Farm Succession - son or daughter?

I’ve been meaning to blog about the topic of succession for a while, particularly since we discussed it in an #agchatirl topic a couple of weeks ago. If you remember, I was at a Teagasc conference a few months and one researcher mentioned how she had been speaking to a female farmer aged 19, who was working on the home farm and relief milking for other farmers, yet she knew she hadn’t a hope of inheriting the farm – even though her brothers weren’t particularly interested in farming. I’ve heard of farmers in their 60s and 70s being resistant to leaving farms to daughters but her parents are probably not much older than Brian and I.

There’s so many issues surrounding succession – there’s delayed succession which means that sons (and daughters) could be in their 40s or 50s when they inherit which means they are perhaps too old to take risks, the bank may not be forthcoming in giving them 20 year loans and perhaps their enthusiasm for farming has waned too. Another is the reluctance to let daughters inherit. An important issue is the need for the farm to either support two families or to ensure that the parents have enough to live on between old age and personal pensions.

Farm Succession - son or daughter?

Sian Bushell, a succession expert who has visited Ireland on occasion to speak on the subject, was our guest expert for the #agchatirl topic. As she said, it’s not only older farmers that are against female farmers but she also made the point that the child most suited to farming is probably the best successor. not necessarily the male. We discussed reasons for sons being chosen and yes, some of it is undoubtedly down to tradition, the way it has always been done and some of it may be due to the continuation of the surname being attached to that land for more generations.



Donal Ryan and Lorna Sixsmith

There seems to be a plethora of articles recently about people becoming depressed or fixated with trying to keep up with the ‘Joneses’ on social media. People are putting pressure on themselves to be as successful, as slim, as beautiful, as rich, as happy as their Facebook friends. Some are leaving social media to get themselves out of that loop.

I enjoy Facebook – I know that people either put up the very good or the very bad (or yes, there are those who put up the boringly mundane) stuff about themselves but generally there’s a feel good factor – people showing holiday photos, days out, funny pics, their baking successes and flops. I can see why some would feel under pressure to rise to the occasion with their own facebook updates. If all of your mates are putting up pictures of brilliant weekends and you’re sitting at home with the Late Late Show yet again – but if there’s one good thing about being over 40, it’s that you get to the stage that you don’t give  a damn about what anyone else thinks. I was amused once when chatting to someone who worked in an office over a weekend and she remarked how the day out would be something to tell her co-workers about on Monday. I went ‘gosh, do people still do that?’ I’ve been self employed for so long or maybe it is because I see people’s updates on social media that I never think of comparing weekend or relating events.

It made me think – do I envy the success of other authors? As a self published author, do I feel constricted by own very limited success and do I envy them, do I want to be them, do I want to be them so badly that it almost paralyses me? No. I hugely admire JK Rowling for example but I know I’d never write the genres that she writes so I just enjoy her. I met Donal Ryan last night and listened to him talking about his books and his writing and publishing process, his thoughts on being rejected so many times and his huge success in the last two years. I admire him for his writing skills, his passion, his staying power, his humour and yes, I would love if my books sold more widely but I don’t want to be like him so much that I want to copy him. He really was inspiring and he inspired me to think that I should pull my 40,000 word novel out of dropbox and see if I can do something with it later this year.

Donal Ryan and Lorna Sixsmith

I wasn’t always like that though. Five years ago, I wanted more children – to the extent that I was depressed. Hearing of people being pregnant with their third child was like a kick in the stomach. Seeing families with three or four children was difficult. I had the two most wonderful children in the world, I knew I was so lucky and yet I couldn’t feel it. I would tell myself that I was lucky to be so blessed and yet it was like I was numb, I just couldn’t feel it.

Owen Fitzpatrick wrote a post recently that reminded me of something he said to me at the time and yes, it worked. It took a little while for it to sink in and infiltrate through my numbness and my thick skin but it got there.  I had invited a friend, her husband and their two children for Sunday lunch and the week before, I heard the news that she was pregnant with her third child. I was seriously considering cancelling their visit as I really didn’t want to be thinking horrible stuff for days about someone that I really liked and obviously I wanted her to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.  Watching ‘Julie and Julia’ a couple of weeks ago reminded me of it too – when Julia gets a letter from her sister announcing her first pregnancy, she is overjoyed for her sister but weeps with the agony of it.

