a good roast chicken now – if only for revenge 🙂

      Enid Blyton books were my heaven too 🙂

  • John flynn

    I have many memories of farming in my native Leitrim.Milking cows by hand so as to send milk to the Creamery. Digging the potatoes and before that spraying against blight form part of tough but satisfying moments .We worked with the seasons where Spring dictated a time of sowing and preparing the land for whatever crops were possible and suitable to the soil. After that came going to the bog. Our bog was situated some miles away which meant you brought your food and kettle for making the tea at an open fire. Turf like some talents were hidden and concealed. You dug away a top layer called the heather and came to a black mushy vein ever so wide and so deep. You could out your unit to the size of your breast plade or slan and often stood on wet or soggy ground. I caught the turf and built so many on a wooden barrow with a big wooden wheel that took you out to more firm ground. monotonous to some from early morning to sunset you could measure your work and sleep happy when home.

    • Lorna

      Jobs like that gave plenty of thinking time – great for thinking outside the box as well as making you feel you deserved your good night’s sleep. I think you will really enjoy Andrew’s book John – in fact, it sounds like you could write one of your own. Lovely memories. 🙂 Lorna

  • tric

    I wrote a post on this memorable experience.
    My brother and I were allowed to drive the cattle of a family friend, up the road to the far field, after they were milked. We were young at the time and up on holiday visiting grandparents. We were very much Dublin city slickers but loved to “help” with this task every evening.
    When we heard we were allowed to do it alone one night we were delighted. Off we went, but the cattle who always knew the way seemed to be a bit disorientated this particular evening. My brother was sent up to “lead” them. I stayed at the back “hupping”, which was the shout we had always heard.
    I knew by the cries from the front that all was not as it should be. My brother had lost all control. I made my way up front, only to see the usually leisurely paced cows running! Horrified I tried hupping louder and trying to head them off. To no avail. Those cows ran past me and up the back entrance to the local hotel.
    As we stood and watched horrified as the cows disappeared up to the hotel, we did all we felt we could do….. We ran home and hid!
    Luckily my grandad was up there shoeing the hotel horses. He saw the cows and guessed what might have occurred.
    We never again got the responsibility of driving the cattle on our own!

    • Lorna

      a brilliant memory Tric, cows can be a bit fickle and it might have been the sight of a stranger in front of them that spooked them. When you think that years ago people used to walk cattle up to 8 miles to a local mart and get them there, it was some feat – not much traffic but lots of distractions.

  • Denis Coleman

    I remember as a child we spent a family holiday in a house near Bunmahon. As a the house was owned by a farmer who kept his milking cattle in a field located down a pathway behind the house. One day as a treat, myself and my sister were invited to help bring the herd to the farmyard for milking.

    We helped collect them and then herd them along the road to the farmyard. I remember we were both handed a length of stiff rubber piping to help keep them moving. As the ‘expert’ I enjoyed moving from side to side and keeping the herd moving. I remember the ring of the rubber tube when it hit the rump of the cow. I also remember the fact that no matter how hard I whacked them, the animals didn’t even turn their heads and looked at me. After a while I noticed my littler sister was hitting the road instead of the rump of the cows.

    I asked her what she was doing and she said she was hitting the road because she didn’t want to hurt the cows. No matter what she was told, even by the farmer, she refused to hurt the animals…How cute!!

    I on the other hand, continued to ‘be the farmer’ and move the herd. Of course, the cattle got their own back later in the milking parlour when, while I was walking along a trench (I don’t know the correct name of it) between the backs of two rows of cows being milked, a number of them decided to do the other thing cows do best; empty their bowels…All Over Me!!

    Great memories…

    • Lorna

      yes, the milking parlour pit can be a dangerous place to be. We have one particular cow that saves it all until she is in the parlour and she coughs so it flies across the parlour so you’re in danger anywhere not just under her tail 🙂
      Loved your memory – thanks Denis 🙂

  • Amy Wendland

    A farm memory for me ismarrying into a family farm. As a woman in in the farm our job is be there at a drop of the hat when needed. Very hot hot day, the guys were tiling so I should up with a cooler of drinks on ice unannounced. I have never felt so appreciated and helpful.



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