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Posts tagged ‘farming’

I didn’t notice the nuts

“Hope you avoided the bulls,” said Her Goatiness when I returned from my walk.

I paused in the process of unlacing my boot and squinted up at her. “Bulls?” I said. “No, I didn’t see anything. Apart from the two black cows in the paddock below.”

“Black cows? Those were BULLS, Niamhie. Didn’t you notice their nuts?”

Now, I have only recently graduated to the ability to distinguish chickens from goats, never mind determining the sex of livestock. I mean, I’d noticed the cows were a little beefier than the rest of the herd. Good conditioning, I’d thought sagely, congratulating myself on the appropriate application of agricultural jargon.

“Your Goatiness, I’m not some cocky who instinctively checks out an animal’s bollocks,” I said a tad archly. In any case, I generally go out of my way to avoid cows. I hate them: the glazed zombie eyes, the grinding jaws, the udders swinging like wrecking balls. And the way they RUSTLE. Ugh *shiver*.

“Jesus, Niamhie,” said Her Goatiness, “those bulls are seriously dangerous.”

I laughed. I don’t know; perhaps it was a nervous response to having unwittingly stared into the grinding jaws of death.

“I’m not joking! How far away were they?”

“Um. They were beside the gate when I let myself out of the paddock. About ten feet, I suppose.”

Her Goatiness actually went white.

“Jed went over and growled at them. Showed them who’s boss.” Although when one of the bulls lowered his head and wagged it, Jed swiftly ran out of bravado.

“NIAMHIE! They’ll kill him, you know!”

I would have been more touched by her concern if, when I’d started out on my walk, instead of saying, “Have a nice walk,” she’d said, “So you’re going for your usual late-afternoon walk which never varies in its route across the fields to the creek? Watch out for the two black bulls in the lower paddock. I’d avoid it if you wish to maintain your current status as ‘Living’.”


We were recently down at Sherrif and The Bunqueen’s farm, basking in the bucolic glow of early spring. Jed was in the garden attempting to eat a grapefruit tree, when we realised there were some highly pregnant/borderline explosive sheep on the farm track, just beyond the garden’s stone wall.

Since I was . . . sitting, Andrew . . . volunteered to go and shut Jed in the car. Sherrif and The Bunqueen politely demurred, but our dog is still extremely enthusiastic in how he greets sheep. 

“No, no,” I said, idly watching Andrew call Jed over to the gate. “It would be terrible if Jed savaged one of your sheep. Then we’d be ignoring each other on the road or setting fire to each others’ sheds. Messy. And unnecessary.”

Suddently, a herd of sheep stampeded down the drive.

In hot pursuit – although we could only see the tops of his ears and occasional white of eye over the wall – was Jed at full tilt, a study of canine muscle and grace.

Three seconds later, in tepid pursuit, Andrew galloped into frame. Relatively speaking, he didn’t seem to be moving that fast, even though he was leaning slightly back, legs pumping.

In fairness, he might have been more a study of muscle and grace if he hadn’t been waving his arms around bawling incoherently at the dog, while wearing oil-stained overalls and unlaced boots.

But I suppose if he’d been running after the dog in a pair of socks and boxer shorts, our neighbours would definitely have set fire to our shed by now.

As it is, we’re all still on speaking terms.

A savage love (hope I’m not stealing a Mills & Boon title)

We’re down on the farm, and Agent of Death and Her Goatiness have a new puppy. Tex is about 8 weeks old and comes from a long pedigree of mutts. He is so small and fluffy and snuggly and outrageously CUTE! I want to pat a hole in his head and pull his little ears off.

I practice a vicious brand of love.


Last week, Mum brought me up country to visit the relatives. My cousin, Michelle, was home from London with her first baby; a gorgeous, happy little six month old called Cormac.


Before we left, I persuaded my uncle to let me drive his tractor. I consider it outrageous that in all the years I spent growing on my family’s farm, I never got to wreak havoc with a tractor. In a scene reminiscent of Sophie’s Choice, I ripped Michelle away from Cormac, and Uncle Anslie gave over his Valtra Valmet T170 to us. Michelle balanced on the seat atop one of the wheels while Anslie issued garbled instruction from a precarious perch on the swarting machine affixed to the back:


“Turn er dah way!”


“Which way? Left?”


“Naw! DAH way!”


“Where- right?”


“Naw! Naw! Other way!”


“Up- up the ditch?”


“NAW! Wha’ did I tell ya?”




This is the man who, on the way home from market one day, mysteriously lost two cows out of a trailer. Could have had something to do with the style of driving favoured by the typical Irish farmer, allied with the trailer door swinging wide open. Anslie returned to hunt down his cows, who were grazing by the side of the road about twenty miles back. He coaxed them into the trailer by way of a kick up the arse, reinforced the door with baling twine, and drove home . . . only to find the cows had fallen out of the trailer again.


(There’s no happy ending to this – what d’you expect? Any story involving cattle ends up in the giant farm in the sky.)


I’m hoping this illustrates why Anslie had no problem with me taking his €50000 tractor out on the open road:


“Come on Anslie, it’s no FUN going around a field. And I can’t say I’ve REALLY driven a tractor until I’ve been down a main road with at least 20 cars backed up behind me.”


“Supposin’ yer right, ar. Take ‘er up hill.”




So off we went up the hill, Anslie still clinging grimly to the back of the tractor.


“You think I could swart the hedgerow?” I asked, just on the off chance.


“Chrisht, NAW! Keep ‘er straight!”


“It’s pretty responsive, isn’t it?”


“Ar. Steerin’s bit timid al’ right.”


“Ok, I need to know how to salute people. The farmer’s nod. Does it go like this? Or this?”


“Never nod the head up,” said Michelle knowledgeably; she grew up down the road from The Farm. “People will think you’re up yourself, sticking your nose in the air.”


“An’ wan finger up aff da steerin’ weel. Like dah. Ar.”


I’m not sure I will ever make a farmer; there were only three people behind me when I PULLED INTO A GATEWAY TO LET THEM PASS. It is doubtful whether I have the robust insouciance of character required for farming life. Being a total wuss probably doesn’t help either



Photo by Michelle – Anneslie with me in the tractor and the remains of a bush that got in the way

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