I had phoned my “straight-talking-no-bull shrink” from the Not Enough Hours programme, and Owen asked me if I would like to swop my two children with my friend’s three children. My instant reaction was one of horror. Now, of course, her kids are fabulous and she is going to think they are the best in the world but there was no way I would swop my two for anyone or anything. After all, not only did I feel sorry for anyone who didn’t have children and desperately wanted them but I also felt sorry for all the people who didn’t have kids as wonderful as mine!!! And, yes, I still do!

It took a while for the depression to shift fully but I know that what Owen said to me that day definitely shifted my mode of thinking. This blog post explains it much more fluently than I ever could but essentially you may envy someone else their success and their popularity to the extent that you would like to be them but if it cost you everything you hold dear in your own life, would you really want to be them?

I think the best feeling in the world is to be happy in your own skin. Yes, I wouldn’t mind being thinner, taller, beautiful but to be honest, I don’t want to be thin bad enough to make me eat significantly less and go running every day so I kinda have to be happy with how I am. I’m not sure if those feeling came with hitting 40 or not but it is wonderful to feel genuinely happy and blessed on a daily basis and also to not give a sh1t what anyone thinks too. No comparing with the Joneses! Apparently farmers tend to be very risk adverse as they worry about what the neighbours would say if it didn’t work out – I don’t think Brian and I were cut from that mould somehow.  As Owen says, we owe it to ourselves to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be, to learn from others and be inspired by them but to realise how lucky we really are – just as ourselves. And no, I wouldn’t want to be Brian O’Driscoll either or his wife – imagine having to play rugby or listen to rugby stories or horror of horrors, watch rugby from the sidelines on a regular basis! Having to help out during difficult calvings or talk about AI bulls is so much more interesting – I promise!

How to be a good farm wife

What is a perfect farming wife? Are you one? I’m certainly not but I guess I have worked out some ways to cheat at it!

The perfect farming wife according to the farmer must:

  • Organise his paperwork and be able to find the piece of paper he left on the table three days ago
  • Be an eternal optimist
  • Be flexible – never tie him down to an exact time for anything
  • Cook hearty meals
  • Organise his wardrobe so he can find co-ordinated ‘good’ clothes easily
  • Pair his socks
  • He’s a family man and would love to see his children interested in farming so an heir and a spare are important
  • Be good at budgeting money
  • Be able to multi-task. Looking after children, cooking meals, keeping baby lambs alive, keeping an eye on a calving cow, answering the telephone – and all at once, should be a piece of cake!
  • See bringing dinner to him in the field as a good idea


Remember you marry the farm and the in-laws as well as the farmer so the perfect farming wife according to the in-laws must:

  • Produce an heir and a spare
  • Able to feed the farmer nourishing and hearty dinners
  • Create a meal in minutes when contractors drive into the yard
  • Become involved in various community events, able to whip up sandwiches and scones to bring along
  • Bring in an income yet be free to go and collect tractor parts if necessary
  • Ensure the farmer and the children are smartly turned out for all off-farm outings
  • Keep the house and garden tidy
  • Never leave your clothes hanging out for more than 3 days
  • Be able to drive a tractor, feed calves and deliver lambs

I am not a good farm wife but I guess I try to cheat the system somewhat. It’s my parents that live nearby, not my inlaws so I guess my poor mum only has herself to blame when she realises what a hopeless farm wife I am at times. I do get involved in occasional community events but keep some homemade biscuit cake in the freezer for occasions when cake is needed quickly. It is so so easy to make.

How to be a good farm wife

I’m not good at paperwork at all and as all the post sits at the end of the kitchen table until it is filed, it sometimes creeps further down the table towards us so we end sitting on top of each other until I bite the bullet and sort it out. I work from home so I’m kind of always available to stand in a gap or dash off for an emergency part.

