It has been such a busy week, I lay down on the sofa after Sunday lunch and slept for over an hour. It’s not often I nap and I woke up feeling that my afternoon had vanished – so much for relaxing with my crochet or a book for a while.
Multi-Tasking Farm Bride
February has been a busy month all round. We’ve had a christening and a wedding in the family and all on the same day. Off we went to a christening and straight after their little girl was christened, the parents went up to the front of the church for the wedding while all the guests stood with our jaws dropping to the floor for about two minutes before we gathered ourselves together and followed them up to watch the service. We had been wondering why there was such a big time gap between the christening and the meal afterwards but hadn’t thought more about it beyond relief that we’d be able to get home to milk and feed the calves in between the two.
Talk about showing she’s going to be a brilliant farmer’s wife with such skill in multi-tasking! I liked their wedding cake too.
Selling At The Mart
Brian headed to the mart on Monday, he did jest that I could go in and sell the cows but I’d always be nervous. The thoughts of standing there wondering if I should take the price just makes me cringe. I was talking to a Wexford woman recently who goes to the mart to sell her cattle but she gets her nephew to stand by the auctioneer and give him the nod if they are making enough – she believes that the buyers won’t bid as high if they see the seller is a woman. I’ve no idea whether that would be the case or not but she seemed convinced and I wasn’t about to put it to the test!
Prayer, Superstition or Skill – or all 3?
While he was at the mart, the vet came to check on a cow and it turned out that both her uterus and the calf were twisted. It took a while for the vet to right them. I was amused when he said to me that it might be an idea to say a prayer as I’m more accustomed to seeing farmers being superstitious than religious. Once the calf was righted, he said the prayer had worked and then asked if I’d said one. “No”, I replied “It must have been all yours that made it work”. I’ve a feeling it was more down to his skill but whatever the reason, all we had to do now was pull the calf out and a lovely Hereford heifer was born.
The vet is much more polite than my farmer – while saying “come on girl, give me a hand”, he was quick to point out that he was talking to the cow, not me! Neither did he expect me to pick up the two back legs of the calf to carry her out of the crush and seemed surprised when I did!
Separating Cattle …. Again
It’s also the time of year for male cattle to go to the factory, they are two years of age. For the previous two years, we raised them as bull beef and part of the reason we changed back to steers was due to the beef crisis last year when there was a glut of cattle and reduced prices with factories taking steers and heifers before they would take bulls. In many ways, I’m glad we’re back to doing steers if only for safety reasons. We had to separate five steers from fifty-two this evening and it was easy enough. Even though you have to have your wits about you in case one kicks out or backs into you, you know they aren’t deliberately going to decide to take a run at you or think about throwing you into the air with a head-butt. If you stand still, steers will come up to sniff at you but once you move, they will back away. They like to have their own personal space and so do I. Bulls aren’t so worried about invading your personal space and I like metres of it when it comes to bulls!
Brian and I are obviously becoming more in tune after years of farming together as there wasn’t a single shout between us. Communication could still improve – telling me just the ear tag number isn’t overly helpful as even with my glasses, my eyesight is pretty rubbish. Leaving out an obvious feature in a description is a failing too such as telling me it’s the one third from the right would be more helpful if he also added “the one with the stunted right horn” but the difference between larger cattle are much easier to spot than when trying to determine differences between calves.
Hardworking Farm Kids
Do you ever find that you’re continually running out of money and having to borrow off the kids? I got money out of the bank yesterday and ended up giving most of it to the kids, between money I’d borrowed and their “wages” for the month. It used to drive me mad having to nag them to do jobs, like all kids sometimes they were really helpful and sometimes they would need lots of nagging to get jobs done. They each have responsbility for certain tasks and get so much per month for each task. W brings in sticks in the winter and keeps our fairly large area of grass cut during the summer. Their mini company, the “James SH1T Cleaning Company” earns money for all the evenings they scrape and lime the cubicles for the cows. W irons, K bakes and K keeps the hot press relatively in order. Our hot press (airing cupboard) is a tiny room and it’s where I put all the clothes to air as I rarely use the tumble dryer. To say it can get messy is an understatement so she goes in there and pairs socks and puts everyone’s clothes into different piles. We don’t need many clothes ironed – one huge advantage of being married to a farmer means that the majority of his clothes just need a fold.
Farm Wife Uniform!
My clothing has become more practical too – I never wore leggings years ago believing I looked too dumpy and short in them. Well, I’m sure I still look dumpy and short but I care a lot less. It’s handy to wear leggings and a black top. If going to town or the local shop, it’s a quick shower, leggings, black top and one of my couple of jersey type short dresses and boots. When I get home, I just swop the dress for a long cardi and swop the boots for waterproofs and wellies. The waterproofs keep the leggings from getting stained with dung so multiple leggings and tops are now my uniform. I am slowly becoming the ever practical farmer’s wife even though I’m never going to look tall and willowy! Having said that, I must weigh myself and see if I’ve lost anything from feeding the calves. One disadvantage of leggings is that you don’t have that ‘loose / tight’ feeling with them when you shed / put on weight.
Update on Writing
It’s been one of those bitty weeks when it comes to writing. I had decided that Wednesdays and Saturdays are going to be my writing days so that I’ll have a good chunk of time each day – but when you add in feeding calves twice, hockey runs, cooking dinner, checking on calving cows, answering phone calls and what seems like a million other little things that add up to hours, the thousands of words you aim for don’t quite materialise. I’m writing the first section at the moment which is historical so I’m researching as I go along too. The plan is to write the first part using the books I have, then I’m going to delve into the internet looking through newspaper archives and next up will be interviews with some farm women. I’m planning to publish in early September and I’m hoping to have a complete first draft done by the end of April. Two sections are almost complete but there’s seven sections in total! ?Writing the first book was easier as so much was in my head whereas with this one, I’m having to research for different information plus I want to add interviews into the mix too. Editing it is going to be fun, I seem to have had forgotten the pain of editing the first one but it’s coming back to me when I glance at some of my very long-winded paragraphs. I reckon the complete first draft will be in the region of 80,000 words and knocking the long-windedness out of it will slash about 25,000 words! I shall keep you posted!
Oh, and the UK media are starting to find and feature my book – Farmers Weekly featured it in their five gift suggestions for farming mums. I’ve another magazine interview coming up too plus a radio interview – both probably in April. It’s all good!