I am in the arena, going round in circles, trying to hypnotize the young Connemara pony that I have trained over the winter. I glance up the fields to see a lone yellow cow lie down in the corner and give birth to the first calf of the year.
The sky is a metallic grey, the grass that shade of neon green that is only found in the West of Ireland. The black calf gets up after a minute or two, all good so far, then the yellow cow sits down. She is still sitting three hours later. The calf won’t totter around forever if it doesn’t get a drink. I am wary of approaching her since I was chased last year by an angry cow in a pair of flip flops (I was wearing the flip flops) and fell over before I got to the gate. Luckily she must have thought that she had won and retreated. There is always a spot on the news at the end of every year with farm fatalities. A cross cow is no joke.
I rang my expert farm advisor Bob who has been putting out the bales for us since our tractor packed up. Always keen on a farming challenge he arrived up instantly with his son David to assess the yellow cow situation and offer reams of advice. Maybe she is having twins, or having trouble with the after birth, or maybe she is lazy.
We walked her down to the crush and he rooted around inside her and decided there wasn’t another calf; she was probably fine. The little black heifer did what all good calves should do and butted around enthusiastically under the cow looking for something that instinct had implanted. She soon found four, full fat, hot, frothy options.
‘Now she’s sucking diesel’
The cow munched her nuts, the calf sucked the precious colostrum that has to be ingested within a couple of hours of birth, the sun broke through the grey and baked our backs and all was well. A bright rainbow decorated the broody, blue hills.
There is a feeling that although the country is broke we have regained our integrity. It is an expectant feeling, it could nearly be hope, that we are on the road to recovery.
I brought down eight bags of horse manure to the school and we are going to plant spuds tomorrow as a step towards healthy school dinners and gender empowerment… a traditional task the week of Paddy’s day!
I have registered for a FAS accounting course in the dual prong strategy of; if we get a nature centre up and running on the farm I need to know, and if we don’t, someone else might need to know and employ me. And I have started drawing the plans for the renovation of the cow shed into a café.
We will be in the parade on Thursday in the village throwing out sweets from the little red Austin Healy that my husband has renovated- open top- so let’s hope its not raining.
Winter is never really over until after Paddy’s day.
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