I can’t create a meal in minutes unless it is teatime. We have hens now again so if there really isn’t anything left in the fridge (which happens surprisingly often) it’s a tea of toast and boiled eggs. If the biscuit cake had time to defrost, there will be biscuit cake, albeit sometimes somewhat chilled!

I don’t organise anyone’s wardrobe! I was at a meeting once where a farming lady commented on the state at some men at the mart and how their wives were to blame. If I see a very scruffy male farmer, I never think of the wife, I just presume the farmer is old enough now to know whether to tidy himself up or maybe he was too busy. I feel my farmer is old enough and smart enough to know whether to change out of his dirty jeans or not. Having said that, there are times when I nip to the local shop when I look in a rather dishevelled state too. Winter is fine as a hat and coat hide a multitude of grubby unironed clothing.

How to be a perfect farm wife

I’m very flexible re timetables so that works! Even more flexible than the farmer! I can multi-task too, in fact, I prefer multi-tasking as I then have the perfect excuse if the dinner gets burnt!

How about you? Are you a perfect farming wife? Do you have the capability to be one? Or do you have any ‘cheat tips’ to share.

Images = illustrations from the book
would you marry a farmer snippet 2
Fresh Eggs

My childhood memories of my maternal grandmother are of going to collect eggs with her in a huge henhouse where eggs were piled in tall and wide egg laying boxes along one wall, she would fill a huge green bucket with them and we would give each egg a quick wash or wipe before putting them in trays. She ran a flourishing egg business with what seemed like hundreds of hens and chickens. The hens roamed in the field and in the winter, she would make them a hot mash to warm their cockles :)

A few years ago, we bought 18 hens from a man who was giving up the commerical egg business. At €2 each, they certainly were great value for money – we had eggs coming out of our ears for weeks and weeks. Some of them lived for at least another two years although we lost two to the fox. The children were about 3 and 5 when we got them and they used to love rounding them up to put them to bed on summer evenings. We got some chickens for meat a few years ago too.  Since then though, the shed I used to have for the hens has been used for calves during our compact calving season so I never got around to buying more.

I got four back in January as I needed a ‘cute’ factor for the Sunday World feature and once the hens arrived in the yard – Brian had to help me make a house so now the 4 hens are now living happily in what was the compressor house for the old milking parlour.

Fresh Eggs

We are getting 3 or 4 eggs most days. I had presumed they were all laying in the mornings and I was collecting them at around 10 am once I’d finished feeding the calves. However, one day I collected them at 8:30 as I was heading off and was surprised to see four eggs there. Another day I collected them at 3pm and there was 6!!  6 eggs from 4 hens – something was strange. It turns out that they are laying throughout the morning, probably all laying by 2pm as far as I can make out.  I’m letting them out to roam around in the late afternoon and then they go to bed by dusk and I just shut them in when I’m finishing off the evening jobs. They love to get out, one is particularly adventurous and it is nearly impossible to keep her in when I am feeding them in the morning. I’m often having to pick her up and deposit her back in.

Free Range Hens

It has happened twice that I’ve found broken eggshell for one egg in the laying box – probably being there since the previous day meant it was tempting!  I bought Fiona Dillon’s book ‘Food from an Irish Garden’ before Xmas so decided to peruse it to see if it would tell me how to deal with it. Brian’s suggestion was to burn her beak!! The book has excellent preparation tips as well as symptoms for all the types of mite that hens can get – I was surprised to read this as we’ve never experienced this the few times we’ve kept them but I guess we have just been lucky or else never noticed! However, it didn’t tell me what to do if a hen eats her eggs but luckily Fiona is on twitter so I am able to ask her there. Apparently the old wives tricks such as filling an eggshell with spices or curry don’t work (so I guess the burning of the beak is out too!). Fiona suggested isolating the offending hen (I’m not sure which one it is though), making sure they have enough calcium and tricking her by putting a golf ball in the nest. Thinking about it, they might have been low on grit when it happened so that might be the reason. I’m collecting the eggs twice a day to reduce their temptation to do it too.

