“Farm Living Is The Life For Me”

Picture of Alyson Zawisza

For anyone that has heard that little saying but can’t think of where it is from, let me remind you it is part of the theme song from the show Green Acres from the 60’s. Great show. Any-hoo, I do love the farm life. Do not misunderstand though, it is very hard and the days are long and sometimes I just want to sleep in a pile of straw (very comfortable I might add). No matter how much I don’t want to get out of bed, once I’m outside and walking up the hill, I feel just fine. I take a deep breath of cold Irish air and then I get my day started. I begin every morning by making up some bottles of milk and heading for the sheep shed. I check all the ewes to make sure they’re not lambing and then I feed Dorothy (chunk-a-lunk) and Pippy (skinny white fella). Pippy was just recently put out to the field…well the paddock because I decided he needed to stay close so I could give him his bottle. He loves his bottle, he mostly just chews on it now but it was an excuse to keep him close to the house… got to do what you’ve got to do.

Once that is done, I bottle feed any other lambs in need of some extra help. Then the ewes in the cubicles, the ewes in the communal pens, the ewes in the paddock, the sheep in the two sheds, and the two sets of hoggets get fed with meal. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s not too bad, it doesn’t take that long. Once they’re all fed, then the farmer and I go around to each field, feeding meal and COUNTING. You know how when you are little and you can’t sleep and your parent tells you to count sheep so you’ll fall asleep…well guess what, it’s not as pleasant as you think. In fact, it’s kind of a nightmare, definitely not sunshine and rainbow material. I will admit that when you hang off the back of the quad and they are all running after you, it is truly amazing. It’s like being in a movie when the person is riding along with the big beautiful horses  galloping past them but like instead of horses that are all graceful and stuff, its sheep that are yelling at you and chasing you only because THEY ARE HUNGRY.

That’s the good part. But then you have to count them all. That’s when it all goes a little bonkers. When you first put the meal out, everyone comes over, the ewes are shoving each other out of the way and the lambs are like “Wahoo, what’s going on!”. Then they realize that watching their mom’s eat is boring and just as you start to count…THEY ALL TAKE OFF. They run off hopping and skipping in a pack of 20 or more and then they run back and forth and back and forth along the ditch. You got to be quick, if you don’t count them fast enough, they all go off running and then you got to wait for them to come back. For this reason, this part of the day takes a while.

After this is finally done though the rest of the day is full of different jobs depending on the day. Today we herded two fields full of ewes and their lambs down to our circular pen where all the lambs got oral medication for protective measures. But yesterday, my host family took me for a drive for the entire afternoon. I finally got to go to Hollywood! OK not the one you’re thinking about but it was still cool. I got to see the Wicklow mountains and the outskirts of Glendalough. I saw the Dwyer-McAllister Cottage. This was a cottage that Dwyer, McAllister, and a few others took refuge after the Rebellion of 1798. Their whereabouts were given to the English and they came under fire. Knowing there was no hope of leaving this alive, McAllister distracted the English to allow Dwyer and others escaped.  He walked through the front door and took on all gunfire. I thought it was quite the interesting story.

Needless to say it was a wonderful day. It was an adventuring day and it ended well too. As soon as we got home, I took a walk down the road to our new farm-mates. We have 28 cows now! I went up to the gate and slowly but surely they all came over to say hello.  The work is hard but as I’ve said before…it does not go without reward.

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