Kate loves eggs and on seeing there was one huge egg yesterday (I winced for the poor hen when I saw it), she was frying eggs for tea yesterday evening and was very excited when the huge egg had two yokes! As far as I know, it happens more with older hens so I wonder will this pullet be a frequent duo yoke layer!

And a bit of a change from feeding calves in the evenings – tomorrow evening I will be talking about crowdfunding and selfpublishing at the English Literary Society in UCD. Well, they say a change is as good as a rest :)

And if you’d like to find out how to add a banner image to your blog posts like the one below – check out Spiderworking’s tutorial post.

would you marry a farmer snippet 2
hen party

I realised there was more to training someone to be a perfect farming wife when Geraldine, journalist with the Sunday World, arrived for her day of farmwife training here. Dressed in jeans and a checked shirt but with a pink Stetson hat, perfect protection against splashes from a cow’s rear in her opinion, I showed her how to milk a cow by hand and by machine.   Feeding the lamb, she was forgetting to tilt the bottle up so the milk would flow. She did a great job of hunting the yearling bulls but it was holding the hen that revealed her to be a city girl – when she became anxious about a scratch on her arm from the hen and went off to get an antiseptic wipe from her bag in case it became infected that I realised that perhaps I’m more of a hardened farming wife than I thought.  It was good craic and the article was published in last week’s Sunday World complete with lots of pictures.

50 Shades of Hay - Farm Wife Training

Learn how to be a perfect Farm Wife:

hen partyFor those who might like to learn how to become the perfect farming wife and have good craic at their hen party into the bargain, At this farmyard hen party venue, you and your friends can learn how to milk a cow, churn butter, catch a cock, round up the sheep, throw wellies (this is important as if the farmer is driving you mad for any reason in the future, you can threaten him with your practised good aim) and of course, make the perfect loaf of brown bread.

There’s full details and booking forms over at I’d love to hear how you get on. It sounds like great craic.

The lovely people at are also stocking my book ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ on their online store so you could either order it with other henparty goodies or ensure you have it as a reference guide to your farmyard training day.

If you are a farming wife, what advice would you share?

I’m teaching an online blogging course at the moment over at We Teach Social and one of the things I tell my blogging students is that reading other blogs can inspire your own posts. I have been thinking about writing a post to a younger self for a while and two blog posts I read recently have made me put fingers to keyboard here.  I’m conscious that I’ve always been fairly independent, matter-of-fact, relatively fiery at times, always wanted to write a book but the inspiration or the timing never seemed right. However, I am convinced that those who say ‘Life beings at 40′ are very accurate.

Elaine at NewFarmerette was bemoaning hitting 36 last week (and yes, I have to admit that I was thinking to myself that she is still a young ‘un with nothing to worry about but I can also remember what it feels like) and Tric at My Thoughts on a Page just wrote about her previous reluctance to put her writing out there.

Hitting 40 was a bit of a sore point. I had always imagined we’d have 4 kids by the time I was 40 or I’d be pregnant with our fourth. Having had first and second at just 33 and 35, I had it all planned to have third and fourth at 38 and 40. But life doesn’t work to plan and yes, I struggled with that and with some depression for a wee while.

Garrendenny Farm 2013

Now that I am 44, I couldn’t be happier or more content and I’ve learnt quite a bit about myself too. That I really don’t give a s**t what anyone thinks – not really.  Yes, I’d be delighted if everyone loves my book but realistically that is not going to happen. I was nervous sending it out to a few friends who are helping with the proofreading as I really do care about their opinion and yes, it would be great to read glowing blog reviews and hear that people think it is really funny but if it doesn’t happen – I will still have written a book. I’ve been meaning to write a book for the last 6 years and have 40,000 words of a novel somewhere. Yes, I may take it out again at some point – at the moment, I’ve caught the farming book bug and have another planned for next year.  The crowdfunding made me realise that sometimes you just have to put your shoulders back, push the fear aside and go for it.

Letter to my 39 year old selfI love feeling contented. I went through a period where I was a fog, where I hated getting up in the mornings. I wasn’t badly depressed either, not compared to some. I love that while it is hard to get up when I’m tired and it’s cold, I’m happy bouncing out of bed. I’m happy walking the kids to the bus, happy that my 9 year old still holds my hand and gives me a hug before the bus comes, happy to walk back up to the house and get stuck into my book or a ghost blog or a social media lesson.  I’m not religious as such but I do feel blessed to have two such wonderful, caring, beautiful, intelligent, fabulous kids. The husband isn’t bad either!

I’ve also learnt that I will never make a good housekeeper but life is too short. Someday I will get a cleaner.  I said to my husband earlier that I need to plan a really nice day off as a reward once this book goes to the printers and my ebook is formatted – otherwise I will just keep writing.  While the house gets its quick hoover and dust, furniture needs to be pulled out, wardrobes need a sort out, windows need a clean (no, not a clean, a scrub), hotpress (airing cupboard) needs to be emptied and sorted, oven needs to be cleaned, rooms need painting, floors need a good scrub, leak in shower needs to be sorted, kitchen cupboards need to be cleaned out, broken window needs to be fixed – you can see why I just want to keep writing and ignore it all.  So, before I embark on a week of cleaning, I need a treat and I couldn’t think of anything. I’m not into spas, I would stick pins in my eyes before heading off a girly day of shopping, I can’t sit in the house and relax with a book and ignore the mess so I am trying to think of something that would be a big treat – some time to myself but doing what? So, 39 year old self, sort yourself out and don’t work so hard that you forget what you enjoy doing in your leisure time.  I will probably head to a favourite bookshop with €50 in my pocket and then go to a nice cafe and read for a couple of hours.

I’ve always known that I’m an intensely protective mum.  I’ve known that others thought I was a bit mad when the kids were young, when I didn’t chastise my son for crying easily, when I fed him till he was 2 although heavily pregnant with Kate, that I wasn’t worried about him being so sensitive or so ‘young’ for his age. I’ve been amused that people thought I was mad still feeding my daughter too till she was 29 months, even though she was so tall for her age (I lost loads of weight – it was great, and neither of them have any allergy problems which was my main reason). I’ve learnt in the last year too that I definitely don’t care what others think, that even though the teachers are wonderful, sometimes you just have to tackle parents and be blunt (and boy, can I be blunt when I am protecting my kids!!!) and it does sort things out and that is all that matters. I will never be the most popular mother in the playground but I’ve never been the type of person to need lots of friends. Give me one or two good friends and I am happy. 39 year old self, don’t wait so long to kick ass next time.

5 years ago, Ireland was a very different place. People were much more materialistic, the emphasis seemed to be on monetary success. I’ve never been that materialist (just as well – there’s very few wealthy farmers around) and as long as I have a few decent items in the wardrobe, a reliable car, a warm house with an open fire, good books, can afford my health insurance (yep, I don’t trust the Irish medical service) and the whole family is healthy, I’m happy. It is nice to have reached a stage, even though the country is in recession, that so many other people are like that too – they value what they have and it isn’t all money in the bank. Yes, I know people are struggling and I’m wincing thinking of our current overdraft too. My 39 year old self used to feel that I should be wealthier, not necessarily to display it, just to feel wealthier in monetary terms.  Sorry if this makes you cringe reading it but if this is what middle age and one’s 40s brings in terms of contentment, I’m looking forward to my 50s!

So, 39 year old self, keep doing what you love – blogging, writing, being a full-time mum. Grab the bull by the horns, be impulsive, collaborate with brilliant people and let things grow naturally (blog becomes book, klck bloggers network becomes blog awards).  I didn’t even know about blog awards early in 2010 and in 2012, I’m organising one – who knows what the future holds – as long as you are prepared to go for things, anything can happen. The journey is the best bit of any goal so there’s no panic on winning a huge achievement either.

Blog Awards Ireland 2013

Just to give you a heads up as the blog might be down for a couple of days as we transfer everything across to the new website. It should be available on though. Now that this personal blog has become more businessy (yes, I have a book to sell!) I wonder will I feel the need to start another personal one – it will be interesting to see. I have plans to write posts here from the perspective of a dairy heifer calf once a favourite is born in February. Looking forward to that too. The next month is going to be busy but very exciting. I’ll have an exact date from the printers too later in the week regarding when I’ll have the book in my sticky paws. I will leave you with a draft of an illustration from the book (we are changing her skirt to a jeans) – I love this one.

Would You Marry A Farmer?

A conversation about farmers wives and our uses on twitter led to a discussion about ‘IMAGE’ for farmer’s wives/farmerettes.  By the way, a ‘farmerette’ is a girl or woman who works on the land and is even mentioned in Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. I know farmer is a non-gender specific term but I like ‘farmerette’.

Mini farmerette

Personally I think it is a shame if a farmer’s wife doesn’t get involved on the farm – partly so she knows what he is going on about and understands the stresses and the need for the long hours, partly because modern farming can be very isolating for the farmer and partly because it can be fun to be out working together. Let’s face it, if your husband is working 16 hours a day, you’re not going to see much of him unless you don the wellies and head out.

“And didn’t she up in sorgues and go and trot doon and stand in her douro, puffing her old dudheen, and every shirvant siligirl or wensum farmerette walking the pilend roads, Sawy,”

Finnegans Wake

Obviously some women have their own careers and their 9-5 work to commute to, not to mention if there are children to look after but I do think it is a shame if they are at home and their ‘area’ is the house and his is the farm.

My Calf Feeding Garb
My Calf Feeding Garb

Talking about ‘image’ on twitter made me laugh too, it followed a tweet I had said about my dad paying me a compliment as I carried 4 gallon buckets full with milk across the yard. ‘You’re a hardy girl’, he’d said!  Obviously when you are feeding calves, you’re going to get mucky, the trouser waterproofs are going to stink of milk and muck and although I have 3 coats for the farm so I can get them washed in turn and they don’t get too manky, even one wear means that they do get somewhat smelly.  Preparing for a ‘farmerette’ photoshoot last week with only a day’s notice and no time to go shopping, I did think to myself that the English image of a ‘farmerette’ would be nice fitting jeans, a pale check shirt and a tweed jacket.  However, I don’t own a tweed jacket so I decided to opt for my green coat which would be bright for the paper and as it will soon become my farm coat anyway ….. as it’s getting a tad old and shabby. I didn’t even have pink or floral wellies to flaunt!

“She had one vanity, however — that of having her picture taken nearly every day in her farmerette clothes.”

Hidden Treasure

But what does an Irish farmerette look like?

I often do wonder how I should be representing myself in terms of my ‘sartorial elegance’ locally. I’m in the local post office almost on a daily basis because of the online shop. If it is on the way to or from a training, I’ll probably be in ‘business dress’. If I’m working from home, I’ll be wearing jeans and a sweater. If I am giving Brian a hand on the farm or on the way to the  outfarm, I’ll be in jeans, old coat and wellies.  I often think to myself that those who know me know I do get dressed up occasionally but what about those who are looking at me in my wellies and thinking to themselves ‘so, she’s a social media consultant is she?!’  Well, I don’t worry about them too often!

“So he’s still puzzling over what he regards as an anomaly, afarmerette who knows the difference between De Bussey and a side-delivery horse-rake, a mother of three children who can ride a pinto and play a banjo, a clodhopper in petticoats who can talk about Ragusa and Toarmina and the summer races at Piping Rock.”

The Prairie Mother

I remember Elaine, the New Farmerette commenting on how she will wear a little make up on the farm but I put that down to the fact that she is meeting the general public with her riding school business too. I have to admit that if I’m not visiting clients or training, days and days could go by without me putting on any makeup and even then, I’d wear very little.  My dear hairdresser knows that I always want a cut that needs little attention, a wash, a quick brush and then it is abandoned to do what it wants. Thank goodness though, I had gone to get it cut the week before the photoshoot especially when he told me it had been 13 weeks since I’d last had it cut – no wonder it was getting a bit out of control!

The Irish Country Magazine, on its launch last year, used images of red wellies beside red stilettos to show a modern farmer’s wife – the image being one who farmed during the day and went out on the tiles at night, one who was as home milking cows, driving tractors and lambing sheep and still had the style to dress fashionably in the evenings.

farmeretteIn another twitter chat yesterday, I and some other ‘farmerettes’ decided that we should have a ‘tweet/meet up’ and put faces to the avatars. Jokingly we said that perhaps there should be a ‘farmerette test’ to see if one is allowed join, an initiation test.

Here’s the list we came up with and how I’d do!

  • Carry two 4 gallon buckets of milk —— No problem
  • Assist at a Caesarean section ————Yes
  • Hold a womb while it’s being stitched —-Never had, but no prob
  • Drive a tractor ————————–Hmm, not if it has to be in a precise straight line as in spreading fertiliser
  • Reverse a trailer through a narrow gate —- I am spacially defunct and can barely reverse a car, wouldn’t be able to do this through a wide or narrow gateway!
  • Nail varnish not obligatory, welts on hands are —- Yes, welts on hands from carrying aforementioned buckets but only during calving season
  • Stop a gap ———————————-Yes, many years experience
  • Milk a cow, goat, sheep or mare ————2 of them
  • Understand and appreciate the many uses of twine —- for tying up dogs, holding up trousers, acting as firelighters etc
  • Carry a bag of feed on your shoulder ——-Depends on size of bag but yes!
  • Stack small bales on trailer while on a hill —- Years since I’ve done this but yes, I think I can remember!
  • Dose / Inject cattle ————————–Occasionally
  • Run fast after cattle ————————-I can run, not sure about the speed!

Okay, I think I pass!!  Would you?  Btw, feeding calves is sufficient to pass ;)

Mini Farmerette

If you would like to join us for our tweet/meet up, do leave a comment or send me a tweet or follow the hashtag #farmerettes. We have yet to decide on a venue or the date but will do soon.  I’m intrigued as to what the conversation will be like, after all, we won’t have met each other before and our common interests are social media and farming. It should be interesting!

And I’d love to hear your opinion – what do you think regarding farmers’ wives? Is it important they help out on the farm and should they think about their image while doing so?

Oh, by the way, if you would like to read the article about me in ‘Horse and Countryside’ I’ve embedded it into this blog post (couldn’t embed it here as it’s not and it needed a plugin)

Elaine at New Farmerette wrote a post some time ago outlining her two favourite rituals of the day and at the time, I thought it was a lovely idea and that I must do something similar. The problem was I couldn’t think of just two!!

Irish Cows Going Out

Favourite Rituals 1 & 2

I love coming in on a cold, frosty morning after feeding the calves and the heat of new stove in the kitchen enveloping me like a hug.  Brian tends not to eat anything or else very little before he goes to milk and has a late breakfast anytime between 9:30-11 depending on the time of year and the amount of work that needs doing before breakfast. We tend to have a good chat over breakfast and unless we are discussing paperwork that needs to be done, there’s a nice relaxed mood going on.

Favourite Ritual 3

I also like when he goes out to work and I settle down to the laptop to write some ‘ghost posts’ for clients, a blog post of my own or prepare for a teaching course. I like silence and usually switch off the radio at this stage.

Favourite Ritual 4

The kids usually do their homework on little tables in front of the living room fire and as this can take up to an hour, I usually crochet a small granny square of 5 rows as I’m sitting beside them.  If they don’t have an activity that evening and particularly if the rain is bashing off the windows, I’ll read a couple of chapters to them from whatever book we’re reading.

Favourite Ritual 5

I Love Chocolate!I also love when I’ve put the children to bed and I return downstairs to make a cup of tea, plonk by the armchair in front of the fire, switch on the TV (sometimes noticing that it is the first time that day it has been switched on and giving myself a clap on the back for being such a great parent that my kids haven’t watched TV at all that day!!), reach for the laptop, a book or the crochet – depending on whether Brian is there to chat to and also what is on the box in the corner.

Favourite Ritual 6

With my new iphone 5, I have started to download some books on ibooks and since discovering that my eyesight isn’t being ruined by not wearing glasses when reading, I’ve really enjoyed catching up on some classics. Although my Jane Austen novels are all on the bookcase, I find it a pain to read a novel in bed and stay warm under the covers. With such a busy calving season, Brian was often up half the night so I’d take myself off to bed and read on my iphone. As the screen is lit up, I didn’t even have to bother reaching to switch off the light. I just switch off the light and often fall asleep reading, waking up a few minutes later to switch off the phone and put it on the locker. I’ve read 4 of the 6 Jane Austen novels and am thoroughly enjoying them.

There’s my 6 favourite rituals and I manage to achieve at least 3 of them each day – happy days :)

With Will watching the rugby in the living room and Kate & I baking away in the kitchen, I was reminded of some of my childhood Saturdays as a kid. My dad would be watching the rugby and everytime a try was scored or something exciting happened, he would shout for my mum and she’d have to run in and watch the replay even though she wasn’t overly interested!  My younger sister would often be helping her bake and I was usually curled up in an armchair reading one of my Enid Blyton books!


I wonder how my kids will remember their winter Saturdays – out feeding calves in the morning, sometimes pancakes for a late breakfast, Will watching the rugby, Kate and I baking and cooking dinner, followed by either me reading aloud to them or watching the Big Movie on RTE. Yes, we have lazy Saturdays at home.  Both kids are very like me in that they hate going anywhere on  a Saturday. We did swimming on Sat mornings for one term last year and this year we went to Coderdojo for a number of weeks and will probably get back to it when the calf feeding has eased but I love love love hard working yet lazy Saturdays.

That’s a photo from a few weeks ago – today we made cookies from a new recipe which were yum, a  Dundee cake and a carrot cake. We made chicken tagliatelli carbonara(sp!! – rushing now to go out and feed the calves!) for dinner :)

Pizza and rock shandy as a treat tonight for tea. Hope you are all having a good weekend. xx


What a week!  I had flu last week, not man flu, not woman flu but real flu that make me feel that dying might not be far off!  6 years ago Brian and I had what we thought was flu and we got antibiotics for chest infections at the time. We felt lousy but Brian was able to carry on with the calving and training in the heifers and I was able to sit with a toddler on my knee most of the day (kids were 2 and 4 and were poorly too) but that wasn’t flu!  There was no way I could do anything last week, bar lie in bed. I’m feeling much better now, though I’m still barking with a cough and taking it fairly easy. Do too much and I feel awful so I’m doing a bit, having a rest, doing a bit …… I just hope to goodness that Brian doesn’t get it!

Cork January 2013 050

What made it all worse was that the builders only finished on Tuesday morning (plastering bathroom, putting in new suite and a stove in the kitchen) – dust everywhere. I thought they’d never be finished so I could get to bed and then had to try and ignore the mess  for a week!  Brian tiled the shower ( and the kitchen splashback at long last!)

We’re up to about 30 calves now and all going fine with 3 sets of twins (one of heifers, two of a heifer and bull) and all are hale and hearty.  One calf shed is full and the second one is going to be full in a week! With all the stories of Schmallenberg virus creating deformities in unborn calves and lambs, it is an anxious time for all farmers at the moment.  Brian is having fun training in heifers in the milking parlour, which means they have to be trained to stand to be milked. Some are easier than others, one huge one created chaos the other evening by bursting out the front gate and then a small one turned around completely!

I’m glad we don’t have too many bulls left to sell to the factory. This mess with horse meat is just becoming past ridiculous for so many reasons that I’m not going to go into now. For now, beef price has held but the factories are being very careful regarding the of cattle they are accepting.

2013 Kate's camera 242Note – Tiles still need to be grouted!

Kate is finishing off her baking project for her third class project this week – showing what she has learnt about flour, raising agents, when the first birthday cakes as well as including lots of photos of herself baking!  It’ll be a lovely project to look back on when she is older.

Cork January 2013 055Mmmmmmm – they were yum!